Why I Love Working in Coffee Shops So Much.

Even in the most awesome of offices we can fall into a routine, and a routine is the enemy of creativity. Changing your environment, even just for a day, brings new types of input and stimulation, which in turn stimulates creativity and inspiration.

Wesley Verhoeve

As a WAHM (Work-at-home-mom), writer, coffee lover and coffee shop dweller, my ultimate favorite thing about working from home is the many COFFEE SHOPS I get to work in! I remember the day I was given my job offer, I was still not sure if the job was completely a remote position or if I was required to work on campus as well. I remember asking my new boss where I was expected to work.

“Wherever you want! Coffee shops are a great place,” was her response, and I was quite surprised, in a good way.

I can work at a coffee shop and get paid at the same time??

What a dream job!

So since then, I have been visiting different shops as much as I can. I have a routine where I work at a coffee shop at least once a week to feel grounded and connected to the outside world since working from home can sometimes be very isolating.

For those who know me, you know that I am a coffee shop dweller. I seem to get a lot more work done in a coffee shop–whether I am grading or writing. Now being that I live all the way in the West Valley and most coffee shops are in Downtown Phoenix or the East, my choices were limited at first.  However, there has been a sudden growth on my side of town and coffee shops have been opening left and right.

Matter of fact, there is one that just opened up this weekend, and it is truly a writer’s ideal place to write or read at. It is called Ebb + Flow located in the heart of Verrado.

People often ask me why I looooove coffee shops so much. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Conversation

Working from home can sometimes become depressing and isolating. In a coffee shop, I get to interact with other people (adults–not toddlers) and meet new people. I don’t know about you but speaking in baby language can sometimes get…well….old.  Meeting new people in your community is always a good thing. By meeting new people, you are introduced to new things, ideas, and places. There is another local coffee shop where I am a regular at and as soon as I walk in, the owners greet me by name and already know my order. The regulars and I know each other and converse quite often. This has been good for me personally with being new to the area.

Perhaps it’s the smell of the coffee; the air lightly laced with caffeine and conversation. There’s a wonderful sort of anonymous social contact gained from a day in a cafe; the short exchanges with serving staff, the moments tuned in to other people’s gossip.

–http://www.stylist.co.uk/

2. A Moment To Myself

Time away from the kids is needed! I’m a sole believer in having “Mommy Time”. In fact, I have that daily once I put the kids to bed. My Mommy Time keeps me sane. If you currently do not have such time to yourself, then I am here to tell you that you are missing out and why a coffee shop would be an ideal place . This is a precious moment for me where I can relax and do what I like, whether it’s reading, writing, or simply working not at home.  Stepping away from the kids can be good for your mind and body! Although there has been a few times where I had to take my baby with me to meet with a few colleagues. Usually, I prefer to go alone.

3. Stimulates Creativity

There is a reason why most writers love to write in coffee shops. The scenery. Coffee. People watching. It just inspires me more to write and be productive with my time. Of course, you should not work at cafes every single day, but I think it is refreshing to do so at least once a week.

4. Focus

Sometimes when I am working from home, I am constantly distracted by the TV, food, my phone, and my comfortable couch–especially during pregnancy. On days that I have enormous work to do, I force myself to work in a coffee shop to be more productive. Maybe it’s all in my head, but I am more productive and less distracted when I work at a coffee shop.

Working from home used to be a love & hate relationship for me, but I have since then embraced it with arms wide open. I used to toy with the idea of going back to work in an office setting, but after three years, that would be very difficult for me to do unless it is a very flexible job. My point is,

Working from home can be great, but also isolating. You don’t have to be stuck at home everyday. Escaping to a coffee shop can solve the problem of isolation.

Q&A On Being a Full-time Work-at-Home-Mom 

As a WAHM (Work-At-Home-Mom), I am constantly asked different questions on how I got my job and its details.  So I decided to dedicate a blog post to answering the most common questions I get from other moms interested in working from home on a full-time basis.

What exactly do you do?

Most of you know by now that I teach. I am an Online Instructor of Writing.  I teach for a large local research university in their online division. I mostly teach First Year Composition.

How did you find your job?

How I found my job is actually a pretty interesting story . I wasn’t actually seeking for a work from home job. I was simply looking for a full-time job. At the time, I had been an adjunct (teaching part-time) for about two years at a local community college, and they were not hiring full-time, at least not me! I was tired of working my butt off for a small paycheck and decided to search for a full-time teaching position although everyone told me that it was unlikely that I would find one because I had only been teaching for barely two years. Some adjuncts remain adjuncts for years. I’m talking 5 to 10 years until they eventually decide to change professions. That alone was discouraging but I did not let it stop me, I suppose. I saw a position at my current institution, but it was part-time still, but a bit more pay. I decided to apply anyway to keep my options open and started applying for full-time non teaching jobs as well.

Needless to say, I received a call from the chair, but it was actually for a different department than the one I had originally applied for. They had a sudden growth and needed more instructors ASAP. And, they liked my resume. Upon checking out their department, I saw that they were also looking to hire a full-time instructor. So during my interview, I mentioned that although I was interviewing for part-time, I was interested in the full-time position. There were really excited to hear that and said they would be in touch on how to proceed if I was selected for the next step. Long story short, I had a second panel interview, this time for the full-time position, and a few weeks later I was given an offer! So, this is how it happened! Call it luck, but I call it favor! Oh and by the way, I still did not realize it was a work from home position. I thought I would still have to go on campus, but when I asked questions during the last interview about working conditions, their answer was : You can work from home, coffee shop, library, or wherever you want!

Interesting thing is that I found out that I was pregnant with our 2nd child shortly after, so ah, it was indeed a blessing!

What is your schedule like as a WAHM?

I don’t have a set schedule. Some work from home jobs require their employees to work a set schedule and clock in etc, but my job is very flexible. I work whenever. For example, when I had our second child, he stayed home with me that first year so I mostly got work done when my husband got home from work and I would mostly work until 1 or 2am at least 3 days a week. Oh boy. Those days were tough.  Now that he is in daycare 3 days a week, I finally work during normal business hours of the day. This leads to the most common question I get.

Are your kids in daycare? Why?

This is the most misconception about working from home. If you have a job like mine (full-time/salaried), after a while, it is impossible to get any work done with toddlers around unless you don’t mind cooking/ cleaning and taking care of the kids during the day, working from 6pm to 1 or 2am when you can barely focus because you are exhausted from the day, and waking up at 6am to do it all over again! The type of work I do requires concentration, especially when I am grading, so working late at night after running after my kids all day was becoming unrealistic and simply exhausting.  I learned that you can’t do everything on your own. There comes a time when help is needed and really appreciated. It was easier when they were infants.  If you wish to work from home full-time, just be realistic and know that your kids may still NEED to go to daycare, at least part-time.

On the days the kids are home with me, we usually go somewhere for morning activities: playdates and story time etc . I like to keep them active in the morning and then it’s lunch, naptime, and getting dinner ready. If needed, I will work in the evenings for a few hours as well!

When they are not home and are in daycare, I usually get most work done in the hours of 9am to 3pm.

Do you like working from home? Is it really as great? Or is it lonely?

Depends. If I’m grading 60 essays, my answer will most likely be no, I hate it. But if there are no essays to grade, I pretty much LOVE It.

For me, it is both great and lonely. I have my days. I have my moments.  I love and hate my job at the same time. I always daydream about maybe teaching face to face again or getting a new job, but knowing myself, I may end up regretting it. After two years of working from home, I have gotten used to the freedom, flexibility, and etc. It was really hard at first and still is sometimes, but it has gotten a lot better since putting both kids in daycare 3x a week. I have more time to myself to focus on work, clean the house, and just have some ME time etc. I get to work at my favorite coffee shops and talk to people on some days. Is it my dream job? Um…no. I’m tying to live in the moment and convince myself that it is probably the best job for me and my family in our current stage of life. And with time, I may even want to keep it forever. Who knows. Like I said, it’s a hate/love kinda thing.

What can you advise for someone who wants to work from home full-time?

It’s a tricky question because it really depends on the person’s background. For example, you can NOT be an online instructor without at least a Master’s degree; however, you can be an online tutor with a bachelor’s degree.  There are options out there even for moms without a college degree, but the income may not be so great and it may be a bit competitive because so many other moms are applying for the same positions. Perhaps also look into companies that allow employees to work from home after X amount of time. There is online tutoring, data entry, customer service, help desk, etc…Be creative.  Some moms  start their own business, but that takes dedication and patience. I wrote a  post about different options/careers for those wanting to work from home full-time here.

All right, thanks for reading and let me know if there is anything I missed or if you have any questions

Work-at-Home-Moms: When It’s Time To Put The Kids In Daycare

 For the past year, since his birth, I’ve been working from home full-time  with an infant–and it was the hardest thing ever. But… it was worth it! Watching him grow and never missing a moment of his first year was priceless. Now, my oldest has been going to preschool part-time for a while,  so it is also good to be able to spend some days with him at home as well. I am grateful to be a Work-at-Home-Mom.
Working during nap time was never consistent, and working after the kids went to bed was becoming too overwhelming. Sleeping after midnight every night was my life. What was supposed to be “the best of both worlds” became a nightmare. I always complained because of how exhausting the situation was, playing the supermom role and all. I knew it was temporary. We’d agreed we’d  keep him at home the first year, but when he was six months, it was already starting to feel almost impossible. but still,  I tried to hold on a little longer.
See, people have this misconception  that working from home is all peaches and roses. That’s a thing, right? Peaches and roses? I can’t think straight right now (currently tucked in bed writing this). Anyway,  as I was saying,  by working from home, I don’t  mean selling oils or it works! (no offense), but I am referring to work-at-home-moms with a full-time  salary position.
I often hear: “You’re so lucky. I wish I could have your job so I could bring in some income and be with my kids.”
Uh…yeah….
I always tell them to be prepared to do double the work. Because that is the reality. WORK-AT-HOME-MOMS  wear both hats. We’re home with the kids and trying to work at the same time, while keeping up with cooking and household chores while trying not to feel guilty about not devoting enough time to play peek-a-boo.. Let me add how messy the house gets! So it is not as “golden” as people think.
It is; however, a good option if you have a very flexible job where you can set your own hours and work whenever, wherever. Even better if you’re able to have some help during the day for your own sanity.
Every now and then, time away  from the kids can make you a better mother and a much better employee.
All in all, working from home has been a blessing for my family. I do admit that I have a love it and hate it relationship with my job. But at the end of the day, it’s what’s best for my family and our current stage of life.
So in order to continue  to make it work, something had to change after my latest breakdown. And I feel so great about this decision.  Sort of like I can breathe again– major weight lifted off my shoulders.
So now, this mama right here  gets a break three days a week to work during normal business hours of the day and sleep when everyone sleeps because I will no longer have to be a night owl who works past midnight .
Amen to that. 

How In The World Am I a Stay-At-Home Mom With a Full Time Job?

Calling all my working mamas!

How in the world do you do it? Especially if you have a 9-5 job. I work from home and thought it would be just fine with an infant and toddler. Hah. Forgive me for underestimating how much work it would be. It is really hard. At least I don’t have a job that requires me to clock in and out and sit at a desk for certain hours. Don’t get me wrong, I still have to work 40+ a week, but I get to make my own schedule. If it was not for the flexibility, I would not be able to work from home. Because quite frankly, I basically have an evening shift work-from-home job.

Many people have a misconception about what it is like to work from home with kids.

They think it’s all paradise. OK, yes I get to work in my pjs and yoga pants on most days, but, as I said before on my Instagram, most of the time I get my work done when the kids go to bed at night. It is impossible for me to do anything during the day, but it is still possible to work from home if you do not mind working in the evenings. My days are spent taking care of my little guy (on the days older brother is at school) and doing occasional chores. If I need to meet up with friends or colleagues for coffee, he tags along.

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So… how in the world am I a stay-at-home mom with a full time job?

Recently though, my husband and I have made an arrangement for me to work 5pm to about 9ish. I lock myself in my office to work and he takes care of the kids. Some days I don’t actually start until closer to 8pm and work until midnight or 1am.  I usually take a break to help with the kids’ nighttime routine.  Some days I have more work. Some days I hardly have any when I’m all caught up. What I don’t like about that schedule is that I am missing out on quality time with him and the kids. So I try to make sure that I have absolutely  no work to do on the weekends so I can spend  time with hubby. My toddler goes to preschool three days a week, so at least that gives me some quiet time to respond to emails or do quick chores while the baby naps.

The thing is, I underestimated how much work baby#2 would be. Sounds wrong but it is so true. My first was very quiet. Yes, he cried when hungry or sleepy, but for the most part, he was very easy going and could entertain himself easily. Now baby #2 is very different. He does not like to be left alone and always wants me around. He’ll play for maybe ten minutes on his own, but that’s it. So, he is a full time job itself. Thus the reason why I can not do a single thing until hubby gets home.

I never used to be a night owl. But now I am mostly productive in the evening. I suppose we are testing the waters, but I would be lying to you if I said it was easy.

Sometimes, we, mothers, have the pressure to keep it all together and make sure that everything is perfect. We feel the need to be the perfect wife and the perfect mother. If not, then we are failing. We easily compare ourselves to so and so who seems to have it all together. Little do we know that so and so is also struggling with the same challenges.

Everything will not always be perfect, and that’s okay.

Some nights the dishes will remain in the sink, and the floors won’t be shiny. Some days you’ll have to order take out and take a shower late at night. That is the reality of it. As long as you are doing your best, mama, then do not give in to the pressure of having to be perfect all the time.

Some of you wonder how in the world do I still find time to write and blog? I suppose this is my escape. Blogging keeps me sane.  It gives me a place to escape to for just a little while.

It is not by my own strength that I am able to do this. God is my strength. When I do not read my devotional/Bible or spend some time in His presence, I definitely feel a sense of loss and weakness. But as soon as I put some worship music on or meditate on His promises, I instantly feel renewed. Strengthened. Awaken. So I have to keep reminding myself that if I keep trying to do everything on my own, eventually I will continue to get weaker. One of my favorite verses in Proverbs 3:5 reads,

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all  your ways acknowledge him, and He shall direct your path.

So although I may not understand how I will be able to overcome this challenge, God does. And I will continue to trust in the Lord with all my heart for strength and courage.

This post was also published on Huffington Post.