Whether you're a working, stay-at-home, or work-at-home mom,
the grass always seems greener on the other side. But is it really?
Having been all three in the past three years, Working Mom 3.0 creator
Stephanie Taylor Christensen looks back on what she's learned.
When I worked full time with no kids, I would’ve been thrilled to hear of Yahoo’s new maternity leave policy (mothers who give birth now receive up to 16 weeks paid leave), hoping that it would have a trickle-down effect on my own employer. But now that I'm a stay-at-home working mom, whether a person gets six weeks leave or six months of maternity leave doesn't top my concerns. Not because I don't care about the rights of working mothers, but because when you're a work-at-home mom, there is no leave of any kind — not even for popping out a brand new human! In celebration of my three year anniversary of work at home motherhood, here are some other things I've learned about what it takes to survive — and thrive.
When I first began working from home while caring for my son, I vowed to slash costs everywhere, handling the cleaning, yard work, home repairs, errands, cooking, parenting (with my husband, of course), and business prospecting — all by myself. For the first two years I managed to do just that when my child slept. Eventually, I realized I couldn’t keep that demanding schedule. Putting short-term financial impact aside, channel your energy into the tasks that will help you build the work-at-home arrangement you want. You can save money by doing it all, but it comes with a cost.
Every Sunday night, I make a “to do” document outlining my upcoming deadlines and other administrative tasks. I try to limit my list to an amount of work I should be able to conquer in a week’s time, but as all work-at-home moms know, office hours are frequently interrupted by a kid's (or dog's) need to go pee-pee, an unplanned desire for more play and less nap, and your own sporadic impulses to change the laundry, unload the dishwasher, or sneak in a quick kitchen mopping. Keep hoping for the best, but accept what’s realistic in the time you have.
Productivity experts recommend a clear work space for ultimate clarity. What's on my desk aside from a laptop? A pair of socks (clean), some goggles, two canisters of play-doh, and a Lightning McQueen placemat. I can only guess they're a by-product of failed multitasking. Know that there will be days where your child throws a one-hour tantrum over a Batman shirt that’s being washed (yesterday), or refuses to nap (today). On these occasions, working for someone else in a quiet office for eight hours sounds easier. Then remind yourself that you wouldn’t see your child most of the day in that scenario. Working with play-doh next to your arm suddenly seems like a small price to pay.
I used to hear myself babbling on about the fact that although I stay at home, I'm not really a stay-at-home mom, and though I work, I do it from home, but am paid for it. Then I finally realized that my validation won't come from the admiration of others or even a paycheck. When your kids are grown, they'll (hopefully) realize all you sacrificed for them. Ideally, you’ll also look back and be thankful that for all the challenge, you were there for the first steps, the bike rides and the homework. If you’re happy with your choice, that’s all that matters.
The modern woman is redefining what it means to have a successful career. Rather than feeling torn between climbing the corporate ladder and having a happy family life, many women are choosing to merge the two and transition their careers from a traditional role to a more flexible one. Working Mom 3.0 is reinventing the definition of "working mom," as office hours are held at home and revolve around nap times.
This column begins by chronicling the experiences of Stephanie Taylor Christensen, a former marketing professional turned self-employed stay-at-home mom, writer and yoga instructor, as she strives to redefine "having it all" on her own time and terms.
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