When my husband and I were preparing for the arrival of our baby, we very carefully planned out the first year. We both knew that since I was a teacher, it made more sense for me to stay home and care for the baby myself since my salary almost matched the amount we'd pay in daycare fees. I also knew that I wanted to care for my child myself. I completely understand that not all mamas feel this way, and sometimes I completely understand why, haha. Here's my experience in going from a young professional to a stay-at-home mom, to a working-from-home mama all within a span of eight months.
Note: Please understand that this is not me complaining as I am very thankful for the position that I'm currently in as a working from home mom. I am simply sharing my struggles as well as the things I am thankful for. Thanks for your understanding as this is truly just my experience.
About six months after I had G I realized that the one year that we planned on me staying home wasn't enough, and my husband started to feel the same way. I decided to take my blogging hobby and turn it into an income. While it isn't a steady income by any means, it's become something that's helped pay my student loans, allow us to visit friends and family, and afford extra things that the baby needs. But this comes at a high price. For the first few months of her life I relished the quiet moments that she would nap and I could sip my coffee and read a book or catch up on Netflix. (I totally watched the entire series of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood in like two months.)
Now my days are a bit different. People kept telling me that time would start flying by now that I had my first baby, and now I completely understand what they mean. The days seem so short and they are a complete whirlwind. I try my hardest to cherish each moment I have with G but the truth is... it's really hard to do when I'm trying to make an income at the same time.
I also feel like the WAHM scene is so giant now compared to when I was a child. The rise of the Internet and all the companies that only operate online and through the phone has completely changed the opportunities that are available to women. There is also a huge surplus in companies like LuLaRoe, Lipsense, and Plexus, to name a few. Again, this is great for those of us that want to stay home with our babies and earn an income, but it's definitely a struggle. Here are ten things I feel only a working at home mom can understand.
1. You get to have meals with your baby.
I love getting to eat breakfast and lunch with G! I know that many moms and dads aren't able to, so I try to cherish each meal we have together. I am also able to make hot breakfasts like peanut butter banana zoats (zucchini oats) and blueberry spelt muffins!
2. You can continue to breastfeed (if you desire to) and don't really have to pump.
This one right here is the biggest for me. I am SO thankful that I get to breastfeed G still without pumping. Plenty of mamas that work outside of the home are able to breastfeed and pump which is seriously admirable since I've never been a fan of pumping. I would do it if I had to, but I just don't like to do it. I used to worry about building a good stash of breastmilk stored away but G doesn't/hasn't ever taken a bottle so it was sort of pointless ha! November 6th will mark 18 months of exclusively breastfeeding and it's something I'm very proud of as I worked super hard to attain that relationship.
3. You get to be with your baby all day.
I've heard moms say that they enjoy working because it gives them a break from mom life and they are able to have adult conversations with co-workers, etc.. While I completely understand their way of thinking, for me personally it's never been a struggle. For the most part, I don't feel disconnected to the world in that way, so I am glad to stay with G all day long, and certainly don't tire of her company. (Again, no shame to those that do have a tough time being home all day - I completely understand that it isn't for everyone!)
4. You can "take a day off" whenever you need to.
If I want to go to a chiropractor appointment or eye exam, I don't need to necessarily "ask off" for those because I make my own schedule which is super nice. I also plan around our mommy and me classes that we take.
5. You make your own schedule.
This is sort of the same as number 4, and can be a blessing and a curse. I like that I can start my day at 11 a.m. if G needed me more that particular morning. I generally only work during nap and bedtime so that I don't have to be on my computer or phone much when G is awake. That doesn't mean I'm interacting with her 24/7 because I like to encourage her to play independently as often as possible, but I do like to make sure I'm supervising her fully when she's awake since she is still so young. I do have friends that work from home and have nannies and babysitters come during a scheduled time and I can definitely understand how great of a resource that could be!
6. You can't really communicate.
It can literally take DAYS to answer a text message from my loved ones, and I feel like a horrible person for letting it sit unanswered, but I've barely had time to eat or use the restroom, there's no way I'll have time to sit and type out a text. I feel horrible and I actually have several texts waiting to be answered right now. I'll get to those later this week, I suppose. The guilt is real...
7. You don't sleep.
This is a big one and something I didn't expect. I guess it's sort of my fault since I refuse to work while G is awake but my lack of sleep isn't attributed to G. She sleeps great! I just stay up working because it's the only large chunk of time I can get things done. I generally spend anywhere from 4-5 hours after bedtime working.
8. You are constantly making choices.
Should I eat lunch or should I send an email or fill out my accounting excel sheet? Should I use the restroom or make some coffee. All day there are choices to be made about what will get done and what won't. The struggle is majorly real.
9. You feel horrible when you can't give your baby your full attention.
This is for all the mamas who do have to work during the hours of 9 and 5. I know there are a ton of you and you are just hustling so you can stay with you babies but still make that paycheck. I know what that feels like - I've tried it and it makes me feel awful. You are still amazing though. Know that much.
10. You never really stop working, and if you do - the guilt creeps in.
I guess I could stop doing my work, but that would mean less income, haha. I do wish I could take more of those quiet moments during G's nap and bedtime for myself. I would love to snuggle up with a book and some green tea, or do some relaxing and de-stressing yoga exercises. But for now... I work instead.
I honestly never saw myself as a working-from-home mom and I don't think I'll do it forever. I miss teaching a lot but for now this works and I try to enjoy each moment that I do get to see my baby and spend with her. Until then, to my friends and family: I'm so sorry for the texts that go unanswered, the emails that sit for days, the phone calls I haven't made and for my general lack of interest. It isn't because I don't love you or need you. It's because my life is busy. Way busier than I ever imagined it would be. The days and weeks fly by, and I do understand that I'm fortunate to be so busy, but please, understand when I say, it isn't you. It's me.
*Photos thanks to Brittany LeSueur