Working from Home while Raising Kids

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If you are working from home and are the mother of young children that significantly ups the degree of difficulty of this undertaking. Ideally, you would have a nanny but most of us don’t live in ideal worlds.

working-from-homeWorking from home can be a mixed bag of worms. Some love it; some hate it. Many are working from their homes today, or “telecommuting,” which the Internet has made possible and the economy has made necessary. Lay-offs have become commonplace in today’s dicey economy. Those who have lost their bricks and mortar jobs can belly up to their computer and manage to eke out a living online.

Mothers of young children, wanting to stay home with their kids, can pull in an income without leaving the house, although working and taking care of children is about as compatible a coupling as Joy Behar and Sarah Palin.

There are both pros and cons to working at home, both for the employee and the employer. If you are a freelancer and working contractually, you get a paycheck and that’s the extent of your perks, but you also have freedom to work how you please, when you please and you can wear whatever you damned well please while working.

You don’t punch a time clock or have to tolerate obnoxious co-workers or in-your-face Nazi bosses. You don’t need a full tank of gas in your car or have to worry about flat tires, and (yippee!) you don’t have to venture out in sub-zero weather and scrape snow off of your windshield.

There are certainly advantages to employers when they employ work-from-homers. We telecommuters are not taking up office space, sucking up oxygen, using the company’s ink or toilet paper, and we certainly don’t get perks or benefits or any of those niceties.

However, there are advantages to going out to a conventional job, even if you are the mother of young children and have to shuttle them off to day care or a babysitter’s, including regular paychecks; benefits; taxes are deducted, and you don’t have to fret about paying the IRS quarterly; vacation days; holidays and a raise (once in a blue moon.)

Working from home with children underfoot presents a whole special set of problems, unless your kids are exceedingly cooperative and well-behaved and can’t wait to take long, afternoon naps, leaving their mother to her work. I don’t think that kind of kid is a dime a dozen, unfortunately.

Working from home while tending to the needs of children takes a supreme juggling act, and it may not be your cup of tea. Going out to work may actually be easier for you, and it does provide you with a break from your children. However, working at home can come in handy when there are snow days or school holidays that throw many a bricks and mortar working mother into a full frontal frenzy. What to do with the kids? You may not get a whole lot of work done on a snow day but at least you know who is supervising your out-of-school children: You.

Working from home, despite the pitfalls and landmines that you are invariably going to encounter because life is rarely smooth-sailing, affords you flexibility and availability that you simply will not have if you go out to work. Those benefits can trump a bigger paycheck, especially for mothers of young children who need to be able to cut and run on a moment’s notice. As mothers know, hardly a week goes by without some urgent situation occurring, where mom is required to deliver a forgotten lunch pail or retrieve a sick child, who is vomiting all over his babysitter.

Some work-from-home mothers opt to get up earlier or stay up later and work during the hours when their children haven’t yet surfaced or are down for the night. Others, who can afford it, may have someone come in for a few hours a day to ride herd on the kiddies while mom hunkers down and works furiously. The really fortunate may be able to take their children out to a day care center for a few hours a day or a couple of days of week and that’s when they are free to work, undisturbed.

And then there are those who are the multi-task queens and pound away on their keyboard with an infant attached to their breast and the three-year-old sitting under the desk playing make pretend.

There is no pat answer. You will have to decide for yourself whether working at home is something that appeals to you, and if you have the discipline and the wherewithal to do this, the latter being somewhat compromised by the presence of children. Even the most focused and disciplined among us has cracked under the pressure of “Mommy, Jake took my popsicle” said for the seventeenth time in five minutes.

If you are the type of person who needs a lot of social interaction and likes to be in the mix, working from home probably isn’t going to suit your personality. It can be isolating. If you fear that your children will absorb your time and attention and make it impossible for you to concentrate on work, then maybe it’s best to stick to the tried and true and head off to an office.

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