For many years I was a full-time working mom. I had a three-hour round-trip commute and my life felt crazy, but I did it well.
Fast forward a bit and I took a job closer to home, had a second child, and cut down to part time.
And that was amazing.
But then I did something crazy and quit my “real” job in favor of staying home. And while I had some semblance of a plan, it wasn’t super well thought out. But now, a year and a half later, I’m working nearly full-time from home and things seem to be working out okay.
But, as with all things, I’ve traded some challenges for new ones. Like I learned it was WAY easier to get dinner on the table when I was working outside the home than when I’m working in it.
Awhile ago Stephanie did a “day in the life as a working mom” and I thought it might be fun to do the same as a work-at-home mom. I always love seeing what life is like in other families, so I thought I’d give you a peek into mine. So here you go – what my life looks like as a mom who works from home 35ish hours a week:
5:30 am: My alarm goes off and I stumble out of bed, put on my robe, and commute to my couch. I snuggle up with a blanket and my laptop and log a couple of hours before the kids wake up. One of my biggest challenges as a work-at-home mom is that I feel like my kids see my eyeballs glued to a screen far too much, so getting up early to work not only allows me to get some things done in peace and quiet, but cuts down on the number of hours they have to actually see me working.
7:30 am: I watch my son’s friend in the morning so he arrives. Cue all the stuff every other mom does in the morning – waking kids, cooking breakfast, and making sure teeth are brushed, lunches are packed, and homework makes its way into the backpack. And also, coffee.
9:00 am: I’m home from walking the boys to the bus so it’s time to figure out how to spend the morning. My daughter is home with me. This time varies – sometimes I have appointments, go to the gym, head to MOPS, or do housework – but if I’m honest most of the time I work and Brynna fends for herself. She’s allowed a little bit of screen time each day so this is frequently where I use it, but she also does a good job playing by herself, coloring, or listening to the Disney station on Pandora far too loudly while pretending she’s on stage performing for millions. And sometimes she gets creative:
11:30 am: Lunch for Brynna. Sometimes for me.
12:30 pm: Brynna has preschool a few days a week, so these afternoons are precious. If I haven’t eaten lunch I’ll do so at my desk – typically leftovers from dinner the night before. Preschool time is always work time for me – I’m super protective of the time. It’s not a ton of child-free time (about 6 hours per week) but it again allows me to get some work done without my kids having to feel ignored. It’s not easy, though – there’s always housework begging to be done, but I’ve got to ignore it during this time.
3:00 pm: I’m home from picking my daughter up from preschool and my son will be home shortly thereafter. I typically work until about 4, and then do housework after that so it’s not a complete disaster around here when my husband gets home.
5:00 pm: This is my FAVORITE time of day. I cook dinner every night from 5-6 pm and I absolutely love it. I get my recipes out, pour a glass of kombucha, turn on the Rachael Ray show, and go to town. The kids typically play with the neighbors or toys during this time because they know that mama loves her time in the kitchen every night.
6:00 pm: Dinner time (which doesn’t always look like you think it might), then clean up. We rarely have commitments on weeknights – our kids aren’t in sports or a lot of other activities because we’re really protective of our evening time and don’t want our family pace to feel frantic or overscheduled. Sometimes I have guilt that the kids aren’t in sports but for now this is the way we prefer it.
8:30 or 9:00 pm: Kids go to bed Nope, I’m not a mom whose kids have a super early bedtime. After the kids go to bed I might work a bit more if there’s time before I go to bed.
9:30 pm: Good night. Morning comes early!
One of my biggest challenges as a work-at-home mom is that it’s hard to create good boundaries between my work life and my home life. Though I only worked 5 hours total, I started working at 5:30 am and finished working at 9:30 pm – so it actually feels like I worked all day. I’m not able to emotionally disconnect from work at any point during the day because I know I’ll be returning to it shortly. Plus, I feel loads of guilt that I’m not spending as much time with my kids as I “should” since I’m home all day – even though I know independent play time is good for them.
But I know these struggles are not unique to me – if you work outside the home, it’s hard to balance work responsibilities and home responsibilities and whether you should bring work home. If you’re a full-time stay-at-home mom, you never leave your workplace. And we all feel mom guilt because that’s just part of being a mom.
Believe me when I say that nearly every day I tell myself, “It’s a good thing I quit my job so I could ignore my daughter all day.” But despite that, I wouldn’t change a thing. I love the flexibility, I love that the pace of life is slower, and I love that I’m here for all the moments that really count and that I’m privvy to several smaller ones I would have missed if I wasn’t home all the time. Working from home presents challenges for sure, but every mom has their own set that they navigate. And if I were in a different situation some of them might disappear, but I’d have some brand-new ones to deal with.
For now, this works for our family and though I might not love every minute, I love so many of them that’s it’s completely worth it.
Are you a stay-at-home mom? Work-at-home mom? Do you work outside the home? We’d love to hear more about what your day looks like and how you manage to find balance.