For some it’s a dream, for others a necessity, but it can be tricky to find an ideal situation for work-at-home moms and they don’t usually mind. There isn’t much about parenting that’s ideal, after all. For the record, Carol Brady had the ideal set-up. I keep waiting for my Alice to come to cook, clean and offer sage bits of wisdom while I do a minimum amount of work throughout the day and have meaningful conversations with my happy, well-adjusted children, but so far she’s not showing. For those of us living in the real world, be on the lookout for common problems as a WAHM.
You plan to replace your income by working at home.
The only way this works is if you’re taking your current job home with the same salary and benefits or if you have spend some time previously working both jobs to get the at-home one fully ramped up. Remember that replacing an income also means replacing your benefits and being able to pay your taxes in full, so you actually have to make a bit more than you did working in the office to have an equal paycheck at home. It is possible to bring in this amount, but for the vast majority of new freelancers, it doesn’t happen quickly without a lot of work ahead of time building networks and establishing the business before taking the plunge.
You don’t have a support system.
There isn’t a tougher job than being a good parent and if you’re shaking your head thinking I’ve never tried YOUR job, I’d wager you’ve never been awakened by a five-year-old vomiting on your upper body only to have your two-year-old make diarrhea half in the potty and half out a few moments later. (At this point other mommies are chuckling and the nonparents are cringing in disgust – it’s like scotch, an acquired taste).
If you plan to work at home on a full-time basis, or even on a part-time basis, a support system is critical. Many work-at-home parents use childcare full or part-time to ensure they have time to work before the kids are school age, while others work at night or on the weekends while their partner watches the kids. Even if you have hours to parent and hours to work, having a support system to help with household chores can give you the energy to keep up the insane pace.
You don’t know what you’re doing.
Parents, especially parents of newborns or more than one child, have very little time to waste. In all businesses the planning stages are as important as the actual time spent working, but for parents working at home, planning and organizing are even more important because there is simply less time to waste.
If you’re already tooling around on this blog you’re probably getting organized or have been, but if you’re planning some sort of vague scheme of doing a little this or that you heard about from a friend, go back to the drawing board and build yourself a real business plan, even if it’s one for a very-part-time gig that earns a few hundred a month. When you treat freelancing as a real business, you have the option to grow and expand later if you choose and you’ll spend very little time kicking yourself for wasting time in a field or project you realize later you never should have taken in the first place.
Freelancing or any work-at-home job can be very successful for parents, but unlike many other individuals working at home, parents have to plan around the needs of their children first. This often reduces work hours and calls for far greater flexibility in projects and household demands. To be a successful work-at-home parent, be sure you have a business plan and a realistic view of where you are now and where you plan to be. Then the only thing left to do is make it work for your family. Good luck!