Before becoming a mom, I used to read articles about various life scenarios mamas found themselves in: the “stay at home mom,” the “work out of the home,” the “work at home mom.” For some reason, the acronyms SAHM, WOTM, and WAHM caught my attention. It all seemed a bit complicated and overly defined for my style especially as I contemplated becoming a mother myself.
Now in the first year of parenting, I’ve been fortunate to try on the work at home mom, aka WAHM, gig – and I realize that the boundaries aren’t so cut-and-dry. Although there are definite benefits to working from home, there are also various challenges to navigate. To those who are considering going this route, here are a few lessons I’ve learned during my rookie year as a WAHM.
1. I’ve learned to count my blessings. After putting my child down for a nap, it’s time to start on my other work. Though I genuinely enjoy my job, this can definitely be exhausting at times. On days like this, I choose to focus on the positives of working from home- like the ability to delay daycare, that I had the opportunity to breastfeed without being hooked up to a pump multiple times per day, as well as more flexibility with scheduling appointments and connecting with other moms. During this first year, working from home literally has been a saving grace.
2. I’ve learned to ask for help. The first year of parenting is a challenge all on its own. Adding work schedules to the mix often requires a bit of juggling although this is true whatever your work situation. I’m generally not the type to ask for help first, but this year has changed that. Now I welcome help with open arms. My husband and I are lucky to have family nearby who are willing to provide moral support and watch our son when needed — and I am so thankful!
3. I’ve learned to get out of the house. By nature, I am an extrovert. Too many days spent cooped up at home make me crazy – and that is easy to do when you work from home. This experience reminds me that anything worthwhile requires intentionality; getting out of the house is one of those things! After one too many weeks of not venturing out enough, I’ve learned to actually schedule outings, lunches with friends, trips to the park, etc. Without the intentionality of putting these outings into our schedule, I often forget to come up for air. When I do make the time to connect with others, my creativity and outlook on life are revitalized and I tackle my job and life with more confidence.
4. I’ve learned the beauty of routine. Prior to having a child, I had a serious disdain for most forms of routine. My creative, intuitive side craves spontaneity and being open to wherever the day takes me. But working from home while taking care of a baby has taught me that there is beauty and reward even in routine. Not only has my son thrived on a routine nap schedule, but routine also allows me to work uninterrupted. I actually accomplish more and feel less stressed when I embrace the structure and routine of this season with my child. And less stress makes for a much happier mama and home life.
5. I’ve learned to be flexible. Although I just praised the beauty of routine, there are days when the routine is off – sickness, teething, and the simple fact that some days are just “off.” On these days, the ability to be flexible is worth its weight in gold. Some days I throw off routine and finish work after my husband gets home at night, or I let my son hang out in the pack-and-play for a few minutes while I catch up on email. Flexibility is key to out-of-the-norm days.
With nearly a year as a WAHM under my belt, I’m learning that the so-called labels aren’t what really matter. Finding and embracing what works for you as a mom and family is much healthier than trying to fit into a prescribed model. Each day is a gift and opportunity to receive more, connect deeper and love harder.