“Work from home!” the computer ads scream.
“You should really open your own Etsy shop!” your mom tells you after your latest round of Christmas gifts.
“Have you thought about becoming a consultant?” your friend asks you after the last Tupperware party.
At first glance, working from home appears to offer the best of both worlds – the ability to be your children’s primary caregiver while also maintaining a career and bringing in an income.
But taking on an extra endeavor while balancing duties at home can be a challenge.
I started working from home a year ago, freelance writing and working on the occasional project for my former employer. Some weeks several projects come to a head and I find myself scrambling to find childcare and make deadlines. Other weeks are fairly quiet. But I have found that – despite having a pretty minimal workload – having a job apart from my kids has made me feel balanced and happier.
Working from home is not always an easy solution, however. If you are thinking about transitioning from working-outside-of-the-home to working-at-home, or from staying-at-home to taking up a career, here are a few aspects you will want to consider.
1 | You’ll save on daycare costs, and likely work less
If I worked a traditional nine-to-five, daycare would eat up the vast majority of my paycheck. But because I’m not paying for childcare, I have to work far fewer hours in order to bring home what I would earn post-childcare costs. I don’t mind squeezing in a few hours of work in the evening if it means I can spend my days playing outside with my kids.
The downside is that without childcare, I have much less time to devote to my work. This means projects often progress at a slower rate than I’d like and ultimately, it means my career will too. If you are okay with this being a slow season in your career, then you might enjoy the added free time.
2 | You’ll get plenty of time with your children
Some parents who work outside of the home worry they will miss precious moments in their children’s early years. Sure, working from home means you will be there for every first smile, first word, first step. But it also means you will be there for every blowout, every tantrum, every fussy day.
Unless you have childcare, working from home simply means adding another set of responsibilities on to an already full workload. If dealing with two jobs at once sounds stressful, you may want to consider getting some childcare help. Working from home gives you a little more flexibility in your childcare options – like having teenager from down the street come help for a few hours or trading with another mom friend on an afternoon when you have a deadline.
3 | You’ll have flexibility
This summer, the kids and I hit the road for weeks on end. I didn’t have a boss whose permission I needed to seek before heading to visit family, because my office was my computer. I could pass off the kids off to the grandparents and work for a few hours.
Of course, not having any official leave time meant I still had to get work done even though I was on vacation. But having some childcare while I worked made it feel like a vacation to me.
4 | You’ll always feel like you should be doing something else
Kids are down, dishes are finished, laundry is folded. As much as I want to break out the ice cream and Netflix, there is a nagging feeling that I should be doing something more productive. When your home is your office, it’s tough to leave work.
But if you create a schedule that works for you, you still be able to find balance. Monday nights and mornings when the kids are at preschool are hours I have blocked out for work. Often I will work other days as well, but knowing that I’ve blocked off certain times helps me enjoy my time off.
5 | You’ll rely on your partner more
On nights where I am facing deadlines, my husband is in charge of dinner and bedtime. This routine means our kids know both parents are providing financially for the family, and it is also both of our jobs to take care of them. It also means my husband has no problem stepping in to take them to the park on Saturday mornings and has no questions about how the bedtime goes.
While we certainly don’t split every single task 50-50, we are both better able to appreciate what the other contributes. Neither of us has the sole financial burden or the sole caretaking responsibilities.
6 | You might develop an identity you’ve been missing
Pursuing a career outside of children may help you to preserve a sense of identity from your pre-kid days. Even if I am only working a few hours a week, I take comfort in knowing there won’t be large gaps in my resume when and if I choose to return to the traditional workforce. Being a mother is certainly enough work in and of itself, but pursuing something I love helps me feel more complete.
Whether you are starting at Etsy shop or monetizing your amazing photography skills, working from home can be a great opportunity. Like any work situation, it’s not without its challenges. If you find the balance that works for your family, however, you might find it’s the perfect career solution for you.