31 things you’ll understand if you’re a work-at-home parent

Family life
work-at-home parent

I’ve been a self-employed freelance journalist for seven and a half years now. About 90% of the work I do is from home, with occasional shifts in the offices of my clients. Since having my children, I work part time, with very limited childcare. I do most of my work around my children in the evenings and weekends. Sounds ideal, right? Well, I won’t lie, it does have advantages and sometimes it’s great – but a lot of the time it’s difficult. I’m not saying being a parent in regular employment isn’t challenging too, as I know from my friends’ experiences that it’s a constant juggling act. But being a self-employed work-at-home parent has its own challenges too. Here’s my 31 things you’ll understand if you’re a work-at-home parent.


work-at-home parent

  1. You have to clear away mountains of toys and books before you can even sit down at your desk.
  2. That’s if you even have a desk now that your office has been turned into your baby’s nursery. More likely, you get back from dropping your children to nursery/school and have to scrub hardened breakfast cereal off the kitchen table before you can plonk your laptop down.
  3. You might work part-time hours, but when you run your own business, there’s no one to pick up the slack in between your official days of work, meaning you never have a proper day off.
  4. You’ve taken important business calls while you’re helping your child on the loo/they are having a massive tantrum/you’re at soft play.
  5. You arrange an important phone call for the time you know your child is always napping – only for them to choose that day not to nap at all.
  6. You regularly find yourself crossing your fingers that your baby will not wake up from their nap until you have finished an important document.
  7. You mentally curse parent friends who write Facebook statuses such as “Kids in bed, now time to open the wine.” As soon as your kids are in bed, the laptop is on and you’re in full-on work mode.
  8. You persuade a friend to look after your children for a couple of hours so that you can take an important business call. You call the person you need to speak to at the pre-arranged time – and can’t get hold of them. They call you back the minute your children are back in the house.
  9. Your children are playing quietly in a different room so you sneak off to make a work-related phone call. You’ve got your best professional voice on when suddenly your child comes running into the room shouting “I need a wee” at the top of their voice.
  10. Clients will only be available to meet up with you on the days you don’t have any childcare.
  11. You never thought you’d be the type of parent to use CBeebies as a babysitter, but if you’ve got an urgent deadline and no help at hand, what else can you do?! And anyway, it’s educational, isn’t it?
  12. You’ve questioned whether you really need to get changed out of your tracksuit bottoms and hoodie for the school or nursery run.
  13. And then immediately regret turning up at the gates not only wearing such attire but with your hair slapped back in a ponytail and no make-up.
  14. You’re regularly working away at your computer until midnight.
  15. And then your brain is so wired, you can’t sleep for another hour.
  16. You have to bite your tongue when people tell you they would be far too knackered after a day of looking after the kids to then spend the evening working. “What, and you think I am magically full of beans and raring to go at 8pm?!” you want to shout.
  17. You think of Facebook as a work colleague, and regularly check in for office banter.
  18. You know the postman and local delivery drivers really well. Some days you chat to them a little longer than necessary because they are the only person you have seen that day other than your children and partner.
  19. Your other half has questioned why the house is still a tip when you have been at home all day and you have to explain you have been working, just like they have been. You had so much to do on your one and only day of childcare that you forgot to have lunch, never mind the dishes in the sink.
  20. That said, there are days when you have childcare but no work and you must face the dilemma of whether to slob out and watch TV to make up for the 15 consecutive nights you’ve been on your computer, or whether to blitz the housework because you feel too guilty not to do anything productive.
  21. Your child will be sick and unable to go to nursery the day you’re due to meet with a client in person, rather than working at home.
  22. You get excited about the prospect of bank holidays because your other half will be off work and this means a whole extra day of childcare.
  23. Until the actual bank holiday when they all head off in the glorious sunshine for an exciting day trip. You log on to Facebook to complain to your virtual colleagues only to discover they are all posting photos of them and their smiling kids on exciting day trips, and your friends who don’t have children are all in the pub. Ditto sunny weekends.
  24. You just smile and nod when your working parent friends say how great it must be not having to worry about childcare during the school holidays. Yes, it does have its advantages, but you can guarantee you’ll get handed an amazing piece of work the minute the schools break up, and you’ll then have to figure out how to get it all done with your kids at home and no childcare whatsoever for any of them.
  25. You worry people will judge you for being on your smartphone at the local softplay centre. You want to tell them you’re not one of ‘those’ mums just checking Facebook instead of looking after your children, but responding to a really important work email. After you’ve checked Facebook, obviously.
  26. The one evening your partner isn’t at home is the one evening your kids will wake up a dozen times after they’ve been put to bed so you end up spending half the night looking after them instead of doing your work.
  27. As grateful as you are for maternity allowance, you are amazed to hear your employed mummy friends moaning that their maternity pay means they “only” get six weeks of full-time pay before it kicks into half pay and then statutory pay somewhere near the end. If only…
  28. That’s if you took it in the first place. Most likely, you were back working in some way within weeks or even days of your baby being born, sending work emails during those night feeds or typing with one hand, feeding a baby with the other.
  29. You’re even more amazed to hear that people in jobs accrue annual leave while on maternity leave, giving them another paid month or so off work!
  30. You have far fewer friends to hang out with in the day time when everyone goes back to work after their maternity leave is up. Sometimes it gets quite lonely.
  31. But you know what a privilege being self-employed is, and despite the difficulties and challenges, it’s worth it all to be there to see your children growing up.

Are you a work-from-home parent? Can you relate to this list? Anything else you’d add? Come join in the discussion on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page, or tweet me on@cardiffmummy



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22 Comments to 31 things you’ll understand if you’re a work-at-home parent

  1. I can totally relate to so many of these. I technically work from home, running my own card business but I haven’t the discipline to sit and do the work, and there’s far too much good TV on at the moment in the evening, meaning I get no work done whatsoever! Oops! Can totally relate to the breakfast stuff being all over the place- I have to spend an hour clearing up that before I can even find a space for my laptop! Great post, it made me chuckle! Amelia x

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Glad you could relate – so nice to know it is not just me who has all these issues! That’s the other downside of working at home – so many distractions. You have to be so disciplined and it’s not always easy. x

  2. What a brilliant list – so many of these ring true for me too. My husband teaches in a local college – when the kids are off school he is too. Which is great – sort of. But whereas if I have a “day off”, I busily scurry around trying to do housework, he literally takes time off – he sits and watches TV or does his model airplanes. Seems unfair …

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Glad you liked it, thanks for commenting. I am exactly the same with days off and me time. Recently my hubby was sick, called work and told his boss, and spent the whole day in bed. No chance of that when you are a work-from-home parent. x

  3. Nodding in agreement to all of these.
    I know the couriers so well now they meet me at the school gates with my parcels, always on the days I’m not planning on going home

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Haha, that sounds like amazing service! A big bonus of getting to know them so well! x

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Yep, it’s certainly a challenge trying to do a blog when you have children. A constant juggling act!

  4. I’m not self-employed but I do work from home now and again. Numbers 2, 4, 9, 11, 18 and 19 are definitely ones I can relate to 🙂

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Ha, glad to hear you could relate some of it. Any kind of home-working is certainly a challenge when you have children. x

  5. Definitely relatable! My blog and my yoga are my work, and so hard to fit it all in, especially as I have none/limited childcare so try to squeeeeeeeeze it all in!!! Oh, and housework, and relationship (did I really just put that in after housework? Oh crap!), and life! Excellent post, thanks so much for linking to #AllAboutYou xx

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Haha, made me laugh about the relationship bit. Don’t even get me started on the inability to keep on top of the housework. Something else I’ve written about too. Still, it’s worth all the craziness of juggling work and the messy tip of a house to get so much time with my babies. x

  6. Wow- sounds tough. I blog for fun and still find it difficult to find the time and energy sometimes. Well done you! PS: Ceebeebies totally educational and a worth occasional babysitter 🙂


    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Haha, yep, totally educational. I love being able to spend my days with my children, so even though it is a constant juggling act, it’s worth it. x

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Oh, I would love a proper office. I work wherever I can clear a space in among all the toys! x

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Thanks so much for the lovely comment and for sharing it. Really glad you liked it and could relate. x

  7. Oh I can so relate to all of these! I work part-time from home and although it is great to be able to be home with my children, trying to juggle everything can be such hard work at times! I have to confess to often being guilty of using CBeebies as a virtual babysitter in order to get work done but sometimes it’s the only way I can juggle it all (and the children seem happy on the whole so I try not to feel too guilty).

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Yep, it’s a constant juggling act, isn’t it? I guess at least we are using the TV for the purpose of needing to get things done, rather than just because we’re lazy mums!! x

  8. Haha I LOVE this post! I’m not an experienced write like yourself.
    However, I really agree with most of what you said (from experience) especially the part when the OH comes home and wonders why no housework has been done.
    & when the kids are playing quietly i come sneek into the room i do my blog work.
    Spot on!


    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Glad you could relate and it’s not just me. Blogging in itself is like a job, whether you are professional or not. It’s so hard to do it when you have young children xx

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