Parents, the dream job begins as something you can do from the comforts of your home. You imagine balancing your professional and personal life by remaining constantly available for the children. This means no more sick days, no more missed field trips of Valentines Days parties at school and always being able to take your children to baseball practice and dance. So many parents who work outside the home beat themselves up for missing so many things with their child and it is a struggle to find enough help from friends or family to get things done for the kids. These parents dream of working from home !
However it can be a difficult endeavor to undertake because the majority of work at home options are multi-level marketing scams that seduce you to harass your friends or businesses that require a fair amount of upfront costs. By the time you realize it isn’t going to work for you, you have a garage full of unsold merchandise and few friends or family that want to be around you anymore. That being said, there are right opportunities that exist especially if you can convince your company to allow you to telecommute or you have a special skill set that allows you to freelance. Remember that in order for working from home to work for you, you have to be able to work – which combined with raising a family can be the hard part.
Before you jump up and leave your brick and mortar office building complete with co-workers, lunchtime meetings at real restaurants and a thick office door that closes when you need quiet, realize that working at home isn’t always what it is cracked up to be. For one thing, there are the kids. The same kids you want to stay home with and be available for will slowly yet surely drive you crazy. While you say you are working from home, they see you as constantly available and if boundaries aren’t set early on, they will hound you for help with homework, finding clean underwear or just pull up a chair and want to chat. In the middle of your work it can be very frustrating and setting boundaries can cause a fair amount of guilt. Even if the kids are old enough to leave you alone for an hour or so, chances are trumpet practice in the kitchen, fighting, phone calls and the Wii will irritate you just as easily. You will realize quickly that since you are home, it is actually difficult to get away with working. This can be disastrous to your working from home dream.
Another aspect that many people desiring to park their careers in their own home don’t foresee is that it can be lonely. Basically you become a stay at home parent who works on the side and you don’t have the face to face contact with other adults in your profession that can keep you competitive and sane. If you are telecommuting, you miss the day to day happenings of the office, may be easily overlooked as a contributor and may find that you have to work twice as hard in order to keep your presence. There is also a good chance that you will passed over for advancements and lose your connection to the higher ups that help keep you informed about the going ons of the office dynamic. These can completely destroy your career if you aren’t able to walk the fence between the two.
On the flip side, working from home does offer a convenience that cannot be surpassed. There is no traffic, you can see your kids off to school, you never have to scramble for a sitter when the stomach virus hits at 4 am on a school night and you spend your day in your pajamas if the need hits. You can make yourself available to your children and keep a close eye on what is going in their lives without missing a beat. Being home for dinner, seeing your daughter’s talent show at school, watching your son score his first touchdown and knowing that you are accessible when you are needed the most is a powerful feeling as a parent.
The key to a successful working from home set up is to maintain boundaries and ensure that you are frugal with your time scheduling. Making the most of your time is crucial. If you handle things right, you will be able to accomplish ten times as many things both professionally and personally than you ever though possible. Yet, if you become lackadaisical and drop the ball too many days in a row, you will quickly become overwhelmed. Talking to your family and establishing firm limits (without feeling guilty) and even hiring a sitter to watch the kids at your own home, under you watchful eyes and ears shouldn’t be considered unnecessary. There will be times when you have to enforce the laws and say “mommy or daddy is WORKING” and expect that your family appreciates your efforts enough to leave you alone. If your children are young, you may also have to get used to working from home with a baby on your lap or while Dora and Diego search for a new adventure in the background. Even so, it is worth it if you have the mindset and discipline to make it work.