Working at home – the working mother’s dream, isn’t it?! Shortly after becoming a mom, I wanted nothing more than to be a WAHM, which stands for work at home mom. It’s the best of both world’s: you get to work and contribute financially to the family goals AND you get to be home and not miss out on all the milestones of your babies. You get to have more time to keep up with the chores and still keep your skills sharp.
There are of many more pros to working at home: reducing gas costs and time spent on commuting to the office, saving money on fancy clothing and lunches, eliminating expensive childcare cost, and being there for your child WHEN they get sick in those cold, long winter months. However, is it all its cracked up to be? Once my dream came true and I was able to work from my home office, I found that there were several scenarios that I had not considered. If you are thinking about remote work and you have children at home, make sure you consider these points before you jump into a work at home position.
Work is work!
What I would call working is about 15-20 hours a week. While the draw to working at home usually is flexible scheduling, this way of working can create a backlog if you are not intentional about putting the hours in. Baby won’t sleep during nap time? “No problem, I’ll work this evening”. This just doesn’t work. The bottom line is your family and home really do come first and when you are right in the thick of it, you will find yourself being drawn to do laundry, dishes, mops floors, cuddles with your little, on or whatever else needs to be done.
The solution: Create a schedule for the hours you plan to work each week. Stick to it like it’s a job you are leaving the house for. Don’t be late and don’t call out.
You will need childcare!
The biggest draw to working from home is a lie ya’ll! You will need childcare if you understand the above and want to maintain your sanity! Children are beautiful precious beings, but they need food, naps, playtime, and attention. They also have this sensor that alerts them to need something (like a snack) right when you sit down to work. They come first, they are little humans, you love and care for them, so you get up to get the snack, which then turns into a million other things that they need. Truth is they need care! (This is so obvious right, but why did I think I would be able to give my kids all of me AND also work. I even thought that I would be able to care for my kids during the day and work at night when Hubby was home. This sounds really good, only problem is caring for kids and trying to maintain a home all day IS WORK and trying to work for 2 or 3 quick hours is way harder than one way may think. At that point in the day, your body needs to rest, and that’s likely what will happen.
The solution: Hire a sitter or nanny. Work really hard to make sure your rate is cheaper than daycare costs, otherwise you might as well go into the office if it is a reasonable commute. Have them come to your home and watch the kiddos for a few hours while you hide out and work. You will have to pay, but it will be so worth it. You will feel like you are actually making progress and not loosing your sanity in the process.
Don’t call a hobby work!
If your idea of work from home is blogging, selling on eBay or Amazon, one off jobs here and there, that is totally fine, just be clear what category it is in. Do you do it for fun or for an income? If you want the steady income, you need to put the hours in consistently to build it up . In order to actually see the needle move in your finances, you will need to put in the hours and treat it like a real job. A hour here and there just makes this a hobby. I’ve tried this several times for several years and came up empty. As they say, “Consistency is KEY!”
The solution: Decide if the work you will do is for extra money is a job or just for fun. If you want consistent income, schedule the hours you want to put in each week and treat it as work and not a hobby.
How will you handle work “emergencies”?
You know what I’m talking about – somewhere, somehow the ball was dropped and work needs to be done immediately. What do you do?? I have to admit, for a few months while I was adjusting to working from home, work was always on. I was checking email all hours of the day and night and trying to handle requests immediately. Because this was new for me, it never occurred to me to set a boundary with not only hours, but always with urgent or emergency emails that came through. Eventually, I set the expectation that anything I was asked to do would take two to three days. I usually got the task done in a day or so, but in the event of my own work fire arising and/or wanting to no go over to my hours, I gave myself a buffer and made that expectation clear.
Solution: Set your standard up front about how and when you will work. Make sure that your co-workers are aware of the lines you set. Remember that when this standard is violated (sometimes unintentionally) you may need to enforce it.
Working from home can be a wonderful thing! When done well, you can contribute financially and still be at home with your children for the majority of the time. I found that working about 15- 20 hours a week to be a nice range for me when I worked remotely. However, depending on your situation, maybe you start with 10 hours, or maybe you go for 25. As with any decision, I would say make sure to count the costs (childcare, reliable internet, equipment) and compare to your potential earnings. Whatever you decide, know that the stage when your children are young won’t last forever and your work setup will likely change as they grow. Also, view your plan as just that: a plan. You may find that after a few weeks being a WAHM you need to adjust your plan or you may find it’s just not for you – AND THAT IS OK!! Never beat yourself up about where you are in your journey. You are doing your best and that is good enough <3
What are your experiences working from home? Did you enjoy it? Share any tips you have for mamas hoping to find work from home opportunities.