“Oh, you’re so lucky that you get to work from home! It must be so relaxing.” I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had people say that to me. I’ve been a work-from-home mom for almost seven years now, and I can say two things with absolute certainty: YES, I am lucky, and HELL NO, it is not relaxing. At this point, I’ve got a moderately good routine down. But that doesn’t mean my routine doesn’t get blasted to shit several times every single day. My work is fairly unpredictable; I can have two or three easy pieces to write, or I can have eight breaking news pieces that need to get up RIGHT NOW. And my kids are … kids. They’re loud and needy and always here. They’re very good at respecting my time and schedule, but again, they’re kids. So “good” is sort of relative.
I get asked a lot about what my days are like, so now that it’s summer, I thought I’d share a snippet of what it means to work from home with kids. This isn’t how it is everyday, mind you. Some days are really easy, and some days are impossibly hard. But on an average day, this is my schedule. I should also mention that I work four different jobs on a daily basis. If I could find one job that paid enough to support my family, then I would downsize. But I haven’t, so I juggle.
Waking up as a work-from-home mom: check all the things before even getting out of bed. But on the plus side, sometimes I don’t get out of bed till 9 a.m.!
Listen, I fucking DESPISE waking up early. So this? This is a perk! It’s a short-lived perk, because we go back to school soon, so alarm clocks will be used. But during the summer, my kids sleep in (BLESS THEM), so I get to sleep in a bit.
As soon as I wake up, I check my phone. And it never fails: there are approximately 193748 emails, texts, and Slack messages waiting for me. So I get through those in the quiet dark of my room, and then get up and move to my laptop. My kids get themselves up and situated with breakfast and whatnot, so our mornings tend to be pretty chill. From about 9 – 11 a.m., I try to get the bulk of my writing done, since my other jobs kick in at different points throughout the day.
Noon: lunchtime! Also known as: my kids have tired of doing things for themselves and suddenly need me to help them function.
They’re starving (despite having access to pretty much whatever food they might desire). And bored. They want to go swimming, mom can we go swimming MOM CAN YOU PUT SUNSCREEN ON US MOM MOM MOM??? I take a step back from what I’m doing and deal with their bullshit and kick them outside for a bit. I can hear their excited shrieks and sisterly bickering from where I sit at the dining room table. It never ends.
Surprise! A monkey wrench. Oldest has an audition. In LA. In an hour.
My oldest is a working actress and model, so we get audition and casting notices on a weekly basis. Sometimes it’s last minute, and I have to rearrange my day to get the kids in the car, drive in traffic for an hour and a half, wait for 4 minutes during the audition, and then drive three hours in traffic back home. It’s FUCKING GREAT. But she loves it and her bank account reflects her hard work and maybe she’ll buy me a house one day.
I also have THE GREATEST editor and teams in the world, who understand our situation and know that I’m good for everything I’ve committed to do that day. So I have a bit more freedom than most in that regard, and I remind myself everyday not to take it for granted. Having an excellent support system is crucial for a work-from-home mom.
We’re on the road. We get to the casting. I spend 30 minutes working from my phone, so obviously everyone there thinks I’m a terrible mother who doesn’t pay attention to her kids.
Whenever I see some holier-than-thou post or article about “being present” for every moment with my kids, a little part of my soul dies. And another part of my soul rages in fire. I’m able to spend an inordinate amount of time with my kids because I work from home, but I also fucking WORK. I work literally all the time. I don’t get breaks, I don’t really get days off (always a job!). So yes, I spend a lot of time on my phone working, and I spend a lot of time at my laptop at home. But you know what? I never miss an important moment. I am there for every single dance class/performance/school award ceremony/boo-boo/fight. So kindly shut the fuck up about moms on their phones.
Annnnnnnd, we’re home. Oldest will probably get the job, which will fuck my schedule for a couple of days in a week or two. But the drive time was worth it. Now, I get the girls fed, and I sit down at my laptop (again) to play catch-up.
The thing about being a work-from-home mom is that the work literally never ends. By this time, it’s usually around 6 p.m., when most people are clocking out for the day. But I’m just getting started! And that’s OK. I don’t mind not having a set schedule, it works well for our circumstances that my jobs are flexible and can be done throughout the day (and on my phone). But the hours of 6 – 8 p.m. always stress me out the most, because the pile of work seems impossible to get through.
It’s bedtime! For the kids. Not for me.
Summertime means later bedtimes, which is fine. The girls are usually in bed between 10 -11 p.m. every night. I know it’s late, but it also affords me a couple more hours of sleep in the morning, so I don’t give a single fuck.
Once they’re in bed, I quickly put my house back together. A messy house gives me massive amounts of anxiety, so whatever doesn’t get cleaned up throughout the day, I clean up at night. Dishes, toys, gross table spills, it all needs to go away. Once my home is more or less in order, I sit down at (you guessed it!) my laptop. And there I will sit, usually until 1 or 2 in the morning, getting everything finished from the day. I don’t like to leave things unfinished. I feel like it reflects poorly on me, and also, I have no idea what the next day will bring, so I don’t like to pre-fuck my schedule if possible. Yes, I am tired, I am stressed, and all I want to do is go to bed. But bed can wait until my work is done.
Yay, it’s Friday! Finally, the weekend is here and I am done with work for the week! LOL except no. Work-from-home mom doesn’t get a day off.
Remember those four jobs I mentioned? Well, one of them is as contributing editor for another publication, and that takes place on Friday and Saturday nights. I can’t get to the work any earlier on a Friday, so every Friday night, you’ll find me sitting at my laptop. I try to get as much done during the day on Saturday as possible, but sometimes, I spend Saturday nights working, too. And Sundays are for another, different job. So, that’s my weekend. It’s fucking amazing for my social life, obviously.
In between all my work work (like, paid work), I am a mom. I’m a single mom, and I have my kids 100% of the time. So whatever time not spent working is spent being their mama. Well, all my time is spent being their mama, but you get what I mean. It can take me 15 minutes to type out a headline because a little person needs me. And you know what? Sometimes it can take me 15 minutes to write out a headline because my girls were just sitting on the couch and I needed to go over and tickle them and snuggle with them for a bit. That? Also a perk. The biggest and best perk, to be honest. Those moments are why I do this, and why I could never foresee myself being anything other than a work-from-home mom.
Being a work-from-home mom isn’t easy. Hell, being a mom or a working mom in any capacity isn’t easy! But we do what we have to do, because that’s what we do. Do I enjoy every moment? Nope. Do I complain a lot? Yep. Would I change any of it? Not for all the tea in China. Whether you stay home, work from home, work out of the home, listen: you are amazing, and you are doing amazing. We all are, as much as we can. But a paid vacation would be fucking aces, right?
(Image: iStock / Kerkez)