By Vicki Little
Moms who work from home are much like the “middle child.” Often their schedules are overlooked, and they feel very misunderstood. Typically put into the stay-at-home mom category, people tend to assume that they can step in when volunteers are short or when kids need a ride because school is on a weather delay. Many WAH moms also feel misunderstood by their own spouse and children, who tend to forget that there are only 24 hours in a day, and mom has work to do long after everyone else has gone to bed. (I offer a shout-out to moms-in-school here, too. They are often studying into the wee hours of the night.) Since we wrote an article on what stay-at-home moms want you to know, and one on what working moms want you to know, we thought it was only fair to share what work-at-home moms want you to know, too.
1. They still have deadlines and work that needs to get done each day. If they work for someone else, then these deadlines are even tighter and stricter. But even if a mom is self-employed, that means she still has to plan and stick to deadlines to be successful. It makes it even harder when there isn’t a designated place where she can work and escape the distractions of home life.
2. They can’t just drop everything and be there at a moment’s notice. Simply because they work from home does not mean they can stop their work flow to run to school if a volunteer doesn’t show up or if you have too much work to do yourself and can’t pick up your children on time.
3. They don’t just sit on social media all day, and they can’t just “watch your kid” while they are working. Being a work-at-home mom takes discipline. Since there isn’t a boss to watch out for, WAH moms need to be particularly diligent not to get distracted with Facebook, texts, and other social media. While they are more than willing to help out sometimes, just because they can work at home does not mean that you can ask them over and over to watch your kids while you go to your job or sneak a workout in. They can easily fall a full day behind schedule.
4. They actually can get stressed out, despite the fact they are working in sweats. As relaxed as their schedules may seem when they drop kids off wearing jeans and tennis shoes while you suffer in your slacks and heels, they really do have 50 things running through their heads. They have the thoughts of the stay-at-home mom, such as how they are going to coordinate two different field trips on the same day. They also have the thoughts of the working mom about how in the world they are going to meet that deadline. And then they have the thoughts of all parents, such as why poor Bobby keeps losing a shoe during recess. They may have the benefit of comfortable clothes, but remember that they also have the disadvantage of working in a home office with the neighbor’s dog barking and solicitors ringing the bell and the baby crying every two hours.
5. It is not a silly job nor a “hobby, ” and it does have an impact on their families. If their job was a hobby, then they would describe it as such and they wouldn’t worry about being so disciplined about when and how they work. But if they say it is a job, it is a job. Period. They are making money that helps their family financially. They may even be doing something that they love, that makes them feel useful, and that helps to define them as something more than mom. Work that’s done at home is no less important than work that’s done in the office. And the consequences of not being structured are very real — like losing their job or money.
6. They have a problem saying “no, ” which usually results in burning the candle at both ends. As with every mom, WAHM’s have a harder time saying “no” when they are needed. What makes it even harder for the moms working at home is that they do have a little bit of flexibility, so they feel obligated to help out the working moms — or what they thought would be just a few minutes, turns into hours. The time spent not working adds up quickly though, and soon they are working when they should be spending time with family … or sleeping!
7. They often feel unappreciated and misunderstood. WAHM’s get it! They know how hard stay-at-home moms work, and they understand the juggling act that working moms must perform on a daily basis. Unfortunately, they feel like the fact that they do both things at once is often overlooked. While their spouse feels that maybe they should do more housework, the rest of the world doesn’t understand why she is exhausted and can’t ever seem to get all her errands done. And even if others aren’t judging them — they are judging themselves.
8. They get frustrated when their free-time (or lack thereof) gets taken for granted. In order to function well, everyone needs down time when they aren’t working, they aren’t parenting, and they aren’t thinking too much — just doing something for themselves. Since they are juggling the packed schedule of stay-at-home and working moms, WAHM’s often miss out on this downtime.
9. They understand what it takes to be a stay-at-home mom, but they don’t want to be put in that category. While WAHM’s certainly don’t want to make anyone else feel misunderstood, they also want some credit where credit is due. They aren’t stay-at-home moms, and they are actually supposed to be working many of the hours they are home, and often weekends, too. So when the PTO is looking for volunteers during school hours, they get frustrated when they hear: “Well, you stay at home, so you can do it, right?”
10. They get the best of both ends of the spectrum … and also the worst. What all of this boils down to is that work-at-home moms get the disadvantages of being interrupted when they are working, having to miss a school play now and then because they can’t put off a work project any longer, and feeling guilty if they don’t somehow manage to get all of their work done AND have dinner on the table and the laundry done. However, they also get the wonderful benefits of picking up their kids after school, going on field trips, being there for big moments, having some wiggle room in their work schedules, making money for the family — and doing something they love.
Did we miss anything, work-at-home moms?
Vicki Little is a work-at-home mom with two young kids. A Colorado native, she is the Publisher and Editor of Macaroni Kid Aurora and Downtown Denver. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering, reading, camping, or enjoying a bottle of wine with friends.
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