I don’t think I can call myself a Stay At Home Mom anymore. It’s not fair to me, and I think it sets me up to feel like a failure.

I’m officially a WORK (or Write) At Home Mom. I work on paid freelance writing projects for other websites up to 10 hours a week. I work on projects for myself up to another 10-20 hours a week. I have been for a long time. I used to think I didn’t deserve to call myself a WAHM until I was bringing in a substantial income, but I’ve come to realize that I’m at the point in my business where I’m investing in my future. I may not be making an enormous profit just yet, but the time I’m putting into it will pay off down the road.

The plan has always been for me to “go back to work” when all the children are in school. Depending on when we have a 3rd, that’s roughly 7 years from now. But, part of me is yearning to “work” now, and another part of me shudders to think of my future “work” being a job in an office doing who-knows-what. I didn’t feel like I had much direction before I became a SAHM. I wasn’t working my dream job (though it wasn’t a BAD job). I didn’t even know what my dream job was.

You know what? Since quitting the workforce and becoming a SAHM, I actually think I’m on the road to finding it. I think this blog and the myriad of opportunities it brings me will lead to my dream job someday. I’m not saying I’ll make my living off this blog, alone, but the connections I’ve made through it are starting to form a network that will take me further than any amount of time searching Monster.com.

When I got back from Blogher at the beginning of August, I shifted the way I approach things, like this blog and freelance projects. I’m giving myself permission to take all of this more seriously. I’m “dressing” for the job I want, not the one I have, in a sense.

So the 15 hours a week Kendall spends at preschool are now specifically set aside for me to work. Well, that and take care of Leyna. She will likely start going to Mother’s Day Out one day a week in January of next year so I can at least have a solid 5 hours to myself. Calling myself a WAHM makes me feel less guilty about juggling so much and neglecting things like the dishes and the laundry during the day.

It’s an interesting work/life balance that I’m striving to find, and I certainly haven’t perfected any techniques yet. So I’m interested to hear how other WAHMs do it. What is your cleaning routine like? How do you balance taking care of a baby and getting things done on a deadline? Do you ever sleep?

And, I’m not sure if this is just me, but sometimes I have SO MUCH to do, and I get so overwhelmed, that I just don’t do anything. I sit in the living room with my laptop up, my to-do list next to me, baby on the floor in front of me, and I spin my wheels until it’s time to change her diaper or feed her. How do you jump start your own engine and keep it going while multitasking?

Kendall is 3 years 4 months old and Leyna is 8 months old

25 thoughts on “Announcing My New Job Title, And Asking For Advice”

  1. Good for you! I worked at home the latter part of my maternity leave (which…technically made it not maternity leave) and I WAH on random days throughout the year like days my daughter is sick (or even when I’m sick) or in inclement weather, etc. I feel like I accomplish so much when I’m at home because I can clean, do laundry, or prep dinner during nap time or when A is watching a show and I don’t have work to do. But I’m sure that wouldn’t be the norm if I did it day in and day out. I don’t have any advice. I think it’ll be a constant evolution as your business and your kids grow! When A was little bitty it was easier to WAH as opposed to when she was 1. Now that she’s 2, it’s not bad as I can always revert to a DVD if I have to get something done.

  2. I don’t clean. Floors are mopped as needed i.e. once every few weeks. Same for vacuum. Laundry is pretty easy to multitask except the part where you’re supposed to put the clean clothes away. DH does dishes and occasionally picks up toys. I work and eat lunch during naptime and at night. Half of the time I fall asleep at the computer. Needless to say, I am sure that my system sucks but I don’t have the money for childcare or maid service. What motivates me to get stuff done? Angry brides threatening my reputation 😛

    1. Ha! As I type this from my couch, there is a load of folded, stacked laundry next to me that’s been there for 2 days. I have no problem getting the laundry clean and folded. I don’t know why it’s so hard to put it away!

  3. This really speaks to me! I’ve begun struggling with what I call myself…I’m a SAHM, but my little jewelry hobby I started over three years ago now feels more like a full-time job at times. I rarely sleep. Having the kids in preschool helped some, but I would tend to get side-tracked by the household stuff and would then spend the time after bedtime (or during naptime) actually working. I’ve found now that I actually have to schedule in my “work hours” so that I’m not running around scattered all day! It helps now that I have 3 days a week with both kids at school to now focus solely on working from home. While I don’t make a huge income from my little business, it does afford us some extra, fun money, to spend on vacations, etc. I would like to take my business farther so I need to start treating it as such. Thank you for this post!

  4. Very well said, Jill. Until I just heard the words coming out of your mouth, I never realized how much guilt I have about trying to juggle so much. But, I think it’s much better to own it than to pretend it doesn’t exist.

    I have no advice, but I can tell you that you aren’t alone (especially on the not doing anything part!)

  5. I’m like you in that I’ve only recently begun to frame myself as WAHM rather than SAHM and my reasons were entirely the same. MENTALLY, I had to do it so I could remind myself (and my family) that my work time at home is really work time.

    I’m still figuring out a lot of the practical stuff you asked about, so no advice from me. I look forward to hearing what others do!

  6. Thank you SO much for this post! Seriously, I feel the guilt all the time. I often just tell people I’m a SAHM…even though I have a miniscule pet sitting business, do some odd jobs for my brother, and blog. Granted I don’t get paid to blog, but I’m trying to take it seriously, so that I can open up some possible paid opportunities.

    I often have days where I just give up, live on the computer, and get nothing done. For me, being a minimalist helps. When I have less stuff, there’s less to have to clean. Even when our house explodes, it only takes an hour or so to make it look good enough. When I actually clean, like mop and clean bathrooms and junk, it takes only a few hours at most. Seriously, when there’s less shit to pick up after, it makes life a million times easier.

  7. I have never liked the SAHM “label.” Especially b/c it seems so many take that to mean I am sitting around doing nothing. But, like you, I haven’t really felt like I am “working,” since I’m not bringing in any income right now. But I am working my a** off. I like the approach/attitude you have taken! I think I need to follow your example…

  8. I’ve been working from home for just short of two years and in a week and a half I’ll be returning to work and I’ll be a WAHM. I’m terrified and already overwhelmed with how I’m going to find a happy balance between bringing home a salary and not short changing the baby on quality time with mom. Before baby, I had to remind myself that from 8:30-5 I was at work and things like laundry and house cleaning were not expected to be completed during the day. It also helped that I have an office in the house. I force myself to stay in the office and if the cats were driving me crazy I just shut the door. I can’t really shut the door if the baby is driving me crazy though and I don’t think she’s going to wait until 5 for me to play with her.

    Thankfully I have a job that once my reports are completed for the day requires very little attention from me so everyday I drive through those reports to get them completed as quickly as possible so I can have more time to do the laundry or clean up a room in the house or maybe goof off on the internet for a little too long. Now that free time will be replaced with time spent with the baby and that’s a huge motivator for me. House work and laundry will get done little by little at nights after work just like they did when I worked in the office.

  9. Good for you! I’m interested to read your comments. I too work from home and have the WORST TIME IN THE ENTIRE WORLD getting everything done. I work during naptime but that only works out 60% of the time. Like today when Austin decides to skip naptime and is terrorizing the dog and pulling everything out of his toy bins….

  10. You took the words out of my mouth. I came to this realization a few months ago and it has tremendously helped me come to terms with the state of my house, or the lack of dinner at 6:30 sharp, or missing playdates to work.

    I simply can’t do it all, but I am forging a path. I don’t make a lot of money now, and much of what I do make (50% so far this year) has gone back into my site.

    When you consider most small businesses take years to see a profit that isn’t bad. They did it by loans and investments. I’m doing it through ad sales and affiliate commissions.

    It also helps that I am getting posiive feedback from readers and users of the {expensive as shit} database I built (www.clothdiaperfinder.com). The numbers will come one day- word of mouth please do your thing- mama has no ad budget!

    The most difficult thing for me is asking my husband for help around the house. Sometimes I throw out the “well…. I work all day too- and care for the kids!’ line, but justifying the less than a McD’s salary to his makes for a weak argument.

    Like you said- you are making real connections and one day it WILL pay off. {I repeat this to myself as I say it to you}

  11. That’s awesome! I mean, so much time and thought and blood (sometimes ;D) are put into our little blog homes. You are a WAHM! I just started telling people that I am too. Taking blogging more seriously is kind of hard! I mean… how can I be making money doing this? Talking about myself and posting photos I take? It’s crazy.

  12. Sounds like you are DEFINITELY a WAHM! Lord knows there’s enough work to be done taking care of the children and house when we’re home, but trying to juggle working 10-30 hours while doing it? Sounds like heaven and trouble all at once! More importantly, it sounds like you’ve found your true dream job – or at least you feel like you’re on the path to it. I think that is WAY more important than whether you title yourself a WAHM, SAHM, WM, or whatever other acronym we can come up with. Way more important. I’m happy for you!

  13. Hey Jill – I’m a WAHM and it’s wonderful, though definitely challenging. I have a 2 year old that goes to MDO 10 hours a week and a 5 month old that stays at home with me for now. I pretty much devote the entire daytime to home/family stuff. Any grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, cooking, kid stuff (and sometimes a nap!) goes on during the day, before bedtime. If both kids are napping in the morning (usually happens 4/5 work days), I return business emails during that time. Once the kids are in bed (7pm), I work. I usually only work about 1-2 hours, depending on what needs to be done, with an occasional 3-4 hour work night. I definitely ALWAYS feel busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! I LOVE my work/life balance and it really makes me feel like ME. 🙂 Wishing you the best!

  14. I only have a moment (ha – sure you can relate) so I’ll probably come back later when I can gather ALL of my thoughts (and hopefully gain some advice from others) but I have a flexible work schedule in my HR-ish position at a very typical 9-5 workplace. I work in the office 3 days a week (while my 16 month old is in daycare) and 2 days a week I work from home and care for her at the same time. It is challenging, and is getting more challenging the more active she gets. I have done this since returning to work when she was 4 months old.

    I have to have a routine. I wake up with the baby at about 7am, get cleaned up (shower? pshaw) start breakfast, bring laptop into the dining room and get logged in. I answer a few emails while she is occupied by eating – while keeping one eye on her, of course. Then she is usually happy to play independently for 30 mins with some toys I keep in the dining room. And sometimes all she wants to do is rip the computer charger from the wall. Then we play or read books for a while before her 10am nap. I schedule all of my calls starting at 10:30 am. This is crucial. There have been times when she doesn’t nap on schedule or isn’t feeling well, and I have to take meetings with her up, and that is obviously not ideal. Most people are totally understanding of “baby noise” but some people (understandably) aren’t. I try to fit all of my difficult all of my brain needed work into nap times (she takes another from 4-5 approx). The bulk of my day has one eye on my blackberry, and one eye on my kid. Then after she goes to bed (8pm) I usually log in an hour or so more.

    Most people think I’m crazy. Luckily my husband is very supportive and picks up the slack and cooks dinner most nights. I’m a neat freak, so prioritizing cleaning is difficult, but I have learned to live with the fact that there are always going to be toys on the floor and toilet paper shreds littering the bathroom floor. Usually I spend Friday evening doing a deep clean so that we can enjoy our weekend (I’m so cool and HIP!)

    So this turned into a novel. Best of luck to you.

  15. It’s honestly a battle every day. I just hired a sitter for 4 hours a week for P while R is in school, and it makes me much more sane. I tried just writing when she was napping, but I became crabby and stabby whenever she skipped a nap. I also enforce a strict “everyone is in bed by 8pm” rule and then work from 8-10pm most nights. But, yeah. It’s a struggle and I definitely have not found the perfect balance yet.

  16. I have a 4-year-old, 2.5-year-old and a baby due in 5 weeks – I also work a part-time job at home as a recruiter that averages about 15 hours/week. It’s hard to juggle everything at once and I struggle daily with spending quality time with the kids, keeping up with the house and meals and still doing my “professional” job well. However, I also really like having that professional outlet and realized how much I missed it when I was a FT SAHM.

    To answer your question – sometimes you just have to let things go. My house is not nearly as clean as I would like it to be. I don’t always have dinner cooking when my husband gets home from work. And some days (gasp) my boys watch TV for more than the 2 hour suggested limit. Thankfully, my husband is very supportive and many nights he will walk in the door and start dinner himself or we will agree to a cereal night. I clean more on the weekends (or shhh…just before company comes over).

    At first, the summer was really difficut as my oldest was not in preschool and my youngest stopped napping. I found a good high school sitter who came over twice a week for 3 hours at a time so that I could shut my office door and get some uninterrupted work calls done (it’s hard to interview a candidate for a job over the phone with a two-year-old screaming in the same room that he just pooped on the carpet). Alas, the babysitter went off to college – so for now I work during the boys’ “break time” (i.e. they play “quietly” in their rooms instead of napping for about 1.5 hours a day) and I do a lot of work at night after my hubby gets home or after the kids go to sleep. Thankfully, both boys will be in preschool starting TOMORROW (!!!) for two days a week, which will give me roughly 3 to 5 weeks of working in silence twice a week until we have a newborn…then I need to find another plan.

  17. 1 word – babysitter! or 2 words – mother’s helper!

    while i call myself a SAHM, i’ve never really been one – i have a wedding planning business and now i’m back to blogging for KKITM (at least part-time for now) – i wouldn’t have made it through the summer without “Miss Whitney” – i found a college student who was home for the summer to watch the kids while i went into the office to work – sometimes i actually left the house for appointments or to run errands but either way, she was a godsend!

    financially, some days i just broke even with what i “made” and what i paid her, but i looked at it as an investment in “my business” – just like any other business, you don’t always make money in the beginning – but i know that if i don’t invest in myself now, this blogging/writing thing is never going to take off

    Whitney has gone back to school and Sydney is back in school so that has left me with a little more free time as Myles is back to taking a morning nap again – YAY!! but i am looking for someone who can come and play with Myles a couple of hours a week while Sydney is at school so that I can get a few things done – and as far as the house goes – well, it is what it is and i don’t beat myself up about what does or doesn’t get done!

  18. ~ * ? * ~

    I feel sooo guilty about spending all my time on the computer blogging, working on my studio and all that {Google Reader kills me…} when there are chores to be done…. I have stared a small routine that seems to combat the guilt and help me to keep sane. I find that if I have breakfast and start a few chores {two chores a day; rotating each week. Ie. wash on Monday, iron on Tuesday, that sort of thing} BEFORE I sit down at the computer I end up actually being able to manage both!

    Yes, I get less computer time, but I also don’t feel guilty about neglecting the house chores, and for me, one hour or so out of my at home business taking care of the house isn’t going to hurt me. I hope that helps.

    xox,
    bonita of Depict This!
    ~ * ? * ~

  19. As you know I’m a work outside the home and just about every part of my house is a mess (not counting the photos I took this week) so I have no advice for you there.

    But I must admit when you were talking about all the writing you do at BlogHer, I was like, hey man, she isn’t just raising her children. She is working and writing too! So I agree you’re a WAHM. You should be proud of all that you’re doing to accomplish your dreams.

  20. Well, I’m not a WAHM but I work outside the home 40 hours a week. My biggest thing is that I’m ok with not having the house spotless all the time. Or having a fabulous meal on the table every night. I’ve learned to balance. Like, I make sure at least 3 or 4 nights a week, we have a solid good meal. The other night or two, I give my self a break. If the laundry doesn’t get folded, that’s ok because I’m reading books with Jack.
    I’ve probably gotten too good at accepting I’m not going to do it all…lol.

    When I would start to feel guilty about working, I reminded myself that I love my current job and would probably be lost without it. It makes me happy and when Mom is happy, everyone is happy. 🙂 Plus, there is the financial aspect of it.

  21. It’s interesting that you write this now. It has been a conversation in my house a lot lately. I opened an etsy shop back in April. When I opened it I had a very meager goal. All I wanted to accomplish was paying for my three year old daughter’s weekly dance lessons. I had hoped that by September I would be making at least that amount each week (well, month since I had to pay per month). By the beginning of August I had made enough to pay for her class for the whole year.

    In the meantime my husband lost his job (and, thankfully, found a new one). That got me thinking that I want this little etsy shop of mine to grow. I don’t know if I expect to eventually live off of it but I am hoping to make a decent salary from it. So, that sort of puts me more in the WAHM category as well. And I homeschool. And I have three kids three and under. So, I know busy – and I admit my housework is not all that awesome.

    Here’s what works for me. I do my best to deal with things as soon as I can (I know, I know). Like I do the dishes before I leave the kitchen after each meal. If one of my kids is being slow I will do everything else and leave their’s for the next time I’m in the kitchen. I do enlist my husband’s help guiltlessly. He is very supportive – so that makes it easier. And I tend to do a lot of work after my kids are asleep. BUT my kids sleep until almost nine most of the time. This helps tremendously. I can work until two or three in the morning and still get a decent amount of asleep.

    Good luck!

  22. I know exactly how you feel, and I’ve concluded the same thing. Most people consider me a SAHM, but I don’t stay home – I go to class, and do homework, and write for pay, and do doula work as well. I make money (sure, it’s not as much as my old corporate job, but it’s something!) I have other people besides my family that rely on me for things. there are expectations, and they need attention too. My blog has also brought me amazing networking opportunities, and connected me to the exact community that I plan on working within when I do have my “big-girl” law degree.

    I’ll be right there with you, embracing the fact that I am a work-for-pay inside and outside the home mom.

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