My experience as a WAHM…
As many of you know, I’m a work from home mum and have been for a while now, so today I thought that I would share my experience over the past year. I’ve mentioned before on my blog, I really want to incorporate more parenting & lifestyle posts into my blog for those that are interested in the more personal details. I just never know what to write about or what any of you will be interested in reading. I get a lot of messages from people on twitter, instagram, etc saying that they don’t understand how I do it, or how I manage to get any work done – and so this inspired me to write a post on my experience as a WAHM. Not only do I work from home, but I’m also a single parent, so it’s safe to say my life has been and is quite challenging – and I think my take on things might be interesting to some, so here goes!
I’ve been a work from home mum ever since I was pregnant with Reuben. I started freelancing as a Graphic Designer whilst I was still at Uni, and because I couldn’t get the job I wanted to after graduating due to being heavily pregnant, I continued to freelance instead. I also started taking on sponsored content and earning some income from my blog at the end of last year, just before Ru was born, so I also had that. I didn’t really know, or ever expect to earn an income from my blog, so my design career was always my main focus and blogging was just the hobby that kept (and keeps!) me sane. I did a little bit of work whilst I was pregnant, but nothing major as I felt exhausted all the time and had zero energy – and that was before Reuben was even here! After I had him, he was a week old when I took on a huge design job with one of my clients in the USA. I couldn’t say no to this as the money was too good, and as a new parent doing it completely alone, I felt like I couldn’t really turn it down. Looking back, I honestly think I had lost the plot… I got admitted to hospital with a womb infection at one week postpartum as well, so it’s safe to say that was a pretty stressful time for me. I managed to complete the job though, despite everything and earned my big bucks. I’m so proud of myself for that. Forget the doing it alone thing, I was also a first time, brand new mummy, to this tiny thing completely dependent on me and I was completing a massive bloody design project. Most of the time I was working on it, I had him cradled in one arm! Despite being absolutely sleep deprived and struggling to keep my eyes open sat up – it went great. Things actually became a lot easier after that, because I mostly used to work at night whilst cuddling him or feeding him – or sometimes I would pop him on his beanbag and get comfy on the sofa with my laptop. I tried to sleep when I could, sometimes during the day when he was napping. I have found since having a baby, day time naps are very rare, not even because I’m too busy – just because I find it almost impossible to fall asleep in the day. It was pretty impossible during the newborn days though, there was always something that needed doing like washing and sterilising all the bottles or washing his sick covered clothes…
You would think the newborn days were the hardest, but they were actually a lot easier than they are now. As he’s got older and more active, it’s become so much more difficult. My routine constantly had to change, with his sleeping patterns, his leaps, everything! I mostly found I was working through the night and sometimes I still do. When he started crawling, that was probably the biggest change for us. I could no longer pop him down under a play gym whilst I took some photos of a flat lay next to him, because he would be everywhere. It got even worse when he started walking, I just couldn’t – and still can’t, take my eyes off him for a single second! This is the time where I invested in a playpen which oh my goddddd, was a total life saver and still is! I’ve heard other mums saying their babes don’t like them etc, but neither does Reuben. He was fine at first as he was still teeny and just a little crawler, but he got to the point where he knew he preferred to be roaming round the house freely. He still doesn’t really like it now, but instead of using it as an actual play pen, I took it apart and sectioned off part of my living room so he has a huge play area that’s completely safe with all his toys in. He can also see the TV from it so I also use that to help keep him entertained for a couple of hours whilst I get photos done, or I’m able to sit and do some work without him hitting my laptop keys.
Now that he’s a toddler, I find nap time to be crucial. It’s going to ultimately depend on your own child’s routine, but Reuben’s generally quite a good sleeper and sleeps 7-9. He wakes up, has some breakfast and then has a play for a couple of hours until nap time at around 11. This does vary from day to day but most days that’s how it goes down. After his breakfast, he’s usually quite content going in his play area and playing with his toys with the TV on until it’s either time for some lunch or a nap. I can usually tell if he’s ready for a nap as he starts getting whingey, rubbing his eyes, etc. He does seem to get tired quite quickly after he wakes up to say he usually sleeps a good 12-14 hours, if only he slept this much when he was a newborn eh?! He always naps for a good 2-3 hours as well, and as nice as that quiet time is, it goes by far too quickly. It honestly feels like about 10 minutes. So generally, I find myself trying to work throughout the day even when he’s awake.
The good days – the days where he plays nicely for hours with his toys are the best days, as they allow me to get so much done. From design work, to blog photos – I can do it all. Because of his safe play area in the living room (which is quite a large space FYI) I can leave him and just come back to check on him every 20 minutes or so. It’s still hard work, because I still have all the house work to get on with as well which I wouldn’t have if we were both out of the house all day as there would be no one there to make the mess.
The bad days – leaps, teething, growth spurts… these weeks are the hardest. At the moment he is up quite a lot in the night, suffering with quite bad nappy rash and rashy cheeks, all because he’s teething. This makes it a lot harder as I wake up absolutely exhausted and everything seems to take twice as long as usual. I can’t really just leave him to play as he’s very clingy and crying a lot so it’s almost impossible to have a productive week with this going on. This is where I really do have to make the most of nap time! It’s typical that yesterday he slept a solid 3 and a half hours in the afternoon and I had no work to do though isn’t it?!
Whilst it isn’t easy by any means, I am very lucky in that I have a pretty well behaved one year old on my hands. He will play nicely all on his own for hours at a time. He loves just sitting in his playpen, and playing with all of his toy cars and things. He also loves to stand at the window people watching and watching all of the cars drive past our house – he’s actually obsessed with cars at the moment! He also likes to sit and watch CBeebies, Paw Patrol, Dora, Peppa Pig, or Fireman Sam – quite a lot actually!
I guess you just have to find what works for you. I’m not saying it will be easy because I don’t think it ever will be. Some days I have so much house work to do and such a whiney baby that work just isn’t an option and I have to accept it. Life is never going to be perfect, especially with little ones – but you just make the best of a situation.
I’ve recently been looking at going into full time work and putting Reuben into nursery all week as a lot of other parents do. I do think that I may be better off financially, as freelancing can be so unreliable – but they both have their pros and cons really don’t they? I would completely and utterly miss my baby and I would miss out on so much when I have the choice not to… but being at work all week also gives parents a much needed break. But to be honest, as much as I could do with a break sometimes, I wouldn’t change my life for the world. It’s not easy, but we manage and make it work, and I think that’s how I’m going to carry on until he starts nursery in a year or so. If freelancing is still going well for me, I’ll probably continue to do it even when he is in nursery as I’ll have loads more free time on my hands. But I’m just going to see what life brings – it’s full of surprises!
There’s no doubt that, the good days far outweigh the bad and I absolutely love being able to take a break whenever I feel like it to sit and play with my baby boy for an hour or so. I’m also able to take a day off whenever I feel like it if I want to take him out for the day. I know a lot of people don’t have these options so I’m incredibly grateful that I am in the position I’m in 🙂