Several years ago, I discovered how to work from home efficiently. Since then, I’ve worked at two companies and have had the flexibility to work from home for both. I am now nearly 100% remote.
I’ve gotten used to this life. I wake up, have coffee with my husband, wake the kids, get them ready for school and then sit down at my desk to work. I run to the bus stop at 3 p.m. to pick up my son and I’m back to work. I take 5 minutes and throw a load of laundry in. It works well. It’s the only way I can be a mom, manage my house and have a career. Or is it?
I struggle with how much of myself I can give to growing my career while being an involved mother. To me, being involved means going to school events, being home when the kids get back from school and being able to see them off in the morning.
Earlier this year, I started a new job. I commuted to my new office often in the beginning. The commute was roughly 90 minutes each way. It was exhausting. I came home cranky. I didn’t see my kids enough. I didn’t have enough time for their homework, activities, laundry and other things I managed to do when I was working from home.
After a couple weeks, I made sure I was back to working from home most of the week. And six months later, I go to the office maybe once a month. Usually once you prove yourself, working from home is an easy transition, dependent on your job.
Despite having a good setup, something is missing.
I am one of several in my current company. At my previous, I ran the department and was responsible for all decision making for the group. Here there are several directors and we make decisions together. I enjoy the team work but miss creating processes and seeing them through. I miss ownership and accountability. I have a manageable portfolio of projects and team.
While I appreciate having a work life balance, I miss facing challenges and overcoming them. I miss growing a group, creating processes and seeing the group move in a consistent predictable manner.
I disregard my thoughts because of how cushy this job is. I make a good living, I have time for my children and I get to be home. What could be better?
I could be fulfilled.
A recruiter reached out to me about a position yesterday that seems very exciting. I’d be managing the professional services group for a startup. I’d grow the team, manage and mentor the group on consistent delivery of our product suite. This is the type of work I enjoy. I love growing and coaching teams. I find fulfillment in contributing to the growth of others.
So what’s the problem?
I’d need to be in the office most of the week. The job is in New York City so I’m back on the train for my commute. While I can write, read and work on the train, there is nothing more mood draining that a delayed train.
With commuting and giving my team everything they need to be successful, will I have enough left for my children? Will I be able to take them to practice and spend time on their homework?
I don’t know the answers to these questions.
I do know that I need to feel fulfilled with my job.
I’ve decided to interview for the position despite being in two minds. I’ve commuted early on when my children were babies. With the proper preparation, I can make it work again. I may not be as relaxed as I am now but I could be much more fulfilled.
What’s a mom to do when considering focusing on career growth?
Have a Plan
Having a plan is essential to be able to manage children, the house and work. Picking days here and there to do laundry will result in chaos. Laundry days should be scheduled as should folding days. It may change weekly but it’s a good idea to have a schedule in mind so you don’t get overwhelmed.
I now know what days my children receive homework. It is always due Friday. That means I pick one night a week in which to focus on them and their homework. That night can be laundry and homework night.
One of the biggest issues with commuting is coming home and cooking dinner. Sharing that responsibility with my husband will be essential. Prepping on Sunday, or ordering take out will have to work their way into the mix as well.
Moms tend to over schedule. We want to be as productive as possible so we create lists miles long.
I think every working mom thinks the same thing. You go through big chunks of time where you’re thinking “this is impossible, this is impossible.” And then you sort of keep going and keep going and you do the impossible. — Tina Fey
We strive to do the impossible and we come pretty damn close. Because I tend to get overwhelmed, I am opting to stay as realistic as possible so that I don’t over schedule myself. Being realistic with your time is important to be able to focus on both your career and your children. It’s important to not lose sight of work life balance.
Cut Yourself Some Slack
There is no such thing as a perfect mother, but there are plenty of good mothers. As long as you are trying, you are succeeding. If you have a busy day at work and come home late, it’s okay. And if you needed to call out of work because you’re child is sick, it’s okay too. You can’t please everyone.
The bottom line is that working from home is not a requirement to be a good mother. I am allowed to have a career that is fulfilling while also being an attentive mother. In this case, you can have your cake and eat it too. And I’m eating.