10 Things I've Learned as a Work-at-Home-Mom

Lessons learned as a WAHMLessons learned as a WAHMWorking from home while taking care of my baby has been an amazing experience.

Not knowing how long all of this would last, I have tried to make even more of an effort to soak up every moment. The beautiful moments, and the ones that don't necessarily feel beautiful but in the end are, because they make up this gift called life. Each day I find myself taking photos, writing things down and taking mental pictures in hopes to remember my children exactly the way they are now and to remember the joy that has inhabited every crevice of my heart. While we all may not always remember the moments that fill our days I am most certain we will never forget the feelings.

Last month we celebrated my baby's first birthday. I found myself shocked that we made it this far. If you asked me if I saw myself working from home and taking care of my baby I would have told you, no. Not because I didn't want to but because it didn't seem possible. And to be honest, it hasn't been all that easy from a financial standpoint, but it most certainly has been worth it. Today I sit living the life I once dreamed about. And although we may not have everything we want and have encountered our share of tough choices over the past year we have everything we need - most importantly, we have each other.

The thing about a career in freelance, for me anyway, is that it doesn't lend to the certainty that came with my previous job. I worked at a job that, so it seemed, would always be there. And that was the thing. My job probably would but my baby wouldn't be a baby for long; I learned that lesson quickly with my firstborn. But alas, it seems as though my season of working from home may be nearing its end. One thing is certain, this past year has been life changing and each day filled with lessons learned. And even if I could, I wouldn't change a thing. Watching Lola grow and change and watching my oldest seemingly dance in the magic of being a big sister has been a dream come true.

As I look ahead with anticipation of what is to come, preparing my heart for the difficulty that will come with saying goodbye even for just a little while, I have been reflecting on some of things I have learned or that have been reiterated for me as a WAHM. Lessons that I will carry with me whether it be surrounded by the walls that make up my home or those that make up an office building.

1. Perfection is overrated.
In the past I always wanted things to be perfect (I admit I have moments where I still do). Being at home I realized that my happiness and the happiness of my family are more important. Making more of an effort to let go of my quest for perfection has allowed me to enjoy the now more.

2. My reality is different.
When I first thought about life as a WAHM I pictured myself cooking, staying on top of laundry, the house being clean and having enough time to finish all of my work and spend lots of time with my family each day. This was far from my truth. My laundry is out of control, and if anyone comes to my door right now I'm not answering because I don't want them to see how messy my house is :). I've learned not to allow myself to be so quick to fall into the comparison trap because my reality is different. I am doing my best and thankfully for my family that is more than enough.

3. It can wait.
For me my days consist of prioritizing (or at least trying to!) and deciding what can wait and what can't. I used to stress myself trying to get as many things done as I could. Sometimes I still find myself doing that but it turns out a lot of things can wait. Not everything is as pressing as I make it out to be in my head.

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4. Self-care isn't just important; it's necessary.
Skipping lunch to finish a project or do some cleaning may initially seem like a good idea, at least up until you find yourself weak and irritable. Sometimes I find myself so exhausted I can barely focus. Those are the times when I need to stop fighting it and just close my laptop to rest my mind or even take a nap or go on a walk with my baby. Besides the better I feel the more I am able to enjoy my family, which is why I am doing this anyway.

5. Be present.
As I stated, my primary reason for working from home was to be with my baby and have more time for my family. Initially I was so stressed about maintaining my freelance work and finding more in hopes that I could be at home longer. I sometimes found myself constantly thinking about work even when I was spending time with my baby. I would research jobs while I held her and would begin to write posts in the notes section in my iPhone during nursing sessions. What good was being at home if I wasn't going to make sure that I actually found enjoyment in being at home? Another reminder that a lot more can wait than I initially thought.

6. Find your tribe.
Find your people and lean on them. These are the people who can encourage and support you. They will remind you that you aren't crazy, you're human. They will be honest with you and genuinely get you. Whether they are able to hang out with you in real life or via the internet, having a sense of commonality can help you not feel so isolated when the majority of your day is spent at home with your baby. Having friends to talk to about my freelancing fears and challenges, friends who celebrate my successes alongside me has been my saving grace and one of the best things about blogging.

7. It's not that bad.
When something goes wrong it's easy to become fixated on the idea that things just never seem to work out the way I want them to. I've done this a lot. But then I look around and I remind myself what I'm actually doing here. And then I remember that things really aren't all that bad. Things are actually quite good.

8. Ask for what you need.
Initially, I thought I had to be super mom. I tried to juggle house obligations, family obligations and everything in between and sometimes felt even more exhausted than when I was working outside the home. For some reason, I thought asking for help suggested I couldn't handle it. That was far from the case. Nowadays, I am better about asking for help when I need it.

9. Remember why.
A few weeks ago I told a friend I used to work with that I sometimes missed the feeling of making a difference that came with my previous job. She reminded me that I'm still making a difference. Right now, I'm making a difference in the lives of my own children. Working at home hasn't been the easy choice, but each time I look at my quickly growing children, I am reminded that it was the right choice.

10. Make it count .
Each day I want to pinch myself. I dreamed of being able to be at home with my baby and still can't believe it happened and that it has lasted this long. Knowing the level of uncertainty that comes with this career choice I've been doing everything I can to make it count. I'm making sure that I'm not so focused on work that I can't enjoy my family. I'm making a point to take in what this all feels like so that when this part of my journey does come to an end, it isn't all forgotten.

I do believe that the lessons I have learned aren't just applicable to those who work from home. They are lessons that I can carry with me outside of the home and into whatever career path I take. They are rooted in gratitude and the understanding that in life there are no dress rehearsals, you get one chance to make the most of it. I've learned to take in all of the magic as it comes and no matter what is next for my family and me this experience has made me better in so many ways.

Whether you work from home full time, part time, occasionally telecommute, are on leave or are a SAHM; what are some of the lessons you have learned while being at home with your baby?

- By Krishann Briscoe

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