Picture this: I’m on the phone with a client, receiver in one hand and a color swatch book in the other. We’re frantically trying to meet a deadline at the printer, and we have 10 minutes to change the entire color scheme of the brochure we’ve been working on. Oh, and one other detail—this entire time, I’m leaning over my 4-month-old daughter, breast-feeding her while she lies on her back on the floor of my home office. Yes, it’s as graceful as it sounds.
Those days are long gone, but I like to tell that story to anyone who says to me, “You have it so easy, working at home.” That way they can get a vivid picture of what it really can be like. It immediately dispels the notion that I’m sitting on the couch, eating Pringles and watching cable for eight hours. (Although, as fantasies go, this is high on my list.)
I’m not going to lie—I love being able to work at home. It’s offered me the opportunity to be around more for my kids and to have flexibility I wouldn’t have if I were working outside of the home. But it’s not always easy. Along with tackling deadlines, talking to clients and taking meetings, I’m usually simultaneously picking up two kids at two different schools, grocery shopping, helping with school projects, driving to and from after-school activities, doing the laundry and cooking dinner. And that is why I end up working in the evening, often until the early morning hours, and rarely take days off. (It’s 2:30 a.m. now, and I'm on vacation. Thank goodness for coffee. And a hotel with free Wi-Fi.)
So the next time you encounter a work-at-home mom, don’t assume she’s got it so easy. Chances are she’s juggling quite a bit and working just as hard as moms who work outside the home. And if you really want to make her happy, maybe you can invite her over for a movie and some Pringles.