Mommy Talks is a weekly feature of different moms. I have been featuring work at home moms for the past months. This will be our second to the last feature on work at home moms. For today’s feature, please welcome Ms. Patricia Cuyugan. I’ve met her through some mommy bloggers event.
Hi Patty! So happy that you agreed to be featured today. Please tell us more about yourself.
My name is Patricia Cuyugan, and I’m a young mom and wife, a freelance writer and mom blogger, an event planner on occasion, and a self-confessed crochet addict. I’ve been married for a year and a half to my high school sweetheart (yes, we’ve been together for 13 years!) and we have a 7-year old boy, who just happens to be his daddy’s mini me.
I enjoy cooking, and eating as well. I enjoy reading, and my Kindle is filled with an eclectic mix of novels, from The Notebook to Game of Thrones. I love to travel, and I’ve been to many places within the Philippines. I’ve only been out of the country once though, on a Hong Kong trip with family back when I was 9 years old. My boys like travelling too, and we hope to visit Disneyland or Lego Land soon. The three of us spend a lot of time together in the single bedroom we currently call home, playing board games and video games, reading, and basically making a big mess. We hope to move in to our own house this year, which is definitely an exciting thing to look forward to for our family.
I have quite the colourful work background, beginning with my first job ever as an administrative assistant for an events company that organized rock concerts and music contests. After that, I had a very regrettable, and thankfully brief, stint as a foreign exchange trader. I then moved on to life in the corporate jungle as a marketing events officer in a big telecommunications company. I stayed there for four years, the longest stay among all of my jobs. I spent a year working as a mall marketing officer after that, and at the same time writing freelance on the side. Eventually I let go of my day job and switched to full-on WAHM mode after a year in the mall.
Can you tell us about your journey to WAHM-hood?
On my son’s last year at pre-school, my husband and I decided that it would be best if one of us became really hands-on with homework and reviewing once he moved to big school. While that’s initially what drove me to explore the possibility of working from home, I also eventually got tired of the daily grind. I started working while I was in college, and I was really looking for a change of pace.
Of course, more than anything, I wanted to spend time with my kid. I realized that he was growing up so quickly and that I had already missed out on so much, and that realization made me quite sad.
I tried to remedy the situation by moving to a job closer to home, which was my job at a mall, but there I had long hours and a 6-day work week, so it wasn’t much better than when I was commuting to and from Makati every day. Plus, I took on freelance writing work during that time, which was a realization of a lifelong dream, more than anything else. So I was also spending my time at home doing work.
Eventually, my husband pointed out that I was earning more from my writing side line than I was from my day job, and he encouraged me to freelance full time. Naturally, I was afraid that I wouldn’t make it, that I wouldn’t be able to find work, or that I wouldn’t be good enough to sustain a job as a writer. But he encouraged me to give it a shot and said that I can always go back to a regular job if I find that the work from home scene wasn’t working out for me. He promised to support our family while I was just starting out. So I did it, I made the jump, and by the end of May, I will celebrate my first anniversary as a WAHM.
I now happily work from home as a freelance writer, and I specialize in scriptwriting for events and AVPs. I also do article writing, web content and blog writing.
What steps did you take to become a work at home mom?
I tested the waters first, making sure that there was something I could do on my own. I didn’t want to give up my job without knowing that there was freelance work waiting for me, so I lined up a few projects for the months after my resignation. Most importantly, I enlisted the support of my friends and family. The encouragement that I get from them really helps get me through the tough times up until now.
Looking back though, one thing I should have made sure of was that we had savings to carry us through at least 6-8 months without income. At the time of my resignation, we were set for about 3-4 months. I realize now that I should have built a bigger safety net before making that big a change. But we got by, nevertheless, with faith and a lot of hard work.
What are the struggles you face being a work at home mom? How do you overcome them?
The biggest challenge for me is actually sitting down and getting to work, and not spending my day playing or watching TV with my son. I was never really good with schedules too, so it takes a lot of effort for me to plan my day well and to make sure I fight the temptation to procrastinate. A lot of it involves being disciplined and making sure that you get the important things done first, whether that’s errands or work or grocery shopping. I try to prioritize the really urgent stuff on my to-do list for the day.
Waking up early is always a good way to get a head start. I also give myself a computer curfew, meaning all work and social media activities should be done by a certain time, and I turn my laptop off and start winding down. This is a really useful trick for me otherwise I end up sleeping really late, and in effect, I wake up late the next day.
Not every day is busy actually, and I find myself sometimes in between projects with nothing to do. During times like those I worry about lost income, like I’m sure most freelancers do, but at the same time, I try to relish the fact that I don’t have deadlines to meet, and use those as mini-vacations. I spend time with my husband and son, we go see a movie, I prepare something special for lunch or dinner, stuff like that to also help me de-stress.
Were your expectations met? Why?
My expectations were met, yes, in the sense that I really got the time that I wanted to spend caring for my family. At the same time, the stress level of working from home is much lower than what I had to go through as an employee. This was something I was hoping for, and I’m happy that it generally is the case, for me at least.
On the other hand, while I am less stressed, I am more tired, both physically and mentally. I do more things and am on my feet more now than when I was in an office. At the same time, I need to think about work while thinking about what meals to prepare, what activities my son can do while I work, errands and other responsibilities, and the list goes on. My mind is constantly working now. But it’s a rewarding sort of tired, so I really don’t mind.
What advice can you give to those who want to take this journey?
Making the switch to a work-at-home setup really is a journey, a big one that you should make sure you are prepared for. First of all, make sure you know what kind of work you want to do or what you are capable of doing. If you can, try doing it as a side line first before you actually go and make the switch, just so you are sure that you can do it, you can earn from it, and you can sustain it. Choose something that you will love.
Second, be strong. A lot of changes are coming your way, and you need to be firm about your decisions and strong willed on your actions so that you can move forward. Third, enlist support. No matter how strong you are, you will need someone to encourage you and help you get settled. Remember that not everyone will understand your choice, and sadly some people still think that people who are working from home just lie in bed all day browsing the internet aimlessly. It is best if you have someone to talk to who knows what you are doing and who understands what you are going through.
And finally, no matter how busy things get for you as a WAHM, remember the reason why you chose to leave your job in the first place. Family comes first, and you have to remember to fulfil your responsibilities as a mom and a wife above all. You will definitely feel happier and more fulfilled if you do.
You can find Patricia online at mrspcuyugan.com. Here, she shares about her daily adventures as a wife and mom who is still learning the ropes of making a home, while working from home at the same time. To learn more about her as a freelance writer, check out her portfolio at patriciacuyugan.wordpress.com.
Thanks Patty for sharing your story! Hopefully, other moms out there will find inspiration and courage to take that WAHM leap, just like you did!