Wailings Of A Work At Home Mom

The Wild and Wacky World of WAHMs!


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When Are You Going To Get A Real Job – How To Deal With Unwanted Advice

Home office

Home office (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the things that always comes up in discussion whenever I’m with my friends who also work online is how a lot of people can’t seem to help themselves and tell us that we should get a “real” job.

It doesn’t matter that I’m earning more now than I did in my old office job. It doesn’t matter that I’m working 40 hours a week. It doesn’t matter that I have a fulfilling career. It doesn’t matter that I also encounter the same kind of work related stress.

What matters is that I don’t work in an office, I don’t have a title that I could put on a calling card, I don’t have a boss that makes my life miserable, and I’m not wearing office clothes and make up. Apparently, as long as I don’t have those things, I’m not “gainfully” employed.

For the most part, the advice comes from people who care. It’s annoying but I’ve learned how to live with it. For the most part, I know that the advice stems mainly from the fact that they’re concerned about me. They want me to have my own money. They want me to help my husband with our finances. They want me to feel fulfilled. And those who care are usually happy with this response:

Thanks you for the advice and I understand that you mean well. I’m really touched that you’re concerned for me and my family. But this is the best set up for me and for my family right now, considering our circumstances. I am happy, I am fulfilled, and I have a stable income. If there’s something better out there  I would gladly take it. But for now, this is a good opportunity for me and I want to take advantage of it.

When I give them that answer, they understand. They know that they’re heard and they know I took their advice seriously. They understand that it’s not something that I can use right now but at least they know we’re both on the same side.

But what if the advice comes from people who don’t matter. Complete strangers. Acquaintances. People who think that their opinions should be set on stone and anyone blessed with their advice should follow them or else you would feel the wrath of God?

I have a ton of delicious comebacks for that =)

When are you going to get a real job…

…when my imaginary boss fires me.

…ssshhh, my imaginary boss can hear you…

…you see this (my house), this is all an illusion. We’re actually in a real office. That office that you’re working in is actually your house and you’re working from home.

…when I stop making real money from my fake job.

…when they start letting me wear pajamas to work.

…when a real job can do all my chores, babysit, and errands for me.

…when they release me from house arrest.

…when I can bring my fridge to work.

…I’m enjoying the real responsibilities of my fake job too much to quit.

…but I can’t leave my imaginary officemates. They depend on me.

…I have a real job. I mentally project myself into an office everyday.

…once I get the controls of the TARDIS right, then I’ll be back in an office in my real job.

…once I’m able to climb out of this black hole I call my home office.

…when I shop for groceries again. I’m going to get a  real job, with real milk, butter, sugar…

…and miss “Walking Dead”? No way…

…once I find a cure for my condition, real-job-itis.

Please let me know if you guys have any funny or witty comeback for this. Would love to hear how you guys responded to this annoying question.


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Bringing up Baby While Working

Imagine my baby sleeping like that on my lap while I'm working on my laptop. That was my work at home life 2 years ago.

Imagine my baby sleeping like that on my lap while I’m working on my laptop. That was my work at home life 2 years ago.

It feels like yesterday when my daughter was still a baby and she used to sleep on my lap as I worked in front of the computer.

Those were the good old days.

Any sleep deprived mom would tell you that a sleeping baby is the best present you can give to any mom. And as difficult as it was to balance a baby on my lap while trying to  write three 500 word articles on car insurance, I still went for it and persevered. To this day my daughter still likes to sleep on my lap and she can be lulled to sleep my sound of me typing away on a keyboard.

Working with a new baby was tough. Even though I had pockets of time that allowed me to have a part-time writing job, it was hard because we didn’t have any help. My husband helped out a lot with the chores but most of the child-rearing was still my responsibility.

Another thing that always kept me on my toes is my baby’s ever changing schedule. It’s not that she didn’t have a regular routine. It’s just that her routine  changed as she continued to grow. I had to adjust when her nap times became shorter. I had to adjust when she started learning how to sit up, crawl, call for attention, walk, etc.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. You’ll need that village, especially if you’re a working mom. I’m not saying it’s impossible to do it on your own. It is possible because I’ve done it and I know a lot of moms who have done and are doing the same thing. All I’m saying is that working with a baby isn’t going to be easy. You have to be healthy and in the right frame of mind. You have to be strict in keeping routines but be flexible enough to adapt to changes. You have to learn how to ask for help, be open to accepting any help available, and let other people contribute to parenting.

As difficult as it was, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Working from home, even  with the baby gave me a lot of flexibility and control over my schedule. I was able to give my child as much time and attention as she needed. I never had to worry about separation anxiety, feedings, and her schedule because I’m always there making sure that she’s getting everything she needs.

So to anyone who wants to start working from home immediately after having the baby, my best advice would be to make sure you have a supportive spouse/partner/family behind you. Support from people who understand is what will help you get started and keep on going day after day.


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The Best Time To Start Becoming A Work-At-Home Parent

telecommuting

telecommuting (Photo credit: jessamyn)

“When is the best time to start working from home?”

I encounter this question time and time again from moms who want to try their hand working from home. It’s also one of the questions had the hardest time finding an answer for because most of the moms I know (myself included) didn’t really have the option of choosing when we can start working. All the working moms I know starting working from home either out of necessity or because the opportunity was there and they had to seize it.

But I think this is a question worth answering because knowing the ideal time to start becoming a work at home parent can make process easier.

Working from home can be a big shock, especially if you’re used to working in an office. Those who don’t have any work experience can also have a hard time working at home because of the high level discipline, focus, and time management skills needed do a full day’s work load consistently.

The Answer

I asked a lot of working moms I know this question. And the one thing that we all agree on is that if we were the choice, we would like to start working from home one our child starts elementary school or grade school.

We believe this is the best scenario for several reasons.

  • Grade school classes last all day (at least, for private schools here in the Philippines). This would give work at home parents the most amount of time to focus on work.
  • Even if you choose to home-school  there are enough activities and exercises in an accredited DepEd home school curriculum to give parents enough time to work while teaching their child.
  • Grade school kids are old enough to take care of themselves and do some simple chores. They’re also old enough to entertain themselves from time to time. This frees up more time for work.

The Alternatives

Unfortunately, most of us don’t really have the option of waiting for the kids to go school before we can start working. What if you’re still pregnant or you just gave birth? What if you have a toddler or several toddlers? Tomorrow, I’ll be talking about the pros and cons on working from home at different stages of motherhood, what you can do to allow working from home possible, and job options.


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Forever Grateful For My Child

"Wakey wakey, eggs and backey!"

“Wakey wakey, eggs and backey!”

This weekend was a stressful to say the least. I wasn’t feeling well last Friday, which was the reason why I wasn’t able to do my regular job post. And my daughter was being a little difficult. It’s not that she was being naughty. She was just being her same old active, cheerful self and I simply didn’t have the energy to keep up with her.

I know a lot of parents that feel the way I do. Parenting is a marathon. The daily grind does take its toll on you. And no matter how nice or even tempered your child normally is, there will be days that you just want to take a break from it all, have a drink, vent, and go somewhere you’re the one babied for a change.

I wanted to wallow and vent over the weekend, but a barrage of news from friends and acquaintances over Facebook made me realize I had more to be grateful for than anything.

I wanted to complain about how tiring it is to have a child. It sounded selfish compared to couples I know who wanted to have a child, who would have made wonderful parents but couldn’t. And I know they would give anything to feel the way I’m feeling right now and for that I’m grateful.

I wanted to complain about how my child would wake me up so early on the weekends. Hearing “Wake up Mama! Wakey, wakey eggs and backey” every few seconds stops being cute and starts to become annoying when you don’t get enough sleep. But then I heard of friends who just lost their child. I know if I was in their situation I would have given anything just to have my daughter wake me up every morning and for that I am grateful.

I wanted to complain about my daughter’s incessant chatter and her seemingly never ending need for hugs and kisses. Then I found out from some parents how painful it can be when your child refuses to run into your arms, when your child can’t return your affection either through words or actions. I have a child who can’t stop hugging me and always wants to talk to me and for that I am grateful.

She's a handful and she knows it.

She’s a handful and she knows it.

Lastly, I wanted to complain about my daughter’s boundless energy. She’s always ready to run and jump and I simply can’t keep up with her anymore. The I realized there are parents out there who would give anything to see their child stand up and play; how it pains them that their child can’t enjoy what most children take for granted. I have a child who is always ready to play and is  living her life to the fullest, for that I am grateful.

 

Yes, I was exhausted over the weekend but I was able to salvage it. My husband, daughter and I focused on having a relaxing time. We quietly played paper dolls, bonded over ice cream, Phineas and Ferb, and Dr. Who. We had food delivered and postponed chores for Monday. We had a good weekend and for that I am grateful.


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Office Sharing – An Alternative to Home?

Nicky working like mommy

Nicky working like mommy

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being a work at home mom. But for the past few months my sister and I have been scouring the city for places where we could work, especially once my daughter starts going to school this June.

We figured it’s more practical for us to start looking for places near the school for several reasons.

  1. It’s cheaper and less time consuming to just find a place where we can work close to the school. It’s too expensive and tiring to go home after we drop them off just to work then leave work to pick them up from school.
  2. My sister and I alternate dropping off and picking up our kids. (The school transport service does pass through our area.)
  3. We could work at nearby coffee shops and co-working spaces but they’re too expensive.
  4. This school has a lot of great after school programs and activities their school has for parents (like free Chinese lessons and parenting seminars) that I want to take advantage of. Working nearby would allow me to do that easily.
  5. I want to be able to get to school quickly in case of emergency (our house a bit far from the school).
  6. We want to work in a place where we can be comfortable. A place where we can bring pillows, a small pantry, and maybe have other work at home parents over. We all that’s not possible in a coffee show or virtual office.
office setup

office setup (Photo credit: Rob ‘n’ Rae)

Then, a friend of ours suggested an alternative, why not share an office space?

It turns out our friend P (a lawyer) has this office nearby where he meets with his clients. Even at his busiest, he only uses the office around 20 hours a week.  He got the idea of sharing his office from his fiance, an online entrepreneur who also uses the office to do her accounting and to meet up with suppliers and customers.

After talking things through, we’ve come to an arrangement:

  • We’d be sharing rent, electricity, and internet connection equally.
  • We’d have our own keys and can stay there as long and as often as we want or need.
  • We have free rein over the conference room (which they never use). We can bring anything that would make us feel comfortable.
  • We can bring our own food/snacks.
  • We can have our kids/spouse/partner over. This is perfect for us because it would allow us help our kids homework right away after school (they’re open too tired to do their homework by the time we get home).

It’s a short walk away from my daughter’s school (more exercise for me!) and it’s cheaper than working in a co-working space or coffee shop.

We’re lucky, I know. We’re lucky we had a friend who was open to the idea. We were lucky that his landlord was open and, in fact, encouraged this arrangement with his tenants. We’re lucky the office happened to be in a place close to school and it was something we could afford.

I’m not sure what the future holds with this arrangement. But it’s definitely an option and an alternative for us work at home parents if ever we need to work outside of our house.  Will update you guys on how this “experiment” would work. Wish us luck!


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Missing Nanny 6: The Conclusion or The Nanny Returns

My nanny finally finished her internship and we’re now working on getting things back to normal. We’re still doing a bit of adjusting because now we’re preparing my daughter to get ready for school. It’s a tall order but I think we can make it.

Not having my nanny those past few weeks reminded me that becoming a work-at-home parent really isn’t for everyone. It’s not that I don’t want parents to have more time for their families. It’s just that we, work-at-home-parents, are extremely lucky to have people around us supporting us in our decision to work from home.

Support from our friends and family is one of the main factors that allow us work at home parents to do what we need to do everyday. Without support, we’d all be burned out. Without the support, faith and trust of the people we love the most, I don’t think we’d even be able to start working.

But despite our growing numbers, we’re still a minority. There are still people out there who wouldn’t be able to understand why we made this choice. And this means there are parents out there who would want to work from home but couldn’t because the people around them don’t support them or don’t believe that this is possible.

The Other Ingredient

Another reason why I think not everyone is cut out to be a work at home parent is the misconception that some parents have about working at home. They think it’s something that can be taken lightly. They think that working at home is like a hobby that they can drop anytime they get bored or when it gets too hard.

To stay sharp, I attend trainings and seminars. That’s me getting my certificate for completing my presenter training.

Being a home-based worker takes the same amount of dedication as a regular job. But it also requires more discipline and time management skills in order to keep up with the demands of the job.

Sure, you can start out with “easy” jobs. But if you want to make a career out of it, if you want to keep working, keep the lifestyle and find fulfillment in being a work at home parent, you have to constantly challenge yourself. You have to keep learning and be a professional in your field.

There’s nothing wrong with putting your family first. There’s nothing wrong in setting limits with your clients/business/employers so you can make your children a priority. But once you become a work at home parent, you need to have good work ethics. Honor your commitments and give quality work. Show your client/employers and children that despite the fact that you work in your home clothes, you’re just as professional as anyone working in a cubicle.

Conclusion

The past few weeks without my nanny made me realize that it is possible for me to work without one, but it would be a challenge. I’m very grateful to her for the love and care she has shown my daughter, and for supporting me as I work.

The life I’ve chosen isn’t easy. The past few weeks I admit I’ve been tempted, again and again, to take the more traditional routes of either being a working mom or a stay-at-home mom.

I also know this life I’ve chosen is a blessing. It’s a lot of work,  a huge commitment, and requires a lot of compromise. But if that’s what it takes for me to get the best of both, then so be it.


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Missing Nanny 5:Super Playdates!

Playdate at the Pod! With my cousin and her baby in the background.

 

Nothing, and I mean nothing, completely drains a toddler’s energy than a playdate with other equally restless toddlers. It’s not an exact science and it varies from child to child. But in my child’s case, one hour of uninterrupted play is equivalent to a 4 hour afternoon nap.

So when my cousin Julie Faith invited me to her weekly playdate (which was set for Valentine’s day that week) at the Pod, I couldn’t say no. I figured if she was able to drain most of her energy that morning, she’d be asleep by 2 pm at the latest and I’d have a few hours to work without interruptions.

It worked.

After lunch, my daughter took a nap with minimal fuss, slept for almost 4 hours, and woke up refreshed. I actually had time to work and hang out with my friends. Best Valentine’s day ever!

But that’s not the only reason why I love playdates. These  playdates  gives us work at home moms and stay at home moms the social interaction we need from people who understand us the most. There, I met other work at home moms and mompreneurs, as well as stay at home moms and working moms.

It was really refreshing and encouraging to see a big group of women that are always ready and willing to help one another with just about any problem. It was nice to be in a room where everyone is cheering you on to make your own choices because they’re also going through the same thing.

Another great thing about these playdates is that it teaches kids to interact with other children early on in a setting that’s comfortable for them. The babies there weren’t afraid to approach other kids and adults because they know mom’s right there. I guess that’s why the babies there are so affectionate. They learn to share their moms and to share affection in a safe environment.

I was also surprised at how gentle my daughter was with the babies in the room. She’s usually a bit rough with her neighborhood friends (who are mostly boys her age) but at our playdate she was very gentle. She was better behaved than I expected, which motivates me to attend more if the opportunity arises.

I had so much fun. I want to thank my cousin Julie Faith again for inviting me, Alex for making me feel welcome there, and to all the “Peas” who were so warm, friendly, and patient with me and my daughter. You made my date-less (hubby had to work) Valentine’s day really memorable and enjoyable. See you guys at the next playdate!