I work from home. This sounded like such a good idea – my husband can do his thing, I can do mine and still take care of our little ones. It has been a lot more challenging than I anticipated to say the least.
Here is a slice of daily “work” (in no particular order)
-Mama, I need you to check my bottom – 2 minutes to enter bathroom where 3 year old is bottom-up
-mailman knocks on door – 1 minute to explain he has come to _____ Road, not _____ Street, which is why the address is wrong
-mail contains info on getting kids’ swine flu shots – 5 minutes to read, 5 minutes to email husband to get his thoughts on whether we do the dreaded jabs
-daughter wants to play Clifford game before Mommy “works” – 15 minutes
-cell phone buzzes its sad little low-energy buzz – 2 minutes to find it, 1 minute to plug it in
-phone actually rings – 2 minutes to go see who it is and decide to ignore it b/c I’m supposed to be working
-3 year old needs one millionth toy she can’t reach in her “room time” – 1 1/2 minutes to chastise her for yelling down the stairs that connect to 1 year old’s room that has no door and which houses him sleeping (hopefully) and 3 minutes to go upstairs and retrieve said toy
-stare at passers-by through living room window- 1 minute
It all adds up (38 1/2 minutes) – and that was just the first 40 minutes of me sitting down to work. I’m not kidding. I’m still thrilled to be a stay-at-home mom, but I can see why few want to hire us. We’re not very focused. Who continues to crunch numbers, for example, if her 2 year old is throwing up on the new carpet? (“Just a sec honey – hold it in, just one more minute while Mommy hits save…”)
Here are a few of the things I do to actually be a mom and accomplish my work:
1. Work during sleep times/parent during wake times. I don’t care how tired I’ll be, my kids will only be young once, and I am not going to miss it.
2. Coordinate their naps – even if it means hard work. Since I had #2, I have worked from home. From the day I brought him home, he and my older one have slept at the same time- not for the same amount of time, but they go down at the same time. Now that my older one has dropped her nap, she has preschool during the weekday afternoons and “room time/quiet time” on the weekends where she plays by herself in her room. This gives me work time, her a break, as well as a creative outlet that all the experts say is necessary for a well-balanced child.
3. Turn off the phones/ringers. I can call back later.
4. Check email at beginning of work time to see if there’s anything urgent, then close it out, so I don’t see new ones coming in.
6. Set reasonable expectations and goals and communicate those with boss – I can only accomplish so much during my work hours. It’s important that my employer know my situation and know that my kids come first (so does my husband for that matter).
7. Honor my work schedule/commitment – if it’s 10 hrs/week, work 10 hrs/week. I am creative as to how I get it in (such as going to a coffee shop on a Sat morning, which is a welcome break for me from a normal day or working all during the week so that I have the weekend off), but I always honor my commitment, which keeps me employed.
8. No computers from 5-7pm. These are the fussy times for the kids and when my husband comes home. My family gets my time when they need it, no question. (My husband has the same rule and our marriage has changed as a result – we pay more attention to each other and the children, and we all have thrived.)
I know it seems like there should be a 9 and 10, but in all honesty, I’d be making them up, whereas the above 8 items are things I actually do.