I've been on both sides of this coin: Working Mom/Work From-Home-Mom. And as a current work-from-home mom, I've been paying attention to all the talk going around, and it feels like an opportune time to chat a little bit about what exactly working from home entails, and well... how much it sometimes kinda blows.
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE what I do but I think it's time we pulled back the curtains and gave you a little glimpse of reality.. FYI: As I write this I am sitting in my bed because our the house cleaner has brought her daughter to help today and apparently they are not getting along and would like for me to decide the argument, my daughter has decided to crawl up next to me and bring 2 dogs and a cat.. our 3rd dog is running around barking at the vacuum cleaner.. and there goes the door bell for the THRID time!
Fantasy: You can work in your pajamas. OK yes, you can work in your pajamas. But, I think people assume that that equates to a clean pair of lululemon yoga pants and a super cute tank top. Hey, in this daydream, can our thighs also not touch, and can the sports bra we have on make it look like we have two boobs, not just one giant uni-boob? Because the reality is that we're not in any of that, we're in a baggy sweatshirt, borderline muumuu, with holes and food stains: that's not fairy glitter it's Hot Pocket sauce and Cheetos dust.
Reality: No one believes you have a real job. Can we watch your kid? Pick up your prescription? Get your dad from the airport? No, we can't. Why? Because we still have freaking jobs, dude. We have deadlines, monthly goals, conference calls, we use words like "team building" and "bonus volume" and look, we have business cards and everything! Don't let the lack of office fool you, we're honest-to-goodness productive members of society, it's just that the majority of our productivity happens in our underpants.
Fantasy: You don't have to deal with asshole co-workers. Listen, just because they don't get paychecks or pay taxes doesn't mean the little people who run around our home offices aren't tyrants with no concern for anyone's needs but their own. Sure, Jan from accounting was a douche bag to deal with sometimes, but at least you weren't forced to LIVE with her.
Reality: There is very little human interaction. We're in a entrepreneurial field, so we're weird and socially awkward by default, but the truth is, when you work from home, aside from the team calls or random Google hangout, the most person-to-person contact you may have is with the mail guy, and he doesn't have all day to sit there and listen to you talk about feelings or last night's episode of "SOA," apparently. Your spouse is working, and your friends have jobs, too. Even if you had a second to chat, nobody else does, so eventually, you just start talking to random strangers at Target, but even then, they only have so much time to ask you to swipe your card and would you like paper or plastic.
Fantasy: You can drink on the job. All right, I guess you can technically drink on the job. In fact, some of our best work comes from the bottom of a wine bottle, but a warning, you can only confuse words like "public" with "pubic" so many times before people are like, What the hell is wrong with you?
Fantasy: You save money. Working from home means saving money on things like gas, vehicle maintenance and those weird polyester blend business slacks that can only be worn over two layers of shaping undergarments, lest your ass look like someone shoved two giant dimpled golf balls down the back of your pants.
Reality: You don't get to clock out. This is especially true if you own your own business. There are no set work hours, because all the hours are work hours. We work where we live, so every moment feels like a moment we could/should be working, until eventually you have this claustrophobic breakdown where you feel like you never leave your office and it melts into, like, this creepy Jodi Foster panic room, and you never ever get to escape, ever. It's hard to turn that off. If we sit down on the toilet and realize we don't have our phone with us, you can bet your wet ass we're doing the pants down shimmy to grab it fast. If we go out to eat, before you ask for a refill we've already checked in, tweeted, status updated and Instagrammed our entire encounter, you know, for work.
Fantasy: Being your own boss is awesome. By in-office boss standards, you are awesome. The kind that values an employee who spends two hours catching up on Ben Affleck's facial hair and Kim Kardashian and Kanye's love child. But when you're still up working at 1 a.m., making up for all those hours spent celeb-stalking and pinning shit, you begin to miss the fear your old boss instilled in you that kept you continually meeting deadlines despite having to look over your shoulder, poised to drop your browser window at the faintest sound of their approach. You know, the kind of boss that would call you on your craptastic idea to institute afternoon naps to "jumpstart your creative process." Ugh, fact is, you're probably the worst boss ever.