Dear Crissy

A question for WAHM’s: Are you getting any work Done?

Since, having my son last year, I have referred to myself no less than a thousand times as a WAHM (work at home mom, on the off-chance someone reading is not familiar with this acronym.) I am a mom, and do most of my work as a photographer and writer from home. What I am finding, however, is that my life as a WAHM means I spend my entire day in the Mommy role, caring for my 1-year-old. During moments of downtime, I struggle to do a little housework, and maybe make dinner. Finally, I wrap up the first part of my day with a shower, and only after everyone else is tucked snugly in bed can I sit down, open my laptop, and begin my workday.

Of course, now that Evan is walking, there are very few moments during the day that I can try to sneak some work in. It was different when I could place him on a blanket in the middle of the living room, surround him with some of his favorite toys, and enjoy maybe ten minutes of distracted work. Sitting criss-cross-applesauce on the floor, hunched over a laptop, while constantly glancing up to make sure your little nugget is not trying to eat carpet lint is not the ideal work situation either.

I am starting to wonder if trying to maintain a career in any capacity while raising a toddler is feasible for me. I say for me, because there are obviously women out there making it work, while I feel like I am in need of a serious nap most of the time. I am quite sure that moms who work outside the home have their own unique blend of stress and fatigue, and believe me, I do realize how fortunate I am to be able to stay home with my baby. It is truly a wonderful gift that I would not change for anything.

My mom does babysit a few hours a week, and I’m not sure what I would do without that precious time!

For those of you working from home, do you end up staying up all night trying to get a little work done? How do you find a balance between being present for your family and meeting your professional deadlines? I would love to hear your thoughts, tips, advice and even frustration.

    21 Comments on “A question for WAHM’s: Are you getting any work Done?”

  1. Hi Crissy! Congratulations! You’re doing it already – and really well! Here’s my suggestion that works for me: Go with the flow. I know, it sounds almost too simple, but here’s the thing: Life has the wonderful ability to work through itself – it’s a course in relaxation that we humans have struggled against for a long time. Being easy on yourself and a little more, “Oh, well – what’s next?” instead of, “Oh no! What if???” allows for playing with the game of life again. If you crank out all the blogs, photos, loads of laundry, diaper changes, dinners and entertaining (children, yourself, the neighbor with conversation – whatever takes time but you feel is consuming you) there isn’t an end – or a prize. It’s all growing and changing. Being easy (on yourself) about it is the best way I’ve found to allow yourself to enjoy the activities it’s what works for me. If I’m interrupted in the middle of cropping video, photos or while writing I force myself to give in when the pressure on myself wants to build. Why? It’s a sure sign I’m taking myself FAR too seriously. Unless there is a real time deadline, I’ve learned I do my best writing and work (even dishes) when it’s part of the natural flow of my inner world. When it’s “I have to get this done, I have to do this RIGHT NOW!” I noticed it wasn’t really true: the world wasn’t going to end, I had just made up my mind I wanted life to go the way I had thought it should. We already know as mothers that is far from the truth. Life rolls along, bounces and poops, cries and vomits, spams and chirps, moves and edits with more joy when we enjoy the ride more. I think it’s the best gift that Evan is walking and reminding you how to dance around the rhythm of life and the world. I say that because when I was pregnant with my second child I was fearful of managing (I’m a single mother) the mayhem. My older child caught me crying while folding laundry and said, “Mama! Mama! LOOK!!! I can walk. . .” and danced around the table I was using to fold the clothes. At 5 years old this soul knew, and taught, what mattered: health is wealth and freedom. You will fulfill your dreams, you can’t get these days back. For Mother’s Day my wish is for life to show you, every day in every way:
    You can trust your process to unfold beautifully, wonderfully, joyfully and magically with abundance and prosperity included in every step. Happy (early) Mother’s Day!

  2. Oh my goodness. How I wish blogs like yours had been around when my kids were little. The only wisdom I have to share is: keep a journal. I was struggling to do Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way (workbook) and scribbled the recommended 3 pages of brain-drain free writing in a composition book when I could. Now that I have the time (and am sleeping through the night) this record of those wonderful horrible delicious and excruciating moments are the fodder for making something out of the experience (in my case, a comedy webseries about being a wife and mother with a high-maintenance husband, an addiction to caffeine and an over-active inner voice: The Louise Log). ENJOY

  3. I did it with two toddlers. They entertained each other. (11 mos. apart)

    Now they’re 5, 4, and I have another toddler. The older ones entertain and watch over the younger one.

    You either leave them to “play independently” (known as neglect in attachment parenting circles I am NOT in) or you do what a friend of mine did and get a big ol’ baby gate like they had in Rugrats (but bigger)

    There are ways to do it, I’m just not sure they are acceptable compromises for the type of parent you want to be. (I mean that in a “you’re probably a much BETTER parent than I am” way LOL)

  4. This is such a true topic. I am struggling with the time thing too. We have 2 young boys at home and my 'work' life is very parallel to yours! It's comforting to know that we're not alone in being at home trying to work. Our shift begins when the kids go to sleep for the night … I call it my '8-2' shift. However, there comes a time when you have to shut it down for a night or two just to regroup and SLEEP. It's something that I'm trying to do without, but the reality is that we do need it in order to function. I wouldn't have it any other way right now though, I'm at home with my boys! My family is my first love!!

  5. I was not sure how to reply to you….new at this and I just wanted to say I have so many friends that i wish i could take over and let them have free time for what ever is needed.Mine is 27 and is great with other children as myself and I find I wish that i could just have you help me with computer questions and i can have a ball with your little one…is it one or two. Its hard and then school ,homework,meals,family fun,and in between your own business or a affiliate.How do ya do it,strenghth,love of the time spent with your child,and you wouldnt give it up for the world.I see that now that my son is older,miss it and the one man i wanted to have my second child and marry passed away.that was a hard one but we some how get thru it. Away ;; seem blessed I really wish all men can help and be with you to help when you need it.That itself is a huge asset in trying to run a business,parties,online presentations and so much more.Even a 10minute MAKEUP TIME IS NICEto sit and relax,WellIm in NY if you ever need help…otherwise keep up the great work.9/22

  6. I was never able to manage to get any work done when Maggie was home and awake- only during naptimes. Which is why we made the decision to do part-time daycare from the time she was 10 weeks old. Just once a week to start, but having that one magical day just for work was AMAZINGLY helpful. It allowed me to separate in my mind Work Time and Mommy Time. Not that it eliminated the guilt/pulled-in-both-directions feeling completely, but it helped. (And we've stuck with part time because a) HOLY EXPENSIVE, BATMAN and b) I still want to be a mom with my kids, just not every day ;) heh)

  7. Hi Crissy ! I love this post. I have a son who is almost 5 and a daughter who is almost 2 . Between them , my day goes by in a blink of an eye. My experience is that kids need constant attention. We can wish that they play by themselves ( some do ) . But, if a mom is the sole carer of the child AND works from home, it is my humble opinion that life is easy IF we seperate the two ! Work when you work and don't work when you watch your kids. It doesn't gel at all. Multi tasking works well – if you cook and email and sketch or talk on the phone. But, emailing your client/customer/boss while you change diapers and make playdough is definitely not productive. I have tried and tested all of the above !! I am a mom when the kids are around , doing silly stuff ! I work on my new business when they are resting/ sleeping or if their dad watches them. Unfortunately I don't have family around to pitch in :( So, I do what I can when I can :)
    Having said all of the above, I am commenting this, while my kids are playing around me – at my parents' place ! I am away on vacation and YES ! I can take a break now :)) Thanks, mom !!

  8. Yes I have the same struggles all day long. It was very hard to fit in work when both of my children were toddlers and into everything. I would stay up to 11 pm working because that is the only time had to focus. Since my youngest has started preschool it has gotten much better. This past summer I thought I was losing my mind trying to keep the kids busy and keep up with my clients. Most days, my house is a mess. One place that has really helped is my local YMCA. I take my son there for a couple hours & I sit in that lobby and work. When you are a member of the Y the childwatch is free. It has been my lifesaver! :)

  9. Hi Crissy, This post caught my eye. I work full-time outside of the home. I have a toddler and an 8 month old. It's a juggle for sure! I try to keep it positive and light hence my blog! I will admit I have my moments of fatigue, stress and even a tear or two. I don't know how I manage it but I just do… with help from my hubby, too. I have learned to let things go like laundry or dusting. My time with them so small will pass quickly and I want to enjoy evey minute!

  10. I'm not officially a work at home mom, but I'm working on lots of sewing projects to start an Etsy shop and I've started doing a lot of reviews and giveaways on my blog, which I'm learning is a lot of work. My daughter will be 12 months Oct. 6 and I've been feeling the EXACT same way! Before she became so active it was a lot easier, but now, unless she's sleeping I cannot do anything that requires concentration. Therefore, I've been burning the midnight oil. I'm going to have to slow down on the blogging after my events this fall, and focus on just the sewing, making small goals for each day. It's nice to know I'm not the only one struggling with this! I wonder so often how people do it and just this morning was telling my husband that I was frustrated with myself because I feel like I get so easily overwhelmed.

  11. I'm not a WAHM, right now I am a part time employee taking time off to be a SAHM. When I had my first child 9 yrs ago I worked full time nights for 6 months until we decided to move from the SF bay area to my hubs' home town in Iowa… so I could be a full time SAHM instead of staying up all night then crashing while she was sleeping. From then on I was a SAHM until #2 came and turned 3. So 61/2 years of being a SAHM and still to this day I say I don't know how moms and WAHMs do it. I honestly can't wrap my head around it. I once had a thriving blog that earned small amounts every few months with ads and reviews, but that went to the way side when I started working and that was only PT. So kudos to you! Even though you are struggling, you're making it work where I working only part time could not. Keep up the good work, yuo should feel very accomplished (and exhausted I'm sure!) :)

  12. I completely understand you, I'm in the same boat. I have a 19 month daughter who just wants my attention all day non-stop. She loves to play with kids, but when I am the only other person around, I'm her play buddy. So I think it will get worse for you as he gets older and then it will get better! I'm looking forward to when she can play for at least half an hour on her own! :) I work 10-15 hours part time online, and then I have my blog to keep up with. On a good day I manage to do laundry, make 3 meals, and make homemade bread or cookies. But that's on a GOOD day, and most of them don't go so smoothly lately. Thankfully I have my mom once a week for 3 hours or so, and my husband occasionally helps out – but that's rare. I work when she naps and after she goes to bed, and it does leave me exhausted!

  13. I currently work outside the home and I'm still up late just taking care of all the household chores. I can't imagine having to give up my down time with my husband to work into the wee hours of the night if I do decide to become a WAHM down the road when I have more children.

  14. The only thing that saved me when Hanna was little was the Mother's Day Out program two days a week. I would cram 6 hours of work into that two to three hour time frame. That and existing on very little sleep. Now that the kids are older and in school you would think it would be so much easier (and it is during the day), but now I work full time and the kids are only in school and gone for 6 of those hours. That means I have to work in the other two hours a day while they are here or sleeping, plus there is our franchise business that we own and my writing/blogging. I usually feel like I am several steps behind and find myself envying my husband who only has about 1 hour of work to do after he comes home, where I am still left with several. I don't have the answers, but somehow have managed to make it work for the past 8 years. I'm sure this doesn't make you feel any better :)

  15. This kind of scares me. I'm due in Nov, and starting in Feb the plan is that I'll be a WAHM at least part time (with the rest of my time in an office). So far the plan is for us to have a nanny while I'm in the office, but not necessarily while I'm at home. The thing is that my job requires 40 hrs/week, so I'm dreading the idea of working late into the night to make up the rest of my time!

  16. Oy. I work from home as a marketing & pr manager for a company across the country (we used to live in NY, now AZ) and have a 20mo. Even though we’re able to juggle our schedules and bring a sitter in a few hours a week, just knowing Otto is right in the next room is a huge distraction when I’m “at work”. I had to train myself not to rush out every time I heard him cry or laugh or heard a thump or a pipsqueeky voice saying “mama” ! I don’t know how any WAHM who doesn’t have help can possibly do it without staying up til 3am! But like you and some of the commentors I also deeply appreciate my situation. Especially when O was a “baby” baby it was ideal.

  17. As you know, Zachary is in preschool, and I still have sto stay up until 2am to get all of my work done. Being a WAHM is VERY tough!

  18. I'm a WAHM and, like you, I do most of my work at night when the kids are asleep. But they are older (4 and 6) and the older they get, the longer they can entertain themselves safely, without me hovering. So now I can get an hour or two of work in during the day. But not if they were only a year old! It will get easier for you as your child gets older. It's great that your mother helps a bit but can you get more help like that? Also, Baby Einstein videos make good babysitters for toddlers! Good luck.

  19. It's sooo hard to get anything done during the day with the kiddos around, I'm glad nothing I need to get done life and death or you, know it would be the death part! lol

  20. Ha! I work from home but there is absolutely NO way I could get anything done if my son was home with me during the day. I am lucky enough to have a wonderful sister-in-law who watches him part of the week and my mom does the other part. I just don't think it's feasible to expect a VERY active 8-month old to basically fend for himself while I try and get my full-time job accomplished. Plus, where's the socialization going to come from? It's great in theory but hard in practice to be a WAHM!

  21. I have four kids all currently under four. (I guess you can say that I was busy!). Yeah, it's a huge struggle right now. I'm doing freelance web design, freelance photography and anything else I can do right now to keep my family afloat. I completely understand how hard it is to balance being a mom and working from home. It's a huge struggle. Preschool may also be out of the question as I know it's super expensive.

    I used to work for a daycare center that was started by my mother in law and she had a client that worked from her own home. Once her daughter was about 18 months she put her in the daycare because she was having a hard time watching her while trying to work.

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