To say "parenting is hard" would be the understatement of the century. Parenting two small children while attempting to work from home, on the other hand, is, well...just plain funny. And crazy. And certainly not glamorous.
My second and youngest child, Brady, is six months old today. His short life has flown by more quickly than I ever could have dreamed possible, as has the life of my oldest, who will be four in a few short days. As my children grow and change with each passing moment, I reflect on the joy, pain, and comedy of being a full-time "work-from-home" mama. That said, I've come up with a list of five reasons working from home is not for the faint of heart.
Reason #1: Potty Breaks
The baby's finally taking a nap? Great! Maybe I can get a little bit of work done. Ya know, possibly one social media post before he starts screaming again.
And then it happens: "Mama! I need to potty!" Yes, my almost-four-year-old is fully potty trained, but even the best potty-goer needs assistance occasionally, even if only to make sure she gets her pants pulled down in time. Especially since she has a tendency to put off going to the bathroom until the very last possible minute.
Ok, got the girl to the bathroom in time - just narrowly avoiding a mid-day, post-accident shower - and now I can get back to work. I grab the laptop, get comfy in the rocking chair, and start to brainstorm. I then get distracted by the loud "thud" of a door slamming. The preschooler has decided she's "mad" at her pretend boyfriend, and thus, feels the overwhelming need to slam her bedroom door.
And the baby is awake.
Reason #2: Working in Pajamas
You may be thinking, "You get to work in your pajamas? I'd kill for that!" But trust me, it's not all it's cracked up to be. Working in pj's just means I haven't had time to shower yet, and that I'm a mess. I often miss the days of waking up, showering immediately, fixing my hair, getting dressed in a skirt and heels, and "putting on" my face. There's something cathartic about looking your best; it boosts your confidence.
These days? It's only on the rare, special occasion that I'm able to take time to actually put on makeup. And forget straightening my hair. I mean, ponytails are cute, right?
Reason #3: Incomplete Tasks
When my husband and I decided I'd take the leap and quit my full-time, out-of-home job to be with the kids and work on my writing career, I was stoked. I thought, "Wow! I'll have soooo much time! I'll get soooo much done!" Wrong. While it's true that my work is extremely flexible, there are still only 24 hours in a day. And I do need to sleep at some point.
Dealing with a baby and a preschooler while trying to meet deadlines - and spit out enough articles to meet my quota for the day - is no joke. Seriously. The house is a mess about 90 percent of the time, laundry piles up, and what should take half an hour to write ends up taking half the day. Where did all those promising hours go?!
Reason #4: Cold Coffee
Every day is the same. I turn on the coffee pot, fill it with water, and put in the coffee grounds. A few minutes later, I pour myself a nice cup of smooth, rich, hot coffee. Ah, that's the stuff!
An hour later and my cup is still full. Breastfeeding, making breakfast, helping with potty breaks, putting the baby to sleep, and answering a million questions from the preschooler have all gotten in the way of drinking my wonderful, soul-lifting, energy-producing, hot coffee. Now I just have a cup of cold, bitter liquid. So I reheat. And repeat.
Reason #5: Smelling Like Spit-Up
Sure, if you work outside of the home and have a baby, you'll often smell like spit-up. But because I'm home all day with the baby, I get spewed on several times throughout the day. And because I've got nowhere to go, I don't bother to change clothes. Thus, I adopt a constant smell. I might as well bottle the stuff and call it perfume.
Why do I do it?
So. If this is all true - which, I promise, it is - why in the world would anyone choose this life? I'll tell you: for love. There's nothing I enjoy more than being able to wake up to my little ones in the morning, hug and kiss them all day, and then put them to bed each night. I get to go to every single class party and field trip at my daughter's preschool - I'd never give up seeing the look on her face when I tell her I'll be spending the morning with her at school. And I get the very special honor of providing my baby's every meal, nourishing him from my own body and watching him grow as a result of it.
In no way am I saying that working from home is the only way to raise a family; it's just the way that works for mine. Even though I may complain or joke about the difficulties of it all, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I know I'm lucky to have this opportunity. Scratch that - I'm blessed.
I know what it's like to feel the tears on your cheeks when you have to leave your newborn baby in the morning. I've experienced the guilt of missing your child reach an important milestone in her young life. I've felt the horrendous pain of a child tugging on your hand, begging you not to go.
So, to all you mamas facing these heart-wrenching emotions day after day, I admire you. Keep your head up and stay strong. You're giving your family exactly what it needs, and your children love you for it.