Myth: As a work at home mom, you have all the time in the world.
Fact: As a work at home mom, your time is your own– until your clients demand otherwise. Then, shockingly, you have constraints just like everybody else.
Jackie scheduled the new satellite dish installation this past weekend. On Monday morning, good and loving partner that she is, she gathered all of our Comcast Cable TV boxes and remotes and wires and bundled them up neatly in my car. “Can you run these by the service center and turn them in?” she asked. “I don’t want us to be charged for another day.”
A few minutes later she entered the kitchen wearing her favorite green top. I was simultaneously flipping eggs, pouring juice, and shooing a zealous dog with my foot. “Do you think this shirt is too wrinkled?” she asked pointedly. Of course I said it was not. “I really wanted to wear the black one, ” continued Jackie, “but it’s dirty. Do you think you can maybe throw in a load of dark clothes today? And make sure to use the right hangers. This was hanging on the wrong kind.” I just sighed and shook my head, orange pulp and omelet bits running down my sweats.
After rinsing the dishes, dressing Alina, dropping off the mail, calling the doctor, dashing by the store, returning the cables, driving home, and putting Alina down for a nap, I finally logged on to the computer. That’s when I noticed an insurance agent’s business card on my desk alongside our latest mortgage escrow analysis. Please call the agent for a quote today, said the accompanying handwritten post-it note adorned with a smiley-face. And call Wells Fargo too, please, Jackie had written.
I practically screamed until I remembered Alina was (thankfully) sleeping. Didn’t Jackie know that I was facing a voiceover audition deadline, a chapter edit, and six blog posts? Didn’t she know that I also needed to prepare for a video conference AND make sure Alina was fed, happy, clean, and intellectually stimulated?
Of course she did. But, like many people unfamiliar with work at home intricacies, she just assumed my self-imposed schedule naturally allowed for infinite flexibility. And she lives with me!
News flash: Working at home only works if you can actually work. Throwing a load in the washer while you write (or design or record or sell or paint or whatever) is really no big deal. Throwing a load in the washer, sorting hangers, running errands, cooking dinner, tending to a toddler, and writing solid real estate copy before a 5:00 deadline is next to impossible.
I realize that, as work at home mothers, we are blessed beyond belief to have the opportunity to combine business and family. I cherish my inherent flexibility and the technology that affords this blend, and I relish the fact that I can schedule doctor appointments and playdates and workouts worry-free. But along with the perks comes, well, work. And in order to continue staying home and making money, I need as much work time as the girl in the office cubicle. I need others to respect my time as much as I respect theirs … to realize that there is no time for personal business during office hours. I don’t dare call my work outside the home friends to idly chat at 2:00 on weekdays, and I expect the same in return.
Later that night I drafted my own post-it note (adorned with smiley-face) and affixed it to Jackie’s windshield. It was our grocery list.
by Elisa Garcia