Working and raising a family under the same roof can be one of the most challenging and rewarding opportunities there is for a mother (or father). There is typically little or no time to switch gears. There are household duties, family errands, and work responsibilities all vying for your undivided time and attention. But these challenges are off-set by the ability to stay home with the children and be present for their firsts, to meet them at the door after school, to be able to direct their education, and to let them know that mom is there for them. These are just some of the primary reasons why working from home so attractive along with the added bonus of being able to contribute monetarily to the household coffers.
Are you thinking of working from home? Many moms do not start off believing that they can or should work from home. Because of monetary constraints (the cost of child care for them to return to work), the feeling that they do not want to leave their child(ren), or realizing how difficult it is to care for a child while maintaining a job outside of the home, the idea of working from home becomes more appealing. No one outside of the situation can decide if working from home will be a good fit for your family, but some advance planning and research can help, and is strongly recommended. Determine the type of business that you'd like to start. Can you do some consultant work for your present employer so that you don't have to start from scratch? Also, if your household is used to a two-person income, then making the adjustment to one (or a considerably smaller one initially) can have a serious impact. Prepare a budget and determine if it is feasible to make the switch. Remember that gas usage, professional clothing budgets, day care expenses, etc. will probably go down, but the cost to start a home-based business or set-up a home office will also have to be calculated into the budget.
If you decide that working from home is for you, what can be expected? Chaos! That is, until you start putting some systems into play, and even after on occasion. (But that's okay!) It helps to have a designated work area (preferably with a door), a business telephone line, set working hours, designated days or times specifically for cleaning, and when possible - get help! With young children it's easier to work during nap time, after bed time, or when another adult can supervise. Trading mom time with another stay at home or work from home mom, or hiring a sitter or mother's helper may provide you with some quiet time to take care of business calls, write proposals, or just brainstorm when you can hear yourself think. The most important piece of advice is to learn to say NO! Just because you're home does not mean that you're available to watch for deliveries, pick up neighbor children from school in case of ailments, volunteer for every activity, etc. As a work at home mom, establishing boundaries is the key to keeping your sanity and your friends.
While working from home remember to honor yourself. Deciding to stay home with the children while building a business is a huge undertaking in the best of circumstances. Late and/or early hours, numerous distractions, the business/household balancing act, along with budgets, dealing with clients, and taking care of all of the children's needs could drain Niagara Falls! So take some time to honor yourself. Give yourself a pat on the back, acknowledge your successes, even take time to admit the things you'd like to change, but make sure you take time to rejuvenate every few days or you'll start running on empty. If a WAHM allows herself to run down, patience becomes short, and mom the businesswoman and mother will become cranky. As a result everything else will probably seem to start going awry. Be proactive in self-care and both home and business will better remain on course. Perfect balance will probably never be attained and/or maintained. WAHMs must remember to not beat themselves up if the house is a mess, but the big campaign is won, or the proposal fell through, but the cupcakes for the school pageant were delivered on time. Every day is not a perfect day in the office outside of the home either! So celebrate and pamper yourself during WAHM week (May 14-20), you seriously earn the right on a daily basis!