One of the most challenging, yet unbelievably rewarding things I have done in my life is be a WAHM – work-at-home mom (really a redundant term if you ask me). In a country with more than 81 million mothers, there seems to be an increasing trend toward mothers working from home. The new generation of working mothers has access to employment and opportunities that our mothers didn’t, in large part because of advances in technology. Just as I do, many of these moms probably count themselves as stay-at-home moms (SAHM) first, work-at-home moms second. The dual role can leave us exhausted and frayed if we don’t make efforts to balance our lives.
The Perks of Being a WAHM
The most valuable job a mother can have is one that her children see her excited about each day. For my kids I hope they see that I have my favorite job in the world, spending each day with them as a SAHM, home school mom, wife, and domestic engineer. WAHMs get to experience daily adventures with their children while still pursuing their own careers and contributing to the financial plan of the family.
Working from home allows my children to see how I can use my talents, passions, and time in endeavors that are different from the ones required to fix their meals and their skinned knees. I also know there will be a time all too soon when my children are pursuing their own passions as adults, so continuing dedication to my career keeps my own doors open for the future I will have after my biggest role as SAHM.
As the economy clearly shows, it is extremely difficult to maintain financial stability on a single income. WAHMs can contribute to the bank account often without requiring the typical expenses of work wardrobes (I’m in my jammies as I write this), commuting costs, and lunch meeting tabs.
The Challenges of Being a WAHM
As wonderful as the benefits are, the challenges of being a WAHM can be overwhelming without developing a plan for work space, time management, and sanity checks.
Some days it seems there is nowhere to hide: they find me! We are fortunate to have home office space, but it doubles as school supply room, craft supply room, and occasional hang-out room, so keeping status as a working space sometimes seems impossible. Find or create a corner of space to call your own where your kids can’t finger paint or drip milk. Even if it means that when the kitchen table has your file box on it, everyone knows that no other human can touch the table: having physical work space boundaries are important.
Time management would be much easier if I just had more time to manage. For the type of work that I do, writing and editing, my brain requires quiet. I do a portion of my work at night when the kiddos are in bed, rise before the sun to fit in tasks, and take advantage of lulls in the chaos throughout the day. I have learned to have lots of notepads around for brain sparks – those times when I think of something work related in the middle of helping a child identify a butterfly. Keeping lists, schedules, and still having free time with the family makes it easier to block out chunks of time each day for working.
If you are a WAHM, you understand the juggling you must do each day, so it is vital to write yourself sanity checks (a ticket to peace of mind). Make sure to build a network of support – other moms who juggle and family members and friends who can help. As a SAHM/WAHM, build in time each week for something you can do that is just for you, whether it is exercising, gardening, reading, or heading to a museum. Most of all, don’t take on too much in any of your roles, and get comfortable saying “no”. Sometimes people see SAHMs as women with lots of time to bake for the sale or drive kids to every event, but set some limits so you have time to reach your goals.
What type of mom are you?
A new study shows that the viewpoints about working mothers might be reverting a little. Gone are the days when moms were really only allowed to stay home, and gone too seem to be the days when moms were chastised for choosing to stay home. Perhaps the new generation WAHM is the balancing point between the two.