Savvy womens Magazine

 

'Mom-E': How the internet has changed the lives of
stay at home mothers

No longer are we just Mommies, we're Mom-Es! We're online at 6:00am to check e-mails, see the weather forecast, get a quick news update, download the latest dance track and see if our online clothing order has shipped. And, that's all before 6:30! We're e-spending, e-learning, e-mailing kinds of moms. We're connected, and life at home has never been busier!

These days, more and more women are deciding to hop off the career track to be the main caregiver for their children. Some of these women are stay-at-home moms for short periods of time, some longer. Some decide that they can't fully give up work, for a variety of reasons, and find a way to work from home.

Thankfully, being a mother in this day and age means you don't have to be completely isolated while being there for your kids. On one hand, it's the most flexibility mothers have ever had. On the other, being a Mom-E means you'll be busier than you ever imagined ' in a good way, of course.

Wendy, a technical writer, notes that family life is much calmer since she left her full-time job to be a work-at-home mother and take care of her two children, now teenagers. 'The biggest thing is that I have the emotional energy to pay attention to them when they feel like talking. And, with teenagers, you never know when that will be.' Her job as a writer has a flexible schedule and is easily managed through e-mail. She also finds the internet an incredible resource for family management. From what to make for dinner to school closure updates, she is online each and every day to get the information she needs.

The accessibility of the internet 24/7 is really what makes it so attractive to many moms.

It's often not until the kids are in bed and chores are done that mom finally gets hold of the laptop and reconnects with the world. That's when we often get down to the good stuff: online shopping - what's better than ordering a hot new book or snagging a designer bag on eBay; catching up on e-mail correspondence from family and friends; checking tomorrow's weather forecast; and working on that assignment for the online course we're taking.

Now don't get carried away; you know you've crossed the line when you and your hubby are sitting in bed together, you with your laptop and he with his Blackberry, e-mailing back and forth about what's on the schedule for tomorrow.

'As soon as I put the boys to bed, I come down and spend half an hour catching up' says Dani, who works in communications for the Government of Canada. It's not only for herself that she catches up; thousands are awaiting the next instalment of her tremendously popular blog, Postcards from the Mothership (http://momm-eh.blogspot.com ). 'I live and breathe for blogging. I post every single weekday, sometimes more, and often on weekends. Blogging has become'an extraordinarily satisfying form of personal expression.'

Ah, yes, the blog. Many moms are finding blogs to be a saviour for connecting with that big old world outside. It can be cathartic and expressive. However, many moms find it just as exciting, or even more so, to read the blogs of others around the world. Andrea, a web designer, writer and mother of two, has a similarly popular 'mom blog' called A Peek Inside the Fishbowl (www.quietfish.com/notebook). She's also linked in with DotMoms, another blog site for Mom Es (http://roughdraft.typepad.com/dotmoms/ ). With well-crafted, inspiring and entertaining blogs like these, who could avoid a regular peek?

And, with programs such as Blogger, TypePad and YouTube now freely available to anyone who wants them, it's a writer's paradise out there, whether you're tech savvy or not.

Forums are another place women can congregate online to discuss particular issues. When Dani was facing infertility issues, she found great comfort in the forum at www.ivfconnections.com. Even several years later, she still maintains friendships formed through this board. 'We have in-person playgroups regularly, and get together with full families to celebrate Christmas, summer, and whatever.'

All of this discussion about leisure time, socializing and researching on the Internet is great but what about working from home? Mom-Es are making it happen. They are using the internet and finding careers that allow them flexibility and control over their schedules and their life. At least, as controlled as life with children can be.

'Having an Internet connection is probably the most important communications tool in my arsenal' explains Andrea. 'It's opened up a world of possibilities that weren't there before. I imagine this feels a lot like when the phone was invented. Or the fax machine. Suddenly, all these new things are possible.'

Employers are starting to see the benefits of allowing more flexibility to their highly-skilled and valuable mom employees, which includes telecommuting and lieu time. Most mothers I spoke with, however, preferred the control that being their own boss affords them. 'I can take the kids to appointments and lessons without having to negotiate make-up work time' notes Wendy. 'And, because of the special health needs of my daughter, I can be home with her when she needs to stay home from school.'

Now that's a scenario we would not have seen twenty years ago for most at-home moms. Not only can you work from home but you can control your hours and adjust them as necessary. Who wants to be stuck in a two career, two child, one car lifestyle when little Vivian comes down with serious stomach flu at school and you need to decide whether mom or dad is going to abandon their 'very important meeting' to take her home?

The Internet has given women the power to control who, when, where and how much. (is there a line from Pretty Woman in there?) Whether it's help with chores (online grocery shopping) or expression through journaling (blogs); learning a new skill (e-courses) or communicating with family, friends and clients (e-mail), there's a place online for everyone and every situation.

Go forth ' explore and exploit e-motherhood! You'll soon find yourself more connected ' and hopefully happier - than ever before.

Also check out the Business section of Savvy Women Magazine for more ideas on how I became a Mom-E and what you can do to start your own business from home.

About the Author:
Cynthia Kinnunen is a freelance writer from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, who can't get enough of her two wacky children, charmingly geeky husband and prima donna feline. For more information, please visit her website at www.ckinnunen.com