Work & Wiggles: WAHM
Posted in How To! on August 29, 2012 |Comments
An introduction to my survival as a WAHM.
By: Natasha Biasell
A mom friend once told me that after becoming a mother, it was hard for her to remember what they did with their lives before having children. I used to think this concept sounded pathetic and terrifying. How could someone forget their former life? Was her former life really lame? Or was life with children really that overwhelming? After having my daughter Paloma, who is now almost 2 years old, my friend’s words have started making more sense.
Long before Paloma was born, I launched my own public relations business helping small and mid-sized companies with media relations. My business was my baby, in almost every sense. I named it, nurtured its growth, spent all my free time with it, and dreamed of its future. I was proud of my business. After getting pregnant, I was so glad I had the flexibility in place allowing me to work from home. My vision of motherhood included me sitting at the computer, typing away and making client phone calls while my perfect infant slept soundly in her swing by my side…for hours. As she got older, I imagined her playing in my office, quitely reading a book, singing to herself, or coloring….for hours. Work-At-Home-Moms (WAHMs), I’ll go ahead and give you a moment to catch your breath from laughing.
Much to my surprise, motherhood threw me for a loop after that beautiful, precious, miraculous, crying baby was placed in my arms. Business calls? They can wait. 150 emails in my inbox? They can wait. Client voicemails? They can wait. I’m gazing into my baby’s eyes right now, don’t they understand? After awaking from the fog of new mommyhood – which in my mind was about six days, but my husband assures me it was more like 6 weeks – I had a reality check. And it was painful. Work needed to get done, the house needed to be cleaned, my clients needed me, and the I’m-A-New-Mommy excuse was wearing thin.
I sat at my desk, with my baby asleep in the swing, and planned to chip away at my to-do list just like my pre-motherhood vision entailed. I think I got about two emails in when she woke up frustrated and ready to eat. You can imagine how the rest of the day went. “How do business owners survive this?”, I pondered. How could an innocent, tiny human being cause such an uproar to my life? What did I even do before I had her? Did I just lay around the house all day doing whatever I wanted? My friend’s words from the past rose up and bit me like a sharp pain in the chest…or perhaps that was just Paloma’s first tooth coming in.
Don’t worry, if you’re a new WAHM, this story has a happy ending, although my story isn’t really over yet. You will survive. Your business can still thrive, and you’ll get better and stronger every day. I don’t pretend to have it all figured out, but after two years I’m proud to say I still have my business, my husband, and my adorable, happy, healthy Paloma. How did I do it? The answer isn’t simple. But it does involve three very imporant things; prayer, prioritizing, and learning to say no (to everybody in your life, including your clients, your family, and your child).
For this first Work & Wiggles post, I’d like to offer a few bits of advice for brand new WAHMs. The sore, glossy-eyed, milk-filled, exhausted ones who are dreading their work inbox…
- SLEEP WHEN THEY SLEEP: It’s cliché, but it’s true. It will be tempting to send out emails while your newborn is napping, but you need a nap just as much, if not more, than they do. Take advantage of this time when your little one wants to doze off all day long. Snooze with your babe from time to time, even if it’s only for a 20-minute power nap. Not only do you deserve it, but you’ll be a better mom AND a better business owner because of it.
- NURSE & TYPE: I have my Boppy to thank for most of the business work I accomplished during those early weeks and months. If you work at a computer and breastfeed, find a way to prop them up safely so you can type while you nurse. Don’t feel guilty about it. There will be plenty of other feeding times when you can gaze lovingly into their eyes. It’s ok to work and nourish your child at the same time. We women are amazing at multi-tasking – here’s your chance to shine.
- DON’T QUIT NOW: I realize this advice is much easier said than done, and isn’t right for everyone, but it was true for me. Those early weeks of motherhood are hard. It’s grueling, tiring and overwhelming. I remember thinking, is my child ever going to sleep for longer than a 2-hour stretch? Will I ever want to work again? Is running a business even worth it anymore? Should I quit my job, stop paying the mortgage, and just live in a crappy little apartment? I’m not saying your answers to these questions will be the same as mine, I’m just suggesting to wait a bit to make any major life decisions. Things will adjust. You’ll get into the stride of being a mom. It takes time. Notice the title of this section isn’t “Don’t Quit” – it’s “Don’t Quit Now”. Wait till the Vicodin wears off. Wait till the fog clears and you gain some confidence as a mother. When the dust settles, you’ll be able to see clearer, and plan accordingly. Maybe you’ll decide working at home isn’t quite right for you after all. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll be glad you have a business and will rekindle your love of work.
My friend was right, sometimes I do have a tough time remembering how I filled my days during my relaxed, pre-baby life. On occasion I miss that freedom. But most of the time I’m thankful for the crazy, hilarious, joy-filled times I now get to experience as a mother. Every minute of life is precious. Spend them wisely.