The Reality of Working at Home with a Three Year Old

February 26, 2019

I’ve attempted writing the first word of this article five times but have been interrupted by my sweet three year old who is asking for help with each marker he wants to open. He’s coloring while I type away, but even this is a generous glimpse into what working at home with a three year old is actually like.

The majority of the time, writing or working in any capacity while Owen is awake is essentially impossible. It feels like 95% of the time he needs my absolute and full attention. Dramatic and not accurate, but it’s what it feels like a lot of the time. I like to think I’m pretty aware of when he needs me, when it’s time to put work aside, but if I misread the situation he has no trouble waltzing over and shutting my computer. Tiny dictator much? Or am I at fault for trying to care for him and work simultaneously?

The struggle that I deal with, that I’m sure mothers deal with regardless of whether they work out of their homes or at home with babies and toddlers in tow is exactly that. Is it too much? Should I feel guilty for trying to squeeze a little work in while Owen is playing independently or watching a show for thirty minutes? My answer today is a hard no. I give a lot to my kid and I know that I’m an incredible mom. Part of being a good mom to him is being good to myself and nurturing the aspects of me that help me thrive and help our family survive financially. It’s not an option for me to be at home without another source of income and hell, as much as I complain about social media I truly love connecting with you all and writing articles like these.

That being said, the balance lately has felt unmanageable. The times where coloring is entertaining enough for long enough to even get a paragraph in are few and far between. For example to get this far, we’ve moved from coloring to Play-Doh to an episode of Daniel Tiger and I know I won’t finish this article this morning.

So how do I really do it? Up to this point in Owen’s life we haven’t had any professional help. No day-care, preschool or true drop off programs. None of it has felt right for us and honestly isn’t within our wheelhouse financially. Most part time programs here in NYC start at over $1,000 a month – yes, I said part time and yes I said start at $1,000. For the first couple years of Owen’s life it felt manageable, somehow. He still napped and I figured it out. For the majority of the time between two and three Zack was freelance and home with us, he also did comedy at night which led to lots of guilt-free evenings to work. It wasn’t perfect but I still had time almost every day to work uninterrupted, but when Zack went back to work this August I kind of crumbled.

Not only did I have to readjust to being the only parent around between 7am and 6pm, but I had to find a way to maintain my business after bedtime and as well as my marriage. It has been hard to say the least and it hasn’t been anywhere near perfect.

Scheduling combined with some insane personal trials this fall, I really let things fall apart professionally. No, I wasn’t unprofessional with clients, I didn’t miss deadlines, but I just felt stuck. I felt numb. And it was hard to see a way out and hard to find the time and motivation to figure it out like I always have.

For me, it’s taken really accepting where I’m at and what I’m capable of with the time I do have and not being crippled by it. I’ve learned it’s okay to let Owen play independently while I answer some emails, it’s okay to lean on a touch of screen time, it’s okay to ask for friends to babysit when I really need an extra set of hands and it’s also okay to not dedicate every moment to work once he goes to bed. Making time for my marriage is important too. It’s a constant balance that I feel like I’m teetering on the edge of fucking up daily, but each day I wake up and see what’s on the agenda, see where I think I can squeeze work in, set realistic expectations with Zack about our night and just do my damn best to juggle it all.

My point in sharing this isn’t to complain or to be insensitive to the women busting their asses in their careers outside of their homes that would do anything to open markers while they type away about matters that are close to their heart. My point is that this shit is not glamorous, it’s not perfect but it’s my life and I love it. I figure out a way to make it all work because every facet is important to me and contributes to my overall well being. I wish I could give other moms five tips and tricks to balance working from home with caring for a three year old but the reality is that it’s unique to each of us. Finding patience in my own path and I hope if you get anything from this is that you aren’t alone and that you can make this role look however you choose it to be.

Leave a Comment

  • Thank you so much for writing this! Especially being so real I’m a stay at home mom in school wwith two babies at home full time and it’s hard. I love being a mother I love freelancing I love learning but I’m so freaking tired. Like you said this shit isn’t glamorous but it’s my life and I love it. You do you! Thanks again for this❤️

    • Awh, thank you HANNAH! My heart goes out to you. Two babies and school?! You’re a rockstar. And I’m glad you’re embracing and loving the chaos too!

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