Working from Home: The Good and the Bad

Life changes are inevitable as we get older, but some changes are harder than others, even when it is our choice. When I found out I was expecting my daughter I spoke with my supervisor about reducing my hours and doing most of my work from home. I assumed I would crank out all the work during her long naps (please don’t laugh at my naivete), and spend the rest of the day playing with her and taking care of her.

Well, reality hit me like a ton of bricks when she entered the world a year and a half ago. It turns out, having a baby is a whole lot harder than I imagined, and working from home with a baby has its own challenges. If you are considering moving to a remote situation to spend more time with your baby, here are the things I would consider before making the jump:

The Good:
Time with your baby
This is the most obvious, but still needs to be mentioned. You get the most precious gift of not missing a moment with that sweet babe. You get to play with them, see their first smile, steps, and be the one taking them to the park in the middle of the day. It is priceless.

Reduced child care expenses
Childcare is not cheap, and having the ability to bypass that expense is certainly not something to toss aside lightly. This is money that could be saved for retirement, Catholic school, a house downpayment, and countless other things. If you need some help, it is a lot cheaper to just pay a babysitter for hours as you need them, which brings me to my next point…

Flexibility (depending on your job)
Working from home often means you can work different hours to make up for the time you spend with your baby. It is a lot easier to wake up at 6 AM and get downstairs to tackle a few things before your baby wakes up from your couch in your pajamas. If you need to get some work done without interruption, you can easily hire help on an as-need basis instead of monthly daycare costs.

Creative outlet
I love taking care of my baby and cooking for my family, but let’s face it, sometimes it is refreshing to have a place where I can let my creative side take hold and use the skills that I have been cultivating for the past few years. I love that I can stay connected to a world that I really enjoy and love working in, even if it is in a more limited capacity. I also love my job and the people I work with, so the ability to not lose that because I wanted to be home with my daughter is a bonus I do not overlook.

The Bad:
It’s a lot of work
Hey, who would have thought doing TWO jobs is hard? I don’t know why I didn’t think Of this before, but taking care of a kid is a full time job. If i turn my back for one second, she is generally doing something life threatening. I need to be attentive to her pretty much all the time when she is awake, or she will inevitably eat a quarter, stick her finger in an electrical outlet, or climb up on the table and poor all the cheerios out to simultaneously eat and throw them. That doesn’t leave a lot of free time for the job I am being paid to do when she is awake, so I squeeze in what I can when she naps. Which then doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for other housework. My house is often a mess when my husband gets home, and dinner is rarely a fancy meal.
TIP: If you are taking this on, please make sure you and your husband (or wife if she is the one working out of the house) are on the same page about cleaning and cooking.

Conflicting pulls on your time are hard on your mental health
No matter how well you manage your time, there will be work emergencies or baby emergencies that pull you away from each unexpectedly. There have been countless times where I have felt like a terrible mother because I had to deal with something at work in that moment while my baby screamed for my attention. It was heartbreaking. There have been an equal number of times where I felt like a terrible employee because my baby was going through a nap regression and I didn’t have any time during the day to do the job they were paying me to do. These moments are always crushing to my self esteem. The back and forth can be hard on mental health, and my husband has come home many a days to a sobbing (or just really moody) wife. His patience with me is much appreciated.

You’re part of two worlds, but not really in either
The working world and the stay at home world are both great places, but when you work part time from home with a kid, you don’t really feel like you’re fully occupying either. At park dates you are constantly checking email to make sure nothing is coming through you need to deal with. Work happy hours are generally not an option because they don’t want a toddler tagging along, and because they generally talk about the office you aren’t apart of anymore. It’s easy to feel left out of both and a little like a vagabond when you work from home with a baby. Again, not always the easiest thing to feel.

So what’s the verdict? Do I recommend it? Unequivocally yes, it is the right choice for me and our family. Not missing out on time with my daughter while having a way to be part of an organization I care about and want to support is the right decision. But just because it is the right choice doesn’t mean it doesn’t have challenges. That is something I am trying to come to grips with and continue to asses so that this continues to work for us. How am I coping with these challenges? That’s coming to you in my next post. Stay tuned!