personal

Test Run: Work-at-Home Mom (WAHM)


APEC 2015 Holiday is finally over. Everything is back to regular programming, work and road traffic included. After my week-long hiatus, you may think I had a grand vacation somewhere, like in Baguio, Ilocos or Hongkong! How I wish! But the truth is, we only stayed home and had one day at the nearest mall. I was not able to do anything else (blogging included) other than taking care of my little ones (LOs). What I have realized the past days is a hard pill to swallow. I could not work from home! Not now. Why I came up with such conclusion?

The APEC holiday was a test-run for me. I scheduled blogging, some freelance work and some studying. And guess what? It was an epic fail! I have done none of them. I was not even able to open touch my laptop and I actually have the guts to dream to be a work-at-home mom (WAHM)?! Reality check Ck! Tsk. Tsk. Not proud of myself here. I honestly questioned my dream or rather ability to work freelance from home. Anyway, the best time for me to work from home has probably expired as well. My kids are growing up too fast and soon they’ll be in big schools already. Would they still need me at home 24/7? I don’t know. So young adults, a piece of advice — I suggest you aspire to be able to work from home by the time you get pregnant with your first kid and then just return (if you like) to a more structured work once your kids are old enough for big schools. I know we have age discrimination here in the Philippines but I also know that with a high caliber credentials and vast experience both in an office setting and freelancing, companies will have no reason not to hire you despite your age.

In my one week trial, I was able to learn a lot of things. Working at home may sound so beautiful and ideal. Imagine not having to rush in the morning, being stress-free from traffic and being worry-less about hiring a monster yaya, it sure sounds wonderful. But, no matter how beautiful it may seem, to work from home is NOT EASY. It’s in reality even harder than working in an actual office where you get orders/directions/instructions, where you follow rules and where the amount of your output is pretty much calculated by you already. Working in an office is predictable while working at home is always a surprise because there will be good days, bad days, naughty days and sick days. But who said we should let a 5-day trial shut our dreams? Why not use failure to succeed in the next try?

If I want to pursue working from home, I’ll most probably need the following:

1. A good laptop. I have a notebook and it is outdated. I need a more reliable and functional laptop or desktop if I really want to work at home. I do not have the luxury of time of booting and rebooting a laptop. Not only I have no time, I also have no patience waiting for a slow operating system. I also need a fast Internet connection but since I live in the Philippines (hailed as a social media capital worldwide), a fast and reliable Internet connection is somewhat like a distant star.

2. Time-management Skills. In an office setting, I’m the best when it comes to time-management. I don’t miss deadlines. In fact, I’m always ahead of time. I know how to prioritize and schedule my work. I can do it with eyes half-closed. In my trial phase as a work-at-home mom, I never thought I’d fail on managing my time when my kids are around. The “sleep when the kids sleep” rule must never apply to a WAHM. It is more like “work when the kids sleep” and don’t forget to pray that they sleep long hours. If you think being a WAHM would let you have all the time in the world then you’re dead wrong. Being a WAHM would let you realize how little is 24 hours and would therefore challenge you to maximize the use of it.

3. Organizational Skills. You cannot possibly manage your time well if your things or mind are too cluttered. I work best with a timetable. I work best in an environment where I know where to find the things I need in an instant. I can work with a messy desk “during work hours” but I cannot work well when files are mixed up and scattered all over. I prefer labels, tags, folders and like I said a timetable, a to-do list. That way, I know what to finish first, where to exert more effort and what tasks should be done in the morning (in my case, those requiring more energy and thinking) and in the afternoon (in my case, the easy ones). When I am organized, my work place is organized, my mind and my time follow. When I tried being a WAHM, being organized is a far-cry especially when all I have is a small space which I share with my kids who over-actively run and play all around. I realized I need to set-up a sacred nook where I could quietly sit (and sip a tea) and mind only my work at hand.

4. Power-dress. Working in the comfort of my own bed and in my pajamas was an appealing scenario to me. Now that I’ve tried it, I wonder how is that appealing? Sure my bed is comfortable but to sleep on, not to work on. It’s unhealthy too. Bad for your back and eyes. I thought that being a WAHM would be a perfect excuse for me not to leave the bed, not to take the morning shower and to wear all day long my favorite pajamas but I was wrong. Working on my bed makes me lazy. Skipping the morning shower makes me lazy. Wearing sleep-clothes all day makes me lazy. In short, if I’ll be that lazy, it means no work done, no work done. no money. I guess, when I finally become a full-time WAHM, I still need to have a healthy and hygienic routine. I still need to dress-up to feel up and work up. On a brighter note, I would still need good clothes. Being a WAHM would probably lessen but not completely eradicate my clothes shopping needs.

5. Support. For us to succeed in any endeavor, we need support from other people. In my case, I need my husband’s full support. It’s nice that he never fails to encourage me but a WAHM would need more than done. I’m not sure yet if he’s willing to extend more assistance when it comes to house-chores and playing with our overly active kids for me to do my work at home. I’m not sure if he’s willing to cover me for a few hours in a day so that I’ll have some solo, uninterrupted and quiet thinking time. I’m not sure if he’s willing to work out his schedules around mine. Well, let’s see. So far, he’s been very cooperative when it comes to my weekend classes.

Now I understand why a best-selling author like Paulo Coelho has to hibernate for 6 months in the woods and mountains of France in order to finish a masterpiece. He works from home yes, but that does not mean he’s lounging around in his entertainment room doing movie marathons. Being a WAHM is a serious work too and I realized it’s even more challenging than working in an office. What inspire me to become a WAHM are my kids. I may not have all the time for them even if I work from home but at least I’ll be able to make sure they are safe. I’ll be able to immediately attend to their emergencies even if it means a poop on the floor. I’ll be able to feed them or play with them instead of wasting time in the traffic. Just like any other thing on earth, being a WAHM has its pros and cons. You have to weigh those up before you jump the bandwagon (whichever bandwagon). Let me finish this post with this — Hats off to all parents who takes care of their kids while working at home. To be able to juggle both is an amazing talent. Talent, which I sadly do not possess as of now. Let’s see in the coming years.

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