We all work hard, but being a work-at-home parent definitely has a unique set of challenges. It is a role that is often misunderstood. So today, I am setting the record straight and speaking for not only myself, but for the other work-at-home parents that I know.
I am going to share a few things that we really wish people would understand about the job that we do each and every day.
We want YOU to know! 1 of 9
8 little things that will help you understand your friends and family who are work-at-home parents a little bit better.
1. I don’t "just" stay home 2 of 9
So many people refer to those of us who work from home as stay-at-home parents. There is definitely a difference. I am not saying that stay-at-home moms and dads aren't working incredibly hard, because parenting is a freaking hard, full-time job. But doing it with a pile of work and deadlines on top is totally different. Sure stay-at-home parents have a crap ton of other jobs to do during the day like laundry, cooking, etc., but the world isn't going to end (in most cases) if that laundry has to be pushed back until tomorrow. When you have work deadlines, you often can't push them back. No one cares if your day was particularly hellish. They care if the job gets done. I'm not saying that I work harder than a stay-at-home parent, because honestly I just forgo a ton of the non-essential household chores instead, but I am saying that the balance is different.
2. I don’t have "so much" more time 3 of 9
I've had people tell me, "That must be so great working from home, because you can get so many other things done while you're working laundry, cleaning, running errands." Basically, I have half the time that I used to. When my daughter is sleeping, I have to crank out work AND then get those daily types of tasks done as well. Most of the time, the "extra" things like actually folding my clothes (my closet is seriously embarrassing right now) fall by the wayside.
3. It’s not always "the best of both worlds" 4 of 9
So many people think of working from home as being the best of both worlds. You get to have a career and maintain a sense of personal identity while also being able to spend time with your children. What could be better? Well, honestly most days I feel like I'm doing a piss poor job at being a mom and my writing. My attention is more often than not divided between the two and I feel like I'm not doing either well. Often, I daydream about going off to an office to work undistracted, or of quitting my paid work to just focus on being at home with my daughter. I know I am so blessed to be able to do what I do and most days I am thankful for it, but other days I just feel overwhelmed.
4. We rock a schedule 5 of 9
I cannot tell you how many times I've had people marvel at how busy I am or get annoyed about how far in advance I have to schedule play dates or other activities. Just because I don't punch a time clock, doesn't mean I don't have a schedule. I have times of day that I need to work and I guard those times fiercely. Yes, I do have flexibility when I need to use it, but I like to make it the exception and not the rule. Working from home requires a ton of discipline and that means not being able to do fun things sometimes.
5. The "do it all" myth is a lie 6 of 9
I think there is a misconception that work-from-home parents are those magical people who are able to "do it all." My friends who don't work will sometimes ask, "How do you find time for it all?" And the answer is simple I don't. I've managed to keep my house generally tidy with my dishes rarely piling up in the sink and my toilets tend to be cleaned, but that's pretty much the end of it. I pick and choose the things that are important to me and let the rest fall by the wayside. Wearing makeup everyday, putting away laundry, and pretty much any type of deep cleaning or organizing just doesn't happen. And please don't ask about how often my vacuum gets used. It's kind of abysmal. The point is, we can't do it all and often we need help. I am so thankful to have a mom and a mother-in-law who help me out by watching my daughter on a regular basis so I can get work done. Without them I don't think I could do it.
6. This ain’t a part-time gig 7 of 9
Ummm... actually we work more than full-time. Being a parent is a full-time job on top of the "part-time" work that we do. Plus, let's get real, we probably work way more hours than people actually realize because everything ends up taking double the time when you're doing it distractedly from home.
7. It’s not easier 8 of 9
Yeah, no. I may not have to commute to get there and I may not have to deal with annoying coworkers or workplace drama, but it is definitely not easier. In fact, it's harder than working in an office in many ways. I cannot tell you how many emails I have gotten from people inquiring about how I got started writing and asking how they can make money from home too. The short answer is that I got a little bit lucky and then I worked my butt off. I really think most people think I work far less hours than I actually put in. I am often met with surprise and shock when I email these people back with a breakdown of the time commitment that is involved when you work from home. I'm pretty sure most people think I work 5-10 hours a week, when in actuality that number is probably a lot closer to 30, because of all the post promotion and social media engagement, as well as the fact that working distractedly just takes longer and tends to be less productive.
8. Less free time 9 of 9
Sometimes I miss the days when I worked outside our home. I checked in at a certain time and I left at a certain time and I got lunch breaks and holidays. I remember thinking before I had my daughter how much easier life would be once I had her and was able to work from home. I remember imagining all the things I would be able to accomplish in my days once I had so much free time. Ha! Now I don't get holidays (technically I do if I get my work done ahead of time) the life of a freelancer and I would kill for a lunch break or even just an unaccompanied pee break. Definitely not much downtime.
Lauren Hartmann is the founder of The Little Things We Do, a blog about life and adventures in Portland Oregon. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram or catch up on all of her posts here on Babble.
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