The worst things about being a work-at-home mom (WAHM) can also be the best things, but it takes some perspective searching to see them that way some days. There are wars that are waged, either fighting the tide of household responsibilities, juggling client needs, or self-inflicted guilt wounds of motherhood. Finding peaceful resolutions are not always easy, but required to be a content, albeit slightly frazzled WAHM.
Fighting the Feast or Famine
Freelance work is more lance than free – requiring the skills of a swordsman to combat the multitudes of hands pulling in opposite directions. As a freelance work-at-home mom, there is no guarantee of client roll calls every month, so it is very challenging to turn down projects. The pressure might be self-inflicted or budget-inflicted, but turning down projects can feel impossible, especially if you have been through periods of famine where you can’t find an ounce of work.
Celebrate the Feast
- Take on the projects you can complete, even if it means you might be a little more harried.
- Assess which clients you can ask to adjust timelines and which ones you know are set in marble basements without any hope of daylight.
- Give yourself a timeline of craziness. If you agree to take on 3 months of extra work, make sure you stick with the promise to yourself to take a break when the 3 months are up.
- Manage time – don’t let it destroy you. Get creative about when and where you can get the work done, and consider hiring a temporary assistant – either to share in your client workload or your household chores.
Fighting the Perception
I’ve been a stay-at-home-mom, working mom (outside of the home), and a WAHM. Whenever those questions of Do you work? and What do you do? are asked, the looks from people are predictable. Work-at-home moms often get somewhere between intrigue and the, “oh – I’m not sure that really qualifies as work…” look.
Set the Tone
- If someone or a group of some ones expects that because you work at home that you can watch their kids, drive their kids, or make the 345 cupcakes for school, set down some ground rules for time. You can even say that you don’t finish work until 3:00, so anything you do will have to come after that. Self-imposed scheduling hours are valuable – don’t let someone take them away from you.
- Be proud of what you do. It takes determination and the managing skills of a Fortune 500 company to successfully work from home and raise a family.
There is an internal battle of worries about whether or not being a WAHM is better for my kids (and me) than the other choices ahead. Will the kids forever look back at their childhood and see a mom who worked from home, and was therefore not really there all of the time? Or… Will they look back on their childhood and see a mom who was so dedicated to being there that she worked in her pajamas while the kids slept and she managed to sleepwalk through housework so she could help teach them how to make Stromboli for lunch?
Be a Wife and Mom First
- Have priorities. I chose to be a WAHM so that I could be here for and with my kids. When I make their needs priorities, I feel better about stealing an hour or two to work while they do their own things.
- Set personal goals. I strive to schedule time to be with my husband each week even if it means skipping the extra 2 hours I need for an editing project to hang out together, and then cramming those in while he goes for a run.
- Give yourself permission to stop. The other morning my youngest son woke very early while I was working at the computer. He walked in, saw me, and then turned to leave without a word. I asked him what he wanted, and he turned and said, “I see you are typing. I won’t interrupt. I just wanted to tell you I love you.” Of course I scooped him up into my arms and told him that was the best thing I had heard all day. Then we snuggled and had cocoa, relishing the quiet morning together. I didn’t meet my morning goal, but I did meet my mother goal. And so goes the war of the work-at-home mom.