By Sharon Davis
I remember what it was like when I was still working away from home. I remember all too clearly how desperate I was to quit my job and stay home with my children. It was my mission in life. So....there was a lot of discussion between my husband and I. There were a lot of questions that we asked ourselves; Can we afford to do this? What kind of business could I start and run at home? Am I really ready to give up my demanding, stressful, rewarding career?
That last question was an important one. Was I ready to give up the daily adult interaction, the support of my peers, the stimulus of being out in the world each day? If the idea of being fairly isolated from others sounds about as appealing as several weeks in a sensory deprivation chamber, you might want to stick it out with your 9 to 5.
Before you make the jump, be sure you know what you're signing up for. Working at home can be very challenging, especially for those lacking discipline. You can't get a whole lot done if you just can't resist watching Regis and Kathy Lee and the next thing you know, Oprah's on. You also have to be able to say no. When people know you are at home, even if they know you are working, it's seemingly irresistible for them to ask favors of you. You have to be able to politely let people know that while you do work at home, you do have a schedule to keep.
With children at home, it's even more challenging. How do you balance the time between kids and work? How do you meet your professional goals and not compromise your children's needs? What are you going to do when your toddler decides to throw a tantrum while you are on an important call with a client? I find that it is extremely important to have a structured day so that I set aside time for the kids as well as my work schedule. I want to accomplish certain things work-wise each day, but I'm not willing to give up the playtime, the homework time, or the just being-together time with my kids. For me, I have found that if I identify daily non-negotiables for work, family time and housework, I'm productive and I get to keep my sanity (OK, I don't really get to keep it, but I have use of it most of the time).
I do have to admit that I am probably really well suited to this. This is mostly due to the fact that I am (according to my husband) extraordinarily stubborn and determined. I am also willing to be a mom most of the day, and then do my "other" job at night. I have been known to get up out of bed in the middle of the night just to work on an idea. Do you think that if I had to get dressed and drive to an office somewhere that I would do it? This is what notepads were invented for. It really can be like having 2 or 3 full-time jobs.
This is not to say that there aren't at least as many benefits to working at home. I get to set my own schedule. I can take a break to give piggy-back rides to my little daughter. I can work in my pajamas (of course I don't really do that). Working at home can be very rewarding for many people, but it's not for everyone. Make sure you realistically envision the impact it would make on your daily life, and whether or not it fits with your personal needs.
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