Momma extraordinaire and Sunday Supper Movement financial whiz, Tammi Forcier shares her challenges and joys as a parent of small children who works from home. On Being a Work from Home Parent lays out the good and the bad, just as Tammi does on her blog, Momma’s Meals. We hope you gain some encouragement from her words, whatever your work situation.
It’s hard to write about the pros and cons of being a work from home parent because it’s one of those conversations that usually ends with the “Grass is always greener on the other side.” We are all entitled to our opinions and what works for my household (or my sanity, if you will) may not be what works for another work at home parent.
When I became pregnant with our first, my husband and I never imagined in our wildest dreams that I’d be able to quit my corporate job and stay home with our daughter. Being home every single day seeing my babies grow and develop was all I ever wanted. Financially, we never thought it was possible but please meet my husband, the number cruncher. After we sat down (we as in mostly him) and we went over our finances, we came to the conclusion that if we stuck to a certain budget, I could stay home with our daughter.
Fast-forward about six years, add a second child, and I’ve got myself a work from home job that allows me to think outside the “Momma” box. Now I work part-time using my background in accounting. I have a nice schedule with the kids in school two full days a week. My oldest will start Kindergarten in the fall full time. This also gives me time to write. Writing has always been a passion of mine so I started my blog as a way to share healthy recipes with my loved ones and write letters to my children to document their childhood.
With my personality, working from home has proven to be more difficult than I care to admit. I still wouldn’t have it any other way but it’s not just about throwing on my sweats and plopping on the couch with my laptop. OK, well, some days it may be. Some may have no problem leaving the toy room cluttered with toys, I do. Or it may not bother someone else to see the mound of laundry that needs to be folded because while, yes, I can switch loads in between meetings and breaks, folding it is not an option until later that night if I want to get any work accomplished. Sometimes it’s even the small things for me. I head to the kitchen for a drink of water and pass four toys I could easily trip over. I head to the toy room to put them away and there goes another 10 minutes as I start picking up.
There have been many times that I have come to miss the commute home. Don’t get me wrong, I remember sitting in traffic for over an hour some days. I would sit there huffing and puffing, thinking of all of the things I could be doing at home, all the things that need doing. Then I recall a day last week. My husband sometimes comes home before picking up the kids at school. That day he walked in and started talking, maybe about his day, maybe about the things he wanted to get accomplished that evening. Sure, I’m at home, I look available, but I’m working. When I’m in serious work mode, I don’t want to break my concentration because I get roughly 16 hours a week to get my work done, any writing or recipe creating I may want to do, grocery shop (because let’s admit, it’s better to go alone then with two kids!) and any house cleaning that needs to be done. My husband got irritated because I was only half listening. Sometimes It’s challenging to me when my kids come running through the door at 5 p.m. if I’m finishing an email or a thought while writing. Working from home means no unwinding time or commute to sit and think about the day, no minutes to go from employee to Momma. I have to build that into my schedule myself.
Let’s talk about the guilt. The guilt that arises when the kids are asking for juice, a snack or for Momma to come play a game when I just need to send out one more email. I want to be a good employee and a good mother but finding that happy balance was what I needed to do. It took some time but I’ve set some ground rules that have worked well for my family and me. For example, I try and log off for the day any time between 2 and 3 p.m. so I can get a few things done around the house, go for a run and start dinner. That gives me much needed decompression time to become Momma again so when the kids do come through the door they are greeted with happy Momma. I also unplug from social media a few hours a day to really just be with my family. It’s hard when social media is such a huge part of my work and my world but disconnecting during those moments has been very beneficial!
Figuring out the challenges and finding the balance was half of my battle so now I feel as if I get the best of both worlds. Being there for my kids when they get off the bus in the future, being a part of PTA meetings and sports drop offs was and always will be my main priority but now I get to bring some income in and do what I love.
In the end I still come back to phrase “The grass is always greener on the other side.” There may be a lot of challenges when working from home but in the end I wouldn’t have it any other way. What are some of your challenges as a work from home parent and how have you overcome them?