I was already working at home running my own business when I became pregnant with my daughter (a decision made partly in anticipation of that pregnancy). I figured once the baby came I would continue working in much the same way, but around our schedule instead of my schedule, and definitely minus the sleeping in aspect that often comes from being a freelancer. Our schedule? Hahaha. Try her schedule. It quickly became clear I needed to adjust my expectations of being a work at home mom, and here are the top six reality checks I’ve had over the past couple years as a WAHM.
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Night Owl vs. Early Bird
I’ve always stayed up late and enjoyed sleeping in. I often did a lot of my writing between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. That’s when I felt “inspired”…so I thought. Turns out sleep deprivation can lead you to feeling inspired at other times, too, mostly out of necessity since the idea of staying up until 2 a.m. makes you feel like crying. I found myself too tired at night to want to do anything other than eat, watch an episode of tv, and fall into my bed. So instead of doing work after my daughter went to bed like I expected to do, I instead began waking up an hour or two before she awoke to get some distraction-free writing done then. Turns out, I can be a morning person when I put my mind to it (and have a fresh cup of coffee instantly in my hands – thanks Keurig).
- Side note: if you get a Keurig be sure to also get these pods, which are much better for the environment than the traditional Keurig pods!
Newborn Stage vs. Everything After
The newborn stage ended up being the easiest time to get work done, which I was not expecting. I’d worked hard during my pregnancy to have articles and anything else that could be done in advance completed that were needed for the first couple months after my daughter was born. But I actually had no problem finding time to get work done. My daughter was happy to hang out in a Moby Wrap, she took consistent naps, and she was a pretty good sleeper as far as newborns go.
When she started crawling at six months and also went through a sleep regression during which she didn’t want to nap in her crib, but also wouldn’t nap in a carrier, and I had to physically with my arms be holding her to get her to sleep…suddenly working from home with a baby didn’t seem so easy anymore.
My Kid Will Entertain Themselves vs. Yeah…Right
This one is laughable now, but I really thought I’d be able to get work done while my child is awake. Just a big NOPE. That does not happen. And now that she’s a toddler she is more demanding about me paying attention to her and will crawl onto my lap and ask for a hug the second my laptop comes out (she’s smart, that one – I can never resist a hug!). And if I do try to get work done when a new toy is distracting her for 10 minutes, it’s inevitable I’ll get sidetracked by her antics and be like, “Wait, what are you doing with that? Wait, don’t throw that! Wait, argh, how did you just spill milk all over the place from a spill-proof sippy cup?” So much for getting work done.
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Being Superwoman vs. Asking for Help
Remember that sleep regression during naps I mentioned before? Well, the sleep regression also went well into the night. Because I worked from home with a flexible schedule and part-time hours, I still felt like it was my job to attend to my daughter at night, since my husband was working a traditional, full-time 9 to 5 (ahem, or later) job. I needed sleep in order to do my job, too, but when my daughter was waking up every couple hours for months on end that made it difficult. I finally hit a breaking point one night and he immediately stepped in to help at night so I could get more sleep. He hadn’t realized exactly how tired I was because I didn’t say anything and thought I could do it all! I realized my expectation of thinking I could do it all did not and should not be my reality.
My husband also helps out in the evenings after he gets home from work with dinner and bedtime so I can get any work done that I didn’t finish during naptime or while our nanny was watching our daughter.
As for that nanny, I hired one sooner than I thought I would. My daughter was an early crawler and walker and once that happened it was impossible to get anything done while she was awake. But that leads me to my next expectation surprise…
Mary Poppins vs. the Online World
I always new we’d be hiring a part-time nanny at some point and figured once I was ready to find a nanny, I’d log onto Care.com and then boom, there’d by dozens of reputable nannies with tons of 5-star reviews waiting to take my call. Well, I used Care.com, but hardly anyone on it had reviews, and most of the nannies whose profiles I liked were looking for a full-time gig. The background checks are also not as straightforward as Care.com makes it seem in its advertising. We had just moved and I didn’t really know anyone in the area yet (a referral from a trusted acquaintance would probably be a much easier way to go about finding a nanny, in my experience), so I didn’t have much choice except to persevere. It took a couple months, but we finally found the right fit for our family through Care.com, and our nanny has been great. But those couple months were pretty stressful with trying to get stuff done! I wish I’d started the process early and not right when I began to need the help. Having a reliable nanny who comes a couple mornings a week has definitely been a sanity saver as a work at home mom.
No TV vs. Temporary Babysitter
I will totally limit the television time my child has to 30 minutes or ZERO minutes a day! This is what I said before I had a kid. And while my daughter did barely see any television for the first year of her life, well, that quickly went out the window soon after her first birthday. Her television time is still limited, but there are definitely days when I have to get something done and a viewing of Finding Dory will buy me that time. Kids love TV. Surprise, surprise, right? 😉
As a Work at Home Mom, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do! And being able to have my career still while getting to stay home with my daughter has been extremely rewarding, though hard work. I just have to adjust my work at home mom expectations from time to time.
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