Working at home was a choice I had to make after my son became sick when he was just four months old. Being a first-time mother, it was pretty scary seeing my son suffer from life-threatening illnesses at such a very young age. I went back to work shortly after giving birth and guilt was killing me thinking that if I have stayed longer at home after my son was born he would have never suffered that way.
As a work-at-home mom, I get to be a hands-on-mom too. I am still earning while I’m caring for my son. What else could I ask for, right? Unfortunately, being a work-at-home mom is not as perfect as it seems. Sure, I could write a long list of the best things about being a work-at-home parent. However, there are also struggles only work-at-home moms will understand. Here are some of the challenges I faced and conquered:
1. Bad Internet connection
Working at home means you need to have the best internet connection so you would be able to meet your deadlines, and having a bad internet connection is something we cannot control, especially if you are living in a rural area. Waiting for a better connection and looking at your deadline at the same time can sometimes be very stressful. But instead of staring at my screen until it comes back, I use the time to attend to my son’s needs or put away the clutter. It is better to use your energy on something useful than waste it by stressing over things you can’t control.
2. Focusing on your job
As I have said, working at home gives me more time with my son. The downside of being with your child all the time is that more often than not, your focus is divided between looking after the baby and getting the job done. It was way easier when my son was younger because after taking a bath he would usually fall asleep. Now, he would literally drag me to the door because he wants to go for a stroll.
So how do I deal with an outdoor kid? I use the power of negotiation. I would tell him that we’d go for a stroll in the afternoon and keep him busy with his toys or favorite movies while I’m working.
3. Feeling isolated
One of the things I miss about regular work is having some people to talk to during lunch breaks or before going home. Now, I stay at home all day in front of a computer and the only way I connect to my friends is through social media. The good thing about freelance writing though is that you can write when and wherever you want. So after a few months of being a freelance writer, I figured that I don’t really have to confine myself at home. I started dropping by at my former colleagues’ offices when I get bored with being alone with my son all the time. I even went on vacation with my son after his first birthday and spent a month with my sister.
Sometimes looking at our situation from another angle lets us see that things aren’t as bad as we think.
5. Dilemma between house chores and deadline
Being a home-based worker, your clients expect you to send your task on or before the deadline no matter what. However, if you see your son spilling his milk on the floor, instinctively you would drop whatever you are doing and get a mop because you know that could cause an accident. Plus you also have to stop now and then to prepare his milk or wash the feeding bottles, prepare a meal and wash the dishes. And then there is this one chore that really poses the toughest challenge for any mother of a toddler, the laundry. Toddlers are always active, curious about so many things and love to try new things. The stains on their clothes are the best proof of that.
I believe everyone knows how to deal with deadlines, it’s called TIME MANAGEMENT. It took me a while to master it but as time passed, I was able to schedule chores so it won’t affect my job.
You can also train your child to keep his toys after playing. By doing so, you’re not only teaching him how to be responsible, but you can save time too.
6. Dealing with tantrums
As a work-at-home mom, dealing with my son’s tantrums is one of my least favorite thing to do especially when I’m running behind schedule. I must admit that I am not a very patient person. It’s stressful when you are thinking about your deadline and your son would ask you to change the movie from Trolls to Moana or Finding Dory every five minutes.
After a few weeks I realized that he is actually sleepy when he is doing that so when he does that or starts crying for a petty reason, I would just go to bed with him and read him his storybook or sing his favorite lullaby until he falls asleep. It saves me more time than just telling him to stop crying.
It is easier to solve a problem if you know the cause.
7. Having a working space
Most companies ask for photos of an applicant’s working station at home before they consider you for a remote job. But believe me, if you are a freelance writer mom, staying in your “working space“ is impossible.
Of course, as a writer, we would as much as possible want to work without distractions. Sadly though, it’s just one of the wishes that would never come true.
Usually, freelancers start writing while they are still in bed. They bring the laptop into the kitchen so they could continue working while they are having breakfast or bring their food to their working space so they could have it while working.
For a work at home mom, each day starts with preparing milk and vitamins for the baby, preparing his clothes and giving him a bath before preparing your own breakfast. The kitchen table becomes the most convenient “working space.” Why? So you could multi-task.
8. Having some “Me time”
One of the coolest things about working at home is that you don’t have to dress up every morning and go to the office. You can start working even when you are still in your pajamas. However, sometimes because of your job and being a hands-on mom at the same time, you are left with less time for yourself.
There is nothing wrong with making your son or daughter a center of your life and loving the job that feeds you but sometimes you also have to go out with your friends over lunch dates or bring your kids to a playhouse so you could have some time for your self to go to a spa for that much deserved “me time”.
9. Poor clothing style
Another downside of being a work at home mom is that you lose your sense of style. After giving birth, our body would no longer be like what it used to look like before we got pregnant. And it is kinda awkward to wear the same clothes we wore when we were pregnant, right?
It would be better to search online for the most suitable clothing for a new mother so you can find clothes that are trendy yet comfy for you.
10. Never having enough sleep
Some people may think that if you are working at home you can sleep as long as you want. Wrong, motherhood is a 24/7 job. You wake up early and sleep late, and sometimes, when the baby is sick, you don’t even get some sleep at all.
Coffee helps to keep us awake but we should also take a nap when possible. We should also keep our health in check before it turns into something serious.
We all go through some changes in our lives and it’s okay if you make mistakes sometimes, as long as you learn from them and never repeat the same mistakes again. There’s also nothing wrong with making your child the center of your life or working hard as long as you know how to keep things in balance. But most importantly, we should never forget to care for our health and wellness too. Besides, our children are depending on us.
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Photo courtesy of the Author