In today’s environment, where work can literally be done from anywhere at any time, why are we sometimes afraid to admit to being a Work From Home Parent?
I was at “one of those” entrepreneurial networking events, having a conversation with a smart, young entrepreneur. We agreed we should do lunch, so both of us whipped out the cell phones to check calendars.
Upon settling on a date, it was time to set the place, “What part of town are you located?” she asked, having already informed me she officed downtown. “Over by the Quarry (a popular shopping center in San Antonio),” I replied. “Oooh, where at?” she inquired.
And that was it, the moment I admitted to being a work from home Mom.
It’s not anything I’m ashamed of, my decision to meld work-life and Mom-life. Heck, I’m pretty proud of it - it is one of the best decisions I ever made. I feel I’m a better parent, spouse and businesswoman because of it. However, I have learned to anticipate the mixed bag of reactions I receive from other professionals when I cop to being a full-fledged, card-carrying member of the "Work From Home Mom Club.”
If it sounds as if I’m complaining, I’m not. Well, maybe I am… a little. It can be frustrating sometimes; being caught in the swirl of folks either totally understanding, understanding but thinking I’m crazy, totally NOT understanding and thinking I must just hang around in my PJs and eat bonbons all day (side note – I don’t think I’ve ever actually eaten a bonbon, but yes, sometimes I am in my PJs), or even jealousy. But here’s the thing – I get it. I do understand where each of those perceptions come from, because before I was a Work From Home Mom, I didn’t totally understand everything that came with it, either.
I certainly didn’t ever picture myself ever being a work from home parent. And, for the majority of my career, I wasn’t. I was locked into the mindset of “work” or “stay at home” – I never pictured being able to merge the two. But as fate and luck would have it, once I left the “work” to become a “stay at home Mom” I figured out pretty quickly that I needed both – not just for my own sanity, but for that of my family’s as well.
I did think that it was going to be easy. I had those rose-colored glasses on and thought working from home would be a breeze. That not only could I work, we’d also fill our days with playgrounds and little adventures, and that my house would always be clean and our laundry always done.
Truth: Working from home is hard work.
After four years of working from home, here’s what I’ve learned about us work from home parents:
- We don’t have designated work hours. When there are kids around, there is no 8-5. We work when we can get the work done.
- We experience the “mom guilt,” too. As much as I wish I could only work when the girls are asleep, and that we would spend our day frolicking about and having fun, it’s just not realistic. So yes, I have let them watch slime making videos on YouTube for four hours (or maybe more) so I can have some (mostly) uninterrupted time to get work done.
- We tend to work in blocks of time, because of those little interruptions. Because from time to time you will stop everything to take your kids to go get froyo. For that reason we…
- Often end up working for more than the committed “8 hours a day” to make up for those interruptions.
- Our kids will always want to make a cameo appearance in a video conference.
- Family and work take precedence. My house is usually a mess, and our laundry is always in need of being done.
- This final one may just be me but, when you hire me, you’re hiring the kiddos, too. We’re a package deal. Does that mean that I can’t attend a meeting or call sans kids? No. Does that mean that from time to time they will make an appearance? Yes.
It isn’t always convenient to bring my children to work meetings and events. In fact, I often feel it’s more work having them there because not only am I working as hard as I can to prove that I am possible of working when my children are around, but I’m also over-parenting to make sure my girls are on their best behavior and aren’t getting into trouble. That said, I truly do enjoy including them in my work, showing them what Mommy does for a living - I feel like I’m teaching them something valuable. Plus, they can be great little helpers. (And, they’re adorable.)
So, back to that lunch meeting I was trying to schedule. Turns out, she thought my work situation was cool. (Ah, gotta love those millennials…) And in retrospect, as I write this, I’m realizing that perhaps it is my own insecurities and past perceptions that sometime give me pause to admit that I am a work from home mom… so here goes.
“Hello, my name is Shannon, and I am a proud Work From Home Mom.”
Shannon B. Hernandez, Contributor
San Antonio native, story teller, fashion lover, freelance writer & photographer, communications and wellness expert, work from home Mom - Founder and Principal Consultant at Hernandez Consulting.