There Are No Family Sick Days for Freelancing Moms

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.

Profile image for Rebecca Garland
Rebecca is a full-time everything. She teaches English and reading to her much loved, if challenging, high school students during the day and is a freelance education writer in the evenings. With almost ten years in the classroom and advanced degrees in business and information science, Rebecca specializes in materials that inform, educate and entertain. Rebecca indulges herself by pretending to have spare time and writing about the ups and downs of being a freelancing mama whenever she gets a chance.

8 thoughts on “There Are No Family Sick Days for Freelancing Moms”

  1. Thanks for the understanding and encouragement! Today is one of those days with a stuffy nosed 2 year old and an overtired 1/2 day Kindergartener. Now off to meet some deadlines.

  2. awww, all these will change when your children are in school! Since I’ve had 6 whole hours to dedicate PER DAY all in a row (!!!) to my writing, I don’t often work in the evenings or weekends, nor do I mind taking a sick day and ignoring the computer when my child is sick. 🙂 Just hang in there.

  3. Allena is right — hang in there, it gets easier. And I’ll add that the day we got rid of the Diaper Genie was one of the best days ever in parenthood.

    Our family dynamic was a bit different, since my wife was a SAHM and I went fulltime freelance when our kids were 3 and 5. Nonetheless it is still a lot better work environment once the kids (now teenagers) head out the door for school, and not fun when they’re home sick and my wife (now working) is at the office.

    Summer is the more hectic time for me, since I end up being the shuttle driver to camp, etc., which eats up a good chunk of productive time.

  4. This is an interesting perspective that I had’t thought about before. My primary reason for working from home is my health. I could never have a normal office job because I can’t get enough sick days. At home, if I’m really bad, I can work from my bed with the laptop.

    Of course, the difference here is that I don’t have toddlers. My kids are old enough where they can take care of me if need be. Fortunately, I don’t have to do that very often. 🙂

    I never thought of having an office job to provide more flexibility but that sounds very true for many people. Thanks for giving me a different view. 🙂

  5. I finished my Masters degree two days before a scheduled delivery of my second child. I was taking the year off from teaching with a toddler and newborn, confident that it would be a relaxing year of family with a little work thrown in for good measure. It was wonderful to be with my boys, but it was by far the hardest 15 months of my life – in a great way.

    Now that the boys are two and four things are easing up just a little bit. We’re almost out of diapers, hence the dirty-diaper-coming-off break. LOL! It is so shocking for a working mom when you realize that dream of staying home with the kids, only to realize you’ve increased your workload instead of simplifying your life!

  6. oh, yeah, summer is awful for me, too, as I won’t put my kids in childcare the whole time, although I’m not against some camps here and there. But in general, I work a lot less, resulting in an income dip around sept/oct.

  7. I know that people love to hear that working from home is like a little slice of paradise and all, but I appreciate the occasional dose of honesty. Plus, I can TOTALLY relate to it! ROCK ON!

  8. “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.”

    I suppose I pray to a different goddess, but even without being a WAHM, this definitely applies! Great article Rebecca. 🙂


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