Home Work: Lessons from Work-at-Home Parents. This series of Kidoinfo interviews with parents, looks at how they manage to squeeze in work time at home (whether working for someone else or running their own business) along with juggling kids, home life, and childcare (or lack of it). Today we introduce Cindy Moser, a proposal writer for a healthcare company. Cindy lives in Cumberland, Rhode Island with her husband and 5 year old son.
How did you start working from home?
Cindy: I had a freelance writing business. The company I work for were one of my clients and I liked the team there, so when they offered a full time job writing business proposals for them that still gave me the flexibility of working from home, I jumped on it.
How do you balance work and family?
Cindy: Ha! Not always successfully! My job is deadline-oriented, so when I’m on a deadline, the family and home-care tasks fall by the wayside, or get picked up by my awesome husband. When I’m not on deadline, I have a lot of flexibility to prioritize the family aspect. It’s still really difficult though. It’s very easy to let work or family “take over” so that you neglect the other side. And when that happens, you can feel either like a bad employee or a bad parent.
Please describe a typical day.
Cindy: I made a few rules for myself when I started working from home. 1. No working in pajamas. 2. Pretend you are going to a real office, just with a short commute. So (ideally), I get up, shower, get my son ready for school and on the school bus. Then I throw in a load of laundry and do the breakfast dishes. By 8:30 or 9, I’m at my desk. Depending on whether I’m on a deadline or not, I will either work all day pretty much straight through, or do whatever administrative/background work needs doing, interspersed with errands, tidying up, the (far too) occasional workout, etc. My son gets off the bus at 3:15 and we have a babysitter watch him for the rest of the afternoon until around 5:30. Then it’s dinner, tub and bed.
Do you have any time-saving tricks that you could share?
Cindy: 1) Make a schedule for the morning and evening and stick to it as best you can. I find that it really helps my stress level to be able to follow a schedule. Also, when I’m not fully caffeinated in the morning, it helps to have it written down so I can make sure I’ve got everything under control. 2) Don’t over-schedule. My son was doing two sports at the same time for a while and it was too much for our family. I’m not really sure how families with multiple kids handle it. 3) Do a load of laundry every day. When you work from home, it’s so easy to take the time you’d use for a coffee break in the office to toss in a load of laundry.
If you could give your past self (pre-kids or pre-business) any advice, what would it be?
Cindy: Don’t judge. Everyone’s situation is different, and everyone is doing the best they can.
Where do you find inspiration?
Cindy: Since I work from home, I am able to get outside almost every day — if only to my back yard. Maybe it’s not really inspiration, but I find being outside in fresh air to be really centering. Just 10 minutes is all it takes for me. I have to remember to do that more consistently now that the weather is getting colder.
What is the one kid or parent product that you could not live without?
Cindy: My son is an early-riser and always has been. We got a My Tot Clock for him when he was very young (still in the crib) and taught him that he can’t get up or call for us until the clock turns yellow in the morning. We use it still today. When we don’t we risk getting up at 5 am. The Tot Clock gets us an extra hour of sleep, which is essential!
What is your favorite children’s book or music CD?
Cindy: Oh, wow. So many favorites. Probably Flotsam or Tuesday by David Weisner, but we also just finished Little House in the Big Woods, and my son really liked that.
What do you do with your kids on a rainy day?
Cindy: Since my son is in school, we’re mostly talking about raining weekend days, and while I’d love to say that we go to museums or something like that, often, we end up running errands. If we’re home, we draw, play hallway bowling with random objects, have sword-fights with our foam swords (best Five Below purchase ever) and watch movies.
What is the last great non-kid book or film that you loved? What made it so great?
Cindy: I really liked The Art Forger, by B.A. Shapiro. It wasn’t the best-written book I’ve ever read, but the story was really compelling and I find the whole Isabella Stuart Gardner heist story fascinating.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Cindy: Chocolate, naturally.
If you had an extra hour each day, what would you do with it?
Cindy: Exercise. It’s the one thing I regret not having enough time for. I always feel better when I do it, but I’m so inconsistent about it.
Can you share a story or anecdote that is symbolic of your dual life as a business owner and a mother/father?
Cindy: One time I had an imminent deadline. I needed input from a subject matter expert on the software my company sells, so I was on the phone, but it was also shortly before dinner time, so I remember being on the phone, on my headset, while pounding out chicken breasts with a mallet. I pulled it off well, but you’re always doing two things at once, which is tricky.
How has the experience and on the job training of being a mom/dad prepared or changed you in business?
Cindy: It’s definitely made me more generous and understanding. I used to be pretty unforgiving when people’s lives collided with their work responsibilities. Now, having been there, I get that it’s always a juggling act to get through each day.