Motherhood and work have always had a complicated relationship, causing an internal conflict for the mom who finds it difficult to choose between her career and being with her precious little ones.
When I gave birth to my first child, I knew that I wanted to take time off to be with my daughter. The newness of motherhood intimidated me, and I wanted to be sure I could give 100% of myself to my baby. I wanted to be there for her all day–to feed her, to change her diapers, to bathe her, to soothe her cries, and put her to sleep. So I resigned from my job as soon as it was time to deliver.
After 4 months, the reality of living as a stay at home mom began to sink in. Beyond the increasing financial need to provide for our growing family, I also began to get, well, bored. Before becoming a mom, I kept busy with many projects outside of my work. And suddenly, all I was, was mom to my baby…which was beautiful and I loved it, but I also knew I wanted something more.
So I started writing again, accepting different projects and applying for freelance jobs. It was initially frustrating because I had very little experience…but before I knew it I had part time work with a PR agency and was doing communications consulting for a small CSR company. I only went to the office 3 times a week and did the rest of the work form home. This arrangement lasted for almost 2 years before I started full-time work again, but I still really believe working from home was one of the best decisions I made as a mom with 2 babies.
Here are a few learnings I wish I was told before I started working from home.
- With great freedom comes great responsibility. You suddenly have all this time and space in your schedule to do as you please. Well, almost. At least, as much as your children allow. Yes, there is time for play dates, lunches, and going to the grocery at odd hours–but if you are working with clients, you do continue to have deliverables and deadlines. You no longer need to “time in” or to “time out,” but you are still accountable for your work.
- Schedules and structure are key to productivity. There is wisdom in the advice I was given to set aside specific hours of my days to work, and work alone. It also provides a certain structure to each day, maximizing your best hours for productivity and training your focus. Disciplining myself to do this improved the quality of my work by miles, enabling me to get more done in less time because of fewer distractions. And our children are a big distraction!
- It gets lonely. I find this to be the biggest downer of remote work: the lack of human interaction. I never realized how much energy and inspiration I would get from my colleagues at the office….from the meetings and brainstorming sessions, where ideas are thrown around and challenged. Suddenly my companions were 1 and 2 years old. Sure, they were super cute! But they were not exactly mentally stimulating. I started to miss interacting with adults!!
- Inspiration is harder to come by. I cannot emphasize the need get out of the house. Take your kids to the park. Go for a jog. Meet up with a friend. And don’t forget your notebook! You will need it, for the ideas who may not ever visit you at your home. Within the four walls of a house, inspiration is harder to come by. Disconnect from your laptop to reconnect with your creative source.
- It is all worth it. Getting into the groove of freelance life is tough, and the challenges, the lack of stable work, the days when you feel like you are not getting anything done will be discouraging. But in these moments, remember whom are you are doing it all for. That the time you will spend with your children–those beautiful, bright spots in your days, will make all of those frustrations worth it.
You can do it mamas! Remember that to work at home is a huge blessing and that not every mom can afford this luxury. So many woman would kill to be in your shoes. Thus, despite the challenges, if you choose to see your work with that perspective each day, you will find yourself to be more inspired and motivated to do everything with love and excellence.