I am a work-at-home mom. I know to so many mothers out there, it sounds like the ideal situation. I get to stay at home with my kids while still earning an income. I get to support my family emotionally and financially and I don’t have to miss out on experiencing my children’s childhood. I know that it sounds perfect. I know, to many mothers who have to work, it sounds like the bee knees.
In fact, I have a friend who works out of the house and wishes more than anything in the world that she could work from home so that she could be home with her daughter. I get it. I do. As a mother, you want to be there when your child takes his first steps; you want to comfort him when he isn’t feeling well; you want to enjoy play dates and all of the other wonders of childhood.
I mean, being able to experience my children’s childhood is the reason why I decided to work from home.
I wouldn’t change it for the world; but, there are times when I do wonder if I should have remained working out of the house and put my kids in daycare. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore my children and I love having the opportunity to be with them.
I love that I get to walk my oldest son to the bus. I love that I get to go to mommy-and-me classes with my youngest son. I love that I get to roll out of bed and work on my couch in my pajamas. But, and I don’t know how else to say it, being a work-at-home mom is DAMN HARD!
As a work-at-home mom, I wanted to take the opportunity to see if other work-at-home moms feel the same way that I do. I reached out to 15 different women who work in various industries from home, with their children, and this is what they all had to say (and, I'll add, that they all feel the same way that I do!)
According to Jeanette T, a web designer who works at home with her kids, being a work-at-home mother is absolutely exhausting. Here's what she had to say about it:
"I know, I know; no matter if you are a stay-at-home mom, a work-at-home mom, or you work outside of the house, being a mother is exhausting on its own. I think all mothers can agree on that. But as a work-at-home mom, the exhaustion is totally different.
Monday through Friday, I wake up at 4am. As I wrote that, I let out a huge yawn. Why do I get up so early, you ask? Well, because my kids wake up at around 7am, and as all moms know, when the kids wake up, the craziness of the day begins; changing diapers, getting dressed, making breakfast, making lunches, packing up for school, putting on shoes and socks, running out of the door to get to the bus before it gets there so it won’t be waiting for you to get there… again.
And, oh yeah, mama needs to shower and get dressed herself (and some days that’s not a possibility.)
So, why do I wake up 3 hours before my kids? So that I can actually check emails, contact clients and get some work done. If I didn’t wake up that early, I wouldn’t be able to get a thing done until about 10am, and by then, it’s time for errands and playing with my littlest guy."
According to Paula B, being a work-at-home mom is extremely demanding. This is what she had to tell me:
"For me, what is even worse than the exhaustion is the demands. I have never been more demanded from in my entire life.
My kids have demands that need to be met; you know, food, clothing, playing, diaper changes and all the other things that kids need. My work has demands that need to be met; deadlines, emails, high-quality work and everything else that work needs. Then there’s the chores; the laundry, the dishes, the cleaning, the food shopping.
And then there’s my husband (who is so very supportive and amazing and wonderful, but there are certain demands that come with being a wife, too.) Oh, and I have two dogs, too, who definitely don’t get as much attention as they deserve.
With so many demands, I sometimes feel like I am going to implode. There are days that I just want to crawl back in the bed and hide under my covers. But, if I did that, I can’t even imagine how big the list of demands would be when I got up."
Sheila T, a work-at-home mom who is a freelance writer (like myself,) says that working from home with the kids is overwhelming.
“I find that I have just way too much on my plate. Between having to scout out new clients to make sure that I always have enough work, making sure that I can meet all the needs of my clients, having to meet the needs of my kids, the house, the husband and everything else that happens on a daily basis, it’s all so overwhelming.
In fact, most mornings I feel like I feel like I am on the brink of having a panic attack and I’m ready to throw the towel in before it’s even 9am! Sometimes, I just become so overwhelmed that I feel like I am carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, and sometimes, I feel like my shoulders can’t carry that weight anymore.”
Shirley R, a work-at-home mom who runs a daycare, says that she loves what she does and wouldn’t change it for the world.
“When I found out that I was pregnant with my first child, I knew that I didn’t want to have to go to work. I loved kids, and I had a huge basement, so I thought that I would start a new business opportunity for myself when I was pregnant, not only helping myself out, but helping out other families. So, I decided to start a home daycare.
We turned our basement into the perfect spot for little ones, and I got all of the licensing and permits, and today, I take care of 7 children in my home, along with my own two children, with the help of two assistants. I have to say that I feel completely blessed.”
Regina F, a mom who runs a travel business, says that working from home with the kids is like a juggling act.
“I feel like I am being tossed all of these balls and that I have to keep them up. A ball for my each of my kids, one for my husband, one for my business, one for my house… And each ball is as important as the next, and I definitely don’t want any of them to drop. I know that if one of those balls does drop, things are going to get really crazy.
But, the really insane thing is that trying to keep all of those balls moving is really crazy. And, sometimes I forget that I should really throw a ball in there for me, too. I often forget that I have needs and that they need to be taken care of, too.”
Patty A. tells us that she feels a lot of guilt.
“I know mom’s who work out of the house, and they feel super guilty about it, and I get it. Having to take the kids to daycare and letting someone else take care of them so they can go to work. It definitely can’t be easy. But, as a work-at-home mom, sometimes I think that the guilt is far heavier than if I were working out of the house.
Of course, everything is subjective, and I don’t know how I would feel if I worked out of the house; but, at least I would know that my kids were interacting with other kids and adults who could give them their undivided attention. I can’t explain how guilty I feel when my kids ask me to play with them, and I constantly tell them that I have to work.
They don’t understand it, and I internalize it as they must think that I just don’t care or want to play, or that my computer is more important than playing with them. Sometimes, the guilt is unbearable.”
Amy T. admits that her kids watch way too much television.
“I hate to admit it, but being a work-at-home mom, I let my children watch way too much television. Before I had kids, I swore that the TV was going to be a treat; but, now that I have two and I run a business from home, I find that the TV is a tool that I have to use. I hate to use the word ‘babysitter,’ but yeah, I guess that’s kind of what it is sometimes.
I try to set up structured, educational activities that they can do independently, but they are done with them before I have even answered an email; or, they need my help. So, I find myself turning on the TV. It’s horrible, and I feel so guilty about it; but, what else can I do? I do make sure that they are educational shows, but still…”
Davi S, a customer service representative who works from home with the kids, tells us that more often than not, she envies her husband.
“He gets to wake up, take a shower, drink his coffee, interact with adults, get his work done without having to stop and change diapers, break up fights, deal with a toddler tantrum… And at the end of the day, he gets to come home and the kids are so excited to see him.
I am constantly shushing my kids, arguing with a 2-year-old who asked for a PB&J sandwich for lunch, then refuses to eat it, and my only communication is with children who don’t get adult things, and the people who I speak to on the phone, who are too often mean and yell at me. I look at my husband and wonder what it would be like to be in his situation.
But then, he looks at me and tells me that he envies that I get to be home with the kids. I guess the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence.”
Stephanie Q., a freelance web designer who works at home with the kids, tells us that she really misses adult interaction.
“It’s funny, because I am never alone; but sometimes, I really feel like I am alone all the time. I have two great kids. They are wonderful. I love spending time with them. And we have an excellent system set up, so I really do get my work done and can do the play dates and crafts and library programs and all of the other awesome mommy-kid things.
But, I really do feel like I am alone. It’s tough when the only people you have to talk to on a regular basis talk about dolls and trucks. I feel like I have so much to say, but nobody to say it to. And, the funny thing is that when I am with adults, I find myself talking about the kids. Go figure.”
Bonnie Jean says that working from home with the kids makes her feel a bit depressed. I can totally understand her feelings.
“It may sound stupid, but being a work-at-home mom can be depressing at times. I mean, to those who work outside of the home, I must sound crazy. I mean, I get to be home with my little darlings and work in my sweatpants while I’m sitting on the couch.
How can that be depressing? While it may seem like the perfect gig to an outsider, it really does get to be monotonous, and monotony gets depressing. Sometimes, I miss getting dressed in business attire, talking to people at work, making new friends, grabbing lunch with adults in a restaurant, having drinks with colleagues after work.
My colleagues are faceless people whom I interact with on the computer, and the only people I see on a regular basis are people who wear diapers and pick their noses. Yeah, working from home can get depressing.”
Leigh M. says that she is beyond thankful that she gets to work from home while raising her kids.
“I am a mom, and that’s the foremost important thing. I also run a successful blog, which I am really proud of. I have the best of both worlds. I get to raise my children while contributing to the house financially, and I felt pretty damn proud of myself for doing all of it, too.
I get to do the play dates, kiss their boo boos, snuggle with them, go to school functions without having to worry about how I am going to get off of work. I also get to create this totally awesome blog that inspires people, and it has given me the chance to interact with people from around the world.
Every morning, I wake up and I thank my lucky stars. I pinch myself because sometimes, I don’t know how I got this lucky!”
Paula S. says that she wishes that she didn’t have to work at all.
“I mean, if I have to work, I really am glad that I do get to work from home and that I get to be the primary caregiver to my kids, but if I had one wish that could come true, I would wish that I didn’t have to work at all. I hate that I have to tell my kids to ‘hang on,’ or ‘I’ll be there in a minute’ 7,000 times a day because I am in the middle of working on something and it has to be done before I can interact with them.
I hate that when I am interacting with them, I am distracted because I am thinking about the work that I could be getting done while we are playing dress up. If I didn’t have to work, I could really concentrate on my kids and give them my undivided attention, the way that I really want to.”
Sherri Z, an administrative assistant who works from home with the kids, says that she doesn’t feel like she gives it her all.
“I just don’t feel like I give it 100%. I feel like I can’t give it 100%; both being a mom and an administrative assistant. I always have something else on my mind. When I’m working, I am thinking about my kids. I worry that I’m not giving them enough attention, or that they aren’t having the experiences that I want them to have.
When I am with my kids, I wonder if I have finished all of my tasks for work, or what other tasks I still have left to do. Because I am always concentrating on one when I am doing the other, I don’t feel like I ever really give either one 100%.”
Yolanda R. says that she wishes one income were enough to support her family.
“Sometimes I wonder what happened to the world. When my mom was a kid, her dad worked and her mom stayed home and took care of the kids and all of the household duties. There was a division of labor, and I feel like that was a good thing. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think that the man should work and the woman should stay home.
However, I do think that it would be nice if one parent could work and the other parent could stay home; mom could go to work and dad could stay home, or whatever. But, today, the cost of living and raising a family is so damn expensive that both parents have to work. At least where I live.
And we are still living paycheck to paycheck. I wish that we lived in a world where one income was enough.”