Ladies, I'm a stay-at-home mom. I say that proudly. I'm also
a work-from-home mom. I have been since the second my son was born.
Back when I
was a production manager at a book publisher, I would work from home three days
a week and go into the office two days a week. I only had a nanny those two
days I was in the office. Was this insane? Yes. But daycare is expensive, not
to mention competitive to get into the good ones. Nannies aren't any
cheaper. I was lucky to score a nanny share with a friend. It was her
sister-in-law. She cut us a deal. My life was not easy trying to work at home
with an infant, but I had no idea how good it was back then.
As my son transitioned from a tiny infant into full-blown
baby and then little boy running around, my career also shifted. I left the
corporate world to work freelance as a writer. There is even less money in
freelance writing than there is in book publishing, in case you were wondering.
A nanny was out of the question.
The high school junior who lived behind my
house became my constant source of babysitting during the summer and at night
when I had to get something out to an editor. Yet my son, who now had a baby
brother, just kept growing and needing me more — not less. It was overwhelming, and very few people actually knew what was going on behind the scenes. They
thought my life was so glamorous and awesome. I got to travel a bunch and be
with my boys all the time. Oh, how little they knew of the reality I faced every
day and with every deadline that approached. Here's a small peek.
Sleep. That's what infants do. They sleep, they eat, they
poop and they go back to sleep. They may look up at you adoringly for a few
minutes, but mostly they just sort of hang out like a little blob in a swing,
on the floor for tummy time or on you. Although you don't realize it yet, this
is the sweet spot for a work-from-home mom. This is when you don't have to
chase anyone, no one is whining for a snack or crying that their big brother
just whacked them with a fire truck. You may get work done in short spurts, but
you can still answer those emails when a client is screaming that the whole
project just melted down. After all, the baby is taking a catnap again. It's
exhausting being a baby.
Enjoy the time you have with your baby while he or she is awake. Once they go down, you will be hyper-productive and get more done in 45 minutes than anyone has ever accomplished in an 8-hour day in an office.
That precious bundle of joy is now on the move. Your baby is
rolling, crawling, scooting or walking. Those bouncy swings that you attach to
a doorframe are your new babysitter. It can keep your little one happy for the
4.25 minutes you need to answer an email from your boss. Nap times will
become very important to you. Embrace them. Don't even bother trying to get any
work that requires thought done while your baby is awake. You will find
yourself ccing your boss on that email to your friend complaining about said
boss. Enjoy the time you have with your baby while he or she is awake. Once
they go down, you will be hyper-productive and get more done in 45
minutes than anyone has ever accomplished in an 8-hour day in an office.
Naptime is officially your best friend. And bed time. And
weekends when your spouse, friends or family can come over to watch the kids. You
will get nothing done in the morning, save answering a few urgent emails that
can't wait. You will use "Sesame Street" as a distraction when you have to make a
phone call to the office or your client. You will have video chats with people
while your child sits on your lap. You will answer emails at traffic lights as
you run back and forth to preschool (no texting and driving though, ladies!).
This is life. You will figure it out and live through it.
You will be able to kick the kids out the door to be taught by someone that isn't you.
Preschool and Pre-K
Your life will get a little easier once your child can play
on his own a bit more, especially if there is a sibling. LEGOs and dolls
have replaced nap times as your best friend. Just set your child up for some
"quiet time" so you can get in an hour of dedicated work during the day. Your
nights will still be when you get most of your work done, but that is OK. If
there are no younger siblings, you can also work in the morning while your child
is at school. This is the golden time. Just be prepared for your child to walk
up to you during a video conference call and announce, "I gotta poop, Mom."
There are no filters in your kids. They don't care that you are working. From
what I hear, this doesn't change the older your kids get either.
Kindergarten and Beyond
As each of your kids enters school, you will be able to shift
more and more away from late nights in your home office and back to a
daytime schedule. You will be able to kick the kids out the door to be taught
by someone that isn't you. You can sit with your cup of coffee and go
through all of your emails, get back to clients at a normal hour and even have
lunch meetings before school pick up. It will be a magical time.