By Cindy Marie Jenkins
Every Sunday this September, join Cindy Marie Jenkins' Work-at-Home-Parent series, where she shares tips on how to maximise and balance parenting and work as a work-at-home parent.
I worked from home for ten years before I was a parent, and I loved it. My productivity level rose when I didn’t have distractions from co-workers and could make my own schedule. I found new solutions to challenges because I was in control of my time, and still got the collaboration around projects necessary for my line of consulting work. The flexibility to take meetings during the day without justifying my hours to a supervisor allowed my work to grow in ways I never imagined in 9-5 position. It meant that I worked at all hours, but that was my choice. When I did take a vacation, no one had to approve it; I just told clients I wasn’t available and turned on the auto reply to my emails.
Then I got pregnant. With full time childcare costs equalling my yearly income, and no maternity leave for a freelancer, the most logical choice was to continue working from home with a baby. I knew it would be hard, but I had no idea how hard, or the toll it would take on my career goals. Eventually, I learned that my goals didn’t need to change, just the timeline.
Australian senator Larissa Waters breastfeeding while addressing the Australian Parliament/Photo: Larissa Waters/Facebook
I cringe when people call me Wonder Woman for even trying to be a work-at-home-parent. They don’t see the mistakes I’ve made, or the times I’ve cried along with my babies, or the nights I miss the bedtime rituals to make a deadline. I’m here to tell you that it’s all part of the process, and you can make it work.
Over the next month, I'll offer helpful hacks that you can implement immediately, with objects you probably already have in your home. But first, here are some hard and true facts about working from home while being the primary caretaker of young children. These are the realities that you need to face before taking the steps to make it better.