Balancing work and family life for a work-from-home expat mom


Posted on : 19-01-2011 | By : dutdot | In : All about my baby, Expat Blogging, Financial Freedom, Life's Musings, Parenting

Photo Credit: Home Business Place

It’s not easy to juggle the different things that make a woman busy, especially, if you’re a mom – a working mom, in that matter. How much more if you commute, you’d say? Preparing to go to work and all activities that it entails (e.g. eating breakfast, preparing your lunch box and that of your spouse, the things of your school children) are enough to consume your energy for the day. But what about if you’re a work-from-home mom like me and many others out there? Is it better off to be a working mom from home or a working mom who commutes from home to work and vice versa?

The digital revolution has made it possible for the modern women and mommies to work at the comfort of their homes. We’d constantly hear the term “mompreneur” from all moms who have ventured out to “netrepreneurship” (online businesses) while running their family’s affairs.

When I started working from home as a mom, and an expectant one, too, there are times I’d feel guilty whenever I sit in front of my laptop. There is a constant nagging voice in my head that tells me to devote more time to my growing toddler. Yes, although, technically, I do have enough time for her. Since I became pregnant with my 2nd baby, I don’t bath my 1st born anymore. I let her nanny do the bathing for her. But everyday, I find time to be with my baby during meal times. She feeds by herself so I just sit there beside her or eat with her. My toddler also wants to be with me whenever she feels sleepy. Oftentimes, it would take an hour before she’d sleep for her afternoon nap, and 30 minutes of playing and cuddling at night before she could fall asleep. In other words, my baby eats most of my waking time. However, I still feel guilty whenever I’m at “work”.

Why the Guilt Feelings

Personally, I feel I have enough time for my growing toddler as I described previously. However, it is this guilty feeling that makes me sometimes uneasy. I feel guilty when I let my baby watch educational videos with her nanny, and still, she’d come to my working area asking me to watch it with her. I could not resist her sweet voice, “Momma, momma, mommy, come…” while grabbing my hand, and this would usually happen when I’m in the middle of finishing something.

Perks and Disadvantages of a work-from-home mom

Being a work from home mom has its perks and disadvantages, but, for me, I dwell more on the perks side. When I decided to leave the lures of working outside, it was all for the benefit of my baby. We had no nanny yet at that time, and working outside was close to impossible. It’s either we bring our baby to the province in our home country, the Philippines, but I’d miss her too much, or bring her everyday to a paid baby sitter here in Kuwait, and God forbid, she’d grow up to a person I wouldn’t even recognize. I prefer to grow my baby my way.

I thank the Lord for a supportive husband because I can do all things I want. Having an online business to manage is something that makes me busy and earn income while I am busy with family life. The opportunities to work in writing gigs and anything that pertains to the digital world are enough to make me loaded yet enthusiastic about making a living on my own.

When a mom works from home, oftentimes, there are many distractions and invitations for comfort like the cozy bed, the constant swirling sound of the whirlpool, and many more. It takes a lot of courage to resist as well the sweet temptations. While I don’t classify my child as a distraction, I guess, she’d probably fall under sweet temptation.

Ahh, I could not resist her sweet smile; I’d get up from my chair and hug her. I could not resist her sweet voice telling me that we should play by jumping in our bed like a kangaroo. I could not resist her sweet little kisses and warm hugs that make my world stop for minutes. I could not resist her whenever she tells me to sing “ashes, ashes, and we all fall down” while singing it with action. I could not resist the fact that I should be tending to her mental development at a young age of barely 2 years old. I could not just solely rely on the nanny to do the mental development for her, and also in instilling positive values for her, and on having the right self-esteem. It’s my duty as a mother.

Interestingly, I could not resist her soft little knocks on my door as I write this post. Oh, Lord, I need to resist her just for a few minutes.

What To Do as a Working Mom from Home

I don’t have any experience of working outside from home, as soon as I became a mom in 2009, so I could not compare notes. I worked at the corporate world for over 10 years after graduation from college, and all I thought of then was just myself. When my hubby and I got married, we already had the comfort to enjoy and manage our time as a couple for six long years before our first born came into our lives. The decision for me to work at home as a mom didn’t come easily. It’s not easy to give up the lures of the corporate world. It’s not easy to be on my own wings and be a startup work-from-home mom, as I try to do my wonderful occupation on earth – that is to be a startup mom, and be good at it without much trial and error.

I searched my soul on what I should do to balance my life as a work-from-home mom and my other vital roles in life. I listened to coaches via audio books on how to make my work-life simpler and manageable. I know that there has to be a way to get rid of the guilty feelings I have whenever I’m in a work-mode.

Some tactics I learned

Just this morning, I decided to do the usual thing of attending to the breakfast of my baby. Sometimes she eats a full meal at breakfast, but there are times she’d just drink her Pediasure milk with rice water, and some cookies. After breakfast, I watched educational videos with her. I stayed with her at the living room as she watched and got thrilled with the educational and fun stuffs. I just didn’t allow her to watch alone. I guided her to make sure she understood what she was watching. I am pretty aware that watching TV shouldn’t be done by kids under 2 years old, but I don’t believe in that in its entirety. It’s because I always make it a point to interact with my child as we both watch the TV together. For free educational stuffs from the Web site, I attach the laptop to the TV for bigger viewing of the screen; that makes watching more fun and enjoyable.

At around 11a.m., my baby’s face was already filled with tidbits of biscuits she was eating, the milk splattered down through her dress, for she attempted to drink the milk directly from the bottle without the nipple!, and the sesame videos we were watching already stopped, I told her it’s time to bath. The nanny readied the bath water, baby’s dress, lotion, and comb.

As she was bathed by her nanny at the bathroom, I prepared myself for my work-mode. Now, I should be firm on my decision to focus on my work because, deep inside me, I’ve already begun to relinquish the nagging voice of guilt inside my head. I know I only need to schedule my bonding moment with her by doing the things that I should be doing with her as a mom, and let the nanny do the things which could be done without me. This would be our routine on weekdays, and weekdays would be spent on sleeping together in bed with Daddy, tinkering the Iphone for youtube videos, or a picnic or trip to the zoo or park would do to stimulate more the growing mind of my baby.

Are you a work-from-home mom? How do you balance your work-life? Let’s compare notes, and learn from one another.

Post Script:

As I am about to finish this article, my baby just finished playing dolls with her nanny. She just climbed into our bed with her milk bottle on her mouth, and her legs under the comforter, when I heard her soft call…”Momma, momma, come…sleep”. I quickly finished my lunch, and put my baby to sleep for her afternoon nap. As for my work-mode, I have yet to restart the momentum again (thank God, I’ve learned to become automatic like the turning on-off of my laptop’s power!) as soon as my baby has drifted to the la la land.

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