I made the switch from working in an office setting (and later on an art studio) to working from home full time about six years ago. At the time I was juggling the demands of a standard 40 hour-a-week job, a steady stream of freelance writing work, and the discomforts of late-term pregnancy.
Something had to give.
I took the plunge and dove head first into my freelance jobs and motherhood, saying farewell to typical working adult habits like leaving the house and wearing pants that aren’t exclusively made of a cotton-lycra blend.
I haven’t looked back, but there’s no denying that working from home while being a primary caregiver to my two daughters has its own unique set of challenges. Here’s a peek at a typical day in the life of a work from home mom (WFHM).
6 am: Wake with my alarm clock. Just kidding! Like all moms, I wake up when my preschooler throws open the bedroom door and exclaims, “Rise and shine! It’s morning time!” Or occasionally, “I have to go poop.”
6:15 am: Attempt to sleep longer because my husband rose to start the coffee and make the preschooler breakfast.
6:16 am: Get up because the toddler is now yelling “MA! MA! MAMA!” from her room.
7:00 am: The first sip of fresh coffee is always the highlight of my day.
7:15 am: Tell the preschooler for the seventh time to put on her socks. She’s lost them in her room somewhere. Pick out a new pair of socks for her. They aren’t the ones with the dogs in sweaters on them. Pull the dog in sweaters socks from the dirty laundry hamper and hand them to preschooler. Take a big gulp of coffee.
7:45 am: Husband and preschooler head out the door for work and school. Stop them quickly to take out yesterday’s crafts and papers from preschooler’s backpack. Throw the papers away after they leave (Don’t judge. You know you do it, too).
8:00 am: Sit down to check all three of my email accounts after putting on Sesame Street for the toddler. Google has recently streamlined its service so you can have all of your Google-based inboxes open at the same time if they have different domains. It’s my worst nightmare realized because ALL THE THINGS need my attention.
8:05 am: Realize I can’t tackle emails without sustenance and eat a yogurt cup that expired yesterday and a fistful of dry Cheerios off the toddler’s high chair. Go back and get the box of Cheerios. Eat approximately half of it.
9:00 am: Finish replying to clients who need immediate responses and switch my focus to my toddler. Guiltily spend some time playing with wooden puzzles knowing that I’m going to need to turn on another episode of Sesame Street soon.
10:00 am: Get actual work done (Sesame is back on).
10:45 am: Ready the toddler and put on jeans and a bra so I don’t scare the other moms at Pre-K pickup. Forget to brush my hair, though.
11:00 am: Make awkward small talk during pick up because I don’t know how to communicate with other adults unless it’s through email.
12:15 pm: Ignore the preschooler’s request to eat mac & cheese for lunch. Slap together peanut butter sandwiches because it’s faster. Toss a few baby carrots onto plates because vegetables are important.
12:30 pm: Frantically work as fast as I can while the girls are busy eating but stop when someone spills a cup of milk and they both start to cry.
1:00 pm: Put the toddler down for a nap while the preschooler gets a turn with the TV. She picks an episode of My Little Pony… again.
1:15 pm: Set the preschooler up with a coloring craft and work like a madwoman on a project I should have done last night after the kids went to bed. I put it off in favor of streaming three episodes of Parks & Rec I’ve already seen half a dozen times.
2:30 pm: Fall down the Internet rabbit hole after checking Facebook for the third time in ten minutes. A clickbait title leads to an advertisement which leads to $150 worth of business casual tops in my LOFT online cart.
2:50 pm: Come to my senses and delete everything out of my cart because I don’t go anywhere that requires business casual wear. Change my mind and add them to my “Save for Later” list just in case.
3:00 pm: Get up the toddler from her nap and spend 20 minutes readying both girls to head down to the neighborhood playground.
3:35 pm: Yep, I’m that mom who is on her phone while her kids play. Judge away if you must, but I’m not snapchatting; I’m meeting copy deadlines. (Maybe I’m snapchatting a little.)
4:00 pm-7:00 pm: I straight up immerse myself in family time. Make a SUPER healthy dinner to make up for that shoddy lunch I served. Watch my kids push the SUPER healthy dinner I made around their plates and make faces at it. Clean up. Give baths. Put kids in PJs. Brush their teeth. Handle a teeth-brushing crisis when the wrong toothpaste is applied. Read books. Read more books.
7:30 pm: BEDTIME. For the girls, anyway. I’ve got several more hours of work to finish.
8:00 pm: Sit down on the couch with a La Croix and my laptop and try in vain to both work and watch last week’s episode of Brooklyn 99 with my husband. He’s folding laundry next to me. This is our quality time.
9:30 pm: Give up on multitasking and wrap a project or two for the evening before finally giving my brain a break from toggling back and forth between work and family.
10:00 pm: Climb into bed and break all the rules about screen time before sleeping. Catch up on social media and check work email once more before rolling over to close my eyes.
It’s not a glamorous day-to-day life, but despite the slog (that all moms do in one capacity or another), I feel lucky I can consistently indulge myself in the great loves of my life: my family and my creativity.