Kathleen Odenthal is an entrepreneur and stay-at-home mom juggling a business and a toddler all at the same time.
The Reality of Being a Work-at-Home Mother
We hear about the stay-at-home moms and the working moms, but it’s rare we get a glimpse into the realities of a work-from-home mom. Well, I'm here to help!
I am a 30-year-old mother to a two-year-old boy and the proud owner of my own photography studio. My son goes to daycare two days a week for five hours, and the rest of the time he is with me.
This means that I have had to learn how to juggle the unpredictable nature of a business while also juggling the unpredictable nature of a toddler. Let me just tell you, juggling unpredictable things rarely works out as planned!
This article will cover a general day in my life, covering all aspects from childcare to money management. I wish I could include pointers on how to maintain your sanity during this process, but unfortunately I haven't mastered that yet.
Regardless, I hope you find the information eye-opening, because being a mom is a full-time job and a half. Being a mom AND a business owner is a challenge that not many can handle.
A Day in the Life of the Work-at-Home Mom
So to give you an idea of a typical day in my life, I'm going to basically lay out a regular weekday schedule for you so that you can fully appreciate the absurdity of trying to do everything for everyone (because hey, that's what moms do, right?).
- 6:00am: I wake up, I begin to prep for the day. This includes trying to clear the crust from my eyes, quickly peruse my emails, find something edible to give my son for breakfast, make a checklist for the day filled with things I know I won't accomplish, and I wait for my son to wake up.
- 6:30–7:00am: Somewhere between these times, my son will wake up. Now is the time I change him for the day, give him his breakfast, finish up my emails while he eats, and brush up on recent social media for my job.
- 8:00–11:00am: I sit in my gated in office located in the corner of my living room trying desperately to concentrate despite the fact that I have a loud rambunctious toddler wreaking havoc all around me. During this time, my son plays, chases the cats, throws all his toys all over the place, and I get up occasionally to read him a story, change his diaper, or just give him some love.
- 11:00–12:00pm: I prep lunch, get everything ready, my son eats lunch, I (try) to eat something myself, and then we get ready for nap time (his nap, not mine, although I wish it was).
- 12:00–2:00pm: This is crunch time for me. This is the ideal nap time for my son, although some days are shorter. But regardless of how long he naps, this is the time of day I get to fit in as much work as humanly possible. During these two hours it is as if I manifest into five different human beings, all working together to concur the world.
- 2:00–4:00pm: After my son wakes up, I get him a snack, change his diaper, and depending on the weather, we go to the park, or find an activity to play inside.
- 4:00pm: This is when I start getting dinner ready. My son isn't a big dinner fan, and if we try to eat any later than 4:30, he won't touch a bite.
- 4:30pm: Dinner time with my husband and son.
- 5:00–7:00pm: Between these hours, my husband and I swap between playing with Kieran and cleaning the house. We try to get as much done before our son goes down as possible so that cleaning up after bedtime isn't a hassle.
- 7:00–9:00pm: This is crunch time two for me. Now that my son is in bed, the house is clean, and I have a bit of time to focus, I get back on my computer and wrap up my day's work.
- 10:00pm: Bedtime.
The Mom Guilt
Ah, it wouldn't be a post on working from home with kids around without mentioning the mom guilt.
Its hard for those who work outside the home to understand the challenges we face when we see that our children want us but at the particular moment, we are just tied up.
Prioritizing and Feeling Guilty
Don't get me wrong, I get to my son as soon as he needs me, but I'm also running a business, so depending on what he needs, why he's throwing a tantrum, or whatever is going on, I have to decide what needs to be my top priority.
(My son is ALWAYS my top priority, but if he is throwing a tantrum for the sake of throwing a tantrum, I will continue to finish what I was doing.)
It doesn't matter why I choose work as the priority at any given moment. Regardless of the reasoning, the mom guilt hits hard.
I basically get to spend half my day feeling like a bad mom and the other half feeling like a bad business owner.
Luckily, my son is a happy, smiley, boy who is learning and growing every day. My business is also growing every day. I am good at being a mom. I am good at being a business owner. Heck! I'm good at being them both at the same time, but that doesn't mean I don't feel guilty, and that's hard to shake sometimes.
Myth Busting: Challenging Ideas Pertaining to Working From Home
When people hear that I am a work-from-home mom, I get a lot of "oh wow, that must be nice to spend so much time with your son" or "you are so lucky you don't have to go into an office everyday."
I WANT AN OFFICE!
Guess what? It's far from easy to juggle a business, a baby, and a home without one of them exploding. Imagine being on a business call with a toddler clinging to your leg crying for a cookie. Not so fun, is it?
I'm not a super mom. I'm not someone who can manufacture extra time in the day. The fact is, it would be impossible for me to get everything done I need to get done on any given day. Impossible. That doesn't mean I don't try.
I'm also not a neglectful mom. Yes, there are times my son asks for me and I can't get to him right away, but that depends on what he needs. If he is hurt, of course I run as fast as I can to pick him up and kiss his boo-boos. On the other hand, if he is throwing a tantrum because he is two, and two-year-olds throw tantrums, I'm going to finish whatever I was working on because I know he will be okay.
Moms Have Multiple Full-Time Jobs
The truth is, moms who work from home have multiple full-time jobs. They are moms, business owners, nannies, cooks, maids, laundromats, and police officers.
And since no one can do all of those things perfectly, we are constantly coming up short one way or the other, trying to find a balance in an otherwise chaotic situation.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.