Working From Home When You Have Kids
Working from home sounds like the ideal life when you have children. After all, you get the best of both worlds – you get to earn an income and further your professional life, but you still get to stay home and raise your kids. Working from home has its drawbacks. Being a stay-at-home parent is a more than full-time job. It’s difficult to balance work hours when you’re home. You feel guilty for leaving dishes in the sink or laundry undone, when those distractions wouldn’t even enter your mind in someone else’s office. And, of course, you’re also parenting while you’re working, which can be quite a juggling act. Not to mention, many people miss the camaraderie and simple adult interactions that are common in the traditional workforce.
It Takes a Village
Sure, the main reason you want to work from home is so that you can be there with your kids and spend more time with them. It sounds like a much better solution to you than dropping them off at day care or getting a sitter while you work in someone else’s office. But you do have to realize that you can’t give 100% of your concentration to your at home job and parent at the same time. There are some tricks and ideas you can use to allocate your time so that the work gets done while you’re the one with the kids, but it’s also a good idea to get a few designated, totally kid-free hours to work.
If your spouse can take over with the parenting on a regular schedule, it would be a great idea to sit down and set up times so that you know when you’re working on work and can set your day that way. If you have extended family – parents, siblings, even close friends, who wouldn’t mind pitching in to take your kids on outings or spend time with them on a regular basis, that is a great way to get a few free hours, too. You can also look into programs they might have at your local church or park district or even hiring a sitter on a regular basis. Another great life-saver is a mother’s helper – almost like a sitter, but you’re home. The mother’s helper can come to your house and keep the kids in the yard or in a specific room or area of the house and play games with them while you work.
What if you have to both parent and work at the same time? It’s going to depend on the ages of the children, and their behavior. Some kids are way more active and take up a lot more time and attention. If you can get your kids to nap at the same time, that period of quiet time can be totally devoted to work, and many work at home parents of smaller children will do a lot of their work after the kids’ bedtime. Another great way to keep them occupied is by setting up arts and crafts that are age appropriate. The kids can work with play dough and paints, while you get some time to concentrate on work.
Some Things to Consider
Working at home while raising children can be somewhat lonely. You never get time to socialize at work, except with the kids. And you really do need colleagues and friends that you can talk to on an adult level. Networking with others in your field or just joining some activity outside of the home can be invaluable in keeping you centered and happy. Make sure you make some time to be social.
Some work at home jobs come with a steady, dependable paycheck. Others can be dependent on the amount of work you do and the availability of work – in other words, it can be a bit trickier to budget your income. It’s important that you study your own finances and really take a look at the amount of hours you’re devoting to work and what that equates to in pay.
Working from home can be the best decision you’ve ever made. It can allow you the ability to be more involved in your child’s life, while still contributing to the household income. But like any job, there are pluses and minuses. You’re more apt to be happy with your career when you know the down sides