Salute to the Work at Home Mom

By: Christen Pyle

Being a work at home mother, I often find myself getting annoyed at friends and family who tell me how good I have it. Don’t get me wrong, I am VERY happy to have been blessed with the opportunities I have to stay at home with my child and still earn a living. I would not trade it for the world. However, sometimes I think those around me believe that I sit on the sofa consuming bonbons and paychecks just magically appear in my mailbox. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, working at home, I work at least twice as hard as I did outside the home and there are many drawbacks to it as well.

First off, working from your own home can be very isolating. Even if your former co-workers got under your skin at the office you really miss the camaraderie you had with them when you begin to work on your own. There are no lunch dates to go on or visits to the water cooler. Even just the simple interactions with other adults that are not in your family are missed. Sometimes it is nice to take off the “Mom" hat for a few hours per day and just interact with friends. Working outside the home forces this upon you. Working inside the home limits these relationships. Also, if we are working our own business or doing freelance work, we are no longer working on a team. Now completely on our own, we have nobody to “high five" when something goes right and nobody to share the blame with when something goes wrong. There are no team meetings in which to brainstorm. We shoulder all the responsibility for our successes and failures.

I think a lot of people have this vision of the work at home mom sitting poolside leisurely sipping lemonade and watching her children with her laptop on her lap. This is not the picture of my typical day. Instead, it is one of a mom in sweats, in a home office that doubles as a playroom, running from the kitchen to the computer fixing meals and quickly taking care of business. At the same time, I am handling the household bill paying, scrubbing the toilets, teaching ABC’s, and wiping runny noses. When I am sitting at the computer there are often toys flying past me and I am typing with one hand while tying a shoelace with the other. It’s anything but glamorous. In fact, it is thoroughly exhausting!

Another stumbling block that comes with working at home is just how consuming it is. There is no “punch out" time. We work around the clock whenever we find ourselves with a free moment. While giving baths and cooking meals we often have a brainstorm that we quickly jot down to work on later. I will often work late into the night, dream about my work, and then begin work as soon as I finish preparing breakfast the next morning. Later, I will find it is lunchtime and I have yet to complete any housework, play with my child, or even shower!

With all the multi-tasking involved in working from home, most work at home mothers find that they work much harder than they ever had before. Just think, when working outside the home, daycare cares for the children, there is nobody in the house to create a mess, and at 5:00pm it’s done! I personally put in at least 70 hours per week working from home. I provide the childcare, the housecleaning services, and homecook three meals! I also have to account for my own taxes, file all my own paperwork, make all the medical and other appointments (because after all I am the one home so I can do it), tend to the pets, and I even do windows!

If I had to do it all over again, would I still choose to work from home? Absolutely. It is my ideal position. I get to see my child grow up and raise her myself. I also get the sense of controlling my own destiny by working my own business. Best of all, I am here providing for my family in every way that I can. However, it is not easy. So next time you meet a work at home mother, take your hat off to her. She works much harder than you think. And I implore you never to imply that she does not have a real job. Even just being a mother is a real job. A housekeeper is a real job as is an accountant, teacher, and an appointment setter. Add this to whatever she is doing to earn a living and you have a human being who holds down several full time jobs, most of which are often taken for granted. So, salute her when you meet her, encourage her to take a break and put her feet up, and know that you are in the presence of a true executive!

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