When I exchanged my full-time job for a work-at-home position, I envisaged a blissful existence, free from the shackles of four office walls.
We would wake up leisurely and eat a freshly cooked breakfast together.
I would work peacefully while the kids were at school, and continue working quietly after they came home, as they kept themselves occupied with all the arts-and-crafts activities I planned out for them in my free time. I would even have the time to catch up with my besties.
Pretty soon my bubble was burst by that sharp needle called reality.
If you were wondering what it’s like to be a work-at-home mum, or WAHM, as we like to call ourselves, this is what my day looks like:
5am: Even five minutes of extra sleep are precious when you are a mum and of course, I am denied of this little luxury by my children, who tickle, pinch and kiss me until I wake up. And of course, they go back to sleep, leaving me wide awake.
5.15am: Since I am now awake, I decide to check my email and plot out what I need to do for the day before it’s really time for my little noise machines to wake up. I get 45 minutes of work done.
6am: The school rush begins. I hustle my kids (who were awake an hour ago) protesting and bleary-eyed out of bed, into the bathroom, into their clothes, into the kitchen were they spend an agonising amount of time eating and arguing with me and each other, and then into the car and off to school.
7.30am: I am back at home and feeling very productive as I sit in front of my laptop and start to work.
8am: Oops, just remembered we’ve run out of milk, so I run to the kitchen where my ‘what to buy’ list is and add ‘milk’ to it, then spend more time standing there, writing down everything else I need to buy.
8.30am: Back to work, typing frantically to meet a 10.30am deadline — which I meet – just. Yay!
11am: I think I really should start working on my next deadline, which is later in the day, but I also need to pop a load of clothes in the washing machine, fold the kids’ clothes, and of course, finally get out of my pyjamas. I trick myself into thinking I have loads of time until 4.30pm, which is when my next deadline is. Of course, I don’t factor in the kids.
Noon: Time flies when you have clothes to fold and now, it’s already time to pick up the kids. This whole process takes approximately an hour.
1pm: Back home, and repeating these sentences over and over again to my kids: “Go to the bathroom, wash your hands, change your clothes and eat your lunch.” I’m sick of my own voice.
2pm: I have exactly two and a half hours to write approximately 1000 words that make sense. I haven’t even written the first sentence.
4.25pm: I submit my work with five minutes to spare. This is despite being interrupted every 10 minutes (I kid you not) by two small beings with a million issues. These issues range from wanting to poop, and wanting a snack to complaining about and fighting with each other and asking me questions like “Why can’t I marry him?” (pointing at the brother).
4.45pm: It’s time to be with the kids and I attempt to help the older one with his homework who is complaining about it, while consoling the younger one who is crying because he doesn’t have homework. Homework is finally done and we spend time playing with blocks, playing Transformers – whatever they want to do, really.
5.45pm: It’s dinner time for the kids. After reassuring the small one that it is spaghetti and not noodles on his plate, the kids are packed off to bed by 6.30pm. If you think this is far too early, please read this article to understand why.
7pm: The boys are asleep! Now my day begins. Hubby and I take turns to cook on alternate days of the week so after enjoying a quiet dinner together, we manage to squeeze in a movie and chat-time.
10pm: I now get the head-space I need to write. The calm of the night is interrupted only by the soft clatter of my keyboard.
It’s true that my day rushes by like a whirlwind. But I am a privileged worker because working from home allows me to do the kind of work I love and be with my family at the same time.
And there are times when I long for the peace and quiet of an office or the camaraderie of colleagues and coffee breaks.
But right now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Are you a WAHM? What’s your day like? Tell us in a comment below.