Many working parents who juggle a traditional 9 to 5 job in the office with raising a family dream of some day working from home and being a sneeze away from their kids.
It’s a piece of working parent heaven on Earth, you don’t have to give up your career and money-earning power to watch your children grow, perfect right? Not quite.
While it seems to be a happy set-up all parents dream about and should aspire to achieve, the W in WAHP (or Work at Home Parent) still stands for WORK. And some WAHPs even feel like they instead have the worst of both worlds. People don’t quite get that working from home is essentially still working (you know deadlines?) only now you’re also supposed to take care of the kids, and for some make sure the house is at least habitable for human beings. All these while you’re still trying to make a living and pay bills.
Here are just five truths work at home parents wish people knew.
1. We don’t work 9-5 but sometimes we work ’round the clock!
Sure we might have the luxury of squeezing in a quick haircut in the middle of the day on a weekday, or a run around the park early in the morning after dropping the kids off at school. But you know these little moments of freedom means having to stay up extra late the night before, finishing up even the next day’s work load, to free up some time the next day. Prior to going out to meet up with friends, we’d have to clock in 12 even 14 hours of work so we can free up some time the following day.
2. We do work from anywhere!
Thanks to technology we can and do work from anywhere—in the patio, under the tree, in the playground, in a moving vehicle, while watching a recital, absolutely anywhere (and yes we do answer work emails in the bathroom too). While some parents have established regular work hours, some still work as soon as they open their eyes while in their pajamas, while cooking lunch, or when they wake up in the middle of the night. Most work even in bed, instead of counting sheep they count emails and sales when they can’t sleep.
3. We miss power dressing to conquer the world.
While it’s convenient to “attend” a conference call straight out of bed in our pajamas even before we’ve combed our hair or brushed our teeth, we kind of miss power dressing like the people on TV. It’s nice to have an excuse to show off your fierce work outfit designed to conquer the world.
We miss having a pressing reason to fix our hair every morning. We miss our crisp power suits and pearls. Not that we can’t wear them now, but aside from the fact that a pearl necklace is a choking hazard for toddlers, and for us, too, when said toddler starts pulling the necklace from behind, the work at home setup gives us the option to dress down, so we just don’t even bother most of the time. Plus, we don’t really have the time.
4. Yes, that was a screaming child in the background, but don’t worry we have everything under control. Now let’s get on with this meeting.
A teleconference with a work at home parent could at times go something like this :
“Good morning, so today’s agenda *pauses to close the door on a screaming toddler asking for a cookie* includes our quarterly sales, the new clients coming.. I’m sorry will you excuse me just for one minute…*whispers something to the child banging on the door*..okay, aside from that we need to discuss the possibility of….
But don’t worry, we have everything under control. A work at home parent is a master multi-tasker who can literally close a deal while scrubbing a child’s butt. And while you can hear the sound of a singing toddler in the background every now and then it doesn’t mean we are not dead serious about this deal or the issues that need to be resolved right away. You just have to understand that little kids don’t really care if you’re working.
Case in point :
As much as we try our best to control them we can’t really do this all, the, time. But we do get embarrassed when a kid walks in on us in the room while we’re having an important meeting. Our heart skips a beat when our toddler starts screaming poop while there’s an important client on the other end of the line.
5. Please stop nagging us for being on Facebook all the darn time. This, I kid you not, is for our sanity’s sake!
Working at home can get lonely. We are stuck at home often alone, or maybe with little tots who keep making a mess sooner than we can clean them. WAHPs are often detached from the rest of the world (or so it seems). We miss human contact, adult human contact. That’s why you’d often see work at home parents on Facebook. We miss the usual banter with actual adults . Heck we even miss our petty arguments with the office grinch because at least then we had a person to argue with other than a three-foot-tall toothless toddler who wants chocolate and cereal 24/7. Please don’t think chatting on Facebook is procrastinating, that’s probably us trying to hold on to what little sanity we have left after chasing children around the house and getting work done.