Work Life Balance
Lady Of The Manor: The Endless Guilt Of A Work-From-Home Mom
As a stay-at-home mom who writes for a living and has a small foodie business, I always figured I have the best of both worlds: Iâ€™m around for my kids and I can set my own work hours.
But suddenly school has ended. Now what?
With the end of the school term comes talk of summer plans. Whether a child is going to camp, on a family vacation or just hanging around enjoying their freedom, thereâ€™s still a lot of pressure on parents to ensure their kids have something â€“ anything â€“ to do on a hot summer day, come rain or shine. As annoying as â€œAre we there yet?â€ can be, nothingâ€™s worse than â€œIâ€™m bored.â€
Most folks have their weeks organized long before the final school bells ring. Iâ€™m very lucky, in that all three of my sons will be heading off to day camp in mid-July. Theyâ€™ll spend their daylight hours playing sports, creating artistic masterpieces and making new friends (at least thatâ€™s the plan). In the meantime, however, weâ€™ve got a couple of weeks to fill.
Because I freelance from home, itâ€™s presumed I wonâ€™t suffer the guilt of the â€œworking momâ€ who programs her child during these in-between times. But let me tell you â€“ we at-home moms have guilt, too! Iâ€™m not about to let me three boys, all under eight, go off and explore on their own. So instead, my work gets shelved, my computer is no longer my own and itâ€™s open season all over my house. Not getting my own shit done is no problem â€“ I can always work once I put the kids to bed. But what on earth am I going to do with these boys each and every day? Especially when theyâ€™re all at different ages and stages? Take two to a driving range and I feel badly for the youngest. Head out to the zoo â€“ again â€“ and I feel badly for the oldest. (And no, I donâ€™t mean me. I reserve self-pity for outings to the park, which Iâ€™ve avoided like the plague.)
Instead, I overdo it by being â€œfun mom.â€ Amusement parks? Mini golf? Movies? Check, check and check. Haircuts? Camp supplies? New shoes? Yawn. I tried going the free-range route, but backyard fun soon turned into neighborhood search and rescue missions. Or basement video-game marathons.
Weâ€™re only halfway through our â€œfreeâ€ weeks and yet it feels like weâ€™ve done it all. But itâ€™s not over yet. And now Iâ€™m torn. Should I farm my guys out to school friends or keep them close to home? Bombard and exhaust them with activities, or hang out, chillinâ€™ like villains until cabin fever hits?
Friends have come and gone. Weâ€™ve baked cookies, done crafts, shot hoops. And Iâ€™m exhausted. Spent. And then instead of enjoying my time with my kids I start resenting it. And them. And then I feel awful. And overcompensate. Itâ€™s a vicious cycle.
I sweep looming deadlines aside, letting my guilt take over as I try to be as present as possible while my guys are at home. Thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m at home, right? To be with my kids. But maybe Iâ€™ve become too accessible. And thatâ€™s why they think itâ€™s okay to accost me in the shower or demand snacks while Iâ€™m on the toilet. No place is safe.
As the countdown to camp continues, our home has become a haven for the ticking time bomb. Thereâ€™s a meltdown coming. Iâ€™m just not sure if itâ€™s going to be theirs or mine.
When does camp start? And are we there yet?
(Photo: Thinkstock Images)