GUEST BLOG POST: Working from Home: Struggling and Juggling Your Way to Success — or at Least Acceptance by Andrea Crisp
In a perfect world, I would light a lavender-scented candle, pour a steaming cup of cream-dolloped coffee, get comfy in my ergonomically-correct chair, and attain a perfect Zen state of mind as the words flow from my mind and through my fingers, making magic happen on my Word document. But that’s a perfect world, not mine. Right now, I’m typing on a laptop precariously positioned on the far end of the kitchen table (to keep my 11-month-old from grabbing it), I can’t keep a coffee cup anywhere near me for fear of someone getting scalded, my 4-year-old daughter is stating her morning demands for candy she knows she can’t have in my ear and I’m shifting my weight on an old, uncomfortable wooden chair, because who can afford ergonomic office chairs on a family budget these days? Such is the reality for many work-at-home moms. It’s a struggle. It’s a juggling act. It’s a constant blood, sweat and tears journey toward meeting daily goals, carving out a balanced life, maintaining some remnant of sanity and yes, scratching your way to success, whether it be personal success for making your wacky life work or financial success for providing for the little ones that are an intrinsic and intractable part of your day-to-day life. Challenges abound. No two days are alike and even trying to adhere to a schedule can seem impossible. The trick is not to make working at home less of an ordeal, the trick is to make it work for you, to find your “Zen place” within the chaos, to find happiness and contentment, and most importantly, acceptance.
Acceptance is a lovely concept, but it doesn’t always come easy. For me, each day is a push to meet short and long-term goals, and each goal reached is a short-lived victory because I’m not where I want to be yet and I probably won’t get there for a while. It can become easy to lose perspective and let your struggles and frustration get the best of you. Whoever said that working at home, especially when you have kids, is a breeze has never attempted it. It’s constant distraction. It’s guilt when something inevitably falls by the wayside, and trust me when I say something will sooner or later. You never feel like you’re giving enough time or attention—and that’s something you need to come to terms with when you sign up for this gig: that pang of guilt for not interacting with your kids every waking moment of your day, that aching remorse you feel after gently asking your child to please go play by herself for a while so you can finish that assignment you’ve been trying to put a dent in all morning. You want to accomplish everything, even when you can’t seem to finish anything. And at the same time you want to grow as an individual and a professional.
The other day, my little girl put her hand on mine and stated very seriously, “Mommy, when I grow up I wanna be a mommy, and a teacher, and a nurse, and a life guard and a firefighter and a police officer.” I smiled and told her that she was gonna be mighty busy, but that she can, of course, do anything she sets her mind to. The sad part is, this advice might hit the mark when we’re kids, but it tends to fall by the wayside as we grow older. Something happens along the way, missed opportunities, that college degree that’s just slightly out of reach for this reason or that, having kids and a thousand other life-altering experiences makes us forget a simple truth: that we truly can do anything we set our minds to. This may feel like a stretch to our logical adult brains, which think in terms of daily stressors and challenges to overcome. We forget that the sky is the limit. And that’s something we all need to keep in perspective.
As I glance up from my laptop screen and watch my 11-month-old giggling as my 4-year-old daughter dances around with the hose attachment of my vacuum cleaner (which I admittedly haven’t used in a few days), I smile. Each day is a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity to grow, to make new memories with my children and to try something new. I’m a work-at-home mom, and I accept that I’ll always do the best I can. Maybe tomorrow, the best I can will be a little bit better. Maybe it won’t be. Either way, I accept where I am in my life. I’m okay with being home and with being me.
The sky’s the limit.
Andrea Crisp is a mother of 2 and has 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. Her book: 100 Ways to Make a Grumpy Kid Smile is currently available on Amazon.com.