Perhaps you have been contemplating becoming a “work at home mom.” If so, you are not alone. According to recent research conducted by The Motherhood Project, about 30 percent of mothers would like to be able to work from home. The study also revealed that the majority would like to have positions that are not so demanding of their time.
In making your decision as to whether you’d like to pursue your desire to work from home, perhaps as a medical transcriptionist or other job that can be done on your own time, here are some benefits and challenges that you may find helpful.
Let’s consider the experience of Rhonda Behnken, owner of Texas Virtual Assistant Services. After becoming a mother, she did not want to put her kids in daycare yet wanted to earn some additional income. Building on 12 years of work experience, she was able to launch her own web site design and administrative services business from her home. Not only was she able to keep up the skills she gained during her career, she was also able to stay home with her kids. “I can schedule my work day around my children’s school activities, stay home with a sick child or spend time with my husband who works odd shifts,” says Rhonda.
Many moms have said that they feel better about themselves when they are able to work from home. Not only can they continue to use and hone their talents, they also get the satisfaction of being able to contribute to household finances. “It’s such a confidence booster,” says Liz Folger, author of The Stay-at-Home Mom’s Guide to Making Money from Home. She believes that one of the biggest benefits afforded to women who work at home is flexibility.
While getting to spend time with the kids, having a flexible schedule and earning money all at once sounds great, there’s no question that having a job in the home take a lot of effort.
The first challenge is to get clients who can benefit from your services, which can be accomplished by using your marketing skills. Also, you will need to exercise patience as it often takes time to build a client base and earn decent pay. To be successful in your endeavors, be sure to set both short and long term goals and devise a detailed plan for achieving them.
Finding the time to focus on your work is also a challenge for some who work at home. Especially if you have young children in the home, you may have difficulty setting a routine work schedule. For example, as soon as you pick up the phone to call a client, your toddler wakes up from his nap and starts to cry. Needless to say, moms who work out of the home become quite proficient at multitasking. Finally, it’s important to have a good support system. If you can’t get it from your spouse, perhaps find a friend who will encourage you in your efforts.
Military wives are known for their talent at juggling the different aspects of their lives, from handling the emotions associated with deployment and its impact on the family, to caring for the kids and keeping things running smoothly on the home front.
If you are ready to add a part-time job to the mix, which many have found to be a great way for moms to stay connected to their careers and their families, there are some trade-offs you should be aware of in order to be successful in your endeavors and find your comfort zone. For example, you may have to take a cut in pay but will earn more time with your family.
For the purpose of illustration, let’s take a look at the situations of two women who made the transition from full-time positions to part-time work. Women who go from full-time employment to part-time work generally take home less money. When Julie, a lawyer, cut her work schedule from five days a week down to three, she lost her benefits which were worth 24 percent or almost a quarter of her pay.
Gretchen, an arts educator, switched jobs when she gave birth to her first child. She earned considerably less money in her new position and also lacks the benefits she was accustomed to receiving. When Gretchen’s maternity leave comes to an end, her day-care expenses will exceed her earnings.
Julie and Gretchen both agree that along with a reduction in their earning power, they must adopt a new outlook on their respective careers. For example, Julie sees that her law school acquaintances are gaining more prestige and an increase in pay while she is simply “staying afloat” in her part-time position.
Despite the sacrifices, Julie and Gretchen both agree that they have no regrets about their decision to go to work on a part time basis. In fact, they are both comfortable and confident with their decision to trade salary and advancements for more time spent with their families.“Part-time work can be the best decision for your quality of life,” says Julie, who just couldn’t visualize herself as both a mom and a full-time lawyer. And part-time jobs have long-term benefits not afforded to women who exit the workforce entirely. Attempting to return to work after being gone is difficult because employers first look for recent paid employment.
Here are some tips on how to thrive in a part-time job:
1) Seek support – Don’t hesitate to enlist the help of friends or relatives to watch your kids when clients demand longer hours.
2) Assess your needs – Regardless of what others say or do, it’s important to focus on what is best for you and your family.
3) Shop for benefits early – Before you start a family, it’s a good idea to seek out companies that offer progressive benefits.
4) Stay connected – As recommended by Rosyln Ridgeway, president of Business and Professional Women (BPW), consider joining industry and professional associations. This will keep you informed and current with trends in the business world.