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Fayette-Mom: Work from home downsides

Posted October 19, 2010

Jennifer Joyner

As a mom, I often feel caught between two worlds. There are two very specific camps in the Mommy world: stay-at-home moms and those moms who work outside of the home. Sure, the two camps comingle from time to time, and some members are even known to cross lines and be friends with one another. But for the most part, the groups stick together, silently justifying their own choices and questioning the priorities of the others. There is strength in numbers, and each group enjoys the friendship and camaraderie of its members.

I don’t belong to either group.

I am a work-from-home mom. And believe me, I know there are no tears shed for me; I’m extremely lucky. I get to earn a paycheck and do work that is very satisfying, all while being at home with my kids and enjoying a (mostly) flexible schedule. Best of both worlds, right?

Well…..yes…..and no.

Yes, I get to attend most of my kids’ school functions and field trips, without having to take a vacation day or begging to leave the office early. That is a luxury, for sure. However, I pay for that luxury dearly in the schedule I keep. I get up to work at 3:30 a.m. Yes, that is AM! I’m a morning person, but 3:30 a.m. is not morning. It’s the middle of the night. Much of my work is done before my kids wake up, but not all of it. I have to use the rest of the day to squeeze in bits of work here and there, making me feel as though I am never “off from work." The lines are constantly blurred and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

Yes, I earn a paycheck. Making money working from home is a privilege, absolutely. But even though I work full-time hours, I earn part-time pay. And no benefits. That’s a difficult pill to swallow. It’s hard to save for college for the kids and our retirement when we’re pretty stretched all over. Of course, in return for this sacrifice, I get to stay home when my kids are sick without having to call in sick myself or scrambling to find a babysitter. Again, how can I complain?

There’s lots of pros and cons to being in this minority category. But probably the biggest con is the fact that neither of the established mommy groups really recognize me. The stay-at-home moms don’t understand that I have restraints on my time that they don’t have to deal with. And the working moms pretty much resent the fact that I get to work from my house, with my kids. I miss the camaraderie of belonging to a specific group.

I feel very fortunate to have what I have. But I never, ever thought it would be this hard.

Jennifer is a mom of two and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food addiction memoir, "Designated Fat Girl," came out last month. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. Find her here on Go Ask Mom on Tuesdays.



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  • lwilhelm1 Oct 20, 2010

    I know what you mean. Since January I've been self employed working from home. My daughter can come home on the bus several days a week, which is fun, but it means I usually can't get much work done after that. The summer was strange because I couldn't commit to daily child care so I had to cobble some day camps together. My mother, who used to watch my daughter most days doesn't always seem to realize I still need help so I can work. like you, it's hard to draw the line between work and not work.

    I have to keep reminding myself I AM NOT a stay-at-home Mom. I am my child's only support and working from home is what I can do now.

    Many things have been really great. Helping at school. A trip to the fair Monday afternoon. All fun, but work never seems to stop.

  • mtaylor918 Oct 20, 2010

    I'll be joining the ranks of the work-from-home mom group in 2 weeks, but it will be full-time. Thanks for the insight!

  • mystica131 Oct 19, 2010

    I'm very lucky to have a part-time job that I do from home. But what I miss is good old-fashioned breaks. You know - when you stop by your co-worker's cube and talk or run out to lunch? My breaks consist of going downstairs and putting in another load of laundry. The only real drawback is there's no distinction between the work world and home world. But I really don't have anything to compare it to since I started doing this with my first child. I've never "worked outside the home" with kids. I think the planning and organization it takes to do that is amazing.

  • fencergrrl Oct 19, 2010

    With my 4 kids I have done everything from working full-time, to working from home and staying home without an outside job...and I don't know about anyone else, but ALL OF IT IS HARD! I don't get why anyone thinks any mom or dad has it easy. Raising kids, no matter how you do it, is hard work! I like to think that most of us do our best to provide for our families and be there for our kids and make the right choices no matter what job we have or how many hours we work or from where. Bickering about "who does more" is such a waste of time. We all just want our kids to be decent people. Who cares how you get it done?

  • snowl Oct 19, 2010

    p.s. Let me add, back then, there were no cell phones, no portable laptop computers.....when you left the office, you left the office....:-) Life was good.

  • snowl Oct 19, 2010

    Yes, I see your point about working from home with kids. At least for me, working at a professional office, full time, gave me time to be with other adults. I could get dressed up with makeup, dresses and nice shoes. I went to business lunches. I was not looking at my household chores that needed to be done. I knew my kids were in good hands playing with other kids to keep them busy while away from home and me. When we did finally meet at the end of the day we were so happy to see each other. I forgot my office job and could focus all my evening and weekend time with my family, away from the office. It was hard, but we needed the income and I enjoyed both worlds! No guilt allowed...:-)

  • whyalltheproblems Oct 19, 2010

    In a perfect world, I know for myself, I wish I could just be home...not have any other responsibilities other than my family, and home.
    But that's not how it is. I work part time at a preschool, along with keeping a part time job I can do at home and am in the process of getting my own business going...all because it's not a perfect world. I'm thinking I like the song Free by Zac Brown more and more these days...

  • JAT Oct 19, 2010

    NYC and Tired - no you don't! It sounds great, but it's not really. Your boss expects you to be available and working 24/7, and your kids expect you to be mom 24/7. It would probably work OK if the kids were in school, but if you have kids at home, you'd end up feeling WAY more guilty for neglecting them when work calls than you ever would at being to give them all of yourself once you "clock out" at work and are at home where you can be totally "Mom".

  • Tired of thoughtlessness Oct 19, 2010

    I really wish this was something that the rest of us could complain about.

  • NCgyrl Oct 19, 2010

    I would love to be a work from home mom. I feel like I have missed so much of my kids life and its so hard to better myself without looking back and thinking I am neglecting them! Kudos to you for finding something to do that would allow it...wish I was just a hint of that luck. I know it's not all its cracked up to be but I also know there is probably not a single mother out there that wouldnt love to give it a try!