If there’s one thing many mothers are good at, it’s guilt. Doesn’t matter how hard they try, many moms can make themselves feel guilty about every imperfection in their parenting, whether or not it’s really a problem.
This can be particularly acute for stay at home moms who find a need to start working at home. Didn’t they start staying at home to be there for their kids? Are they depriving their kids by taking a part of their day in order to work?
It gets even worse when others add to the guilt trip. Some people insist work at home moms can’t be fair to their children while earning an income from home. What’s a stay at home mom to do?
Quit Letting the Guilt Get to You
You can’t always keep from feeling guilty about the things that keeping you from being available to your kids every minute. Not do you only have other things to get done around your home, you have the right to some amount of your own life.
When it comes to doing the things you need to get done, you shouldn’t feel guilty if you need help with the kids or if they have to wait a bit for your attention. This includes doing the things you have to do in order to earn enough money from home that you can stay at home.
You don’t have to be immediately available to every whim of your child to still be more available than you would be working outside your home. You’re also showing your children the reality of what it takes to earn a living. That’s not a bad example for them – odds are they’ll be doing that themselves someday, whether at a job outside their homes, or following your example and working from home.
There may be times when the stresses of working at home will make you a little short tempered with your family. It happens to the best of us. But it’s real, and rather than feeling guilty about it, make sure you’re setting the example of handling the stresses and your temper as best you can. The way you handle these times will make an impression on your kids.
Schedule Around the Needs of Your Children
Your schedule when you work at home is often quite flexible. As much as you can, work it around the needs of your children. This allows you to be more available to them when they need you.
That means working late nights or early mornings for many work at home parents, plus naptimes when you need daytime hours with an infant, toddler or preschooler, or during school hours for older kids.
It doesn’t always work out for all of us to work such a schedule, but you do what you can. If you really need work time when the kids are going to be around and active, try trading babysitting, getting a mother’s helper or even paying for daycare, especially if the need is going to be a regular thing. It’s not that unusual for a work at home parent to need some help with the kids, especially the younger ones.
Remember That Children Need to Develop Independence
Particularly as the kids get older, teaching them to entertain themselves as you work is a way to encourage their independence. As kids get older, they really don’t need your attention every minute, even when they think they do.
I don’t mean leave your very young child unsupervised unnecessarily or unsafely. I do mean teaching your children how to have fun without you in age appropriate ways. Coloring, playing with blocks and other toys, reading, things like that.
If you have a laptop you can often lightly monitor your kids as they play on their own, even outdoors if you find a place where you can read your screen comfortably. It all depends on how much supervision is needed, and how much you can be distracted and still get work done, which varies quite a bit depending on what you do and your work style.
Be sure to take breaks not only from working, but from parenting too. During your work day, take a short break every hour or so, and longer ones every few hours. These are great times to get a bit done around the house, interact with the kids or just relax a little.
Take breaks from parenting sometimes to remember who you are on your own. Get out with your spouse or with friends. Read a book you want to read just for the fun of it. Make time for one of your hobbies. Be you.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
This is important both in your professional life and your personal life. Spend too much comparing yourself to others, and you won’t appreciate so much the things you do get done.
You can’t compare your progress in your working life to how others are doing. They probably aren’t doing exactly the same thing, and they don’t have your exact home situation.
You can’t compare how you keep your home to how others manage it. They probably have different priorities, different rules, a different amount of time to care for their home, and so forth.
Just forget the comparisons. If you’re doing well enough for what your family needs, that’s pretty good.
Know How Much You Can Take On
It’s all too easy to take on too much when you work at home. The commitment to being a stay at home mom or dad is already pretty huge. Add in working at home, and the time commitment grows tremendously. You have to know how much work you can take on with everything else you need to get done, and balance that with the income you need to bring in for the sake of your family.
Remember the Alternatives
If you weren’t working at home, what would you be doing? Could you afford to be a stay at home mom or dad without the additional income? Would you have to go back to work outside your home? Would you have to tighten your belts but otherwise make it without the income you bring working at home?
A lot of parents work at home because they need the income for their families. Others don’t need it quite so badly, but work because they love what they do. Still others are keeping their skills in so that they can go back to work when the kids get older.
Whatever your reason for working at home, you probably gave it a lot of thought. Working at home isn’t so simple that most people can just plunge into it. There’s usually a long search for just the right job or home business opportunity, and much concern about scams.
Working at home may keep you busy when the kids wish you were free sometimes, but how would it go if you worked outside the home? You’d be gone for hours a day and have much less choice in most cases about which hours you work. You’d have a commute, whether short or long. You’d have to figure out how your children would be cared for while you’re at work.
That’s not the worst thing; many families have no choice but to have both parents working, and make it work for them just fine, but if it’s not what you want for your family, you only have so many ways to avoid it. You can work at home and lose some of the free time you have available to your family or you can deal with having a single income and all the risks and limitations that entails.
Don’t try to be Supermom and have the perfect home, perfect family while working long hours to add to the family’s income. It doesn’t work that way all the time and you’ll burn out trying to do it all. Get everyone to help out and know that the small stuff has to slide so you can take care of the big things.
Too often work at home moms try to keep their home as perfectly as they would if they didn’t have a job, plus be there every moment for their kids. That’s not fair to anyone. Not you as a parent who never gets a moment alone. Not to your kids who learn that parenthood means running around completely frazzled, doing things for everyone else and not for yourself. It’s not the example I suggest you make.
If everyone is safe, reasonably happy and properly fed, you’re doing it right. The rest is extra. Odds are your family will be impressed with all you accomplish no matter how guilty you feel about the things you think you should have done.