When I meet people, it usually comes up that I work from home. My husband is currently attending graduate school, and because of this and unpaid internships, he hasn't been bringing in an income for some time. Thus, it falls to me to be the breadwinner, and luckily I can do that while raising my son.
Upon learning of my situation, people almost always respond with, "Wow, that's amazing! You're so lucky! That must be great."
And it is great, most of the time. In fact, it's such an amazingly huge blessing. I mean, when I really think about it, I know that I am in a much better place than so many moms out there. I don't have to work the night shift at a gas station and then attempt to stay awake to take care of my kids during the day. I don't have to drop my child off at a low-cost daycare while I'm missing him like crazy and working long hours. And I don't have to leave my child with someone else while I work my butt off at school.
We all have our hardships. But I do want to make something clear: working from home is not easy. It might be for some people, but for me it's definitely a challenge. If you're wondering what's difficult about working on the couch in your pajamas, I'll tell you:
- You're always at work. Despite the comfortable clothing and setting, you can't escape the feeling that you should be working--like, all the time. This likely increases your stress level and makes your own home a little less relaxing.
- You have to juggle. Every mom learns to juggle, because that's what moms do. But when you work from home, all of your juggling balls seem to be in close proximity; your laundry awaits, but you hurry and write a blog while breastfeeding your infant and attempting to quiet your needy toddler. Not to mention the dishes need doing and you can't remember the last time you vacuumed or did your hair. It's just a lot of things to do in one place, you get me?
- You're your own boss. Initially, this sounds amazing--and many aspects of working for yourself are amazing. At the same time, it's much easier to waste time on Pinterest (or what have you), and sometimes you just don't want to work. That's when having someone else to motivate you comes in handy.
- You can waste a lot of time. And you thought people think that typical housewives don't do anything. Now it looks even more like you're a pathetic schmuck who doesn't wash her hair and is too lazy to take the garbage out. But in reality, you really are just stuck at home all day trying to make ends meet. And raising the kiddos always competes with work.
- You can be with your kid(s). For some, this might not be the priority--which is fine. But, if being with your kids constantly is something you really want, working from home is a viable option. True, you still have to divide your time and attention between work and kids. But, it's pretty great to be able to make some money while witnessing your baby laugh while she plays peek-a-boo with you. It's definitely a double-edged sword.
- You can decide when to work. Part of the trouble with having a job while mothering is that so many jobs require you to work during specific hours. But all that goes away when you work from home--at least, hopefully. For me, I try not to work in the evenings since it's my only time with my husband, which limits my work time to when my son naps. It's convenient that all I have to do is open my laptop!
- You can multi-task. If I'm hungry and not done writing something, I can eat while I type. I can sing to my son and look at him and give him kisses while writing. Of course, there is a limit to what I can do while typing, but it's nice that HR won't have a fit if I'm writing something wearing nothing but underwear. It's a beautiful thing to be able to stop writing mid-sentence if I need to.
- You can get a lot done. True, a toddler or infant is pretty distracting. But if my son is napping, it's a time where I can focus completely and kick butt, so to speak. I have days where I work 2-3 hours and still make enough to just cover my expenses. Of course, it all depends on your job and how much you get paid, but there are some great opportunities out there. The point here is that you don't have office gossip and overly social coworkers and the big Executive's birthday party to take away from your productivity.
So those are the summed up pros and cons. My advice to moms who are considering working from home is simple; it's an amazing opportunity. Just make sure you are aware of the drawbacks going in. Don't begin under the assumption that you'll have all the time in the world to be a perfect wife and mother while making the big bucks. Just take one day at a time, get out and socialize often, and don't be too hard on yourself. You'll do just fine.
No matter who you are or what your work/mothering situation is, realize that every situation has its ups and downs, and support the mothers around you. We're all in this together, after all.
PC: Getty/Lean In/Tara Moore