If you ask a mother who has transitioned to working at home what she misses the most, you’ll get a variety of responses, but a similar theme throughout would be the lack of freedom that she enjoyed working in an office -- ironic to the those desperate to leave the office, but very real indeed to the women who have made a private sacrifice to work hard to be there more often for their children.
When you’re working in an office you can slack off after lunch on occasion. You can chat with friends over coffee after lunch. You can even eat lunch seated with utensils. Best of all, you can call in sick for a mental health day and still get a paycheck. Amazingly it is these small luxuries that you never realize you’re giving up until they are gone as you transition to working at home as a freelancer.
No More Coffee Breaks
Now that you’re at home with the kids, there are no more coffee breaks. Of course, you’ll be taking all kinds of breaks from the things you’re trying to do, but most often you’ll be experiencing sippy-cup breaks, push play on Elmo breaks and a personal favorite – grab the toddler before he takes off his own dirty diaper break.
Somehow these don’t have the same appeal as the leisurely gossip sessions you used to enjoy over coffee, but then again, you are getting that much more quality time with the kids. And all moms know quality time certainly does not always equal fun and stress-free experiences.
What Sick Days?
The little one comes down with a bug and of course you’re the one washing the vomit stains out of sheets and your night shirt at two in the morning. It is times like this that you miss that luxury of calling in sick and laying around watching Disney movies the next day with a clingy toddler.
Now you’re responsible for dragging yourself to the computer, picking up the phone and rescheduling everything you had planned for the day until the evening or the next day, all the while praying to the goddess of desperate mothers that you’re dealing with a twenty-four hour bug so you don’t fall farther behind and make clients more frustrated.
Freedom for Family Time is Not Free Time
A common misconception of moms who decide to stay home and work with the little ones is that their schedules will be so loose and easy, it will be simple to enjoy all that family time while taking care of the work here and there. No working mother plans to give up almost every hour of her free time, but more often than not, that’s the case. When you’re trying to work at home and have your children home as well, the children will win out at least 101% of the time.
When the kids are sleeping or granting you five minutes of suspicious silence, you might rush frantically to get a bit of work done. Then you realize that it’s midnight (again) and you have a wailing wake-up call coming in six hours. Stay-at-home moms have full-time childcare responsibilities.
Work-at-home moms try to cram a job in on top of the full-time child rearing. Something's got to give and usually it’s any semblance of leisure time. Fortunately, these hard-working moms stand to gain it all back a few years down the road as their children age and head off to the school leaving them with a house that is too quiet and that flexibility they have been craving.