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I became a Work at Home Mom (WAHM) when I started my blogging and freelance writing journey a little over a year ago. After being a SAHM for 8 or so years, I felt the need to do something for myself. It wasn’t so much about getting “adult time” or making money, as it was fulfilling something within me that felt empty.
Don’t get me wrong, my children and family have always, and will always bring me more love and joy than I can handle, but as an individual, I felt like I had a void to fill. My thoughts started spinning. What was my 5-year plan? Realistically, in a few years, the kids will be out of the house (in school) and will no longer need me to the extent that they do now.
Where will that leave me as an individual?
I knew I wanted to do something, I knew that something was writing, and I knew I needed to start doing it immediately. I was bursting with ideas and needed to communicate them to the world! I needed to get to the root of my being, to the “Me” that wasn’t “Mom”. So I did… but faced a few obstacles on the way.
Work at Home Mom Woes
Finding the Time
It wasn’t and hasn’t been easy trying to adjust to this new way of life. The kids have always been used to having me there at all times. My door has always been “open”. But if you’re a writer like me, you know that writing requires peace and quiet- two things that a mother of 3 with kids at home rarely experiences until after bedtime.
So I tried writing after bedtime- but do you know what that’s like? It’s like pressing play repeatedly on a video that won’t load. It’s being in a constant state of “buffering” because your brain is ready to shut down from a day’s worth of toddler activities, laundry, and housekeeping.
I also tried writing before they got up- but I’m not a morning person, and my best friend and comrade- the espresso machine- always ratted me out with it’s grinding and pressure screams. I need coffee and caffeine in my veins, sparking new thoughts and ideas when I write! My Breville was waking up my kids and they started getting up earlier with me- or so it felt like. (Or did the little time I had before they opened their eyes not seem like enough?) Either way, I wasn’t getting enough done to warrant waking up that early and we were all cranky in the afternoon.
So I went back to writing during the day and turned to the TV for support. **(GASP!)**
I know, I’m a horrible and selfish mother for doing so- but it was working! I could get a blog post or two written in the time it took SuperWhy to solve a super-reading problem. Does it help that it was educational programming?
And then the blog became an obsession. There was so much to do and so little time to do it. Neither Tumble Leaf nor Creative Galaxy could spare me enough time to get all the things done. My kids were watching more TV than I care to admit to, and my fourth child- the blog, was doing well, but not well enough, considering all of the extra time I was spending on it.
Here’s where the Mom-Guilt swooped in. At the end of every day, I’d sit back and calculate just how much TV the kids were watching, how much time I spent playing with the blog, and most importantly, how much time I spent playing with them.
There was vast inequality.
My sweet husband agreed to give me time on the weekends to work on the blog. This was a major help, but the sense of urgency and stress that came with it was overwhelming. I felt the need to get all the things done quickly. It also didn’t help that they knew I was in my room working because they would open the door and distract me often- thanks to the old “open door” ways. This would result in tons of frustration and eventually, me shoo-ing them away. I’d close the once “open door” and continue writing.
I’d be sitting at the computer for hours on the weekends, rushing to get as much as I could get done while in the background all I could hear were giggles, laughs, and memories they were making with their father. It got me to wondering…
What memories would they have of me?
My kids’ childhood was flying by while I was busy typing away to an audience of people I didn’t even know. People who would forget me 2 minutes after reading a post and users who wouldn’t even take the time to revisit my page. What was I doing any of this for?
Where’d the Maid Go?
I was also slacking on the housework. My once sparkling clean home and menu board filled with an actual plan for the week disappeared. Instead of cleaning the house, I focused on cleaning up my inbox and instead of menu planning, I was playing pantry roulette. My dear husband was kind enough to help out with a lot of the work, and I love him to death, but let’s face it- there’s a certain way we Moms like things done- and it doesn’t include clean clothes thrown on top of the dryer or beans for dinner every night.
Getting the kids to start helping more with the messes they’ve made turned out to be helpful, and you know what? At least the laundry is done- wrinkled, but done nonetheless. As my husband has taught me, there’s nothing a wet washcloth and dry cycle can’t handle. (In all honesty- I’m still working on the dinner thing.)
Balancing Business and Brood
Having a 9 to 5 job would be no different- it would actually be better because I might be able to afford daycare and my job would end at 5. I’d be helping people much like I do on my blog and would be spending time away from the kids just the same.
The situation I was in was a difficult one because we didn’t have the kids in full-time daycare and we couldn’t really afford to do that, either. If I was going to continue to attempt to do what I wanted to do, we would all need to make some sacrifices and I realized that I SHOULD NOT FEEL GUILTY for chasing my dream. I just had to be smarter about it…
This is what is wonderful about Mothers. We beasts know how to handle multitasking like no other creature. We also carry guilt and no matter how much we sacrifice and do for our kids, we always seem to feel like we could have done more. We’re so hard on ourselves that we don’t take into consideration everything we’ve accomplished as Mothers… or individuals.
If playing with their father is the worst thing my kids are doing while I’m working, I’d say we’re all in pretty good shape.
Starting my career was something I needed to do for me, and even though it’s more stress than I’d like to deal with, and the rewards are limited for now, it still fills that empty space in my heart. I’m not giving up on it, and know that if I keep working at it, my efforts will be rewarded.
The issues have been finding the time to make a work at home job fit into my family life. Without guilt- and accepting that everything will not be perfect because I cannot do everything on my own.
It hasn’t been an easy feat- balancing brood and blog- but I have been having success with some of the strategies I’ve been using. Check out my next post How to Survive Working From Home with Kids for tips and tricks on how to create a good balance.
I have no regrets about trying to start my own business and find my calling. Yes, we’ve all had to sacrifice a little, but it’s not for naught. I’m setting a good example for my kids- showing them not to give up on their dreams and to work hard for what they want in life. I’m making a little more money each year, making great contacts, meeting wonderful people, and the blog is growing. I am growing as an individual, too.
It’s definitely not easy doing this with the kids at home, the guilt isn’t easy to ignore either, but nothing worthwhile is ever easy.
Do you work from home with kids? How do you keep a balance?