By Nicole Dean
I have a confession.
I'm a mostly-sane WAHM. I'm far from the 'got it together' work at home mom that I'd like to be.
I believe that there are a lot of women out there like me - clutching onto your sanity while juggling family, daily work requirements, basketball practice, ballet recitals, PTA meetings, and the many other responsibilities we carry on our shoulders.
If you've been a WAHM for more than a minute, you know the predicament we face. We chose to work from home so we could spend more time with our children. This is great in theory. What happens, though is that we end up with no scheduled and defined work time, so it becomes a struggle to find time to spend with our kids. When you hear other people say "It must be so nice to work from home so you can spend time with your kids all day", you roll on the floor laughing. If only it were so simple! Finding the balance between work and home can be a constant struggle especially when work IS home.
I remember the days when I worked out of the home in an office job. I had two separate and distinct compartments in my life. There was the office, where I could work in peace and quiet, focus on projects and be productive. And, then there was home, where I was able to focus on my children and have fun. I had scheduled working hours, and also distinct family time.
Now, I have the 'hom-ffice', an odd melding of home and office. The line between the two compartments is unclear. My office is now an extension of home. And, home is becoming an extension of my office.
Because of this dilemma, I find that I've got the focus of a gnat. Here's how my work day goes.
I wake up, grab a cup of coffee, and sit in front of the computer to check my email. Fifty new messages. No problem. I get ready to tackle the first one.
"Dear Nicole, I was wondering if you might be interested in"..
"juice in a sippy cup, pretty please my pretty mommy?"
Whoa!! Ok, brain switch! I turn and look at my little girl who just crawled out of bed. She is a perfect picture of childhood, with her big brown eyes, sweaty wildly curly hair and big grin. I hug this rosy-cheeked angel and go to the kitchen to get juice. Then, I sit back down and attempt to read my email
"Dear Nicole, I was wondering if you might be interested in my
new affiliate program selling" ...
"the new Lego robot I built!"
Brain switch again. I swivel my office chair and see my son, his blue eyes twinkling, and his face beaming proudly, holding up his Lego creation. I 'ooh' and 'ahhh' over the new Lego invention -- a robot that can climb walls. I rub his blonde head and tell him how wildly creative he is. He grins and goes back to Lego-building.
I swivel back to work, and try to get as much done as I can between the many interruptions, karate practice, dinner and bedtime stories. Oftentimes, late at night, you can find me working, while watching late night TV shows. My husband comes in to check on me. I swivel my chair to get my good-night kiss and I tell him that I just want to wrap up a few last projects. I stagger to bed late at night only to start again, before the kids wake up in the morning.
Are you seeing the pattern? Is there any wonder that I'm mostly-sane? Look at your own days and I'll bet they are very similar to mine.
Despite the frazzled hours and days, and all the distractions, I love being a WAHM. The honest truth is that I wouldn't trade my job for any corporate job in America.
However, as I meet more and more work at home moms, it's becoming apparent that I'm not alone in my struggles. Other moms are setting expectations that are just not matching reality. What can we do about it?
1. Reclaim your office:
If you have one room that you can dedicate to your work, stake your claim on it. Clear out all toys and non-work items. Make your "hom-ffice" a real office. No more messing around with half a commitment to your business. Your office is your turf. Protect it.
2. Buy a timer:
If your children are old enough to understand the concept of time, invest in a timer. It's a life saver. The next time you need uninterrupted working time, tell the kids that you're setting the timer for 20 minutes. If they give you 20 minutes of uninterrupted work time, then reward them with quality time with you. Play a board game together or go to the park.
Set goals this month to reclaim your work area and your time, and you will take a step closer to being a happy, relaxed, and successful WAHM!
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