Extreme Juggling: Work-at-Home Mom Edition — Abby Off the Record

Extreme Juggling: Work-at-Home Mom Edition

by Abby on June 18, 2012

Crazy Post-It ladyReady for another episode of “Extreme Juggling: Work-at-Home Mom Edition”? Well, grab your cup of twice-reheated coffee and let’s get started! First, the phone rings with a promising assignment from a new client. Great! It would’ve have been even better had it come a couple weeks ago before preschool let out, but what can you do? I line up the sitter and get to work.

The client calls back: could I possibly take on a few more assignments that they need done? And, oh, BTW, the deadline’s tight on these ones. For what they’re paying me? Sure thing!

Hmm, I see this one requires phone interviews. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of those (see this post, “Plan F,” for why), so my recording equipment’s out of date. My Radio Shack device only works on old-fashioned phones with actual cords. Remember those? A quick email to a colleague reveals that there’s a wireless version. Off to Radio Shack I go.

Turns out that model has been discontinued. And they don’t make anything similar. What’s up with that? Off to Staples I go. Nothing there, either. A discussion with 3 different tech dudes at Staples convinces me that maybe the technology has changed such that I no longer need a separate digital recorder. Maybe I can record directly onto my PC. Back home to research this I go.

An hour later… So let me get this straight: Google Voice allows you to record INCOMING calls, but not OUTGOING calls? There is a recorder app for the iPhone, but you have to pay extra for recording time. Besides, I don’t have an iPhone. The Android app looks sketchy and complicated, and seems to be the equivalent of putting a cellphone call on speaker and holding up a recorder. I have quality concerns, let’s just say.

And Skype? Are you KIDDING me?! The whole point of being a freelancer is that you can work in sweats and no makeup from your messy house without having to see anyone in person. Plus, I’m thinking the busy surgeons I need to interview will not have time to mess around with complicated technology.

By this time, I have to go pick up the toddler from the sitter. Just as I’m putting him down for his nap, an interviewee emails me to let me know she’s available. I call her, and she says she’ll call me back in 10 min. AN HOUR LATER she calls back, just as my 3yo wakes up from his nap and my 5yo gets home from school. I curse my phone for not having a mute button. Freaking technology is KILLING me today!!

I get the interview (just barely) and guess what? My little guy woke up with a fever. Awesome. No sitter for us tomorrow. I have heard talk of some mythical husbands who can take off work in these situations, but mine is not one of them. He’s in sales, remember? Looks like I’ll be employing the TV to watch my child while I do my work.

And wait, don’t forget the “mom” part of being a WAHM. I still have to cook dinner (what can I make with frozen spinach, a can of beans, and leftover rice?), do the laundry (the T-ball uniform MUST be ready by 5pm sharp), and buy groceries and medicine and birthday gifts. And clean up the dog puke and the spilled juice. No wiggle room there.

You know how they say God only gives you what you can handle? Dude, your expectations are WAY too high. (Is it sacrilegious to call God “Dude”?) How about giving me an easy assignment, like turning water into wine? I could really use a glass right about now.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Corey Feldman June 18, 2012 at 7:00 am

You can do a voice only Skype call and record it.

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Abby June 18, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Really?? I need to look into that, thanks!

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Lou Mello June 18, 2012 at 8:20 am

That is one scary day!! OY!

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Abby June 18, 2012 at 3:37 pm

OY is right!!

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Pamela June 18, 2012 at 9:44 am

No, these kinds of days are NOT fun. But are you up to the challenge? Obvioiusly! (and god, the dude, is probably laughing….) Love your writing about living the life of mom/working/LIFE with all caps.

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Abby June 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Thanks, Pamela!

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Kris-Ann June 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm

As a former student of your essay class, I have to say that I love the ending of this post!

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Abby June 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Thanks, Kris-Ann!

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Malia June 18, 2012 at 2:31 pm

I can SO relate to every word. Funny, it’s not the work stuff that kills me during busy times, it’s the “mom” stuff that never ends–the family still needs to eat and the dishes (and kids! and clothes!) still get dirty. Did you ever figure out a solution for the phone interview thing?

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Abby June 18, 2012 at 2:47 pm

No! I’m still typing like mad as I interview. I did set up an eBay alert for that wireless recorder thingie, though. If you ever see one, grab it and I’ll pay you a finder’s fee!

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Adrienne June 18, 2012 at 5:04 pm

I hear ya, this sounds like a typical day at my house. I have a 3 year old and an 8 week old and I babysit an 8 month old 5 days a week all day long. It’s me alone with the 3 of them and a car that only fits 2 car seats. Combined I have to do 6 meals and 5 nap times and no one ever cooperates with anyone else’s schedule.

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Abby June 19, 2012 at 9:17 am

6 meals?! 5 naps?! Yikes!! It’s a wonder you have time to breathe.

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Rebecca Einstein Schorr June 18, 2012 at 11:26 pm

Is it sacrilegious to call God “Dude”?

Nope. God’s cool like that.

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Abby June 19, 2012 at 9:18 am

I feel like you of all people have the authority to say that. :)

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Evelyn June 19, 2012 at 5:09 am

After working from home for 2 years, I relate to every word you said. My kids are a little older and while it makes somethings easier, it means that my work day stops at 3:40pm when my job becomes taxi driver!!

BTW if you do use Skype, there is a great piece of software called Call Recorder by eCamm Network. It’s not super expensive, is really easy to operate and is fully integrated into Skype. If you buy Skype credit, you can cheaply call a landline so the person you are calling doesn’t have to be using Skype. Good luck!

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Abby June 19, 2012 at 9:22 am

Evelyn, I got all excited but then it looks like that software’s only compatible with Macs and I’m on a PC. Ugh!! See what I mean about technology?! Thanks for the suggestion, though.

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Kathleen Basi June 19, 2012 at 9:09 am

As long as you keep your sense of humor, right?

(I crook the phone in my ear and type furiously…no recording for me with phone interviews. Maybe I need to get hopping!)

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Abby June 19, 2012 at 9:22 am

You need to at least invest in a headset – save your neck!

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Angie Mizzell June 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm

I’m looking at ways to record interviews for my blog… and doing more video posts. Finding quiet moments to do that? That ought to be interesting. For my LP column, I’ve managed to get away with emailing my interview subjects with questions. I avoid phone appointments at all costs, unless it’s with someone who knows I have kids. It took me a while to get to that point, but it’s torture trying to pretend they aren’t there!

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Lacey Smith June 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Abby, what a great post! Like others have said, I can absolutely relate… it’s almost like you took a page right from my life story book! I am a stay at home mom and I’ve wrestled with the idea of going back to work, but I’d really hate to put my little one in daycare just so that I can make a little bit of money. I’ve been talking about wanting to work from home for a very long time and my husband suggested that I start my own business. I was talking to a friend of mine about it and I told her that I had no clue where to even start. She does a lot of work editing and she actually suggested that I read a book called “The Barefoot Executive” by Carrie Wilkerson and that it would be a great book to give me a push in the direction I wanted to go. She gave me her website too, barefootexecutivebook.com, where I was able to order the book. It’s been great so far. Before I dive in and make my life even more crazy I’m trying to do as much research as possible.. so I was wondering if anyone can refer any other books or articles on this topic as well?

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