Work from home moms really do work from home. I promise. We rock!
Now, let’s gather around and hear my work-from-home story…
It all began when I said yes. We were vacationing on a tropical island. He lived in Cincinnati, I in Chicago. And I said yes. The ring was firmly ensconced. He headed back home to Cincinnati, I to Chicago. I skipped giddily into work to let everyone know (well, brag if we are going to be honest). Come to find out there was a bet happening that I wasn’t in on. Those who guessed that I would get engaged while on vacation won the bet.
The nice thing is, I had it all figured out….or so I thought. I would work remotely from an office in Cincinnati. My boss said yes, you will work remotely, but from your home in Cincinnati. Oh. I didn’t see that one coming. That wasn’t in the plan. See, I wanted to work around people. The office banter. The exchange of ideas. The laughs. No, we can’t justify that overhead expense to rent office space for you, but you can create a home office, my boss replied.
Well alrighty then. To the home office I went. In my new city of Cincinnati. We were still young (well, sort of, in an early 30s sort of way) and childless (definitely still childless). Engaged. Planning a wedding. And I was to set up the home office and work from home.
I think I’m gonna like it here
So that is how it all began. I quickly discovered that I liked working from home. I am a pretty disciplined person so I had no problem planning my work and working my plan. Deliverables were on time—or early. I continued my Type A overachiever work habits. I just did them from home.
I traveled into the home office for meetings as necessary. I traveled for business engagements as necessary. Life was good. Really good.
When I told folks that I worked from home, they believed me. Their perception was Dara as Working Me. That was the perception. Perception equaled reality. All was well.
Now, let us fast forward a few years. Well, okay, like a decade. A decade spent as Stay-At-Home Mommy Me. The two kids were school-aged. I’d taken a very nice long career break. The time had come. The time had come for me to relaunch my career… from home.
My lifestyle, our lifestyle, was remarkably different than it was the first work-from-home go-around. I’d spent the previous decade partaking in child-focused activities. You know, classroom mommy, storytime at the library mommy, member of the pre-school board mommy, bake 25 brownies from scratch mommy. The yes, of course I can take care of your kids while you go to work and our kids have a day off from school mommy. You know, 100% stay-at home-mommy stuff. Stay-At-Home-Mommy Me.
Now, it was time to go back… back into work mode. I donned a new identity: Working Mommy Me.
There was something I never even considered. Most people that were part of my current situation only knew Stay-At-Home Mommy Me. They didn’t even know that I had a maiden name. A career. A life before kids. They only knew Stay-At-Home Mommy Me.
So, when I was ready to don my freshly woven Working Mommy Me cape, their vision was shielded by my decade old Stay-At-Home Mommy Me persona. No one in my Cincinnati social circle even knew that I had a previous productive work life. However, it was time to transform into the all-powerful Working Mommy Me. A Working Mommy Me that works from home. Yes, I was to proudly join the Working From Home Moms Club.
My work from home moms reality
This is what my real working from home life looks like: I get up early. Very early. Get the kids off to school. Then I come back and work. I work in a focused and diligent manner until I am almost dizzy with hunger. Then I work out. Eat lunch. Go back to work.
According to the Working Mother Research Institute’s What Moms Choose: The Working Mother Report, one thing that working moms want is a condensed day. I am fortunate enough to have a VERY condensed day. I love it!
However, the clock is ticking. Always ticking. I only have until school pick-up time to finish whatever it is I want to accomplish. That’s a total of six hours. I love what I do, so I don’t mind. I might run one quick errand on my way to car-line. I might not. I might not have time. Did I mention that I have six hours of focused productivity before picking up Thing 1 and Thing 2??!!
Perception of work from home moms
This is what folks tend to THINK I do: Work for a few minutes. Do household projects. Cook. Clean. Shop. Watch a little television if it suits me. Talk on the phone. After all, isn’t that what working from home means??!!
No. That is not what work from home moms do. I patiently explain that I have a home office. I go to the home office. I work. “But what is it that you do??!!” Funny. When you tell me that you go INTO an office, it would never occur to me to ask that question. Hmmmm.
Also, I was never asked that question before the kids. Way back when I was Working Me….as opposed to Working Mommy Me.
According to that same Working Mother Report, 57% of survey respondents prefer flexible working hours. I have flexible hours. Very flexible. I set and monitor my own schedule. However, I still have deliverables. have deadlines. I still must work in a focused and diligent manner. Working Mommy Me really works… from home.
I am confident that over time, the perception will change. In the meantime…back to work I go!