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A WAHM, a Telecommuting Dad and the Birth of a Magazine October 29, 2007

Posted by emsgeiss in parenting & family, WAHM/WAHD Stuff, writing/editing/blogging.
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My husband and I have a unique situation, I think. We both work from home—me full time as a writer and editor, he as a telecommuter. I know that there are other families like ours, where both parents work from home either full-time or part-time, and not just “bringing the office home with them,” because there’s more work to be done than there are hours in a given work day, but I’m pretty sure that it’s rare. Somehow though, we have managed to make it work, so far.

After several months of discussions with the company that he works for and finally receiving approval, my husband started telecommuting once a week in the summer. I’m not sure what prompted him to decide to do what his company calls “transitional work arrangement” or TWA. But, he told me that he’d been thinking about it shortly before our son’s first birthday, and had actually set the ball in motion with his company, before springing it on me. I was shocked and delighted, because telecommuting would mean that he would also get to spend more time with our son—and I’d be able to use time both with our son and for my work better. Getting approved for TWA wasn’t easy. He was told that only one other man in the company had ever done it, and that it was something women usually did. (Yes, I rolled my eyes when I heard that too.) He was even questioned about my work status, and why we couldn’t send our son to daycare. It’s not that we couldn’t—we just weren’t ready to have someone other than a family member watch him when needed, and especially not before he was out of diapers or talking. It was a choice that we had made well before our son was born. My editing business used to be my secondary business, when I worked in the museum world, but when we decided to start a family, it made sense to both of us for me to make editing and writing my primary business, because it meant that I could work from home. Having one of us home during our child’s earliest years at the very least was something that we didn’t want to compromise on. While getting approved for TWA means that he’s at the office longer for three days a week, it also means that he and our son get to have some good, quality daddy-and-son time (and Mama can head to the local Internet café and work). Telecommuting means that my husband can join us at Kindermusik, take our son to the Arb for a day of rock collecting and exploring or just run around the back yard. (It also means that he knows what it’s like to try and cook lunch for a toddler, who wants to be your “helper” or wants “up” at the worst possible moment.)

One thing I learned though, during my husband’s pending approval of TWA status, was that there really doesn’t seem to be a lot of info out there for the dads who want to shift the life-work-family balance. There is a lot of info about working from home for moms—a wealth of information for us WAHMs in fact. But unless you’re a guy who is already in a field that lends itself to working from home on a regular basis (like being a writer, editor, designer or artist, or having an at-home practice like a doctor or psychiatrist) the menfolk are left to navigate without a compass for how to achieve that work-family balance that many seek—and do so with dignity and without being placed on “daddy track.” Even today, it seems as if most of corporate America hasn’t yet caught on that there are men who want to spend more time with their families, and are willing to do so without necessarily sacrificing their careers or their loyalty to “the company.”

Since I’m a writer, I couldn’t help but want to write about his experience, but I also felt that just writing about wasn’t enough. There needed to be a resource for work-at-home parents, beyond the usual stuff, one that would be inclusive of WAHMs, WAHD, freelancers and telecommuters in all stages of working from home. With that, I embarked on developing theWAHMmagazine. Despite WAHM being in the name, theWAHMmagazine is a resource for work-at-home parents, regardless of how they work from home or whether they are WAHMs or WAHDs, and launches in January.

Having both parents work from home has been an adjustment, and is a continual work-in-progress, especially as our son’s needs change. Like with anything, some days are great, others more of a challenge, but overall, we’ve seemed to find a balance that works for us.

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