Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The post where I wonder how WAHM can also be SAHM

In case some of my readers aren't up on the lingo WAHM stands for Work at Home Mom (not to be confuse with WOHM "Work out of Home Mom") and SAHM means Stay At Home Mom. I prefer to be known as awesome.

Yesterday Cameron was home from daycare with a double ear infection. Yup, DH and I thought it might be pink eye but lo and behold it was really the ear infection. My sister was incredulous that we had no idea. "You mean she didn't wake up during the night multiple times?" Nope. That's not how Cameron rolls. But we did know something was wrong so off to the doctor's DH went with Cameron. Diagnosis in hand we decided to keep her home for the day so she would nap better and recover more quickly.

Unfortunately neither of us could take the day off of work. DH's calendar was a bit more flexible than mine but I had about 5 hours of conference calls where I was an integral component. So not only did I have to have my headset on for most of the day, multitasking was absolutely out. It worked out OK but I was pretty stressed for most of the day even with DH shouldering the heavier load with childcare. And Cameron napped for about 5.5 hours total. All in all it should have been a piece of cake but it was still stressful. I could never really concentrate on Cameron when it was my time to care for her or work when I was supposed to be herding cats on my conference calls.

As I lay on the couch in exhaustion catching up on the 8 (!) episodes of Fringe we have saved I wondered, how do the women who work full time jobs also juggle being the primary care giver during the day for their kids? I don't mean freelance work which can technically be managed in "off" hours (although talk about tiring!) but a 9-5 job. I met one woman at BigFinance who told me proudly that she was going to be working at home while watching her 6 month and 5 year old sons. Really? I'm sure that worked out fabulously.

I have an exceptionally happy, long napping baby and there is no way in hell I could do it for more than a day. And that was with DH. I worry that technology has allowed us to juggle too many things. I appreciate the flexibility from BigFinance and the technological tools that allow me to work from home at least once a week. But when I work from home, I work from home. Sure, I might throw in some laundry or run an errand or blog but my time and attention is focused on work.

What do the rest of you think? Totally possible to juggle a full time day job and caring for kids? I assume that it would get easier as the kids get older but I would think that 0-6 is the hardest.

PS - Cameron is doing totally great today and didn't even glance at me as I waved goodbye after dropping her off at daycare. And I am happily ensconced at my desk slogging through email.


Mommy, Esq. said...

Anyone who works full time at home while caring for kids isn't actually focused on either.

Nicole S. said...

Ditto Mommy Esq. on that one. Do those people who work at home have help, like sitter/nanny? That's the only case I've heard of where it works.

LauraC said...

The days where we have one kid at home while Jon and I are working, that kid watches a LOT of tv. As in, tv on ALL DAY.

I think it's harder when it's not your normal schedule. Maybe people who do it all the time put together a schedule where it works?

Amanda said...

I'm not sure I buy the WAHM. I could see if you have a really really flexible work schedule where you are working before kids are up and after they are in bed. No idea how people do it when your suppose to be caring for your child at the same time. Beats me.

Stephanie said...

I don't know how women who work at home can manage it. I've been home with a sick kid before and tried to be on the phone with a coworker and it was impossible. Plus, I can compartmentalize work and leave it 'there' and then focus on home & family when I'm home.
More power to the WAHM, I guess.

Merri Ann said...

I'm in the SAHM group but I know three businesses that I deal with on a regular basis have WAHM's running the office from home.

One is a mobile dog groomer she was doing all functions until her last child ... now she runs the business end and has hired someone to do the actual grooming.

The other two are running businesses that don't require the establishment of an office (lawn care business, painters).

I don't how mom's with a job such as yours would be able to do it with the unpredictable distractions ... nanny is the only solution that comes to mind.

Danielle said...

I work freelance, and depending on what type of job you take it may or may not be able to be done in "off hours". I filled in for someone on maternity leave this winter and a lot of that work had to be done during business hours.
I got most of it done while I had childcare on Tues and Thurs every week but ended up working a lot from home as well. It SUCKED!
I happen not to believe that a person can be a full-time employee working from home with kids and no childcare all the time. Like someone else said, there is no way you're giving enough attention to both.
I do know lots of people who work 1 or 2 days home a week with small children and no childcare. It works mostly because they schedule calls during naps, and everyone in the office knows that they will mostly be reading/answering emails those days. Those people also do most of their "work" work for those days when their husbands are home.
It also depends on the kid. When Brady was a small baby I could NEVER have done it. He was a nightmare. But I know lots of people who could do a full day of work from home with a baby no problem. I find it easier to work at home now that he's older. He plays by himself a lot and I can get things done. But calls are out of the question. He just won't tolerate it.
I feel lucky because by working freelance I get to be a WAHM, WOHM,, and SAHM depending on the jobs I take and what day it is.

Rebecca M. said...

I did a little research into being a WAHM and I found that people who were successful had the support of childcare at home with them while they worked.

You cannot focus 100% of your time on either a child OR work. Even the best multi tasker cannot do it if you must be "present" for work meetings/calls during the regular 9-5. Sure you can get work done when the baby’s sleeping, but what happens when you're in the middle of your call and your kid is projectile vomiting all over the carpet... or comes screaming through the kitchen on roller skates.... um... you try to come up with some lame excuse to explain the chaos. It just won’t work.

Sorry to hear about the ear infections - Dominick too won’t show any signs of ear infections, and we bring him to the doc and she says, "yeah, uh, his ear drum is almost ruptured!" Great! Give us some sign little guy! He's on his second round of antibiotics to clear this one up. Hang in there.

Drew said...

Well, I "tried" it twice. To see if I could hack it. I saved up all of my volunteering work (I know, sounds ridiculous to you WOOH Moms) throughout the whole day 9-5. It was a nightmare, not to mention impossible! I believe I blogged that I had no idea how people do this. Previous to child, I had also worked with many a work from home mom (1 or 2 days a week). It usually ended up with me on the phone with them only 1/2 there, with kids in the background. Sometimes I felt like I was disrupting their day when I called or emailed them with an urgent matter. I kind of ended up feeling, and I hope none of my old co-workers take this wrongly, that because we worked in a non-profit, the one day that these moms were granted stay at home was another way of making up for all the nights and weekends we had that we had to work. It was like and unwritten agreement that you check your email, stay available, participate in calls if needed, but otherwise you are home when working from home. (and working ridiculous nights and weekends around it, to make up for it). Even such, I could not hack it.

confused homemaker said...

It's really hard to do, you need additional support if you are working at home.