One of the top reasons that people decide to work at home is because they begin a family. Nothing is better or more rewarding then being able to stay home with your baby 24/7, but in reality that can be difficult. In the world today most couples need to 2 incomes and can’t afford for one parent to stay at home. This is why working at home is the best option when you just don’t want to leave your little ones with a sitter.
A stay at home working parent is someone who can multitask very well. Being a stay at home parent is a very difficult job by itself and adding on an income based job can make it even harder. The first thing that you want to do is figure out if this is right for you. Will you be able to take care of your child and work a job at the same time?
When my son was born I decided that I wanted to be a stay at home mom. Work was pretty easy the first few months because I could hold him and type. He wasn’t mobile so if I needed to put him down for a minute in a bouncy seat he was content. As he became mobile and started crawling, then running (at 9 months ugh!) I began to start pulling my hair out. How was I going to work and keep an eye on him? The best thing that I did was start a schedule. In the beginning I was an independent contractor so I was able to make my own hours and decide when I was able to work. This was great because I could work during nap times, after he went to sleep, and if my husband decided to take him out for a while. I did customer service work over the phone and one thing that is very important in that line of work was absolute quiet. Phone positions do not want to hear kids, TV, toys, or even a dog barking. I was always about customer service, I have the most experience in that type of work, so I began looking for other forms of work besides being on the phones once my son stopped taking 2 naps a day. I started working for a company that had me “chat” with customers online. He could make as much noise as he wanted and I was still an independent contractor so I was able to go offline to take care of his needs. He became my assistant and it was great!
Then when he was 2 going on 3 I started working for a large tech based company. I was an employee and started out on phones so I had to work my hours around my very loud toddler. That’s when I started working nights. Working 3rd shift then taking care of a toddler isn’t the most fun thing in the world, but I was making really good money so I made it work. Luckily one day a chat option came up and I was able to go back to having my assistant who was now 3. He colored in my office, played games on an extra computer, and played with toys and watched movies in his bedroom. I was able to run and get him food, change him (yes, my 3 yr. old isn’t potty trained) and play with him on my breaks, lunch, and if I had to I would go offline for a few minutes. The great thing is that my managers for every job I had were very understanding because most of them were at home with their kids. Now I am back to being an independent contractor, I’m working my website, writing articles for Yahoo and other websites, and I do take on phone work occasionally. I love being a sahwm, but it does take work!
Here are my tips!
1. Schedule everything! If you are making your own hours make sure that you schedule in time to work and stick with it. Chances are you may get so used to only being a mom that you forget to work.
2. Try and separate work from your home life. I know it’s hard, but when mommy or daddy is at work explain to your kids (If they are old enough) that you are at work and to respect your office. My 3 yr. old understands now that mommy is working and he will play quietly in his room which is next to my office, although he does come in a lot and likes to work with me. Just don’t let them distract you from working too much. Someone has to pay for all of those toys!
3. Choose a job that works for you! The great thing about working at home now as opposed to 8 yrs. ago when I started was there are so many more opportunities out there. If you need certain hours or if your position isn’t flexible with the needs of your family, then find another job. Remember you are working at home to spend more time with your children don’t let a job completely consume your life.
4. Decide what is more important! A lot of people go into this and think that they can work all the time even if your baby is sick. For me I take off that day, I could work with him on my lap but sometimes being a mom means you need to sacrifice a day on the computer to cuddle and watch cartoons. If you absolutely cannot take off, work around your child, they are the best reward after a long day after all.
5. Choose a distraction free area for your office. The middle of a play room with 5 kids definitely is going to be a bad area. Whether it’s a spare room, a basement, or a bedroom make sure that you are as distraction free as possible.
6. Ask for help if needed. There is no harm in calling in reinforcements if you absolutely need to get something done and your kids just aren’t working with you.
7. For little babies, keep them entertained. Keep a playpen or pack n play in your office or just lay down a blanket and keep a lot of toys on hand. Let them pound on the keyboard in-between working or put on an educational show that they can watch.
8. On breaks give your baby your full attention. Don’t think about that bad call, or your manager being upset, or something not working out right. Just snuggle and play with your child and give them your full attention.
9. With older kids, if things get too loud, shut the door and get a fan. A fan is awesome at blocking out outside noise even when noise reduction headsets won’t do it. This is also a great tip is you live in the city.
10. Don’t get too overwhelmed. The greatest thing about being an independent contractor with an infant is that if you are getting overwhelmed you can sign off and take care of the most important part of your day, your little one. When babies are little, just hearing them cry can be enough to overwhelm you, so don’t feel bad if you need to take the time to calm your baby and yourself before going back to work.
Working at home and being a parent can be an amazing thing. Just like any job, it takes some getting used to. Unlike working outside of the office you don’t always get to only focus on one task. But that’s the great thing about being a parent, we are made to be outstanding multi-taskers! If you ever have any questions or just want to tell me your story or how you work at home with a child email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or chat me. Of course you can also share your story in the forum. I would love to hear everyone’s take on it!