Thursday, November 21, 2013

Working Mom: Katie (on Working from Home)

I am a working mom (and I love it); but, if I'm being honest, I feel like most days I'm more "surviving" and less "making it work."  So... I enlisted the help of some dear blog friends to share their experiences, advice, lessons, and encouragement on all kinds of topics related to life balancing a job outside the home and a family. I think this goes without saying, but please know that this series is - in no way - meant to belittle or undermine the work of stay-at-home moms - you are doing an incredibly important JOB, and I have so much respect for you!  That said, I do feel like working moms are sometimes under-represented in the internet world... So, my hope is that this will be a place for working moms of the blogosphere to unite and feel understood, connected, strengthened, and supported (plus, maybe pick up a tip or two)!   Overall, I hope this will be a reminder that (regardless of your situation), you are NOT alone, and you are doing a darn good job! Please introduce yourself and  "join the conversation" in the comments.  

(More from me on being a working mom and all the posts in this series here.)
First, are you SO tired of reading that opening thing?  (I know, you quit reading it a long time ago, but even just looking at it, right?) I'm sorry!  I will know better next time. (And, yes, I could just stop posting it, but the rule-follower/OCD in me won't let me stop midway through. #iknowimafreak)

Second, today you get to hear from my blog-friend Katie.  She is an awesome momma to two adorable little girls, and she also works a full-time job from home. I really want this series to be as all-inclusive as possible, and I think this is a very misunderstood and under-represented group of "working mommas" that need a voice.  So, here we go!

This is not what you think it is. Well, maybe it is. I just promise not to tell you that moms should stay home. Or that moms should go to work. Or that one thing is better than another, or that anyone else knows what's best for your family. Or that childcare is bad for your kids (it's not). Or whatever. Because it's not my thing, nor will I ever debate that because it's exhausting and I truthfully don't care.

But E emailed me asking if I could talk about my experience being a work-from-home mom. Meaning, I have a paying job not just rewarded in cuddles & hugs & disgusting carpets (I have that job, too), but with an actual paycheck and healthcare coverage.


(source)
Let's just first say--it's a blessing. Having the opportunity to work from home is super great and came at just the right time for my little family. I decided to move away from full time teaching to this. There are definitely benefits to it, mainly, not having to shell out half a paycheck for daycare costs. Getting to work from my couch, on my laptop, in my pajamas. Flexibility when it comes to my kids and doing mom-things during the day, being available for field trips, to pick-up from preschool, all of those things, are very, very nice and admittedly, make my gig look like a piece of cake from the outside perspective, I'm sure (I hope to de-bunk this, later).


The basic gist of what I do is this. I write for a corporate blog--about products, sales, happenings around the business, etc. There are a certain number of posts expected from me during the week. So, I'm in the marketing department along with other great people who do web design, print ads, catalog stuff, social media marketing in other forms, run the websites, blah blah. I am expected to come in every Monday morning for a meeting where the entire department meets and discusses the weekly plans and agenda & a few special events here and there, but other than that--I work from home. 

But other work-from-home mom's, they get it. They get that while they feel insanely blessed to be around for all 'the moments', and 'the firsts' with their kids, that they really feel pretty friggin' stressed up to their eyeballs, and also a little bit guilty all the time.

See, there's this full time job on top of that 'real job' (I'm rolling my eyes at this, by the way) called mothering and keeping alive two rowdy children all day long. That means, getting up early, all throughout the night when one kid isn't sleeping well and another has a nightmare. Fixing breakfast, and cleaning up the half of it that ended up on the floor. Opening your work email for the day. Feeling guilty that you're sitting there with a laptop in your face. Get a tug on your shirt and a 'mommy come play wif meeee', and then I get down and play. I hear a ding and new work email comes through, so I sneak back to my laptop because they seem to have forgotten I was there anyway, where I'm sucked into writing another new post for work or brainstorming for future ideas. In between child wrangling, time-outs, getting snacks, refilling sippy cups, unloading and re-loading the dishwasher, I'm working. Albeit from my kitchen table---getting interrupted 934083948 times. Add in the rest of the crazy-chaotic day that comes with having kids, and, well, you get it.

My schedule is different and that's to be expected, I think. When I started doing this gig a few years ago I told them my children came first, but that I'd meet the expectations of the job. Meaning, if there were things I needed to do, places I wanted to be in the mornings, etc--I would do that. But my job would still get done. So that means I get creative and work unusual hours.

With that said, one of the harder things about working from home is there's no clear-cut time boundary when it comes to clocking in and clocking out, per-say. When my kids are napping? That's prime work time for me. I brew a cup of coffee, and pretend that I'm taking a break on the sofa, when really, it's when I can put in a good, solid few hours of uninterrupted work. When Emeline is in preschool and Lucy naps? Also prime-time for me. Right after the kids are in bed, I'm mostly back logged in to work stuff and chugging away on things. Weekends? Yep. I use my nap and after bedtimes on weekends, too. There's also the occasional, S.O.S. to my husband--that goes something like this: I feel behind on workkkkkk. I NEED A FEW HOURS AT PANERA, ALONE. With my laptop, of course. He gets it, and is more than willing to make that happen for me when I feel like I need to catch up/get ahead, etc.

One of the biggest blessings of working from home is the flexibility, though. If it sounds like I'm being contradictory, I guess I kind of am. On one hand I'm saying how not having time-boundaries is hard, on the other hand, I'm grateful for that. It allows me to be around and with my kids, at all the drop-off's and pick-up's, go to the gym at times, or to the park. It's what can make it look like I've got it made when you see my instagram pics hanging out with my kids mid-day. What you don't see is all those little odd-ball times I'm making up for it, writing, brainstorming, and getting my work-time in.

For me? This works. I admit that there are times when I'm on my way into my Monday meeting after I've just dropped my kids off (at my parents)---I have a hot coffee in my hand, and I'm dressed like a human being with my makeup and hair done....and I feel, well, I feel good. I feel sophisticated and like a big girl heading to my job. And I've thought before, Is this something I want to do every day? Could I do this every day? I think for me, now, the answer is no.


The balance of what I have going on, while admittedly can stress me out, make me feel guilty, like I'm giving everyone half of me and not all of me, is still better, for my family, right now.

I think that often times working-stay-at-home mom's are in this weird....category? Like, an almost non-existent one. Because you only hear of a working mom and stay at home mom 'debate' (another eye-roll), and often I feel kind of like I just get lumped in as a SAHM--when really I wanna say, "But I have work to do, too!", and I don't mean household things and kid-things, because, yes, those are all work, and I have those to do, too. It's just, different. And a huge schedule balance and time-management balance. All the things ALL of us moms do everyday, in some way, shape or form, whether we stay home, work from home, or work outside the home, or work part-time, etc.

In the end, it works for us, it works for me. It just looks a little different, sometimes it's misunderstood, and I'm alright with that.


Read more from Katie - and see more of her cute girls at her blog, Loves of Life.
THANKS KATIE!

Do you work from home?  What is your daily schedule like?  
What are the struggles and benefits?

18 comments:

  1. great post! i also work a full time job virtually from home, and i constantly feel the tug of two full time jobs. not being able to "turn off" my paying job is something i struggle with daily! thanks for sharing, it always helps to know I'm not alone :)

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    1. it is definitely nice to feel like someone can relate. xo

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  2. Thanks for sharing your perspective Katie. I work (full-time with employee's) out of my home studio, and am expecting my first in January. I'm kind of terrified, but have started making changes that should help the transition. In all my reading and preparing (although really I don't think I can be truly prepared until it happens) I've found a common thread that there is no true balance and that is ok/normal. I'm going to try my best to keep my head on!

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    1. You will do great! Your business looks awesome. :)

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  3. Just a fabulous post and a great perspective!

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. This series has been so eye opening! I am loving reading about all these amazing mamas!

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  4. Love this post, Katie! Especially since I am hoping to work from home after my third baby is born :)

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  5. Loved this post.
    It's great to see a little glimpse into the lives of other working from home moms and realize that we're not alone. With most of my friends being working (away from home) mom's, I find it hard to talk about the daily struggles (ex: trying to find time for work when my toddler doesn't want to nap) and benefits (if it's been a rough night or 'morning' sickness takes over, being able to take a break at nap time [if it happens that day]...

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  6. Great post. I just found your website via Katie. Being a working mom myself its always interesting to see others and I am always looking for any new ideas :)

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  7. My hat is off to you. I work out side the home and I don't know how you can possibly get 40 hours a week in while tangling with those two girls. I, however, can leave work at work most of the time--so I wonder if that is a trade off. It is great that we now have options! Anyway, great job, you left the mommy war crap out of your post and gave a good description of your life. Bravo!

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    1. my job is a little more 'performance based' versus hours-based. AKA: a certain number of things I need written in a week, etc. Still considered full time, but 40 exact hours? Not really. It sort of ebbs and flows from week to week. And mommy wars? pshhh. Who has time for that, right? :) xo

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  8. I also appreciate this perspective. I feel like I'm in a similar category. I work two part time jobs, one at the hospital ER at night and one on a college campus that is self scheduled-some stuff I do there, some from home. I'm constantly feeling torn. I work nights, so I can be home during the day, but I'm sometimes bitter when work cuts into my family time. It's sometimes hard to remember that even though I'm the one home with my kids 95% of the time (they go to preschool 4 hours a week so I can sleep), I don't have the freedom to say my time is really my own. My jobs sometimes put other things into my schedule that feel like they're taking away from my family time and my family time means I don't always get a good night of sleep after working all night or get to do fun work activities. It's a hard balance, but in the end, I'm thankful that I get to be there for important milestones and I'm proud that I provide my family with important things like health insurance.

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    1. i know exactly how you feel. exactly. thanks for sharing.

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