After about 2.5 years of working from home, this September I decided my family deserved to have my full attention. My last day working for the radio station was October 31. I was a bit nervous about our family losing my income, but overall felt pretty confident in my decision. Our loans will now be getting paid back slower and we won’t be doing any renovations on our house for several years. But I thought that seemed like a fair trade so that my kids didn’t have to share their mom with about 30 clients.
Now that my work days are two and a half months in the past, I look at the decision as one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. And I wanted to share some of the misconceptions people have regarding working from home.
When people heard I worked from home the immediate response was always “you’re so lucky!” People mean well when they say this, I know they do. But by the end, the phrase made me cringe. And I don’t want to sound ungrateful when I say it wasn’t luck that allowed me to work from home, but here’s why it wasn’t.
First of all I chose a job in a field (radio sales) which allows most employees schedule flexibility, with my eventual goal of raising a family in mind. Radio sales was only part of my job when I was full time at the station, but a part that I held onto because I knew it could be done remotely and that some day I may need to take advantage of that.
In my time as a full time employee at the station I worked hard to make myself invaluable to my boss. When I told him I was pregnant with Lennon and could no longer afford to work full time I felt certain he would ask me to keep my sales responsibilities and work from home on a commission basis. (But I wanted him to be the one to suggest it so it didn’t seem like allowing me to do so would be him doing me any sort of favor.)
So that covers why it wasn’t a lucky situation that I just happened to fall into but something that took forethought and work. Of course, my boss didn’t have to offer me the option to work from home, despite my labors. I admit luck played a role. But luck should not be getting all the credit here!
Then comes actually working from home…. “that’s so nice to work from the comfort of your home”, “how convenient to be able to set your own schedule”, “that’s great to be able to take care of your kids while doing your work.” Yeah… sort of.
When you think of working from home you think you’ll have a lot of say over what hours you’ll be working. And I’m sure for some people that’s true. But that was not the case for my job. It was more like being on call throughout the entire work day for 1/3 of the pay and then frantically trying to get to as much as possible once my husband was home for the evening. With 30 clients able to call at any minute and often needing something immediately, I tried several times to have certain hours that I focused on work, so that my kids could have my attention during the other times…. but it never happened. Because I couldn’t ignore anyone who called me during the “other times”.
Working from the comfort of your home is a phrase that just did not apply to me… I felt more like I lived in my office because of the above scheduling dilemmas. And yes, it sounds great to work in your PJs. But when you’ve been wearing the same pajamas for 3 days and you’re covered in spit up… I bet you’d rather have a daycare to drop the kids off at when a client decides they want to meet that afternoon… which brings me to another point. People would say well why don’t you bring the kids to daycare when you get backed up? Or when something comes up last minute? Because no daycare will keep 2 slots open for kids I might drop off twice a week and I might drop off once a month… Daycares can’t be profitable or operational by letting Moms like me drop their kids off whenever “work from home” gets to be too much.
They say the grass is always greener on the other side. I’m not writing this to make myself out to be a victim of an impossible situation. Working away from your kids sucks, you miss them. Not working sucks, you need more money. For this reason I think a lot of people think working from home is the best of both worlds. And they’re right. But it’s also the worst of both worlds. You have all the stress of work and of kids at the same time. And the guilt of not getting to work quick enough. And worse, the guilt of not giving your kids the attention they are seeking.
I’m writing this as food for thought for those considering working from home. I knew working from home with my 2 little ones would be challenging. But I don’t think I realized the extent of it. And I’m writing this to remind myself of the challenges. 1. Because I’m proud of myself for juggling my priorities as long as I did. And 2. Because in a year when I can’t afford a fancy vacation I may be wishing I didn’t give up the income I had… and this might remind me how much more valuable the day to day interactions I can now have with my kids are.
Rushing my kids home from the playground because a client called me at 1:00 and now I need to get an order placed by 2:00 is no longer something I have to worry about. When we have play dates with our friends I won’t have to feel guilty every time a client calls and I have to tell them “No I can’t get that started by tomorrow.” Or worse, spend the whole play date writing scripts from my kindle and calling the office to try to get the order placed without the accurate forms because it NEEDS to be on by tomorrow. I won’t have to close myself in another room to call a client back while my kid screams on the other side of the door. I will not miss any of this!
I’m so grateful to close this chapter of my life and move onto the next one.
Working from home was a very significant part of who I was and has helped shaped me into who I now am. The Mom I am. It was not lucky. It was hard work. So that I don’t seem completely ungrateful though by saying it wasn’t lucky, here are some things I do consider lucky in my life:
- I am lucky for my health and the health of my family
- I am lucky to have been born to a loving family and one that could afford to take care of me
- I’m lucky to be born in a country where I am free
- I am lucky to be born in an age with so many medical advancements (otherwise I’m positive I would have literally died in childbirth, if something like the plague didn’t get me before then.)
- I am lucky to have met Peter at the time in my life that I was ready to meet my soul mate.
And so much more! And now I’m off to enjoy time with my kiddoes!!