If you are not the lucky parent of a daughter between the ages of 4 and 13, this is probably just an old saying. Something you have said or heard many times before. If you do have a daughter between the ages mentioned, you know this is the theme song to the hit Disney Channel show Hannah Montana.
And as I sit here writing this, listening to this song playing in the background, I realize how those words actually ring true for me. No, I am not a pop star by night and a bubbly teenager by day. But, I do have two identities. There are two hats that sit on my head.

I know what you are thinking. What do you mean you have two identities? Are you a superhero? Although I could probably beat Superman at a costume change challenge (only, of course, if my two kiddos were banging on the bathroom door and yelling my name), the truth is I am not a superhero. I don’t have superpowers or a skintight fitting costume. So, what am I? Who am I?

I am a full time mom who works a 40 hour a week job from home.

So, as I mentioned before, I have the best of both worlds. I not only get to be a stay at home mom to my 7 year old daughter Alexis and my (almost) 4 year old son Gavin, but with my career as an Account Manager, I also get to work with some of the most amazing local, national and international non profit organizations around.

Am I blessed? Yes. Is it a wonderful opportunity? Yes. Is it easy to balance being a full time mom and a full time employee? No.

Don’t get me wrong. I am very fortunate. I work for a national fundraising company based in Arizona that really embraces the meaning of family. May 21st will mark my 8th year with the company and for the past 5 years I have worked either full or part time from home. In fact, when our family moved from Arizona to Missouri in September 2006, I took on a full time position from home.

In my mind, this new opportunity to work full time from home was going to be amazing! I was easily going to juggle full time work and full time mom to my two children (who were 1 and 4 at the time). I saw myself raising millions of dollars for each of my clients and, at the exact same time, nurturing and spending so much quality time with my children that they would be sick of me.

Isn’t it funny how situations can turn out quite differently from how we envisioned them?

Unfortunately, the first few days, weeks and months did not turn out as I had planned. Trying to balance a 40 hour a week career and 2 kids was trickier and lot more difficult than I imagined. Clients called at the exact moment one of my children decided to have a melt down. Many times I found myself having a conference call in my bedroom closet while my children watched a Disney movie on DVD (which I know was more screen time than is recommended by the experts). I found myself working late into the night and very early each morning to stay on top of my work. There were many tears during this transition time, and most of them were mine.

But now, more than two and half years later, I have to admit things are much smoother and I find myself focusing on the positives of working from home more each day. While there are still challenges, late nights and even some conference calls that still take place in my bedroom closet, wearing 2 hats has become much easier. I know it has a lot to do with the fact that my children are a little older, but I think there are 2 significant factors that have helped to ease the situation:

1. I have realized I don’t have to wear both hats at the same time, every single day.

2. I have a wonderful husband who is always willing to lend a helping hand.

I know that sounds pretty easy. I cannot even count the number of people who have said “you work from home, just turn the computer off”. But that is much easier said than done. Working from home can become almost addicting. You have access to everything you need right in your own home. It is so easy to get caught up in the “just five more minutes” mind frame. That is why I have made a real effort to remove my career hat at 5 p.m. each weeknight and to keep it off each weekend. More importantly, I make a real effort to focus 100 percent on my children and family when I am only wearing my mom hat.

In addition, I have a pretty great husband who is willing (and very capable) to step up to the plate when I need him to come into the game and take a hit for me. Whether it is tackling the kids’ bath time and getting them into bed, running the kiddos to practice or cleaning up the kitchen so I can get that last report done that is due at 8 a.m. the next morning, he is almost always willing pitch in.

Working from home is starting to become a more popular trend every day, especially during these tough economic times. Companies throughout the country are finding that allowing their employees to work from home (either full or part time) not only benefits their employees, but also the company.

You might have just started a new job that allows you to work from home or you might be considering a new from home career. As an almost 3 year “work from home” veteran, would I recommend working from home? Yes! But I would warn you to be cautious with your expectations at the beginning. Like with any change, there is a transition phase. There are good days and bad days. While it is the Best of Both Worlds, it takes a little time to get those 2 worlds orbiting just right. And not even Superman or Spiderman can do that!

Written by Champagne Baby friend Felicia Swope

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