In our last installment, we established that all mothers tend to judge each other from time to time. Okay, you’re right - you don’t, but the rest of us at least recognize that the thoughts cross our minds from time to time. I think I might be worse than most because I deal with the product of poor home lives more than most adults (I teach at-risk high school students in a public, alternative high school.) But back to the topic at hand - work-at-home moms are just as naughty as the rest of the moms out there, but we also get to specialize our criticism for other moms (and dads) who work at home.
In the last post, I addressed two comments I’ve heard or maybe – not admitting anything – have thought to myself from time to time. Today, we take on a doozy – childcare.
“What’s the point of working at home if she’s not taking care of her baby herself?”
There is a fine line for work-at-home moms to find the right balance for all that we do. When you work at home, you’re closer to baby (or babies) and yet you still have to find time to work. Some situations (the easy baby who sleeps a lot and plays easily alone for decent stretches) make it easy for mom to work for hours without childcare. Other situations (any toddler) make working during his waking hours a definite challenge. As discussed in comments here before, having a baby with colic or special needs cancels out virtually ALL work time while baby is awake.
Balancing working full-time or almost full-time and parenting usually requires some form of childcare. It is what it is. Of course once you realize you’ll need some sort of help, you’re on the next level of “Balance My Insane Life!” where you try to determine how much childcare and what kind you need and how much it will cost and is it really worth it. This, of course, is up to each mother to decide, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself the object of questions about your choices:
“Can’t you just work around baby’s schedule?”
“Why even be home if you’re sending her out?”
“Is this what’s best for the baby?”
“I thought you were home to be with her more often?”
When you’re confronted, you can ignore the questions or you can respond with your own situation and philosophy. I’ve seen a nice comment here on this blog already about the quality of the time together is better when mom and baby have some time apart. It’s also true that older babies need socialization with other children so why not use that play time to work? Whatever – it’s your choice how to handle it.
Personally, I opted to focus on my kids when they are with me and awake and work only when they are sleeping or hanging out with dad. I was feeling too split during the daytime and realized that compartmentalizing my time for work and….my other work let me focus on the kiddos when they needed Mom most and left me free to not think about cramming in the writing until it was “work time.”
Does this limit the number of hours I can work? Sure – but I make more in 18 hours a week than I do teaching. I can live with it until they fly off to college some day and I feel like retiring from the classroom.
Plus with two boys under five, there was no quiet time in my life for more than a quick comment or email check anyhow. It works for me, but it’s a sacrifice of “me” and “us” time at night that might not work for you. I will say that both adults in my household work online at night, so we can flirt and chat via IM from about three rooms over – I realize that we are not normal, but at least we’re brilliant.