We've all seen the photos. There's a person (usually a mom) working at home, bouncing a beautiful baby on one knee and cranking out reports on her laptop with her free hand.
Those images make me crazy.
As the CEO of FlexJobs, an award-winning job service for hand-screened and professional telecommuting, part-time and freelance job listings (and a mom of two!), I can tell you first-hand that those images represent a false reality. If you think that you can kiss daycare goodbye once you land a telecommuting position, think again. It's not the case. You simply cannot divide your attention between work and your children in your home office any more than you could in a regular office. After all, it's not fair to your kids, your work or--most importantly--to you. The stress you will endure as you try to balance all of these different facets of your life at the same time is not worth it.
That doesn't mean that working at home is like working in an office. I definitely get to spend more time with my family as a work-at-home parent. On a daily basis, my time savings is easily about two hours. That time breaks down as follows: 30-45 minutes saved in not having to get dressed and be "presentable" for work, another hour (or more) saved on a daily commute, and about 20-30 minutes saved on daily coffee and lunch breaks. Add that all up, and I have a staggering 10 hours more each week to spend time with my children, get a couple of workouts in, and overall take care of my life.
Luckily, there is no myth about telecommuting and time savings!
As a telecommuter, I do work from home, and I love it. My children know that I'm here if they really need me (i.e. emergencies), and I know that I can have lunch with them or we can get down together on the floor and play games if I need a break. But otherwise, when I'm working, I'm working! I have an awesome team of babysitters whom I trust to take care of my two boys. When you work at home, you choose the type of child care that best fits with your family's schedule, whether it's in-home babysitters, daycare centers, or even a babysitting collective made up of other moms.
I love that my schedule can be flexible. If I have to take my kids to a doctor's appointment, or drop them off at a play date, or do any other of the million unexpected things that come up, I can. Sure, it means that I might have to adjust my schedule a bit, but I can do so without worry, knowing that I can just work a bit later that evening after my boys are in bed, or start my workday a bit earlier before breakfast.
It means that I can give the best of myself to my work and my family without sacrificing myself in the process. And that, my friends, is no myth.