Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Powerful Choice

I recall fondly of a span of about 20 minutes last November. Newly home with my girls, my writing work was piling up as editors learned I had a little more time for freelancing.

The hardest part of my work is fitting in phone interviews during the day so that clients or sources do not hear screaming toddlers in the background. This was super easy when they napped twice a day, which was the case last Fall. But, that particular day, one interview just could not be done in that time span.

So there I was, holding the phone and taking notes and asking questions all while feeding my infant babies baby food in their high chairs.

Work-at-home mothers prove every day that it is possible to spend time with their children and earn an income. Of course, the more income the less time being spent with children. There are always going to be trade-offs, compromises and some level of guilt.

If anything, I am even more efficient at my work than ever before because time is that much more limited. I cannot put off deadlines for no reason because I only have -- if I'm lucky -- a two-hour period to work each day. This does not count mornings and evenings.

But, working at home while taking care of two toddlers full-time takes an immense amount of motivation that even I, some days, can barely muster up for anything in the world.

I'm still learning the ropes, but here are a few things I've learned to make the Work-at-Home Option easier and more fruitful.

1. Schedule precisely: My best days are those when I know exactly who I will call and what I will do in 10 to 20 minute time slots. I also like to write to-do lists for the rest of the day as well.

2. Squeeze in time: I create call lists with phone numbers, a to-do list and research first thing each morning. I can take my lists on the road to play in the yard or while driving. I also send out e-mails for future projects so that the naps are spent mostly fielding calls, researching or writing.

3. Take a day off: I'm still beating my head against the wall about this one. Constant deadlines and short periods to work, for me, make this very challenging. But, it is the most important thing I can do for everyone, especially myself.

4. Be professional, but confident: I have caught myself a few times apologizing to sources for not being available at, say, lunch time or dinner time. Why? If I were in an office setting, I would still have meetings, a lunch and other reasons for not being available. So, why should I apologize for needing to feed my daughters? Now, I just say, I'm not available at that time, I'm sorry.

5. Managing the mother load: The dishes, the cleaning, the messes all add up in a day as do the assignments and new projects. I have learned what I can handle, and what I cannot. I try to get deadlines moved back or only take on what I can handle with little stress. It's hard to say no when we need the money so this is another hard one for me to manage. But, ultimately, my job is being Mama and some days Mama just can't do it all.

I keep waiting for the big contract, the big assignment, the big paying gig to hire a sitter, finally. I'm not sure when that will happen, but when it does, I'll be happy to have the ability to be on site to still visit with my girls when I have a free moment and, of course, be around to keep watch over the sitter. I'll still be the boss.

I'm so thankful to the many mothers of previous generations who paved the way for a Mama like me to have this choice.

Tomorrow, I will explore the topic of being a Feminist Housewife.

Thank you for visiting today.

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1 comment:

bella said...

Good for you for learning to take a day off. And enjoy it!
I'm grateful that you make such a commitment to writing here.
I love getting to come here and hear from you.