Kids Motherhood

I Have Become That Working Mom – The Type Of Mom I Didn’t Want To Be

I Have Become That Working Mom - The Type Of Mom I Didn't Want To Be
Written by Tineke Franssen

When my maternity leave came to an end last year, it was time to reflect on what I wanted my working life to look like now that I was a mom. Together with my manager, I decided to start working four days a week, two of those days from home.  This arrangement was great and I am so grateful for the flexibility, so that on the days I work from home I can also dedicate time to my son.  I am back to working full time now but still feel that I am not missing much of his life since I work from home the majority of the week.

However, where working from home is supposed to be good for your work-life balance, I recently discovered that it also has another side. A side that I didn’t want to see in myself.

The easy part of going to the office is that when I am in the office I work and when I am at home I don’t work (at least until my son is in bed).  When I get home, I take the time to play with him and not do anything else. My phone goes away and I try to give my full attention to my son. However, when I am working from home, the two territories tend to overlap a bit because although I am not the caretaker on those days, I still come out of my office room once in a while to give him a hug or to see something that he is doing (or just to get a cup of tea or go to the bathroom). And that’s where it goes wrong and when I realize I have become THAT working mom, the type of working mom I didn’t want to be:

  • The working mom that is glued to her phone, because yes we can have lunch together as a family but it needs to be fast and if they call me or send me something urgent I need to be available.
  • The working mom that says “yes, great sweetie” without really looking.
  • The working mom that is happy to come out of her office to see a new milestone her baby reached but then gets impatient when it’s taking too long because she needs to get back to work.
  • The working mom that gets annoyed when there’s too much noise from playing when she has to join a conference call.
  • The working mom that sometimes dedicates all the time of the world to her son and other times doesn’t know how fast she needs to get back in that office room, leaving her son wondering whether he might have two different moms.
  • The working mom that closes the door in her son’s face.  
  • The working mom that tries to ignore the knocking on that same door because he knows she’s in there and wants to see her.
  • The working mom that is distant and absent when she’s stressed.  
  • The working mom that snaps, is impatient and sends her husband and baby outside just because she can’t deal with the crying right when she has to be on a phone call. 

Yes, there are a lot of perks to being able to work (partly) from home and I am forever grateful that my employer gives me the flexibility to be able to do so. But I think I need to give myself some boundaries so that when I come out of my office room for a tiny break, I am not THAT working mom and try to be present, even if it’s just for a few minutes.  

About the author

Tineke Franssen

Tineke Franssen is a working mom abroad that is trying to keep her sanity amongst cultural clashes both at work and at home (Spanish parents in law anyone?). When she is not in the office or working through piles of laundry, you can find her drinking wines with friends, watching Grey´s Anatomy, playing fieldhockey or writing on her blog http://workingmommyabroad.com/

56 Comments

  • Yup. I am guilty of this too but what has been working for me is I have sent an alarm once it goes off I give myself 10 mins. to finish up what I am doing and GO be present. I have learned they are little only once. Work will be there and what we get w/our kids is priceless.. HUGS!!

  • Thanks for openly sharing what we all as moms experience from time to time. We have to give ourselves permission to set boundaries from work for the exact reasons you share. You are amazing.

  • I work from home too. I’m so grateful that I can be there for my kids throughout the day, but it’s also hard to balance the two jobs I have–mommy and speaker/teacher. Praying for balance as you find that balance. And let me know what you do when you find it. 🙂

  • Omg! Working from home WITH a kid seems impossible for me. I have the flexibility to work from home a couple of days a week, but all three of my kids still go to daycare during that time. That also has a lot to do with my team being virtual so I’m always on the phone taking calls or in conference meetings (there is no way I could have kids around).

    Bravo to you and I understand how hard it can be!

    http://www.jessecoulter.net/

    • Well, mine is partly at daycare but in his dad works in the afternoons so in the mornings he´s usually home with him. And yes, the phone calls and conference meetings are the worst just when a temper tantrum is happening 😉

  • omg yes! I hear that! I’m trying to change it myself, designate certain times to have the laptop open and certain times where I’m playing with my son. When my “office” is my couch it’s definitely hard.

    • Yes i try to take breaks to at least have lunch with him or play with him for a little bit but if i get a call from work i kinda need to get back to it…

  • Thank you for your honesty. My husband use to work from home, and it always seemed he worked more then, then he does now when he goes to the office. Having boundaries is so tough as a mom, but necessary.

  • That is such a hard balance! I appreciate you sharing your perspective though, because in some ways we all go through this kind of thing whether we’re working from home or not, in the way that we have to balance our lives and it can’t always 100% be about our kids. Hang in there, you are doing better than you think!

    raspberryscribbles.com

  • This is so me! I work from home full time and I have a really hard time putting the phone away when it is family time. I own my own business so I feel like I have to be on all the time, and being on and being a mom at the same time is tough.

  • Being a working mom is such a tough gig! You’re so aware of what you want for yourself and I think that’s amazing! Great post!

  • I just have a small side business that I work as well as being a sahm. I can’t imagine! I know you’re doing a great job!

    • Thanks girl. And you go girl for managing a small side business next to being a sahm… How do you manage it all? Are your kids awesome nappers?

  • Being a working mom is tough and honestly draining at times but you know this!I bet you are doing better than you think though!

  • Bless you, it’s so hard to get it right isn’t it. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to balance everything. I’m sure you are doing a grand job!
    #TwinklyTuesday

  • Oh it must be so hard! I am sure you are doing your best. We will always have times when our attention is divided because life can’t just be about playing with our children, but we do our best to devote special one-one-on time to them whenever we can #TwinklyTuesday

  • No you are fine. “THAT” working mom from home is the one who is never available to her work in the office co-workers because Junior “needs” her more. The one who is always “Just in the bathroom” when you call and get no answer. The one who is forever behind on projects. Or worse–the one who walks in the day maternity leave is over, baby naturally in her arms, and QUITS after everyone picked up the slack for her. You are doing it right if you want to keep that work-at-home job and want to keep co-workers on your side. I’m a mom too. It’s crushing to close the door on your kid–for both of you. But in the end, they won’t care–honestly. I grew up in the unchild-friendly 60s and my Dad’s office was at home. We understood that Dad was working so we played in our rooms. If the phone rang, even if we were positive it was a friend,we answered the phone professionally–and at age 8 I was capable, if necessary, of taking an order or amending one! It taught me a lot about responsibility. But when the work day was over Dad was just Dad again. Don’t feel guilty. Work is an important part of our lives–it PAYS for our food, shelter, medical care, etc. Even toddlers can learn it isn’t all day. Give yourself a hug for doing a great job as a working Mom.

    • Ahw thanks so much Lisa, that means a lot! Love your way of looking at it, makes me feel a lot better :). And yes, i have met some of those working moms from home that you mention as well… That´s why my only condition was to have proper childcare in place even when i am home, so if junior´s dad is not at home he either goes to daycare or to his grandparents.

  • Being a working mom is not the easiest task at all. Once you create boundaries and stick to them. Life becomes a lot easier.

  • I can totally relate to all of this. I work full time from home. 8-5, every day. Its difficult. You want to give your kids attention, but someone is pinging you for a Skype meeting, emails need to be sent a report made, the list goes on. I find the most frustrating part is that others don’t think I work since my office is at home. On the contrary, we work twice as hard.

    • Yassss! I have the same, people around me tend to think i don´t do much since i can work from home. As if i have plenty of time to also do cleaning / sports etc during the day…

  • It is so much harder to work from home than people realise! And it gets harder as they get older, sleep less, want to just be with you the whole time.

  • It is so hard to be present in both situations – parenting and working in the same space. While I dream to be able to work form home one day, I also see the benefit of being able to focus when I’m with one or the other.

  • balance is so hard to find as a mom. I hope that you are able to settle in to a routine that works for you both as a professional and as a mom #TwinklyTuesday

  • I totally appreciate these, my husband and I both work from home for ourselves. It’s hard to be present some times because we’re more or less both commission so the more we work, the more we make.

  • Tineke, thanks for sharing. I seldom get to work from home since I’m an attorney and I have to be from court to court. However on days I get to come home early and I need to still work I can’t do it until he’s asleep because I feel guilt about being home and not paying attention to him. Balance is hard but hopefully we get there soon.

  • I can’t work from home as a labor and delivery nurse, but once I had my last child `18 months ago, I switched to three 12-hour days (instead of five 8-hour days). I really do try to be present when I’m home with the kids, but I’m guilty of doing many of the things on your list. I was laying in bed last night thinking that I need to be more in the moment. I’m going to try doing that. Just being present.

    • That´s great that you could switch your schedule, although i imagine working 12h shifts must be very tough! And yes, being present is a big challenge for me as well..

  • Oh gosh yes, I know this feeling! I was studying full-time for awhile and I just missed my little girl so much. It’s such an important time in their lives, developmentally and emotionally, and also it’s better for us as mothers to make that time to enjoy the day-to-day too: babies don’t keep!

    I was talking to a developmental psychologist about this the other day, and he reckons that if you’re feeling mum-guilt and wondering if you could be doing a better job, that probably means you’re actually doing a pretty good job; there’s an awful lot of indifferent parents out there, unfortunately, but the fact that you’re striving to be present in the moment and to be the best mum you can be means you should already be patting yourself on the back 🙂

  • Yes! I don’t work from home, but I totally understand and relate to this! It is so hard and the guilt is pretty heavy.

  • I work from home as a blogger, and although it’s part time, I have definitely felt all of the above. Boundaries are definitely important, and communicating to your child your “work time” is something I’ve found helpful. Good luck! 🙂

  • I work on-line and I get the struggle but what is the alternative? It’s not that I’m going to be sitting there doing nothing but staring into their faces, I would be in an office not even with them, so this is better. Other people can be quite judgmental too. Last year, when the kids had a random day off of school, I took them to the local ski resort and they skied while I worked on my laptop from the lodge. I actually had someone say something to me, trying to play it off as a joke, that I should be out there with them instead of ‘ignoring’ them. WOW, the alternative would have been that they would have been stuck in the house alone all day while I was in the office so wasn’t this better than that? My point being, of course be present where you can, but give yourself a break too.