Women seek balance between home and working at home

There might be more than one solution to the work-work at home dilemma

CHICAGO, April 2, 2012 — Mom has evolved. For a time, there was only one type of Mom. She raised the kids and cared for the house and had dinner on the table when Dad came home from work. World War II showed us that Mom, like Rosie the Riveter, could work outside of the home and help keep our country’s economy going strong.

When the men came marching home, some Moms went back home as well, but some stayed in the work force. Now there were two types of Mom, the “stay-at-home” and the “working.”

This created a dilemma for Mom. Should she stay home and give up her outside identity (and the accompanying paycheck), or stay at work and give up precious time with her children? There was no right or wrong answer, but there was plenty of wondering about the path not taken.

And then along came the Internet.

For the first time, Mom could stay home with her children and reach out to life beyond her kitchen window at the same time. She could finally have it all, all at the same time! Working as a transcriptionist, or a graphic artist, or running her own online business (not to mention trying her hand as a writer), Mom could set her own hours, work as much as she wanted, have online conversations with co-workers who were, for the most part, adults, and still be at the second-grade holiday party from 1:00-3:00.

Grocery shopping could be done at 10:00 a.m. when the stores are practically empty! And forget trying to hit the post office at lunchtime; go in the middle of the afternoon when the lines are so much shorter.

Ok, the post office run will take forever, no matter how long or short the lines are. Why is it that the minute you enter the post office, life  s l o w s   d  o  w  n    t o    a    c r a w l …? That trip will take an hour whenever you go.

Working with son Nick, 16, watching TV

Working with son Nick, 16, watching TV

Except for that trip to the post office, however, the Internet has given Mom the flexibility to do it all. And she’s gonna need it.

Both stay-at-home Moms and working-outside-the-home Moms have an easier time of compartmentalizing their lives. Working-outside-the-home Mom (ok, ok, enough political correctness; for purposes of this article, she just became “working” Mom) escapes the stress of screaming children by closing the door behind her, taking a deep breath of fresh air, and shuffling off to work.

Stay-at-home Mom’s compartments are a bit shorter: Before Nap, After Nap, After Dinner and, a personal favorite, Bedtime.

Once her children are older, there’s Kids are at School, After School, After Dinner, and, of course, Bedtime, which now means she gets to go to bed and let the teenagers finish their due-tomorrow term papers on their own. Yes, it’s still a personal favorite time of day.

But for work-from-home Mom, the compartments are not easily defined. No longer can she de-stress, or more appropriately re-stress, during those commutes to and from work. Is Kids-Are-At-School time better utilized by hitting the grocery store, or finishing that work assignment? No matter which she chooses, the other will have to be done eventually. “Eventually” isn’t the right word. If the assignment is not done on time, the boss will complain. If there’s no food, the children will complain. And if the milk runs out with two hours remaining on the work deadline, well, that’s when that flexibility comes in handy.

One work-from-home Mom recently sent this note to her supervisor, who is located halfway across the country from Mom:

Laura, 13, at Mom's computer

Laura, 13, at Mom’s computer

“I figured out why it’s easier to work during the week. I sat down to finish this today (Saturday) and was informed intermittently that three people need rides, there is a wet spot on the couch, my daughter has to register for next year’s high school classes this morning, and there are no clean forks. No one mentioned that there are no clean towels, either, but I’m sure I’ll hear that one soon.”

She went on to say that she’s going to have the word “Delegate!” tattooed on the back of my, I mean her, hands so she sees it every time she types She closed with:

“And someone else is washing the damn dishes. (Ooh! Look out! Mom Swore!)”Ok, it was me.

But my editor(s) should note that this article was submitted on time, almost, and that this journalist-in-training put a lot of effort into banishing the forbidden “I” word, for the most part.

And my family should note that everyone got where they needed to be, the couch managed to dry itself, and in addition to clean towels, there is also clean underwear in every dresser.

That’s flexibility.

Now will someone please go wash the damn dishes?

Julia Goralka needs to get out more, a major pitfall of working from home. To contact her, see above. But if you make her drop all the balls she’s juggling, she won’t answer you.


 


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Julia Goralka

In addition to her work at The Communities, Julia Goralka is a free-lance novel editor and has served as a volunteer board member or committee member for several local charitable organizations. Prior to writing and editing, Julia was the Division Coordinator for the interest rate derivatives marketing desk at a large financial institution based in Chicago.

Contact Julia Goralka

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