A look inside life as a ‘Work from Home Mum’
Stay-at-home-working-mum (SAHWM), surely it’s some kind of bad joke, an oxymoron, even? If you have kids, you’ll know what I mean. You might think; how does work fit into the chaos of raising children?
Kids are messy, unpredictable and prone to getting sick, clingy or demanding – right when work is due. No-one is crazy enough to mix babies, toddlers and business are they? It’s too difficult; it can’t be done.
As a full-time Mum and part-time copywriter, I know it is possible but it takes a bit of juggling, an elastic concept of time and a willingness to let go of fixed plans. (As I write this my toddler is busy “entertaining” herself under my desk, which involves systematically emptying my pens on the floor, pulling paper out of the waste paper basket and chewing on a permanent marker pen she’s found down the back of the couch.) Here is a snapshot of my typical “workday”:
A quick check of my emails before heading to bed. Oh great! A job has come in from The Copy Collective. Looks interesting and not due till next week, should be doable.
I’ll set my alarm early and make a start before Miss One wakes up.
Gah! Crying, is it morning already? No, it’s definitely night. I pad over to the nursery and comfort my toddler who’s clearly suffering from a bad dose of a mum-must-fix-it-now mystery illness.
The alarm goes off. I will myself out of bed with a strong cup of coffee.
Begin reading the brief, halfway through when interrupted by crying. Miss One is really awake this time, so our day begins.
It looks like work will have to wait.
Miss One is happily fed and settled in front of Peppa Pig. Great that should give me 20 minutes to finish reading the brief before heading to playgroup (the beloved pig with the posh accent deserves a medal for her services to sleep-deprived mums!).
There’s a knock on the door. A plumber has arrived to install new vanity in our bathroom (hmmm forgot he was coming today!). Next, 20 minutes spent clearing toys, rubber ducks and random detritus from the bathroom floor so the poor man can do his job.
Arrive at playgroup thinking about work, plumbers, deadlines and duckies but soon find myself immersed in a serious conversation with pre-schoolers about the wing span of dragons.
Blissfully ignore all thoughts of work while I get on with some serious child’s play (hey, there are upsides to this SAHWM thing, I didn’t say it was all bad!)
Miss One is down for her afternoon nap. Great – that should give me an hour or so to finally finish reading the brief and perhaps make a start on a draft.
The plumber is having his lunch and interrupts my train of thought to talk about the weather. Argh! Does this man not realise this is my one precious hour of child-free time all day?
Big bang from the bathroom AAAND toddler wakes up. There goes that window of opportunity!
Deposit Miss One at grandparents. Head home to work, get a little distracted on the way with errands and grocery shopping but manage a couple of hours uninterrupted writing. Huzzah!
Dinner is done and Miss One is in bed. Time for more work so I sit down and start making some notes but feel a bit sleepy.
I think I’ll just print my notes and resume work again tomorrow. Hey, it’s the weekend, I should have loads of time to myself, right?
Today is Mother’s Day. If you know any busy Mums juggling work, life and kids, forget chocolates, flowers, and scented candles. Offer to fold a load of washing, watch the kids for an hour or leave a meal in her fridge. Let her escape to a cafe to read her emails or a book in peace; she’ll thank you for it I promise!
See also: Tips from a Freelance Parent