Confessions of a Work-at-Home Mom
I've worked from home for several year now and I've learned so much--not only professionally, but about myself, setting limits, and much much more.
Before that, I freelance wrote articles and reviews here and there, while being an at-home mommy and homeschooler (and waaay before that, I was a nurse, but that's another story). Taking on my first remote editorial job was a huge blessing, but it also required a shift in my daily schedule.
In the meantime, I've continued writing articles for other publications such as Military Spouse Magazine, as well as worked on my own book! All the writing I'd done before had very much been done on my own timetable, worked into my schedule whenever I had time. Having outside deadlines to meet was a huge difference. Along the way, I've learned a few things about myself, letting go of guilt, and how to make it work for our family.
A few things I've learned as a work-at-home mom:
How important it is to set limits.
While one of the beauties of working from home is that you're home, it's easy to let work time bleed into your home life and vice versa to the point where no one--your family or your employer--is really getting the best of you.
While the benefit of this arrangement is the flexibility, the downside is that you're never really away from work. I've gotten better at shutting off my laptop and letting family time be family time, but it has taken me some time (and tears!) to get there. It's a constant temptation to always be on top of work, even during off hours. Now, when I've 'clocked out' of work and see an e-mail pop up on my phone, I ask myself, "Can this wait until tomorrow?" (Sometimes the answer is no, and my family gets that, too!)
You're really working.
It's a real job. One of the challenges I had was saying no to other activities or when asked to volunteer...and not feeling bad about it (I'm not there yet!). Others didn't understand that if I had 30 hours of work to do that week, taking 3 hours to meet for lunch or work at a daytime volunteer opportunity didn't mean the work wasn't there any more. It just meant I would be doing it at 1 a.m. instead.
Yes, sometimes, that trade-off is worth it and I'll go ahead and do it, but when I make a regular habit of leaving work till later, I get very behind...and crabby. Respecting my own schedule has become necessary. If I won't, no one else will, either.
I can't do it all.
When my four children were all young, I personally could not have managed this schedule--working from home this many hours AND homeschooling, as my husband was also often gone with military service. I am a firm believer in the concept of "seasons of life," and have truly seen this play out in my own life.
I have a feeling this also has a lot to do with personality and temperament as well, so I'm not saying that if you have young kids, you can't work from home. Just know that there is a trade-off. Saying yes to one thing means likely saying no to something else, even if that something else is leisure or sleep!
I am beyond thankful to be an at-home mom with the opportunity to be present with my kids. I am also grateful for professional opportunities that have become part of the fabric of our family lives. My kids have seen me pursue my own dreams, attend professional conferences and events, tweak my schedule, cry when I've been overwhelmed, and be elated when something great happens. I suppose they've seen real life. Not picture-perfect, but a perpetual work in progress!