I’m a WAHM (work at home mom) and I’ve been teaching online for for 3.5 years.
In today’s society, being a WAHM is supposed to be the Holy Grail of motherhood. Not only do you get to be home with your kids, but you get to make money and be a contributing member of society too. What’s not to love?
Well, there are a lot of things I do love about working from home, but nothing’s perfect. Working from home while mothering 4 young children has some distinct challenges too.
I have a love/hate relationship with working from home, but I try not to complain because I know how fortunate I am to be able to be a WAHM.
Here are three things I love:
I just texted my neighbor across the street and asked her if she wanted to get together tomorrow. We planned a date with the kids at 10am and I am really looking forward to having some friend-time on a Tuesday morning. Working from home allows me this type of social flexibility. It’s great!
I also have the flexibility to run errands, take care of household chores (like bills, etc) during the day that I wouldn’t be able to do if I had a regular 9-5.
The flexibility has also proved to be essential with all of Benji’s therapy appointments. I am grateful to be able to work from home for this reason because I know moms of kids with special needs who had to stop working just so they could keep up with their child’s therapy schedule.
2. I can make money from home
I don’t make a lot of money as an adjunct professor (I could never support myself or my kids should, God forbid, something happen to my husband) but on the other hand, I’m able to make about a quarter of my husband’s salary, which really helps us to make a dent in our debt and do some fun family activities as well.
3. I can be there for my kids
This is THE best part of working from home. I see my twins (8) off to school and am there when they get home. Besides the two mornings when Silas (3) is in preschool, I am with my boys 100% of the time. I don’t get a sitter for “work time” (sometimes I wish I could) but I do not take the blessing of being home with my children lightly.
I’ve done various forms of child care over the years (for one semester full time day care for my twins while I finished grad school) and no solution is perfect. Despite all the hardships of being a WAHM, being home with my kids is the number one reason I keep working from home, instead of trying to get a regular (and higher paying) job. It’s worth it.
So there are some giant pluses to working from home…but can I be honest? It’s really hard most days. Here’s why:
1. I am constantly on the computer
Because I teach online, I have to be on the computer for many hours a day. When I couple these hours with my other every day tasks and hobbies I do online (paying bills, facebook, blogging, looking up recipes, research, etc), sometimes I feel like I am constantly staring at a screen. I feel addicted.
I feel even guiltier when my one year old comes over and slams my laptop shut: Mama! Look at me!
2. I work 7 days a week
The blessing of flexibility means that my “down time” is spread out throughout the day, but not allowed over the weekends. Although there is an ebb and flow to my 8 week class schedule (weeks 1 and 2 are light but weeks 3-8 are HEAVY), I usually have to work every day of the week to meet my required one-week turn around for grading assignments.
In order to balance work with parenting, I have to work Monday-Sunday.
In fact, before the blessed month I had off at Christmas, the first break I had from work (I did take off Thankgiving Day) was my maternity leave in March. I was so burnt out that I was one email away from quitting all together. The WAHM work pace can be brutal.
3. Everything is competing for your time and mental space
I remember one afternoon when I was having a particularly frustrating homework time with the twins, the little boys were just waking up from their naps, and right then, a student called me and wanted to ask me a question about citations.
I had to shift gears so fast that my brain almost got whiplash.
People talk about the “work/life” balance. I try really hard to “balance” everything–allotting time for emails, housework in the morning, grading during the boys’ naps, homework and dinner time, then more grading after the kiddos go to bed at night, etc) but in reality, it all gets muddled up together and some weeks everything is out of whack: I can’t keep up with the dishes, I yell at everyone, I am up till 11pm grading, and the emails just keep coming and coming and coming.
Everyone wants my attention: 4 children, 1 husband, 50-90 students. It’s a lot.
Not to mention the housework. Housework always gets the shaft.
Honestly, this is the thing I hate the most about being a WAHM. There is no getting around the stress of trying to “do it all.” Ultimately, my personal peace is often the first thing that is sacrificed.
I want to be that woman who “does it all,” who juggles marriage, housework, children, and work flawlessly. The thing is, I don’t do it all well. It’s really, really hard most days, and last year, the stress slammed me hard, so hard that I didn’t think I could be the mom my kids needed me to be and work at the same time. I prayed and thought long and hard about just being a stay at home mom instead of a work at home mom.
I didn’t feel at peace about completely quitting work (I wish I did!) so I cut back instead and am not doing as many classes this semester as I’ve done in the past.
Being a WAHM may seem like the “ideal” for today’s modern women, but it is not without distinct stress and challenges. Ultimately though, the profound blessing of being home with my kids, while still earning a small pay check, makes it worth it for me.
After all, I have to pay off my students loans somehow, right? 😉
Are you a WAHM?
How do you balance it all?
Share your story below!