A friend of mine shared this article on Facebook about the realities of being a work-at-home mom. I agree that a lot of these things do happen to WAHMs. These things are still happening to me. Looking at it, you’d think that working from home can be depressing but it doesn’t have to be. These things don’t have the be YOUR reality. There are ways that can help you manage and make being a WAHM an easier and more enjoyable experience.
I come from a family of freelancers. So before I started working from home I got a lot of good advice from family and friends who have been through it. They survived and thrived so there’s no reason why we all can’t to it. Taking their advice and from my own personal experience, here’s my response to some of the problems that were pointed in this article.
Reality no. 1: You may not have time to make homecooked meals after all
Alternate Reality 1-1: You don’t have to cook homecooked meals everyday. What I do is I often cook in bulk on the days that I do have time to cook. That way, we still have the savings and the nutritional benefits of a homecooked meal. We refrigerate or freeze those meals after cooking and only microwave what we can eat.
Alternate Reality 1-2: It doesn’t have to be a homecooked meal everyday. When my husband and I get tired of our own cooking, so we get take out or we have food delivered to our house. We accept this as part of our lives because we’re both working and we refuse to feel guilty about it. As long as our daughter is well fed and healthy, it shouldn’t matter where it comes from. In fact, we order in at least once a week, sometimes more when we have deadlines.
Reality no. 2: You still won’t be there all day for the children.
Alternate Reality 2-1: Wait until your kids are old enough for school before becoming a WAHM. This is what my sister did to make sure that she’ll get the amount of work time she needed and still have time for her son. She used to work in an office but became a WAHM when her son started going to grade school. “I get my straight 8 hours of work while he’s at school and still get to focus my energies on him when he’s at home.”
Alternate Reality 2-2: Work around your kid’s sleeping/TV/play schedule. It’s really hard to be a WAHM when your child is still a baby or a toddler. What a couple of my friends did is they worked around their child’s sleeping/TV/play schedule. This means they would work while their child is napping in the afternoons and at night. One friend of mine who is also a WAHM would set up playdates for her son with the neighbors so she could squeeze in 2 more hours of work each the day. And when “Dora The Explorer” is on, I try to write as much as I could 30 minutes or I wait until my daughter goes to bed at night.
Reality no. 3: Your productivity will go down.
Alternate Reality 3-1: Get a maid/nanny/household help. Being a work at home mom doesn’t mean you’re a superwoman. Working 8-10 hours everyday, even if it’s in your own home, can be exhausting. I tried being a WAHM when my daughter was less than a year old without a nanny and it almost drove me crazy. I thought I could do it all. I finally gave in to my husband’s pleas and we got ourselves household help out during weekdays. It was a lifesaver. I was able to work and take care of my daughter without having to worry about the household chores.
Alternate Reality 3-2: Get your husband/partner/rest of your family to help. If you take the time to ask work at home moms who have been working for a long time, you’ll see a supportive family behind them pitching in. We don’t have a nanny anymore because she just finished college and she’s now working in an office (so proud!). So now that my daughter is old enough, she does chores. My husband also has a set of chores. We all pitch in.
Alternate Reality 3-3: Set up a work station or home office away from the distracting elements of home. My husband knows I’m easily distracted when the TV is on. In our first apartment, he set up a work station for me (just a desk to hold my laptop and some papers) that looked out of the window and he moved the TV out of our room. Over time, I’ve learned to tune out most distractions. Sometimes, to make sure, I set my work table to face away from the TV and I usually have my earphones on when I work.
Reality no. 4: You may miss adult companionship.
Alternate Reality 4-1: Network and meet up with other WAHMs. My sister is also a WAHM and we both agree that adult companionship is one of the things we miss the most about working in an office. What we did was we set up “work dates” so we can work together in one place. We sometimes visit my mom’s so she can watch over the grandkids while we work. We sometimes work at my house. And sometimes we meet up with other WAHMs we know and work in their houses, coffee shops, or in shared work space. We have a local virtual association and meet up with other work at home moms. It keeps us sane because we’re able to meet other people who understand our situation. It gives us the some of the camaraderie we miss working in an office.
Reality no. 5: You may miss eating out.
Alternate Reality 5-1: Food delivery services. I’ve already explained this in Alternate Reality 1-2. It’s normal to be bored with your own cooking. That’s why we have the delivery numbers for pizza, pasta and Japanese food practically memorized.
Alternate reality 5-2: Eat out every once in a while. My husband works in a call center so his schedule can be pretty erratic. There are days when the only way we get to spend some quality time together is to run errands or do the groceries. This is when we eat out. Just because we’re doing our errands doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.
Reality no. 6: You may miss the office itself.
Still haven’t found the solution for this one. I do miss the conveniences only an office can provide like air conditioning or an office accountant to do your taxes for you. But if I had to choose between wearing heels in an air conditioned office and working in my pajamas in the heat, I’ll stick to my pajamas.
Reality no. 7: Work can be seasonal.
Alternate Reality 7-1: Setting up a separate account for fixed bills. My aunt works as a freelance consultant and she does go through some lean months. What she does is to set aside enough money when she has enough projects in a separate account so all the fixed bills (utilities, tuition, taxes, contributions, etc) will be paid, even through the lean months. She also puts away as much as she can so she has enough to tide her over for several months between projects. That way, when the lean months do come, she doesn’t have to worry about not having enough to pay the bills.
Alternate Reality 7-2: Get a different job during the lean months. Most of my aunt’s clients are international organizations. During her lean months, she does consulting work for local organizations and does some part-time writing and accounting. It doesn’t pay as much as her regular gig but at least she’s still getting something. These part-time gigs has also allowed her to network with different people that would eventually give her bigger and better paying jobs.
Reality no. 8: Client payments get delayed.
see Alternate Realities 7-1 and 7-2.
Alternate Reality 8-1: Set payment schedules within your work contract. Ask for deposits or partial payments upon partial delivery of projects. That way, you won’t be left hanging and you can let go of clients who can’t (won’t) pay before you waste any more time.
Alternate Reality 8-2: Offer incentives for early payment. I saw this in an article a few weeks back and I wish this was something I’ve done sooner. Offer discounts (like 5%) if they pay early. You can even use this to get more clients by offering discounts on the next project if they can successfully refer more clients.
Reality no. 9: There’s no such thing as holidays.
Sadly, there’s really no way around this. It’s the price you have to pay when you want a flexible work schedule.
Reality no. 10: If you don’t have a high level of self-discipline, you can very easily fail.
Having the discipline to work on your own is hard. I noticed that the most successful work at home moms are usually the ones who have either worked in an office or had their business before they became WAHMs. Having some work experience before you work from home helps instill that discipline. An office setting does that because it takes you away from distractions and ‘trains’ your mind to focus on work.
Not only that, to work at home you’ll need to learn how to manage your time and how to prioritize. Laundry would have to wait if there are deadlines due. You’ll need to find creative ways on how to calm a sick child while doing a conference call. It’s a tough balancing act if you’re not prepared.
For most work at home moms, it’s not the work that makes this lifestyle challenging; it’s the mom part. It’s our nature as moms to want to give everything we have to every aspect of our lives. But it’s just not possible because we’re only human. Being a work at home mom isn’t about being the perfect homemaker. mom, and career woman. It’s about being a good enough mom who’s there for her kids. It’s about being a good enough worker who can deliver good work on time. It’s about being a good enough homemaker that your house is clean enough but it’s not something you would post on Pinterest.
If you want to succeed and be happy as a work at home mom, you have to be happy with being good enough. Because at the end of the day, all that matters is that you’re there, you did good work, and you had a good day. And to all of us work at home moms, here’s to more good days.