I didn’t even know what WAHM stood for (no, not WHAM!) until I had Anna. It’s an Internet acronym for Work-At-Home-Mom. AKA, me.
I’ve been working from home since I got married and I took maybe a day off before I ended up diving back into writing after Anna was born. AND, THIS WAS NOT THE PLAN.
I had imagined months of glorious bonding time with my newborn where I wouldn’t have to answer any emails, let alone interview a single person or write any articles, and maybe I’d spend my free time fawning over her while she’s sleeping or scrapbook her first year (yeah, that never happened). It only took a day before I was…well, bored. She was sleeping for like three hours on end and there was only so much Downton Abbey I could watch. My brain cells were dying. I hadn’t talked to an adult all day and I was starting to feel like a milk machine or a human cow. I realized I couldn’t simply 100% mom it (kudos to those who can!), because writing and having my own career actually made me feel sane.
FULL DISCLAIMER SINCE WE LIVE IN A PRICKLY AGE: There’s nothing wrong with working away from home, working part-time, not working at all. Everyone has their own choices to make, the right course that’s right for them. So, you do you!
Here’s what I’ve learned in the past two years of my cute spawn’s existence. I don’t know if I’ve really got the handle of being a WAHM, but it’s getting a little easier.
1. Plan it out
Since writing requires some creativity and a lot of focus, I can’t do much of it when Anna was awake. I do as much as possible to write while she is asleep, which means being able to predict at least 1 to 2 hours of solid writing time for the day. Babies thrive on routines, so I have her on some kind of schedule. During the morning when she’s awake, I do errands, chores (#laundrylaundrylaundrylaundry), schedule Anna’s therapy appointments, answer emails, do phone interviews, prep dinner and etc. Then her afternoon naptime = my work time.
A NOTE: I DIDN’T REALIZE HOW IMPORTANT IT WAS TO HAVE “ME” TIME AS WELL. I didn’t do this very well and burned out really fast in year #1 and well into year #2. I thought that my “work” time was “me” time, but while I do love writing, it’s not always the funnest thing to do. I like to run, swim, shop, eat out, watch a movie, read books, etc. Try and explore the facets that you love and enjoy, and make sure that you still do love and enjoy them. I still sometimes forget and have to remind myself.
I’ve had to say goodbye to a lot of face-to-face meetings, but to be honest, I’ve probably saved time i.e. travelling, small talk/chitchat, etc. Yes, in-person meetings are great and cannot be replaced 100% for relationship-building, networking and overall communication, but we live in a virtual world and for me, if it’s just a 10 to 15 minutes interview for a short project, the phone or Skype has been my best friend.
3. Play pen AKA JAIL
This took some tough love and caused slight mom guilt, but I’m really glad that I stuck to my guns on this. Kids need boundaries sometimes, and I decided to try and raise Anna to become an independent kid who can play by herself instead of having to have me play next to her all the time. Out came the play pen! I would block out half of the living room for Anna to play, give her some cool toys and I’d sit on the other side where I could keep an eye on her, while doing some less focus-related tasks like answering emails. She got used to it after maybe 2 or 3 tries and I’d find her coming up with some really creative play!
4. Be flexible
Things happen. Kids get sick, their nap times change, they get older…or some days, they just wake up plain cranky and willful. I think it’s important to have a plan but to also be flexible when you can’t stick to it. I try not to stress out if I can’t finish a project as soon as I like, and just make sure to finish it another day.
5. Ask for Help — And Be Able To Accept It
This is the MOST. IMPORTANT. THING. EVER. Yes, I know, moms hate asking for help! We feel like we’re failing or we’re supposed to be able to do it all. We’re supposed to be a mom, wife, housekeeper, friend, sister, cook, etc. etc. and if we somehow can’t do one part well, then it makes us feel like we messed up. But that’s SO not true.
Kids are meant to be raised not just by their parents, but by other people AKA friends, teachers, aunties, uncles, grandmas and grandpas. If you have someone who can help you, ask. I have a hard time doing this myself (in Japanese, it’s call ‘enryou‘ or, to not accept anything out of guilt or pride, just ‘cos) but there’s been countless times where I’ve had to accept an offer of help from my hanai sister or a friend at church to watch my kid for me so I can meet a deadline. And, of course, they always come through. I try to think of it this way: If any of my fellow mom-friends asked me to watch their kid for me, I’d say yes right away without thinking twice. So, it’s OK! If your kids are around the same age, you can also work a system out where you guys work together while the kiddos play together. It gets easier.
Maybe I’ll have more thoughts next year…? Any other #wahm tips for me? Share, share. ❤