- Jun 14, 2018
When I first started my home-based job, I wasn’t even aware of the term “work at home mom” or WAHM. I thought it was something that just happened when you got sick of your old work and wanted to spend more time with your family while generating income.
Apparently, we’re a special breed. I realized that when I was truly knee-deep in trying to balance being a mom and wife with being a career woman (and sometimes failing spectacularly at it).
I also heard similar stories from other WAHM friends, and belatedly discovered how wrong I was about those who chose this path earlier. So today, in service of all the WAHMs in this forum and everywhere else, I want to debunk a couple of misconceptions about what we do, along with how and why we do it.
1) We can slack off whenever we like
Wrong, oh, so wrong! (I wish it were true, though.)
Actually, working from home often requires a more rigid schedule than going to the office daily. Sure, there’s no more commute to go through, but with three kids and a husband who need to wake up early to go to their schools and work, respectively, it means I have to get up even earlier to prepare their breakfast, lunches, school bags, and make sure they hustle so they won’t be late.
While a WAHM may not be on the clock the same way an office-goer is, we still have to stick to our regular schedules so we won’t waste any precious time balancing our work with our home chores. There is no slacking off until all the stuff we need to do has been done, and usually (at least in my case), the reward is a long hot shower and an hour of watching the latest instalment of my favorite TV series at the end of the day.
2) We don’t go through stressful situations like office-goers do
Yes, we do. All the time, in fact.
True, we don’t need to deal with stressful traffic and finding a good parking space on a daily basis. And true, we don’t need to fret about what to wear in the morning. We do, however, have to worry about everything else. Like, are the kids’ homework done properly? Or, did I pay the electricity bill on time? Or, will I meet the client deadline if I attend that PTA meeting? Or, did I buy enough cat food to last the week?
These may seem like petty things to a career person, but when you’re right there in the thick of things (AKA the house) and seeing all the things that could possibly go wrong, you can’t help but feel the pressure, most of the time.
3) We don’t need a regular schedule
I confess to believing in similar myths about homeschooling, which I thought was about parents teaching their kids lessons whenever they feel like it. Having met a couple of awesome home-schooled children and their equally awesome parents, I must admit to really taking a big bite of humble pie on that one.
As I mentioned above, we need a regular schedule, and we need to stick to it like barnacles to keep things going smoothly. Otherwise, things just start falling apart one by one. To make sure that I do, I use a scheduling app called Appointy to help me keep track of client appointments, plus bookings for events I plan, and also to see if I have any activities to attend to for the week with my husband and kids.
4) We have free time to pick up your slack
I really, really want to shatter the myth on this one. (Mom, are you reading this?)
Unsurprisingly, people who see us spending so much time at home instantly think we can take on the chores of those who do need to be away from their home, whether it’s for work or (in the case of my mom) for socializing. Now, I don’t want to say no to emergency cases like when someone needs to be in the hospital, thus requiring an immediate house or babysitter - that I can do. But some people have the unfortunate tendency to just drop in unannounced all the time, and have me suddenly take over a task that they think I can do, “given all the time you spend at home.”
Sorry, no can do. As I keep reiterating, a successful work from home schedule runs on routine, and constant disruptions can make it go awry.
5) We aren’t really working...are we?
This one really gets my goat. When my husband and I agreed to my quitting my regular employment and getting a home based job, we knew more or less what we were dealing with. That meant putting a schedule in place, setting up a home office, talking to clients, and keeping the house and kids presentable. When I need an extra hand, he steps right in and helps me.
For me, housework is work. Adding a career to it doesn’t negate the fact that it’s real work. For a WAHM, the act of balancing both is also work, as a lot of times, schedules tend to spill over, or there are circumstances beyond our control (clients who don’t show up, kids getting sick, emergencies, etc.).
That entire work life balance myth? I am still trying to gauge if it’s true or not. But here’s what I know - a lot of WAHMs get the short end of the stick from others who don’t truly understand the work involved in it. So before you judge one, maybe you should ask her first what exactly it is she does.
Did you choose to be a work at home mom? Have you ever heard of any misconceptions about it from family and friends? If you have any other WAHM myth to add here, I would like to hear about it!