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the mommyhood memos: the pros and cons of being a work-at-home mom

Sunday, September 12, 2010

the pros and cons of being a work-at-home mom

By Betsy, author of Funky Mama Bird

{This post is part of the Moms Who Work series.}

This September will mark the one year anniversary of my quitting my old job and beginning a new career as a writer, editor and WAHM. It's been a bumpy year, filled with challenges, growth and promotions and one that I hope is the start of a very long and prosperous career.

I get a lot of questions about being a WAHM: How is it possible with a toddler? How did I get started? How do I stay on top of things? I also get a lot of feedback from other moms who are either looking for a way to do it themselves, or who wonder how it is even possible.

Being a WAHM has been life changing for us all, and is the perfect fit for our family. I've also made it my goal to help as many other moms out there who think it will be the right fit for them, but don't know how to get started. With that said, I'd like to outline the pros and cons of being a WAHM, to help educate those of you who may be wondering if it's for you.

The Pros.

The pros are sort of obvious. I get to spend my day with my son, while doing work I love. I have a flexible schedule, which means plenty of breaks to go to the park, build block towers and play in the sink. I also have no commute. Even on the days I have a toddler hanging from my ankles, it doesn't take long to get from my kitchen to my office.

A few other pros are not as obvious, but I have discovered over the past year:
  • Challenging myself.
  • Growing as a person who is organized, on top of things and up to any challenge.
  • A schedule that has allowed my son to thrive.

The Cons.

No matter how good the deal, there are always cons. These include being perpetually busy. I get up an hour before my son to get some work done. I work evenings and weekends if I have to, to make up for those times he just. Wouldn't. Nap. 

Finding the time to get everything done is a challenge. It means being flexible when I enjoy routine. It means working while I eat, composing emails while I sing songs and abandoning articles in the middle of them to go outside, losing my train of thought and having to start all over.

I have to be very, very organized and plan my days in advance. I also have to have a back-up plan in place, moving from one task to another if my son is preventing me from working on one. This means that we don't get out as much as I'd like. 

Not too many play dates or story hours or something that could interfere with The Nap, because I need to work. Yes, I'm home with my son, but it sometimes means sacrifices and splitting myself in two anyway.


To be successful as a WAHM, you need to have a few things. One, is a working space that is separate from your kiddo and is child-proofed. I also find a white board handy, both for jotting down ideas and for entertaining the kiddo when he's restless.

Finally, you need support. is a fantastic resource and source of support for many WAHMs. Check them out for job leads and just commiseration.

Come ask me questions, too, at Funky Mama Bird or on Twitter @funkymamabird. WAHMs need to help each other as much as possible, since we don't have an office support system in place.

Dear mommy-friends, are you a work-at-home mom? Can you relate to the pros and cons that Betsy identified? How in the world do you juggle your responsibilities? Any tips or resources you'd like to pass along to others? OR maybe you are considering making the transition to being a WAHM... What is the appeal for you? What holds you back? Do you have any fears or apprehensions? What do you need to get started?

holding down the fort one day at a time,

Have you registered your blog here yet?

adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
do not reproduce without written permission

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At September 12, 2010 at 12:55 AM , Blogger Amy Sullivan said...

I feel as if I have the best of both worlds beacause I work part-time, but as you said above "there are always cons"...even with great situations. At work I always feel as if I'm behind, behind, behind. At home, I always feel as if I am behind, behind, behind:)

I enjoyed meeting you, and I'm bouncing over now to check out Funky Momma Bird!

At September 12, 2010 at 12:58 AM , Blogger Lynda said...

Awesome article! I'm going to highlight this in my weekly link round-up.

Since March I've been a WAHM, however I find it impossible to do my job while caring for two toddlers (almost 3 years and 15 months). My mom's been watching them for us while we work, but she can no longer do that.

The baby is DEMANDING. The toddler's good with being set up with activities and being left to do them, however he's SO much fun to play with... I would feel bad trying to work with that going on.

On average, how many hours do you work a day? I'd really love being able to do work and care for the kids so we don't have to put them into daycare.

At September 12, 2010 at 1:20 AM , Blogger Mandy said...

Such a great post!! I love it!
I am also a work at home mom, as a photographer. (except when I am actually at the shoot, which is only a couple of hours at a time). It is challenging at times to try to find a balance. And you're right, there are pros and cons to everything. But for me, the pros of being a WAHM FAR out way the cons. I wouldn't have it any other way.

At September 12, 2010 at 1:49 AM , Blogger The Frat Pack + Me said...

great post + great blog. I have been a WAHM for (gulp) 13 years. I am a former teacher.

At September 12, 2010 at 4:43 AM , Anonymous Dalia - Gen X Mom said...

I agree with everything you say here. Definitely pros and cons. I have been working at home for 10 years now, always a challenge.

At September 12, 2010 at 4:56 AM , Blogger Funky Mama Bird said...

@Lynda - I work about 6 hours a day broken into chunks. My son is 15 months, too, so I feel your pain!

I work before he gets up, during naps and after bed time. When he's awake I work in 15 minute increments, taking breaks every 15 minutes to play with him. It's time consuming but lets us spend time together, teaches him patience and gets the job done.

At September 12, 2010 at 6:50 AM , Blogger Melissa (Confessions of a Dr. Mom) said...

Wonderful post. I would love to someday convert my SAHM status to WAHM status. Just not sure how yet. I have always wondered how to do it...splitting your time b/w caring for your children and working. I like the ideas and advice you have here. Especially the one about working in 15min increments during the day. Seems hard but doable. Thanks for the wonderful ideas and resources.

At September 12, 2010 at 7:55 AM , Blogger Funky Mama Bird said...

@Melissa - Have you ever considered writing from a health angle? is hiring - I work for their parent company and I'd be happy to show you the ins, so to speak. They only take contributors with a health background, so obviously you'd qualify, and I think you're writing is pretty solid, too.

At September 12, 2010 at 8:38 AM , Blogger Mommycrat said...

Thanks so much for this post. It's something I've wondered about. I'm sort of hopeful that at some stage in the not too distant future I might be able to swing a blend of work at the office and work at home (to ease pick up from daycare times - or further in the future, the after school period). But then I'm torn because I'd still like to work in management, and if I do that, then I can't do this (in my current line of work anyway). I realize I can't do both, so I'm still trying to figure out what will work best for our family - though I'm thinking a blend of sorts might be a good option through some of the younger kid years.

I'd been wondering how full-on WAHM's do it - because I didn't see how it was feasible, given how demanding (especially) young kids can be. I have a girlfriend who is a teacher and author who has thought about making the switch and we'd been talking about the feasibility of working at home with young kids. It's so good to read a post from someone who does it, and does it well! Thanks!

At September 12, 2010 at 9:10 AM , Blogger cooperl788 said...

Yay Betsy! I was so excited to see one of my favorite blogs writing for another of my favorite's! I really love hearing how you balance it all, and are successful. Working from home is a topic that Jeremy and I are constantly revisiting for the future.

At September 12, 2010 at 10:57 AM , Blogger Mama Hen said...

This is a great post! I would really like to be able to start working at home. I am focused on being mom right now, but have been thinking about finding something that would work for me at home so I can be there for my chikd when she comes home from school. It is important to me to be there as much as I can. Great post!

Mama Hen

At September 12, 2010 at 12:19 PM , Blogger Susan DiMickele said...

This is great Betsy. I love your spunk, and I love watching your journey. You go girl! I'm cheering you on all the way.

At September 14, 2010 at 4:26 AM , Blogger flyrish said...

Love this post, Betsy! I usually work from home two days a week and in the office three days a week. Whenever people ask me how I do it, I feel like they think I'm "forking" (fake working). It's a lot to juggle, but it's doable! Thank you for showing that.

I also get help in the afternoons from my sister-in-law who takes my guy to the park. It's nice to have the option of help to have a nice chunk of time to really focus on work.


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