Once children are born, it’s common for parents to alter the way in which they work. The specific way in which those patterns of work change differ hugely between families and also change and develop as children grow and also as more children are born into a family, and parents try to work out how to juggle work and family commitments and responsibilities.
Choices and trade offs
A while back I wrote about how as mothers we are told we have lots of ‘choices’ but really what we have are tough trade offs. Nothing about modern motherhood is simple or easy and that’s the problem with the modern day mummy. There is no longer a ‘typical mum’, or a simple definition of a mother. We are expected to be everything to everyone all of the time, to take on every role in our lives with ease.
We are criticised no matter what arrangements we have as mothers and no matter what our work/life balance is.
Perhaps we make a decision to work part time. Perhaps to continue working full time. Perhaps we stay at home with the children. Perhaps it’s a combination of all these things, or perhaps we do all of these things at some point in time.
Whatever we do, it’s rarely because it’s the ‘easy’ option. Rather, we spend time balancing the possibilities and settle for what will work best at that point in time.
Work from home mums (WFHM)
Since having children I’ve personally worked full time and had to put children into paid childcare full time and also been a WFHM. For the last 8 years I have worked from home whilst caring for children, having realised that working full time away from the home was no longer a viable option, nor one I could live with.
There has, during this time been a rise in the number of mums and dads working from home, around the needs of their family.
This, in turn has bought with it particular perceptions of work from home parents, and from my experience, in particular work from home mums.
What working from home does not mean
There seem to be a lot of misconceptions and opinions about mums who work from home. In my experience there is rarely an acknowledgment that this is hard work, or perhaps even really ‘work’ at all.
Working from home does not mean I cruise the coffee shops all day, or that I can pop out for coffee whenever I choose – I don’t even like coffee!
When I say I’m working from home, I do actually mean just that. It’s not what I say when I fancy a spot of daytime TV – I couldn’t even tell you what programmes are on in the day, hell, I couldn’t tell you what programmes are on in the evening for that matter.
I am working on my business all the time, every day of the week, any minute I get. So when you see me waiting at school, or on my phone at the park, or at the queue in the supermarket, I’m not on Facebook or texting a friend – I’m working on my business, probably trying to frantically reply to that email I’ve been trying to get to all day. Although being a work from home mum affords me flexibility, sadly it does not give me extra hours in the day. Whilst I can drop off and collect my children from school, playgroup and drive around and around to after school activities, and whilst I can play dinosaurs with my toddler or read extra stories – sometimes I just need to reply to something before other people’s office hours end.
My business is just that. It is not a ‘hobby’ or some little game I’m playing to keep me busy. It is a necessity. I need to work to contribute to my family finances, as do the majority of WFHM’s – this does not tend to be the perception of outsiders though, and we are constantly left having to justify our position.
If you ring me for a chat in the two hour window I have between playgroup drop off and collection I WILL ignore your call. Why? Because that is the ONLY time I have on my own to tackle the really focused pieces of work I need to get done.
Working from home is not ‘easy’, but for some people it’s the option that works the best for them after having children.
Do you work from home? Have to been on the receiving end of any of these assumptions?