I obviously quit my job in January, after months of wondering and hoping, while on maternity leave, that working from home would be a viable option. And it has been. Financially we are better off than if we were forking out for childcare. I’ve worked every hour that I’ve been afforded and raised my profile as a writer, social media manager, content creator and more. I wear many hats! So many hat’s that I need to buy a hat rack. As the summer ended and we wrapped up our holidays in Wexford, I thought more and more about my quality of life and how working from home was pulling me down in ways I wasn’t expecting.
As a work from home parent, you juggle everything, desperately hoping you won’t drop anything. As you struggle from room to room, from kid to kid, never sitting, always on the go, your brain is working twice as hard as you schedule work in your head. Even when I’m not working, I’m working because I have to be. Freelancing, being your own boss means you are solely responsible for your potential and your income. It’s exhausting. Family life alone is exhausting. Throw in a job that you have created and are figuring out how to manage is even more exhausting. With tiredness beating down an already worn body, I realised something had to give.
In the evenings, I work. At nap times, I work. On the loo, I work. TMI but it’s the truth. Anytime there isn’t a kid, or two, hanging off my leg, I’m guaranteed to be working. That means I have zero downtime. My brain does not switch off.
Over the summer, I noticed how this was affecting me. Because I felt this constant pull and draw to my work, I talked less, I met up with friends less, hell I texted less. My anxiety suffered as a result and my Fricking Flamingo came back to taunt me.
It didn’t just affect me. Papa Bear who spends his whole day in the office and feels a different kind of loneliness, felt the disconnect between us as I was stuck into work almost every night. When he comes home, he grapples to be back with me and needs his own downtime in the evenings. He needs to chat to Momma Bear, vent about his day, tell me the highs and lows but my head is deep into work and he barely gets two words out of me as all I can think of is deadlines, opportunities and clients.
Our quality of life wasn’t all it was cracked up to be despite me being home with the kids. This wasn’t how it was supposed to me. My work from home career has been more successful than I had hoped for or intended. I’m not complaining but I knew I needed to readjust life so that I could, well, live!
So, what to do, what to do?
I made a decision that a childminder for one simple day a week would make a world of difference to our lives. It would free up my time in the evenings, not every evening obviously but hopefully enough, so that I can feel like I have a life again. It’s only one day but it has a massive effect on my workload and how I can manage my clients for the week. Next week will be my first day working outside of the home again as I find a cafe with decent but cheap coffee. The local library will become my best friend and I may sneak in a Zumba class every now and again. I’m excited about it.
But I’m also feeling somewhat uncomfortable about it. I’m feeling guilty. Stupidly so, but feelings of doubt, guilt and worry always creep in especially when ypu work for yourself and constantly feel imposter syndrome. I’m there. I’m in the house. Do I really need childcare if I’m working home?
Yes, maybe, possibly.
I’m not the only one to venture down this path and ask this question. It all depends on your situation, I suppose. I adore my new job even though it’s a constant uphill sprint to keep things ticking over. Keeping clients happy, finding new clients, and throwing as many words together as possible to meet my wordcounts. Preferably in the right order.
Originally I thought getting a childminder was counter productive to what I was trying to achieve. I quit my job to be at home. Wasn’t that my primary objective? No, not necessarily. Finding my feet in a job I’ve always wanted while being able to work from home was my objective. To make that happen, sacrifices have to be made but not at the cost of my lifestyle. And when I say lifestyle, I mean being able to be there for my entire family. To be able to have long chats in the evening with Papa Bear and to be able to be there with the kids without my head being somewhere else as I thought about work. And to be able to switch off. My fricking flamingo depends on it to keep her at bay.
So yes, for me, childcare is a necessity so that I can find the balance on working from home and actually being at home – heart, mind and body.
How have you managed working from home? Was it as easy as you expected? Or harder? What sacrifices have you made?