A few weeks ago a stay-at-home mom I had just met told me she wished she had a skill she could put to work from home a couple of hours a week. She said this after finding out that although I stay home with my kids, I also work a few hours every week on something other than parenting.
I have been a SAHM for a little more than a year, and I can say that I love it. I love it now that the weather is nice and I can be outside playing with the kids, and I love it in the winter when I can make crafts with my kids and snuggle under a blanket during long lazy mornings.
I would lie if I didn’t also say that I miss going to an office, if not every day, a couple of times a week. I miss the intellectual challenge, the accomplished projects, the validation from my colleagues and boss, and the social aspect of working with others. I also miss getting a steady pay check and the financial freedom and security that it provided me.
This is why I like working a little–even if it is just to cover the cost of having a baby sitter. Although my career in communications seems to lend itself pretty easily to work-from-home gigs, many professions could be modified so that you can get some work done while you are mostly staying home with your kids.
In my experience, for it to make it work you have to:
Be Diligent: When you are home with your kids there is always something to clean, another load to put in the dishwasher, or another toy whose parts need to be found. When the sitter is here –she comes so I can work– I forget about cleaning and focus on what I have to do. On days when I have a lot of work to do, I do it after my kids’ bedtime, but before I clean the mess left after dinner.
Know When to Say No: I recently had to say no to a quick translation because I was on my way to the airport. Ugh! I so wanted to do it, but I just didn’t have the time to do it well. Although when you freelance you want to be reliable, you also have to be good. If you don’t have the time to do something well, just say no.
Invest in your Workspace: My desk was the first piece of furniture we bought when we moved to our new house. It is from the 50s, large, and it sits in a room with loads of natural light. I love sitting here and doing work. I also just bought a new computer, as my old one was taking too long to do everything. You need to work in a an area that is devoted to that, make it happen.
Be Creative and Flexible: Although your part-time, from-home work may look little like your job before kids, be flexible and try to find interests and skills to grow while you are home that could later be applied to your career. My dad, who barely graduated from high school started a now very successful business 30 years ago. He told me once that he “couldn’t get a job, so he had to invent one for himself.”
Keep Learning: I graduated with my master’s in December, and now I am looking for ways to expand and hone my skill set. I need to take one–or many–photography classes, but in the mean time, I try to stay up-to-date with trends in my field by reading articles in trade magazines.
So what is it that I am doing that I know this?
Volunteer work: I joined the board of trustees of my local library at a time when it was embarking on a capital campaign. Although I started slow, I have put my skills to work and have helped the board make progress in our fundraising. We now how the materials we need to start asking for money.
Freelance work: Thanks to a former boss who put me in touch with the right person, I have been able to do translations for a major newspaper. While this is not a steady job– I translate a handful of stories every couple of months– I like doing it, I like my editor, it pays well and will be a great addition to my resume. I also work for my dad. I know, this seems like not a real job, but the truth is that I do really work–if only 10 hours a week– for my dad’s business. In the last year I have revamped his online store, created and managed social media accounts and implemented an email marketing strategy. This has been hard, interesting work, with the added bonus of getting to talk to my dad almost daily about work and about life.
Networking: Volunteer and freelance work help me network, as does making friends through play groups, mom groups and just being friendly and open. This is not in my nature, but I am doing it. The more people I know, the more leads I will have later on for potential jobs–talking to adults also keeps me sane. 🙂
If you are a SAHM, do you plan to go back to work? Are you keeping up with your career somehow?