I recently heard a woman say that being called a “work at home mom” was professionally demeaning. Being one myself, my initial reaction was to agree with her. “That’s right, I’m a professional, I’m not just a bored housewife dabbling with a hobby here,” I said to myself.
Upon reflection however, I came to realize that I disagree. Deeply.
Working out of your home while caring for children makes for some unique (and comical) situations. If you can’t have a sense of humor about these things, then maybe a field job is more your style.
But let’s face it, just how professional can you be when much of your work is done with a toddler on your lap? And that is, after all, one of the great benefits of working at home; you can consult with clients wearing bunny slippers if you like. Who’s to know? Sometimes we just need to keep things in perspective. I know that the work that I do is top quality, and I don’t sweat what others think of my work environment.
But I do wonder how that woman deals with some of those little challenges that come with being a work-at-home parent.
For example, maybe she feels that going out of the house with soggy Cheerios stuck to her behind would be professionally demeaning. She must have found a way to avoid this. I should call her…
Not being able to locate a pen because they’re all in use fishing Barbie clothes out of the toilet. This might be seen as unprofessional.
Or, while trying to convince a potential client how you would be the best choice if he’s looking for quality, professional results your 2-year-old is proclaiming proudly, “I went poo-poo Mommy!” over and over.
I’ve known others who have tried to mask their true work environments using some creative metaphors. For example:
“As soon as my colleague completes his current assignment” really means…”As soon as my 5-year-old is done with his Mr. Potato Head CDRom”
“We’ll be outsourcing the finishing work” really means…”My teenaged daughter will be earning her allowance by collating and stapling your reports”
“I have an urgent matter to attend to” really means…”My 3-year-old has been awfully quiet for the past few minutes and she was recently asking for a haircut”
Does this mean I should lock my kids in their rooms while I’m on the phone? While that can at times seem like a perfectly sensible idea, usually basic time management helps to avoid these situations. My view is that if a client thinks that the quality of my work will be less just because I have children, he can look elsewhere.
Maybe I’m shutting the door on some business, but I refuse to have my children feel that they come second. And I do, in fact, think of myself as a Mom first, and a business owner second. Besides, I think that the day is getting nearer that people really won’t mind their projects delivered with a few soggy Cheerios on them.
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