When I started working at home, I was terrified that my children would suffer for it. Wouldn’t they miss out if I wasn’t spending every possible second making memories, providing exceptional learning experiences and communicating at them? I had bought into the myth of fetishized motherhood: that every mothering moment had to be Instagram-worthy.
A third child, and four years later, I’m finding my feet as a work-at-home mom. It’s an awkward balance between changing diapers and cleaning up pee in unexpected places; meeting deadlines and being present on conference calls. Reading books and teaching children how to read; designing websites and growing a client list.
It’s hard and beautiful; stressful and peaceful. I’ve found I’m not nearly enough, and I’ve found unexpected grace for all those places. As it turns out, love thrives in the small things, in the daily decisions to love my children well, despite whatever title gets tacked on to me as a mom. Instead of hurting my family, working at home has saved us. Here’s why:
1. We’ve lived simplicity, not just talked about it
I think most of us would admit a longing for more simplicity and less chaos; I get to live it! Life is like a bucket: You have limited space for everything you want to do. When you drop a toy into a bucket of water, water is displaced. So it is with life: When you add something to a life that’s already full, something will be displaced.
Before working, my bucket seemed large, and I crammed a lot in, including things I didn’t truly care about that didn’t provide value for our family. Now, my bucket barely has any extra space and I’m forced to stay ultra focused on my priorities and family values. Our life has simplified, tenfold, as a result.
2. It’s forced me to get rid of the guilt
I used to think mom guilt was just a permanent fixture in my life. It got so bad, however, when I became a working mom, that I was forced to deal with it. Now, I use the Guilt Check Worksheet and ask these two questions, when I start feeling guilty:
Have I actually offended or hurt somebody?
Do I honestly think I should be doing something different?
If the answers are yes, I can make a change! But more often than not, the answers are no—and I relax! No more guilt means I’m a kinder, gentler, more patient mom. The atmosphere in my house is a thousand times happier and more peaceful when I’m living from a place of joy, not guilt!
3. No more hovering
Remember all those memories, exceptional learning experiences and love communicating I thought my children needed? No wonder I was exhausted! What I discovered is that all that “educating” (playdates and classes and educational activities) was just another form of entertainment, and that I was going to entertain my children to death.
Now that I don’t fill up my children’s time with education and entertainment, they’re free to play. When they play freely and independently of me, they’re able to explore real-life concepts, learn how to interact with each other naturally and grow their imaginations. They are happier, calmer and less anxious as a result.
4. I found my people
Historically, women have had deep community to enrich their lives, and by extension, their families. They shared chores together, raised kids together and lived intertwined closely in each others’ lives. When I was a stay-at-home mom, I never found that kind of community. But when I became a work at home mom, I found a team of dynamic women and we helped to encourage one another at home and work. Partnering with these amazing people to do work that matters has been meaningful to me, and my family reaps the benefits of a mom who feels strong and capable.
5. It keeps our lives slow
Thanks to my income, my husband is free to choose a “slow” job that allows him to be home fairly often. Because, frankly, our kids need both of us—not just me.
Working at home hasn’t been without its struggles and challenges, but I love it. Because of it, my children thrive, I thrive and we’re able to live the simple, focused life we love.