I remember the gut-wrenching pain of returning to work, one year after my daughter was born. It was before her first birthday, because I had taken leave a month early, and I was devastated that she would be transitioning to daycare. The funny part is that I was only working part time, at that point, but I couldn’t bear to be separated from my sweet baby yet.
That’s why, when my son was born a few years later and the opportunity to pivot to another career path, one where I could work from home, appeared, I grabbed it. I mean, what parent would turn down the chance to spend less time commuting and more time with their kids? Actually, don’t answer that question.
Being a work at home parent is a double-edged sword. Parents everywhere exclaim with delight, when they hear that I work from home. “Oh, it must be so nice being there for your kids at the end of the school day!” they say. It certainly can be, on the days when I don’t have looming deadlines. On those days, we go to the park, or the library, or I read my daughter stories while cuddling on the couch. Or, she says no to all of those possibilities and wants to watch TV. In fact, that’s generally what she wants.
On the days when I do have looming deadlines, it’s a guarantee for suddenly having needy kids. Snacks are requested every 10 minutes, and the list of what’s available needs to be said aloud each time. Those are the days when my daughter wants to do her nails with me, or asks if we can go to the park. Those are the days when the guilt overwhelms me, and they are far more frequent than the other type of days.
The problem with working from home (well, one of many), is that the line between work life and home life becomes blurred. It’s easy to spend an hour of work time grocery shopping for dinner, and since I’m currently writing this piece at 11pm on a school night, the pendulum swings in both directions, clearly.
That said, I’ve considered the option of taking a more corporate writing job which would require me to commute to an office daily, and I don’t know how long I would last. Mornings are not my thing, and the stress of just getting the kids out of the house on time, without having to get ready myself, can be panic attack-inducing. I’m definitely better off working from home, even if my productivity isn’t ideal, many days.
After talking to a few different moms who work from home, we all came to the same conclusion: it’s hard, but it’s worth it.
My friend and colleague, Aaronica Bell Cole summed it up for me, “It’s a fulfilling challenge that tests your discipline and desires. Many think it’s so much easier than going into an office but staying focused can be difficult. You see all the things that need to be done around the house but can’t tend to them because you have legitimate work to do. But it’s also so awesome to have the flexibility to work from the comfort of your home!”
I realize I’m lucky to even have the option to work from my home, and I love what I do for a living now. That said, the challenges of trying to be productive and trying not to feel guilty when I need to be on my laptop instead of with my kids are more daunting than I expected. So if you’re secretly rolling your eyes when you hear another mom complain about how hard it can be to work from home, remember all that blessed silence you get to enjoy during your commute (yes, traffic noise is silence, compared to whining children), and then tell them not to feel too guilty. Us moms are all in this together.