Mama’s Little Work-From-Home Helper

Last weekend, while at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with my main employers, we spent a lot of time comparing notes on our children. “When people find out I work from home, they can’t believe I still have my two kids in full-time daycare,” said one of my bosses, the female half of a husband-wife team. “But what do they think I’m doing? I’ve got work to get done, and you can’t do that with a three-year-old and a one-year-old around.”

I’ve had the same experience. Working from home is wonderful in many regards, and it does give you added flexibility when things come up like doctor’s appointments and snow days. But it’s not like you can just blissfully take care of your children while you’re working on an important proposal or participating in a conference call. Young children, in particular, need supervision and engagement, and their accidents and crises always tend to hit just when a critical client is on the phone.

That’s why, when my four-year-old didn’t have pre-school on Friday, I arranged for her to go to her sitter’s. I decided we’d make it a more leisurely morning, but when breakfast was over and cartoons had been watched, we were definitely headed for daycare. And then she said, “I don’t want to go to ___’s today. I want to stay home with you.”

“But Mommy has work,” I told her. “It’s going to be really boring here, and ___ has lots of toys at her house, plus kids you like to play with. Wouldn’t you have more fun going over there?”

“No,” she said. “I can just play by myself while you work.” She looked so earnest, like she really got it. Plus, she’s been so helpful and accommodating in general lately, that I figured we could give it a try.

“OK,” I said. “But you can’t get your feelings hurt if I can’t play with you, and if you bother me too much, I’m going to take you over to ____’s.”

She agreed, and the experiment was on. And you know what? It went pretty well! She spent about an hour coloring by herself at the kitchen table. Then she put on her tutu and watched her ballet DVDs (thank God “Sleeping Beauty” is 4 acts lllooooooonnnng). I only had to threaten her with going to the sitter’s a couple of times. She trashed the house because I couldn’t really police her playtime and force her to put things away before she started on another project, but I figured it was a small price to pay. For most of the day, we were a nice little team.

Now, would I do this all the time? Hells no! The best way for me to concentrate on work is to have the house all to myself. And I wouldn’t have even considered it a couple of months ago. She’s just now reaching the age where she can grasp the idea that other people might have things going on that don’t revolve around her.

In a few months I’ll have a newborn, and my boss was asking how I thought my days might go at that point. The answer? After taking some time off (how much is yet to be determined, since my schedule is flexible and I’m not expected in an office from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., so I have a feeling I’ll be able to handle quite a few things without much of a hitch), the baby will go to a sitter about three days a week for the whole day. The rest of the time, I’m thinking she can stay with me, even if I am working. I remember from my first one that there was about a 7-month stretch when the baby mostly slept and laid on the floor, playing with mobiles and simple toys. I actually got a lot done during that period. Until the new one starts crawling around and throwing tantrums, I’m thinking she can be my little work-from-home helper, too — except for those days when I need the house to myself. I’ve got work to get done, after all!

9 thoughts on “Mama’s Little Work-From-Home Helper

  1. I can definitely relate. I have days where I can pull off a little work if the kids are in the house. Some days where I’ll wake up at 4 am to get some work done before anybody wakes up. And other days where the kids go to the sitter’s and I work at Panera, because being home by myself sometimes can be too distracting.

  2. I’m with you. I work from home, but pay a lot of my hard earned money to send both girls to daycare every day. An exception here and there is okay, but it wouldn’t work long term. I did okay with an infant, like you’re planning. But once they’re mobile, it’s all over. I do appreciate the flexibility though. I start working earlier than if I was commuting, which means I can pick the girls up a little early some days.

  3. shannanb aka mommy bits says:

    I’ve tried to work from home a few times when we’ve had sitter issues and it’s hard. Working from home is work. You wouldn’t bring your children to the office to play so why wouldn’t you send them to a sitter.

    Congrats on the new baby. Not sure I’ve told you that yet!!

  4. I understand your dilemma however an alternative could be to bring in a sitter to your home. Your chid would have the stability and comfort of being at home. However, it may cost a little more. But stability in a child’s life is so important.

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  6. I WOHM three days a week, and occasionally have freelance work that I can do from home. I’ve worked my schedule so that my 19-month old goes to daycare three days a week. I devote one of those days to freelance work or errands, two to working out of home, and then work a full shift on the weekend when she can stay with my husband.

    There’s no way I could work from home with her here. I don’t feel guilty, because I figure that getting everything done on her daycare days frees up the other days for us to spend together. And she seems to enjoy the stimulation of the other kids.

    congrats also on the new baby!!

  7. I’m not a work at home mom but I can understand. I worked from home for about a week and got nothing done. This made me write a tribute to WAHMs and Dads, because my husband is a WAHD. I really don’t know how to get stuff done with my little man around, he’s 5 months so he is requiring my attention. I would have to send him to a sitter as well. My husband is actually thinking he needs to do the same.

  8. taralassiter says:

    I started working from home a short time ago & I struggled with this decision, for a LONG time. In an effort to be supermom, I ended up being mommy & wife by day & working woman by night. Can you say NO sleep? Not such a great idea, catches up with you.
    So happy to find others who agree.
    Congrats on the pregnancy!

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