One thing I have never understood was the ongoing argument that stay at home moms (SAHM) have it easier than moms who have a traditional job. This is nonsense. Whether you work at home and are paid (or not) or if you get up each day and drive into work and have kids – you are a working mother. Plain and simple. We all work hard – we just do it differently.
While I have not ever worked outside of the home since I’ve had my kids, I’ve had a period of time when I did not have a job outside of taking care of my kids and my house. Several years ago, I started this website and added the role of employee to that of mom and wife. I’ve experienced some challenges trying to juggle taking care of my kids along with working. There are still days when I get it wrong and have to work harder the next day to find a better balance.
I have had friends who work outside of the home say that it is tough as they have to fit in cleaning, homework, shopping and what not outside of the time that the are not at work. I completely understand and empathize with them. What a lot of people may not realize is how difficult it can be to work from home when you have kids. Some may think that it would be great to get the housework and shopping done during the day, but that doesn’t always happen.
I’ve also had people ask me how I can do it all. All I do is try. I am not superwoman. I’m no better than anyone else. I have the same struggles as everyone else and every single day is a challenge to find the right balance of working and tending to my kids. I make a LOT of mistakes. I may get sucked into the computer longer than I intend. There are times when I am late responding to emails or deadlines because I’m playing with my kids. And, before someone says that is the way it should be, it is important to know that I run a business and just because I am a mom, it does not mean that it is OK to miss taking care of work related issues timely.
So, if you want to know how I do it, here goes. This, is what an average day working at home, with three young children just might look like:
I roll out of bed at around 6:30 (on the days that my youngest is not actually up by 6 am). I usually sneak in some snuggles before she is asking me to get her something for breakfast and to put her favorite show on television. I get her settled and sit down for a minute, thinking I might be able to check my email while she is enthralled in her morning episode of Doc McStuffins, when my oldest usually comes down the steps.
I usually have a moment of dejavu as I need to get breakfast for her as well. I stop what I’m doing and make sure that she gets something to eat. Around this time, I go get the dog and feed her breakfast and put her in the backyard. Just as I sit down (the girls are entertained for a few minutes)…..you guessed it…..my son gets up and also asks for his breakfast. I’m happy to get him what he needs (including that coloring page he wants or the paper or truck from the basement). I make sure the girls are also OK and don’t need anything more while I am up. Once again, I sit down and attempt to work.
Within 15 minutes (if I am lucky to survive that long), I am beckoned for a refill on chocolate milk. After a few “I didn’t hear you’s” (waiting for the “please” I require from my kids), I get up and get her something to drink. While I’m up, I go ahead and let the dog inside and may sneak up the steps and throw a load in the washing machine. Or, as usually happens, I just turn the machine back on and toss in more soap as I forgot about the load I started yesterday and now it needs to be washed again.
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Once that is done, I sit down again. Around this time, the kids are done eating and playing together. On a good day, I can usually make it around 30 minutes before someone starts fighting…..or yelling….or crying. After a long sigh, I get up and take care of the issue (or might just tell them that they need to figure out the problem on their own). I settle back in and can usually fit in an hour of work. YEAH!!! I’m done working. Well, at least done with one job (for now).
I head up the steps and gather the troops to tell them to do their morning chores: make their beds, pick up their rooms, get dressed, brush their teeth and comb their hair. Once they are done, I might have a few minutes to actually try to sneak in a shower. I’ll admit that there are days when I don’t get in a shower until after we go to the pool (say around 3 or 4). However, on a good day, I can fit in my shower before 11 am! Once I’m dressed, we will head out to the store, play school, play hide and seek. I let the kids have an equal say in deciding what we’ll do.
After another hour or two, it is time for me to change my hat again and work on the house. I need to clean up the breakfast dishes, sweep the floor and get more laundry done (and maybe sneak onto Facebook to check my page for questions from readers). I always ask the kids to come back downstairs to pick up the items that have already made it down the steps (which is more than you might think). This is usually pretty successful whenever I say if they don’t, toys might end up in toy jail. Once we are done, all 3 kids head off to play together and that actually works for me….until I have to break up another argument or take away the pirate eye patch as they are fighting over it…….again.
We make it to lunchtime and so I whip up something fun for the kids (during which I sometimes play restaurant where I am the waitress taking orders). Once they all have their lunch, I might have a moment to make something for myself. I sit back down to try to work again for an hour or two. In a perfect world I would be able to get 2 hours of work done in 2 hours. I may sit for 2 hours, but I am lucky if I get 1 hours’ worth of work completed between the requests for drinks, ending fights, printing coloring pages or just to ask mommy questions. Don’t take me wrong, I love my kids with all of my heart, but oh what I would not give once in a while to work for an hour without an interruption.
At this point, I usually pull out my little red tomato timer and place it on the corner of my desk. This is a sign to my kids that I am working hard and trying to wrap up my work so that I can do something with them. It sometimes actually works. Oh, who am I kidding? It rarely works. My oldest is really good about seeing the timer and knowing that I need a little time to get my work done so I can do something with them. My younger two try, but hey, it is hard not to cry to mommy when you find a scratch on your finger that is 3 days old and you really need a bandage at that very moment.
As we head into the afternoon we will play outside, go bowling, hit the pool or whatever my kids decide they would like to do that day. We spend some time trying to fit in some fun together. When we get home, the phone rings as it is time for a call I had set up (knowing that this should be a good time of the day). Of course, as it rings, someone decides to have a meltdown. This means I have to ask if I can return the call in 10 minutes, allowing me time to get my child(ren) calmed down.
Once the call ends, it is time for an afternoon snack, I take that 15 minutes to get on line and take care of a few things. I’ll admit that my 15 minute session usually ends up being 30 – 45 minutes. This is the time of day when I rarely am interrupted, so I take full advantage and seize the moment!
Once I’m done, I log off and tend to the laundry again and plan ahead for dinner. Once my husband gets home and is settled, he’ll take over and tend to the kids if I need to log on. Wait. Let me rephrase that. My husband gets home and TRIES to tend to the kids. I really think that he must be a superhero with invisibility powers as my kids never seem to see him sitting right beside me in the chair and never ask him for anything. (I am sure some of you can relate to this – can’t you? Surely it is not only my kids who can’t see their father).
We get through dinnertime and by this time, I am wiped. After a day of housework, blogging and playing with my kids, I am just exhausted. My husband is amazing and will usually take the kids up the steps to get a bath. That allows me a few minutes to sneak on line. Or, dare I say it, a few minutes to read or do absolutely NOTHING.
After baths are done, the kids will have 30 – 45 minutes until bedtime. My husband will sometimes play with them or they just want to play alone. This is one of my rare free moments of the day. We usually spend the evenings very low key. Once the younger two are off to bed, I might play cards or Clue with my daughter. She often likes to curl up next to me on the sofa and just watch Ruff Ruffman (which she DVRd that day). It isn’t about always being active with us, just being on the couch with her is sometimes exactly what she needs from me.
Once my kids are in bed, I get back online. I get my lists ready for the following day. I may prepare some posts ahead of time. I will respond to my emails. I try (not always very successfully) to work ahead so that the next day I can get up and do it all over again.
I share this not to discredit the work any mom does. Not in the slightest. I don’t think I work harder than any other mom out there. I work differently. If a mom works at home, she may fully relate to the way my day goes. It might help her to know that she is not alone. We all work hard. We all love our kids. However, who among us doesn’t just wish for 10 minutes during the middle of the day when we could sit down and read a book and not feel guilty about it when there is so much more to do?
And now, since it is nearly 10:30 at night, I need to get busy checking my email………or maybe I’ll just go to bed.