Photo snapped by Michelle during a fun girls' brunch.
In one short month Livia will be turning one year old. During the past year I'd like to think that I've learned a little bit about what it takes to be a work-from-home parent, and I'm therefore qualified in some small way to share the lessons I've learned in hopes that it might help someone else. Also, I'm hoping my insight as a work-from-home parent will take some of the pressure off work-in-office moms that feel guilty about missing time with their kids.
Myth: work/stay-at-home moms don't miss any major milestones. Fact: I missed the first five times Livia rolled over. Count 'em, five! The first two times I had my back turned and was...working. The other three times I was out of the house on well-earned lunches with friends. Those first five times it was someone else (mostly Rob) that saw those milestones. And you want to know something? When I finally caught her in the act it was like she did it for the first time because I was experiencing it for the first time with her. For me, there was no less magic when I finally did see it. I've been there for other "firsts" and missed others. It happens. So, don't guilt yourself either way on that.
Working from home is hard enough to begin with, but add a baby into the mix and things get even tougher. I spent the first few years of self- and co-employment (with Rob) learning how to structure my time, project manage, delegate and generally work from home. I had it all figured out and worked like a well-oiled machine. Then...baby arrives! If you're lucky the baby stays on a schedule for little periods of time (days, weeks or, God bless her, a month or two). But, then they change it up. You go from working 9-5 to 6-10 in the morning and then again from post-dinner to midnight. Sometimes you don't work the same hours for days on end. Clients see you write emails at 2am after a feeding.
This has -- without a doubt -- been the biggest adjustment for both Rob and I. Sometimes I find myself working way later than I should simply because I don't know what tomorrow will be like. Also, it's rare for Rob and I to be able to work at the same time. This makes us slightly less efficient and has affected the number of projects that we can take on. A month ago we hired a nanny to start coming a few hours, 3x per week. It has helped so so so much! Plus, Livia loves her!
Maternity leave? What maternity leave? Let me be clear: I was back designing websites before I could even comfortably sit in my desk chair post-labor. Three days after popping out a kid I was working again. Why? Because there was no one else to do my work. Because it had to get done. Because I am a professional and even though my clients probably would have understood, I didn't want the work looming over my head. Plus, our work definitely has a flow and momentum to it and I didn't want it slowing down. The closest thing I've come to extended time off was 10 days in the U.S. in February.
The best part about being a work-from-home parent is this... Being there for the little moments. I'm not going to lie, when Livia starts asilo nido (daycare) next month I'm going to miss the post-nap snuggly wake-ups. The goofy dancing midday. Taking her to grocery store to pick-up lunch and watching her munch on the bread she's given. The good news about little moments is that you can create them no matter what your work schedule.
The best work-related thing about being a work-from-home parent is this... You get insanely efficient with your personal work time. What I can do in one or two hours now compared to before is amazing. When she starts asilo nido and works her way up to the full 7-hour stay, I really don't know how I will handle 7 hours of work time again. I feel like I'll be able to create a gazillion new websites.
Every time I read another article about women leaning in or opting-out or opting-back in or that we can't have it all, I want to SCREAM. It seems that every time I turn around women are beating themselves up for not being the perfect mom. News flash: nobody is perfect. The is no perfect way to raise a kid. Stay-at-home moms have raised serial killers and 70-hour work week moms have raised Rhodes Scholars. You can only do what's best for you and your family and remember that it's the time that you spend with your baby/kid that matters more than anything. I guarantee that kids will remember the times you were there and what you did together and the other times won't even matter.