Confessions of A Work-At-Home Mom
When the idea of a Work-at-Home Project started to surface at the company where I work, I was very excited. My prayers had finally been answered.
At that time, my children were 10, 6 and 2. My youngest son, Ryland, attended a daycare centre and the costly fee was putting a strain on our family budget. I was contemplating on cutting back my working hours just so that I would qualify for government subsidy and reduce our daycare fees.
Would I be able to work at home while at the same time looking after a two-year old? I doubted it.
One year later, the Work-at-Home Project came to fruition. Ryland was three. He was a little older, was capable of playing by himself, not quite potty-trained yet, but I thought I could handle working at home. I signed up for the project and felt lucky to be chosen as one of the 12 Work-At-Home Staff of our department.
I set up my workstation in the spare room that we have upstairs. My children used this as a playroom. There was a TV in the room and I decided to put my desk by the window. Ryland could watch TV or play while I worked.
The best part of working at home is not having to get up at 5:30 in the morning. I don’t have to drag the children out of bed. They can sleep until 7:00 a.m. I prepare a hot breakfast for them. They can take their time. I don’t have to worry about catching the bus and making it on time at work. Fewer temper tantrums are thrown and I am a less-stressed mom in the morning.
I can go to doctor’s and dentist’s appointments with my children during the week without missing any time from work. I just have to manage my time more effectively during these days. I am able to look after a sick child and still work. I, myself, was sick one winter and I still managed to work. I was very pleased to receive Perfect Attendance Rewards for two consecutive years. It was a prize that I was unable to attain when I was working in the office.
These are just some of the perks of working at home. Though it may seem very easy, it also has challenges.
My computer is connected to our company’s mainframe system, which is up only from 6:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The biggest challenge I have to tackle is to try to complete a seven-and-a-half-hour work day within that time and attain 125% productivity in processing claims with a margin of 1 error/1000 claims. (The Work-at-Home Staff has a 25% higher requirement than the Office Staff. The company believes there are lesser distractions at home. If they only knew.) That’s very easy to accomplish, you may think. Not really if you have a three-year old to look after; even three years later and with him in morning kindergarten class.
I start work when the children are gone to school at around 9:00 a.m. or sometimes I wait until 10:00 a.m. It depends on whether I have to do some laundry, update my personal website, or do some writing. When Ryland comes home at noon, we have lunch together. I take a one-hour break and cook supper.
In the afternoon, Ryland watches TV, draws and colours pictures, or plays with his toys. Sometimes he sits on my lap while I work on the computer. That’s when I know that it’s time for another break and spend some quality time with him.
Unless I am expecting a phone call from my supervisor for our quarterly review or an important issue, or from my Team Leader for a question period, I am hesitant to answer the phone. Most of the time, it’s a telemarketer on the other end of the line convincing me to buy their product or a charity asking for donation.
One of my responsibilities (in my job) is to obtain missing information on the (document) by calling the supplier or provider of service. Before I attempt to do these phone calls, I ask Ryland to be quiet, or make sure he’s not in the washroom ready to yell, “Mommy, I’m done. Wash my bum.” (It wouldn’t sound very professional when the person on the other line hears that in the background.)
The most challenging part of the day, or rather I should say, most stressful, is when everybody comes home.
“Mommy, I need help with my homework,” Ryan, 9, said one afternoon as he barged into my workstation. “I’ll help you later,” I replied. I saw his lip pointed towards the ceiling when he turned to leave the room. I had no choice but to drop the document that I had been analyzing for the last 15 minutes, and help him solve that mind-boggling math problem. When I picked up the document that I had put aside, chances were that I had made an error in assessing it.
The blaring sound from my husband’s stereo, the notes from Reggie’s flute, and Ryan and Ryland’s bickering, sometimes all of these happening simultaneously, used to drive me nuts. Now I just close the door, put the earphones on, and listen to my favourite CDs.
In spite of the distractions and small sacrifices, I enjoy working at home. This opportunity has given me the chance to spend more time with my children and I savour every minute of it. Not only that, I now find time to do the things I love — reading and writing.
Originally written on July 14, 2004
Updated on May 23, 2008
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