Recently, there was a contest on the Dim Sum and Doughnuts Facebook page. As part of the prize, the winner got to ask a question or choose a topic (any topic) and I would have to write about it. This was the topic:
I have the hardest time balancing staying home with my kids and “working” a small part time job. I work from home, but feel guilty about the one-two hours each day that I have to work. I also feel that my guilt builds stress and I find myself getting angry with my kids more easily. Do you have any recommendations on ways to resolve the guilt, give the kids what they need, and give myself what I need to fulfill my soul? Thanks so much!!
This question is so good, I can’t believe I have never written about it:
The struggle to find balance between being a good mom and working from home is rough. I get it. I live it (and I feel like Stretch Armstrong).
I, like you, work from home, so while I’m in “my office,” I’m also in my kitchen. That means, whenever my kids need something, they come find me—and they come in like 100 times. In and out. In and out. They‘re all: “Mommy, can I have a snack?” …“Mommy, she hit me IN THE EYE and didn’t say she was sorry,”… “Mommy…something happened to your iPad, I didn’t do it, IT DID IT TO ITSELF, but can you help me?”
Needless to say, whenever they need me, I am usually in the middle of something fairly important—a rush order for work or maybe a great blog idea, so sometimes (a lot of the times) I’ll snap.
No to everything! Go away! I’m working!
I used to feel bad when I would snap like that, but I don’t have to do it as much anymore. Somewhere along the line, my kids learned to respect the fact that even though I’m home, I’m working. We talk about my job and we talk about Dim Sum and Doughnuts, so they are on board. They are learning that I can’t always get to their needs right away, and they’re no longer upset or surprised when they come into the kitchen (my office) and find me holding my hand up. “I will be with you soon. You have to go away now, but I promise I will be with you as soon as I can.“
And then, I make do on that promise. (OK, that’s not always true. Sometimes I forget, but I’m trying to be better about that too.)
Every time I mess up something having to do with my kids’ schedules, I figure it’s because I work—but who’s to say for sure? It’s entirely possible that I am just really bad about staying organized. Either way, my kids, overall, are fine. And, as an added bonus, they’re learning not to depend on Mommy for everything and they’re learning that Mommy isn’t perfect.
When I mess up their schedules (all the time, seriously every day) it’s never a scar-your-kids-for-life screw up, it’s more of an Oh, today was Field Day? The dress and sandals weren’t a good idea? You were supposed to wear your school shirt and gym shoes? Who knew?
Or, how about the time when I happened to glance out my kitchen window only to find my kid’s bus sitting AT OUR HOUSE because I kind of forgot to be at the bus stop for pick up?
I ran down the driveway and told the bus driver that my mom was supposed to pick her up. (I threw my mom under the bus, get it?)
But, what are you going to do? It happens, and (full disclosure), if I wasn’t working, it’s not like I’d be playing with them. I’m not that kind of a mom. I don’t usually “play” with my kids. If I wasn’t working, I don’t know what I’d be doing, but it would probably involve spending money instead of making it.
Bottom line: Whether we are working moms or traditional moms, our time is filled either way. For those of us who work from home, we’re lucky that we’re able to do that (though there are many, many days when I really miss my office.) Still, I don’t know any moms, whether they work or not, who are living a life of leisure. Every one of us is doing something or need to be somewhere. And the moms that aren’t “working”—they’re still working. Those moms SHOULD get paid. Being with your kids all the time IS work, I don’t care how great your kids are. Kids are exhausting.
In the end, I leave you with this: Ask yourself that famous question When you are on your deathbed, are you going to wish you had spent more time with your kids? I, personally, am going to wish for morphine, but if you think you are going to look back and beat yourself up for not spending enough time with your kids, then you should figure out a way to do that— and that may mean not working. But, if your kids are happy and healthy and clean (or at least clean enough), you should be patting yourself on the back, because not only are you raising good kids, but you’re helping your family out financially and, also, you’re a rockin’ good role model.
And that’s my answer.
And I hope I didn’t just F up your life.
Thanks for reading!
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