There was a bit of a movement underway a few years ago: Christian women were signing pledges saying that they wouldn’t let their tinies see them on the computer. I think their intentions were mostly good – they knew they were distracted by social media in particular, perhaps, and so they wanted to give their best attention to their children. That idea continues to hang on somehow, particularly in my line of work.

I understand it. Of course, 8 hours of Facebook to the exclusion of fully being present with our families is damaging. And I am wise with my time on social media, not only for their sakes but for my own creativity, health, sanity, and proper sense of perspective. (For instance, when my husband gets home and asks me about my day, I don’t like for my first answer to be, “well, you wouldn’t BELIEVE what this one guy said on Twitter or how many likes this Instagram picture of the kid I neglected all day received!” Not exactly healthy.)

But here’s the thing: I work from our home on a – wait for it – computer. My husband works out of our home full-time in a pretty demanding job with irregular hours occasionally. I am the primary caregiver for our tinies. Granted, we have a (very beloved) baby-sitter for our littlest girl two mornings a week while the older two are at school, so that I can make phone calls, do interviews, and work uninterrupted for a bit of time, but I am usually at home, trying to get in a full-time job at the edges of our life.

Being a work-from-home mother can feel like a juggling act, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love this choice.

Through trial and error, we’ve learned that our family works best in this way with one parent more fully engaged during the day, but I know that I am privileged to be a work-at-home mother. I do not take it for granted, even though there are occasional afternoons when I pick up the tinies from school and then turn on Wild Kratts, hand them a plate of apple quarters with goldfish crackers, and then sit down to answer emails for an hour before supper. There are mornings when the baby and I take the tinies to school, and then come home to a wide-open toy box for her and an open laptop for me to write an article to deadline. When I am interrupted, there are times when I put my work aside, absolutely, but then there are times when I hand her a book and say, “Mum is writing, we’ll go to the park in an hour. Find something to do.”

Early into our family arrangement, I had to take a long hard look at the narrative that it was a shameful thing for my tinies to see me on the computer.

And then, thoughtfully, prayerfully, we decided to call complete and utter crap on any more needless mum-guilt.

I don’t feel guilty when my tinies see me cooking supper. That’s part of our life – and in fact, it creates a great opportunity to be together, to prepare them for life, to teach, to have fun.

I don’t feel guilty when my tinies see me cleaning the house. Keeping our home clean and tidy is part of my life – and it is part of theirs, too, unless I want to have lazy and entitled teenagers someday. Can I get an amen?

I don’t feel guilty taking them along when we get groceries or pay bills or drop off library books or help others or any other of the chores and tasks and work that goes into running this little family.

Maybe my prairie kid work ethic is showing. My grandpa raised our clan to know that truth: work is honourable. Now I’ve rounded that out with the belief that work is also a gift from God, part of our heritage as co-creators with God. Particularly when our work – paid or unpaid – is personally fulfilling, an act of creativity or beauty or usefulness. What a gift to be able to work!

So, is it a shameful thing for a mother to work on the computer while her children are present? Nope.

Not only is it not damaging to my tinies to see me – gasp! – working on the computer while they’re here, I believe it’s downright good for them.

Yes, it is good for them to discover right now that they are not the centre of the universe. To let them discover ways to entertain themselves – I’m not their cruise director. To let them see their dad choring around on a Saturday, make sure they grab a broom and sweep up drywall dust alongside of him. To let them grab a rag and a bottle of vinegar to pitch in with Thursday cleaning. To let them learn to fold socks. To let the tinies sweep the floors.

Welcome to being part of a functioning family, for heaven’s sake.

(This home doesn’t run by magic or pixie dust: welcome to the real world, darlings.)

In addition to that, we have decided it is GOOD for the tinies to see me loving my job, loving my work, being good at something, and actually doing it. To let them see me being faithful to my calling, let them see their dad empowering me to do it with his enthusiastic blessing, let them see it as part of our family’s gift to the world.

This is what we do in this family: we support each other in our work and in our callings and even in the things we just plain love to do.

Mothers are people, too.

(And, very quietly, I’ll also gently point out right here the privilege inherent in the idea that we can choose whether or not our children see us work.)

Let the tinies learn what it looks like to be a person, made in the image of God, working – no matter if our work happens on computers or at the laundry or on the job site or the classroom – as unto the Lord. Let them see us working: work is a honourable thing.

 image source: Getty Images Lean In Collection as shown on Buzzfeed

In which I share what I'm into :: February 2014 edition
In which you are a beloved warrior
thank you for sharing...
  • Pin this page92
  • 2336
  • Stevie


  • Work *is* an hono(u)rable thing. 🙂 I’ve been thinking to start looking for a job once my kids are both in school all day, which is in August/September, but I just recently had that AHA moment, that that is what I actually *want* to do, not what I *have* to do. See, I stay at home, but I also do childcare for 5 kids, which is great, but it was never something I wanted to do forever. My husband’s job simply hasn’t allowed us to be a one-income family, and though my work at home helps pay the bills, I’ve realized recently that I want more.

    I was afraid at first to write about it on my blog, worried that someone would say I was a terrible mom for wanting to work outside the home. But it’s time, and it’s right, and I’m ready (hopefully), and my work right now is honorable, but I want to do something else. We moms need to remind one another regularly that all our work is good, whether paid or not, and that there’s not one single way to go about providing for our families. Your blog is always a blessing to me, Sarah!

    • Nope, not a terrible mum at all. This is life and life is work and that’s a good thing. Excited for your new season!

  • Hilary

    THANK YOU for this, Sarah. Just over the past month, my 6-year-old has attempted a guilt trip of “Why are you writing again? Why don’t you just play with us? We’re your children!” I’ve been explaining the important part of my writing and editing job … and how I spend the rest of my days and nights homeschooling and caring for him and his sis. Thank you for cheering me on that work IS an honourable thing!

  • Yes yes yes! Thank you. Mom guilt is an awful thing.

    “In addition to that, we have decided it is GOOD for the tinies to see me loving my job, loving my work, being good at something, and actually doing it. To let them see me being faithful to my calling, let them see their dad empowering me to do it with his enthusiastic blessing, let them see it as part of our family’s gift to the world.

    This is what we do in this family: we support each other in our work and in our callings and even in the things we just plain love to do.

    Mothers are people, too.”


  • Briana Meade

    What a blessing this post is. I love this.

  • Nurse Bee

    Amen! While I’m not a complete work at home mom, I do have work that I do at home. While my kids are tiny I try to do it when they’re asleep, but as they are waking up earlier and my workload is heavier, if my oldest gets up while I’m working (my routine right now is to get up early each morning to finish my paperwork from the day before), I let her turn on the tv.

    • Same here, Nurse Bee. No shame in our game. 🙂

  • Jenn Claus

    Sarah! I’m so glad I came across your blog, I’ve not been much of a blog follower, mostly because I couldn’t relate to the women writing them. When I read your writing, I keep saying to myself “I’m not the only one!” I am so grateful to be able to be a working mom, and for the 6 years we had little ones not yet in school, I was able to work from home. It did mean that my boys would see me working on my computer. It also meant that the office had to be located beside the play room so that I was accessible. Some days it meant that the “office” moved out doors so they could play in the sun, digging in the dirt, while I replied to emails. Thank you for sharing courageously!

    • So glad to hear this, Jenn – you’re not alone.

  • Sara Thompson

    Oh, thank you! I work from home as well and this helped tremendously with the guilt that sometimes creeps in. I feel like a burden has been lifted. xoxo

  • Colleen Connell Mitchell

    Just. Love. Thank you for erasing the mental guilt trip that is so often on replay in my head. I am a missionary, running non-profit, a “writer” writer, and a part-time technical writer. All these jobs are part of our family’s livelihood. Some bring me more enjoyment than others. They all happen at home on the computer. With five kids present. Sometimes in the midst of schooling them. And tending to pregnant mamas in our maternity home. And sometimes I feel really guilty about needing to work. And liking to work. So thank you for saying this to us who needed to let that guilt go.

  • Amen. My mom worked out of the home for most of my childhood, so whenever there was an emergency that called for a parent to be home (sick kid or emotional breakdown or field trip chaperone), my dad had more flexibility and would step in, but he would bring his computer home and work from home. And I always knew that work was important but so were we. I think the most valuable thing I ever saw my parents do was reading their Bibles and journaling in the mornings. If we woke up before we needed to, they would tell us to go find a book or play quietly by ourselves because they each needed to spend some time with Jesus before they were ready for the day. What a blessing to see that that was more of a priority than I was!

    Thank you for sharing this. You’re right, it is good for children to see you working hard at something you love.

  • Thanks for this perspective. I’ve been struggling with this very issue and it’s new for us (our oldest is only now 2 1/2). They are growing up in different worlds than we did, that’s for sure!

    • I know – the computers/social media aspect of life is very new. it’s good to be figuring it out together.

  • Bev Murrill

    Great post, Sarah, and one which reinforces the understanding that all work is honourable! We’re all just doing the best we can. I have spent the last three months living with one of my children and their family in UK, and then another child and their family in Australia. At the same time, I was trying to keep my work life something like normal. but at the same time, I felt guilty because it was like every time they looked at me I was on the computer. It’s hard to explain to kidlets (or their parents for that matter) that just because everything is turned upside down doesn’t mean that work goes away. Even grandmas get the guilts.

    Thanks for putting it so well.

    • “Even grandmas get the guilts.” Good point – there’s freedom for all of us, even if sometimes we have to remind even the grown-ups around us that work is honourable. 🙂

  • Such wisdom and grace here, Sarah. Thank you. I do want to my children to see every part of my life, and me aiming to honor Jesus in every part of my life: cleaning and chores and eating and hospitality and phoning friends to extend love and compassion (even if that means ignoring them for a few minutes), and yes.. Being on the computer. I want them to see me in prayer, in the scriptures, in friendship and at work. And yet, I needed you to say this out loud. Thank you.

  • Hmmm. My kids know that it’s the things I do while staring at that computer screen that help support our family. Of course, they think I’m a computer genius. Even though the youngest is 17 now. Go figure. 😉

    My kids have never felt neglected because I had to work. I’ve always made lots of time for them. In the end, that’s what matters.

  • tammy

    Oh Sarah. Thank you for this gift. It is such a guilt-inducing thing: this working on the computer every day. It can sometimes seem frivolous and to some, it is. I have had “friends” over these blog-writing years pull away because they don’t understand how I could have “time” for this. I was even told by what I thought was a very dear friend, “You know, you should give it up – it’s okay to just be a mom.” As if there is such a thing as “just a mom.” {sigh} It’s such a delicate balance, this calling and passion and mothering and carving out time. And letting go of the expectations placed on us by people on the outside looking in. This helped me feel a little more free tonight, so…thank you.

    • I think that’s kind of the funny thing there, too, tammy. Women have always worked! We have all had work to do, down through the centuries. It’s just that now some of us work on a computer instead of in a field. That’s okay. I think sometimes we’re more interested in re-creating a sitcom society that never existed than in being real people. Good point.

  • I so enjoyed this! I don’t have kids yet, but I work from home and that will likely be the arrangement once kids do appear in my life! We would never shake our heads at kids visiting their parents at work so what’s the difference if I’m at an office building or in a home office? Working from home is still work and requires a lot of time, energy, and focus. To turn all that off so that your kids don’t see — what, that you have a job? A passion? A life? — seems not only impossible, but unnecessary. I remember visiting my parents at work (both outside the home) and having it help me understand all that my parents did for me and how hard they worked for our family. How great that your kids can see you doing that in their own home! I am really looking forward to being a work-from-mom one day, so this was so great for me to read before any silly mommy-guilt sets in!

    • So glad to hear that, Alyssa – you’ll be a bit ahead of where many of us started then.

  • Yes and yes! Yes, work is honorable. Yes, littles should see it as part of life.

    I love that I get to teach my kids about integrating work and life by living and working alongside them. I love that we get to practice balancing our needs for both together time individual working-on-projects time. What a blessing that they will have years of watching us adults demonstrate how to use tools (like the computer, like a smartphone) wisely–and what a blessing to us adults, to have to use those tools wisely because we are teaching as we live.

    • Good point – the importance of showing and living that balance so that they aren’t overwhelmed by the tools later. And of course they will have to know how to manage and use them.

  • Amy Hunt

    YES! And if it isn’t just work they see us do, if it’s interact with others on line, then might we be reflecting what community is and how we can be bolstered and be the bolsterers, of a love that stretches and widens to the ends of the earth.

  • Erin Wilson

    Yes, yes, yes! I don’t have a family and kids myself, but as someone who deeply cares about community, and deeply cares about the girls and boys coming up behind us… thank you! Children need to see and experience the full range of work/living options available to them. They need to see that they can create a life that works for them. Yeah!

    (and as someone who had to teach many 20-year old summer students how to vacuum and wash dishes, may I say ‘thank-you’ for teaching your kids life skills too!!)

    • Ha! I remember when my husband was a youth pastor, how often I was teaching teens how to make grilled cheese sandwiches and he was teaching them how to pound a nail. Thankful for villages!

  • This. Completely and totally this. Well written!

  • SarahPinault

    Love this! Thank you so much. I make about $30 a month from my various writing gigs, so the joys I receive from it are far from monetary.

  • Sandy Cooper

    This is great, Sarah.

    When I first became a mom (17 years ago, before social media was even invented and most of us only had e-mail and land lines), it was trendy among my mom-peers to get all the housework done while the children slept so you could “fully engage” with your children during the day. I about drove myself into the ground trying to get up early enough (after nursing a baby in the middle of the night) to get a jump on housework so they’d never see me sweat. Most of the time, I failed miserably and heaped loads of guilt on myself.

    Then, like you, had the epiphany that if they never see me do housework, they will never LEARN HOW TO DO HOUSEWORK!

    Same with exercise.

    Same with cooking.

    Same with reading/relaxing/resting/spending time with my friends.

    Same with blogging.

    One of my many jobs as mom is to model a well-balanced life. If all I ever do is sit and play with them, I’m not teaching them balance.

    So, yeah–now, it’s computers and cell phones. Like everything, there is a balance. I don’t want to teach them it’s okay to ignore the people in the room so you can scroll through Pinterest. But sometimes, scrolling through Pinterest while the kids are doing something else is entirely acceptable.


    • Well said. Nothing new under the sun, eh?

    • Alissa

      Wow Yes! I know a couple gals that felt like they had to take days off of work, so they could clean the house (while kids are at daycare) because they didn’t want to “waste” family time doing chores. I know that feeling when the littles are tiny and there really is no way to vacuum without a disaster occurring in another room, but once they’re old enough to help… they’ve got to see us work… and participate, too.

  • Cassy

    Yes, yes yes!! Preach. Mom guilt is one of the worst things we do to each other, in my opinion. Good for you for showing your tinies that working is a very good thing (whatever that work may be). Odds are overwhelming that whatever your littles grow up to do, they will be doing at least some of it on a computer. Setting a good example is always healthy, and it sounds like you’ve got your balance down. Way to go!

    • Yes, it’s also good to set the example now, right? Computers will be a part of our lives – it’s good to model healthy work life balance now. Good point.

  • My kids are all in school now so I can work and do many of our day to day tasks while they are gone. But a funny thing happened. They started taking things for granted. Clean clothes magically appeared. Groceries and items they needed were there when they got home from school. And so now I try to do some of the chores of life while the kids are home so they can understand that life doesn’t magically happen, that there are no fairies at our house. The same goes for my writing.

    • Great point, Jennifer! I never thought of that aspect. Very good.

  • Kimtober

    Great thoughts! I didn’t even realize there was ever a “thing” about not letting the kids see us on the computer, but I’ve worked from home since my two and half old daughter was born and I think it’s been really good for her. She knows how to play on her own and she knows that my life doesn’t completely revolve around her … even though it mostly does 🙂 She knows that when daddy leaves in the morning he’s going to work and she knows that I’m working when i sit at the computer. It’s just a part of life and she likes to pretend she’s working as well on her toy computer. I feel very blessed to be able to work from home and get the best of both worlds!

    • That’s how I feel, too, Kimtober – blessed to have both worlds even if it means a bit of juggling.

  • this is sooooo good. thank you for sharing! i’ll be sharing a link on my blog this friday.

  • I have said this so many times to people, so naturally, I wholeheartedly agree. 🙂 I think it’s a BEAUTIFUL thing for kids to see their mamas working hard! And loving their jobs! And that the world doesn’t revolve around them!

    Hear hear, friend. Well said.

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have given grace and voice to a topic that’s deep in my bones these days.

    I have worked at home, on a computer, since before my 2yo was born. I love my job, and it allows such flexibility in hours that afford me time to also belong to a couple groups that are usually reserved for non-working, at home moms. I’ve struggled with the idea that my son will resent me for NOT letting him be the center of the universe… but he so totally is, even when I’m on my computer =)

    Thank you again. Love you so, Sarah! =)

    • That is the funny part, isn’t it? They kind of our the centre of our own universes but it’s not good for them to live like they are the centre of the universe. Glad to know I’m not the only one thinking through the argument and landing elsewhere, Anna – thank you!

  • Tammy Klassen

    My kids (now ages 18 – 24)watched me work from my computer. When they were older they watched me work away from home while also working on my Masters degree at home using the computer. Proud to say that my two daughters are now working on Masters degrees of their own.

    • Very proud moment, indeed, Tammy. Good for you and for your girls.

  • amenabee

    love this sarah! no tinies yet in our family but when we do have some i hope to be able to be about what you’ve described here. my mom was a nurse when i was growing up and it inspired me more than i knew at the time that she was doing something she loved and believed in. watching her do that gave me the courage to believe i could also do something i loved and found fulfilling.

  • Rachel

    Ooohhh, I really like this. I have started/stopped/started again writin bc of this mommy guilt you are talking about. Sometimes I just don’t think I have the time. But I have come to agree with your perspective, a mom’s work – all parts of it- are valuable for her children to witness as well. Thank you for this, well said!

  • It is good for kids to see their parents working. The caveat, of course, is the parent who ignores their child repeatedly and routinely while they scroll FB or play Farmville or whatever the new fangled game is. Technology is seductive. It is distracting. Studies show that people are sleep-deprived (a chronic condition common to parents of younkins) due to their addictions to technology. Additionally, we have an epidemic of child abuse in the US already. Neglect being the primary source of abuse. So while I heartily applaud the No more mum guilt approach to working in front of one’s children, I think it should come with a word of strong caution.

  • Brittany

    Perfect. Thank you. “I am usually at home, trying to get in a full-time job at the edges of our life.”

  • I’ve heard that if you feel guilty, you are guilty. Guilty of something. You are guilty of listening to the wrong voices and not listening to the voice of God or voice of truth. Too many days i’ve listened to the wrong voices and guilt has motivated to me to do all the wrong things. instead of following guilt to its source to find freedom, i’ve allowed it to motivate me- only causing more guilt. thanks for your honest thoughts.

  • Jessica Stock

    I don’t know, I think there is a difference between our children seeing us working, and being constantly distracted. Not that I don’t think others can do it, but I personally have a really hard time not being on edge when trying to work and mother at the same time. I think there is a difference with work on the computer and other forms of physical work, which our children understand and can participate in. Computers create an invisible wall- we are there but not really there, and I think it is important for a parent who works on the computer to be mindful to share her work with her children, to let them in on what it is that is keeping her attention. When I had three littles at home, I chose to err on the side of not being on the computer- and I don’t think that was crap. Now, my youngest is four and it is easier, but the balance still is tricky.

  • Jennifer Gorman

    Seeing Mom work is important. Seeing Mom even, gasp!, put her feet up with a mug of tea and read a big, fat, yummy book with no pictures while they entertained themselves awhile, or made art all by myself when Dad was home????? That was important too. Thank you for recognizing that. Now that my two aren’t tiny, I am so glad I didn’t lose touch with the woman I am besides Mom. Both of my children’s intensity could easily have overwhelmed my soul as a young mother. The time you take, whether you get paid or not, is necessary for your survival, or you have nothing to give, them, your husband, the world or God.

  • LCW

    Recently I had an eye opening moment with my 4 yr old daughter. She was set to watch a movie while the baby napped. I was headed to do some of my paid work, on my computer. I told her it was quiet time and I was going to do some work. She said, “Mommy you don’t work.” I quickly corrected her. After a short discussion about all the different things I do, including a paid work from home job in which I use the computer she was still firm in her belief that I “went to the store” and Daddy worked. We have a little ways to go with her, but you’re right, all the work I (we) do is honorable. AMEN!!

  • Mary


    I’ve been so very blessed to be a work at home Mom for most of my kids’ lives. More recently, since my ex abandoned us, I’ve been a single working-at-home mom, so my job is more important than ever and I’ve had to work hard to expand my client list to be able to afford the costs of raising teens on my own.

    My kiddos have learned that they are the number one importance in my life. They’ve learned that work doesn’t always mean a 9-5 schedule. They’ve learned that the world doesn’t revolve around them, but if they have a true need, I’ll set work aside to take care of it, because they’ve seen me do it.

    Of course, kids of parents who work outside the home and stay-at-home parents who don’t work another job learn those things as well. I’ve just really enjoyed watching the way it’s played out for my kiddos and our family, and I’m grateful for the choices that have made this life possible for us.

  • libertybain

    love this especially!
    This is what we do in this family: we support each other in our
    work and in our callings and even in the things we just plain love to

  • I love this. I’ve been saying lately that I want my son to hear the words, “Mommy is working” (both from my own lips and from my husband’s) and you expressed so well what I meant by that.

  • Faith Dwight

    Praise. The. Lord. Thank you for saying what I’ve been thinking.

  • Megan Westra

    oh my word, as a work-from-home-pastor-momma this is exactly my world.
    being a work-from-home parent can feel dreadfully lonely, like hanging out in no mans land. I don’t fully identify with the joys and trials of being either a work-outside-the-home mom or a full-time-stay-at-home mom either. I have my own set of joys and trials.
    this post feels like space to breath, space to set up camp and prop up my weary feet, space to drink deeply from the well and actually enjoy a cup of coffee for a change, and then a space to lace up my boots and keep moving forward.

    in a word, thank you so much.

  • sandyhay

    excellent excellent Sarah. wish i had read this when my boys were tines…but that was many years ago…;)

  • Well Amen to that!

  • I love this post!

  • Becca Eliasen

    These precious children who (apparently) can’t handle simply watching their mamas work should be thankful that they aren’t pioneer children because then they’d be working TOO. 😉 Thank you for such a life-giving post. I feel more empowered about being a work at home mom than I have in a long time.

  • I love working from home. My kids watch me write on my laptop, have to be quiet when I’m doing an interview — and they’re mystified when a cheque shows up in the mail. “They pay you to do that?” lol I hope they understand the joy that comes from doing what you love, even if it means making less than you could doing something you hate.

  • lemead

    I really love this. Thank you. I work full-time and my children do sometimes have to wait, and understand there are other priorities in my life. I’ve often said that they should never question that they are the most important thing in m life, but they aren’t the only thing. I don’t necessarily say that to them, I mean, but I do to others, and I think my life speaks to it. But lately I’ve been worrying about it, about what kind of mother that makes me, etc. Thanks for this reminder that there’s no shame in this choice.

  • Nish

    Mom guilt. Eff that noise, AMIRITE?

  • RedSoxGirl10

    I love this post! And yes, kids NEED to know they are not the center of the universe and that they can entertain themselves!

  • Kelly W

    (go mama-girl)

  • Daniele Evans

    Oh my, thank you for sharing with such grace and wisdom!! Yes, amen, preach it sister. The ways we invent to further fuel the mom guilt need to be squelched and even resisted. You did this without being a bully – love that. Thank you again!

  • Gillian Ward

    Thanks for a confirming post that many women need. I’ve worked out of home in teaching amd child care part time for 25 years- 2 sons 24 and 25. Blessed to be able to work where my sons were until high school, then take youth group at their high school….I know so many kids! My husband has always worked weekends, and I have worked at home in our business, on a computer for all of that time. We now have 3 shift workers in the family, and routines have always been different. Sunday morning is our no go area for any work, and phones go off for proper breaks. Jesus feminist without even knowing what to call my life style til I read your book! I’m 59 now amd going back to CRT work after a break, no one life style suits all, except for Christ first and foremost, and tell me not to speak out about church or issues related to it? Not very likely!!! We’ve walked a long, hard, but love-filled amd exciting road, and as God is our guide, who needs to worry about what others think? Took me a few years to learn that one. Stick to your own God-plan and hum a hymn when the negatives are out!

  • Gillian Ward

    I wonder what people posting here consider luxury and what deprivation? I’ve just realized after posting that for me it is babies, children and teenagers and young adults. Live is so much leaner without them, my husband can tell in a nanosecond if I’ve seen any baby, toddler etc, and I feel complete just watching them, let alone interacting! Who needs chocolate or icecream when there’s littlies around…off topic, but, well, a small dawning!

  • ksw

    Thank you for the quiet aside.I love my work as a nurse- it is the intersection of vocation and calling – and it pays the bills and feeds us. But it is physical and what my children see is a tired mom.
    I cannot imagine the exhaustion of working fast food or a nursing home. Grateful for choices. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and perspective.

  • Keri Wyatt Kent

    Very true. Like you, I’m a writer who works from home. My littles are now “bigs,” ages 18 and 20. Even as young kids, they helped with work around the house, and it was good for them to see me working, and to participate in work themselves. I let them sweep and clean when they were small, and they both have done their own laundry since they were about 10 years old. They help clean the house. I totally agree, work is honorable and they learn that by seeing us work. (playing Farmville or endlessly Tweeting, not so much) They understood what “Mommy is on deadline right now, so if no one is bleeding and nothing’s on fire, you’ll have to wait.” One thing we did do, as a family: we turned off the computer on Sundays. Our Sabbath practice began with powering down the electronics. We all worked hard during the week, but took a day to just rest and be together on Sunday.

  • Emily

    I work part-time outside of the home and I do not feel guilty when i go to work. Working puts a roof over my daughter’s head and food in her stomach. It pays for the gas that heats our home and her medical bills. It teaches her the importance of providing for one’s family and that work is honorable. How ridiculous that we’ve gotten to the point where we shame women for doing these things!

  • hannah anderson

    Love this! We are doing this dance too and I wouldn’t trade it. As I do more writing in front of my kids, they have learned things about their mama they never knew. My 7yo son is especially proud of me, and my heart nearly bursts when I hear him talking about my work to other people.

  • Standing ovation.

  • Well said! And I like the emphasis on, “This is my work.” We certainly have to be careful of our time, but there’s no reason to take on extra guilt.

  • All of my work is on a computer, and I homeschool at the same time (albeit mostly unschooling).
    I admit I can get sidetracked by social and news media, but I really try to make sure I’m using my not-focused-on-kids time wisely.
    But I absolutely do not want to be made to feel, nor would I want others to feel guilty whilst multi-tasking between hand work and Netflix 🙂

  • Pingback: Weekend links | The Art of Simple()

  • Julie Buchanan

    I worked from home for nearly 8 years. It was a balancing act, a juggling act, a complete circus act at times. To have four children under toe, while trying to cater to clients and phone calls, emails and the professional side of my life while simultaneously being “present” for them and my husband was nothing short of a miracle. After a very long road and a lot of thought, I decided this year to take a break from my high stress profession and pursue my writing (still working from home I suppose, just without the income!) I wholeheartedly agree that there is room for both. Its good for children to see their parents love their work, or hate their work. There is a lesson in both. I think striking the right work/play/parent balance is the key.

  • Caroline Starr Rose

    Thank you. I’ve felt a lot of things about this — guilt, the need for my boys to see I have deadlines just as they do for their school work. I’ve swung back and forth. What I love about your approach is its part of the whole.

    My younger son was home for school conferences last week and wanted to know why I couldn’t jump up and hit tennis balls with him at a moment’s notice. When I reminded him I’m on deadline, he said something like, “but I’m your child. Aren’t I more important?” Yes, child. But you don’t always get your way right when you want it. This is a commitment I’ve made, a project that’s been in the works for four years. It’s valid. It’s my heart, too.

    I made sure I found time to hit those balls the following day, but I want to be sure he also knows how these things called life and motherhood and family work. We give and take and honor each other.

  • It all sounds perfectly sane and balanced to me. I was a single mom for many years, like 16. My daughter learned that if she helped keep things clean, we had more time to do fun stuff. And like you, once I was done with my work we could go do something. I think its a lesson in patience and rewards, would you agree?

  • Alissa

    Thank you for this! I work from an office, but I have recently been pondering cutting DOWN on my childcare hours for next year and purposely spending tome time working at home with the kids around. I really feel they would benefit from more time HOME, but I was feeling very guilty that I might have to spend some of that home time finishing up projects for work. Maybe that’s not a bad thing. Maybe I CAN be around to greet them off the bus, ask about their day, and then set them up with homework or just much needed free play while I tackle another hour of work. This really has me thinking…

  • Paula

    Great post. While I try to make a point to not be spending time on social media or other unnecessary stuff for long periods of time I don’t think it’s a bad thing for the kids to see me on the computer. I also work from home. They know when I’m on the computer, I’m actually working and that’s important. Like you wrote, they see me doing other work around the house and this is no different.

    I have also used the same line – “I am not your cruise director.” I think it’s important for them to be able to learn to find things to do on their own and entertain themselves.

  • “… so that I can make phone calls, do interviews, and work uninterrupted for a bit of time, but I am usually at home, trying to get in a full-time job at the edges of our life.”

    My mom is a traditionally published author, so what you’re describing, Sarah, is exactly what my childhood was like. Honestly, my favorite part of “Bird by Bird” is when Anne Lamott describes growing up with an author for a parent (only her dad wrote porn and my mom wrote cookbooks).

    I learned a lot because of my mom’s career. The younger siblings and I learned about radio when my Mom did phone interview (once she took us with her to a studio interview which was pretty awesome), we learned about TV when she was on it (once we had a camera crew in our house — that’s the only memory I have of really not liking being involved with the process), we got to help vote on the covers of her books, we learned what a deadline was and that it was important to find ways to amuse ourselves and help out more around the house during those times, and I got to see my mom living out her dream while still getting to spend time with her nearly every single day.

    Not only was it good for us to learn that the entire world didn’t revolve around us or that helping out around the house was, well, helpful, it was also empowering as a girl to see my mom living and working passionately. Don’t ever feel badly, Sarah, that your kiddos see you working at the computer. That’s exactly what I grew up with, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I’m so proud of my mom, and I’m sure your kids are very proud of you.

  • Pingback: Sunday Best: Intellectual Snobbery, Banning Devices for Children, 3 Buckets of Scripture | Seedbed()

  • tricia

    totally agree but wouldnt the criticism really be about people who are not working on their computers, but zoning out wasting time on social media? that’s the real problem i would imagine?

  • Rachel Heston-Davis

    As someone who will probably have kids in the next 5 years, this article was incredibly good for my mental health. Thank you. I seriously feel like someone flossed and polished my brain 🙂

  • Debbie

    I love this. I have worked at home for 10+ years and in that time have had 3 kids; my oldest is now 9, youngest is 4. My husband has been highly supportive and helpful and my mom has watched the kids for one day a week since the first was born. While I have concentrated times of working where I have help, I’ve also had many times where I’ve had to work without other help around and everyone has made it through. It’s just how it is in our family. We still spend loads of time together and have made many wonderful memories. There are times over the years, of course, where I’ve struggled with guilt (and still do at times) but I’ve been blessed to have a career from my home and still be with my kids. Thanks for speaking out!

  • Pingback: Bloggerhood Etc. 3/17/14 | Fatherhood Etc.()

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you! I love this. I work from home {blogging and writing} in front of my kids! I know! I have struggled with the guilt which is usually laid on me by others. But what you’ve said is truth. They need to see that I am working and fulfilling my duties as wife and mom and more importantly that I am following my dreams and purpose in life. I want them to know that whatever they want to do is possible and they can bring their families along for the ride too!

  • Pingback: Sunday Best: Intellectual Snobbery, Banning Devices for Children, 3 Buckets of Scripture | Do You Really Believe?()

  • Katie Custer


  • Ellie Abney

    So so beautiful. Thank you!!

  • I. Love. This. My gut response to the idea that the computer is this inherently bad thing in and of itself. I do understand that it can be a real source of unhappiness for some mamas at home, but that for some of us it is a necessary tool sometimes gets lost in these discussions. If we can show our children a healthy relationship with these modern tools, all the better, too. Thanks!

  • Anna E. Barrett

    Thank you for sharing this, Sarah. I have just begun to realize that feminism is about empowerment, not shame.

    I just read this article on Sociological Images about Women’s History Month that totally supports yours; it’s about how society still celebrates the accomplishments of women that are exclusively seen as “masculine.” They fail to recognize women who were “good cooks, care givers, or educators of children, nor are they lauded for their nurturing of others, emotional openness, kindness, or compassion — all traditionally ‘feminine’ traits.” These traits should be celebrated, and celebrated equally, regardless of gender.

    It is awesome to see how your writing has helped so many women realize they don’t need to feel shame for wanting to work and be a mom, too. Blessings.

  • Pingback: The Work at Home Mom's Calling - What is it? - Growing Up Triplets()

  • Liz Mallory


  • Pingback: The-best-ones-in-March | between worlds()

  • Pingback: What I'm Into (March 2014 edition)()

  • Pingback: The One With All the Links (Vol. 2) | My great WordPress blog()

  • Pingback: life & links - Becca Garber()

  • Pingback: The Best of the Month: MARCH | this glorious maze()

  • Thank you for this, Sarah. I work from home, too, and inevitably this subject comes up in my mom circles, and it gets reeeeaaaal quiet in my corner of the room. I don’t appreciate being labeled (even incidentally rather than directly) as a bad mom because I don’t stay up until 3am every morning working so I can spare my daughter the sight of her mother doing something that doesn’t revolve around her alone. Like you said, we don’t shy away from our kids seeing other forms of work, so why if it’s on a computer? Is it because our society still sees computers as purely a luxury item, not valuable for actual labor? Whatever it is, I appreciate your voice of reason. Perhaps next time the mom-guilt pops up over using the computer when kids are aware of it, I’ll have something to say instead of pretending I’m not there, and hoping no one remembers what I do.

  • Meant to read this months ago and I’m so glad you reminded me of it with your Top 10 post. This is immensely encouraging to me, even though I don’t (yet) have tinies of my own. Your work is important and your little ones will appreciate it even more as they grow up. What an example you are setting for them!