Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Musings from a (Semi) Stay At Home Mom

This is my first Summer (ever) as a SAHM.
I guess that's probably a revelation to some.

Last August, when I got laid off from my job, and started my own business, my kids had just gone back to school. Prior to that, I've always worked in Corporate America.

So, this Summer is a "first" of sorts. The first Summer that the kids didn't go to Day Camp (where they had Really Fun Activities scheduled every single day) and the first Summer that I've had to juggle being a working entrepreneur with the demands of having a 12 year old and a 10 year old at home.

And, to be candid, it has been HARD. Really hard.

There have been pros, of course: the kids get to sleep in every morning, and they get to watch cartoons and eat cereal while wearing their PJ's. (They love this.) Also, I am right here in case they need me for Extremely Urgent Things ("Can you please make blueberry muffins?"). And, the pros on MY side of the coin: I love having more time with them - that has been wonderful. I love the fact that if they feel "puny" (as we say in the South) I don't have to worry about taking a day off work.... I can easily work and take care of a sick child. Also, from a financial perspective, I'm not dropping $1,500 a month on Day Camp over the Summer.

But the BIG con is this: they get BORED. Really bored. They're so used to having fun daily activities, that they wind up wandering into my office, usually around 11 AM or so and saying "Mom, we're bored." (I remember doing this as a kid.... and eventually, this led to my love of reading, creative writing, and the development of my imagination.) So, I guess it's not all bad. BUT I do have some Mommy Guilt about not "entertaining" them (is that silly of me?) To say I have NOT been productive in my business this Summer would be an understatement (but really, so what.... I can get back on track once they're back in school...)

So, here's my question: How do other full-time-working-while-at-home Moms juggle all this? Or is this just The Way It Is? (ie: Barely Restrained Chaos and Bored Kids...)

One really good thing.... they will be VERY ready to go back to school. And school starts early here in GA. Our local school system goes back on August 11th! (Am I a bad mom for looking forward to having a bit of "freedom" again once they are back in school?)


suz said...

This is a nice post. I can not speak for "Working at home" Moms. My girls whine at the prospect of ever going to summer camp. They take their time off very serious.
They LOVE having nothing to do most days. I guess it was just a habit, since it has always been like this.
And many years ago the girls learned NEVER to use the "bored" word around me, because they are then handed a list of chores to take care of. :)
Very funny really, they will never tell me they have nothing to do for the fear that I will give them something to do.
You may want to try this too...you can get some free child labor.

Smileygirl said...

I love the extremely urgent need of "making blueberry muffins". =)

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

That is an excellent idea - and really they do help quite a bit. I don't let them get TOO lazy (although I realize they need their "down" time...) Both S&J handle a good bit of the puppy/dog duties, and miscellaneous other "household stuff"... but I will try equating the word BOREDOM with "Chore-Dom" and see how that goes. :-)

My kids take blueberry muffins VERY seriously. :-)

Sugar said...

The struggle to find balance for Work At Home situations can be tricky. I think allowing kids' to entertain themselves is the best idea. It gets old hearing them whine, but they eventually figure out that if they want to have fun, they are going to have to do it themselves. One thing a few of my WAHM friends and I do is co-op play time. One mom will take a few of the kids to the park or something while a couple of other moms get caught up on work. Then there's always hiring a sitter to help you out a couple of days a week.

You do what you have to do... the benefits definitely outweigh the snags, and eventually, they grow up and leave... if you do it right. ;)

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

Excellent suggestions and I have been doing that with a good friend who is another WAHM (I like that acronym!).... her business allows her more daytime flexibility so she offers to take the kids out, which is nice.

And you are right.... I remind myself regularly that my kids will not be kids for too much longer. The years have already flown by.

karengberger said...

In the summer, the kids and I have stayed home together, and things usually get to the point where someone utters the "B" word. So the standard response here would involve an offer of gainful employment, or a reminder of all that is available for them to do, and a quick run-down of the checklist. Outdoor activities, games, crafts, reading, cleaning, baking, a library trip, chores...and I usually had them in some kind of lesson for part of the summer, i.e., sports, drama, music, etc., and sometimes, volunteer work. We took alot of beach walks/picnics together (you've got to eat!). Lastly, I hired a caregiver for several hours one day each week (or got the grandparents on board) so that I could have a day to do my own things. That's what we did/do. I hope this helps.

Aviva said...

Oh, the guilt of being a SAHM, WAHM or WOHM. Will it ever end? You can at least take comfort in the fact that no matter your acronym, the guilt is equal. Being a mom is tough, almost as tough as being a bored kid in the summertime. You've gotten some great suggestions here - run with them and leave the guilt behind!

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

Excellent suggestions - thank you!

Thanks for stopping by.
Really, I don't feel that much guilt....(I tend to kid a lot on my blog)... I'm really just trying to "pave the way" in what, for me, has been unchartered territory up until this Summer. All things considered, I think we're doing pretty well! :-)

Deron Arnold said...

Suz has a great idea. I'll have to try that with my kids...when they reach that age.

Right now, they're still at the point where they're excited by everthing.

And aviva makes a good point. Know matter what you do, it could end up causing guilty feelings.

I suppose it's all cultural. I sort of have something similar, though from a male perspective. I feel a bit guilty at times only working outside the home half-time. In our society, men usually work full-time, at least here in the upper midwest.

I think you just have to do what's best for your family and for your particular situation and not worry about what everyone else is doing or thinking.

KingdomWriter said...

I think there is always something to feel guilty about with kids! Sometimes we feel bad about not spending time with them, and then we spend too much time with them, we think up things for them to do, then we don't let them use their own minds... They spend too much time on the computer, Playstation, x-box whatever, but sometimes they play better together on the machines than without.
I think balance and boundaries are the key. Especially if you work at home, then there has to be time that mum can't be interrupted (even if making muffins or pancakes should come before anything else)and then there is a negotiable time.
I use to have massage clients from a clinic at home. The kids had to be QUIET and behave and don't mess up all at the same time. Don't know how we did that... : )