On the heels of Yahoo’s decision to end work from home jobs, the internet is all abuzz about women, the ability to work from home, and the ethics of it all. I’ll leave the ethics of Yahoo’s decision for someone else to tackle, but the fact remains that working from home is appealing to many women.
But is working from home right for you? There are several things to consider.
The Benefits of Working from Home
I absolutely love working from home. To be sure, there are plenty of benefits, and I wouldn’t trade my work at home job as a blogger for the world. What are those benefits?
Availability for the Kids
The number one reason most women want to work from home is they want to be available for their kids. Whether they just want the ability to be there for baby’s first steps, to attend school field trips, or to keep the kids home for homeschooling, being available when the kids are home is many a mother’s dream.
As a work at home mom, I love being around my kids all day. I love hearing the funny things they say, seeing the way they interact with each other, and teaching them at home. I love that I am their primary care giver, and that they don’t have to spend eight hours a day at a daycare or with a babysitter. Being available to my kids is a huge benefit to working from home.
Most of the time, working from home means your schedule is flexible. If you have a dentist appointment, you just start working earlier or end later. If your child has a field trip, maybe you work at night instead of during the day.
When something comes up, it’s usually fairly easy to adjust your work schedule to accommodate last minute emergencies. It may mean skimping on sleep, but at least there’s an option to adjust. You can’t do too many office jobs at 11 pm after the kids are in bed.
Even though I mostly do my writing at night, every once in a while my writing time gets interrupted, usually because my 15 year old needs a ride to some youth event. If I don’t get my writing done at night, I just get up extra early the next morning to finish my project.
No Office Politics
I love that working from home affords me the opportunity to be my own boss. I remember the days of going to the office (in my case, the preschool) and having to deal with drama between my coworkers. I dreaded that aspect of work every day.
When working from home, even if you work remotely with other people, you can take a step back from any office drama. If there are issues between coworkers, those issues aren’t in your face every moment of the workday.
Ability to Work in Your PJs
As a blogger, I do a lot of work at night after the kids are in bed. I love that I can wear whatever is comfortable, curl up with a cup of coffee and a cozy blanket, and get to work. I love my comfort, and working from home is about as comfortable as it gets.
The Downside of Working from Home
Despite the big upside of working out of your home, there are a few drawbacks. For some, those drawbacks may be enough to decide that working at home isn’t a good idea.
Walking Away From the Job is Hard
One downside of working from home is that your work is always there, staring you in the face, beckoning you to get it done…except that a work at home mom’s job is never done.
Many times I have advised my husband to leave his job at the office, but since my office is home, it’s hard for me to do the same thing. Something always reminds me of work. It’s hard to turn the work side of my brain off in the evenings.
A High Level of Organization is Necessary
Working from home means you’re at home all day. I know that’s obvious, but what’s not obvious is that when you’re home all day, your house gets messier than if you were at an office all day. More mess means more time needed to clean the house. And that means more work.
Unfortunately it doesn’t mean more time. When you work from home you have more things to do, but you don’t have any more time to get them done than when you worked outside the home. It takes a high level of organization to manage working from home, raising the kids, and keeping the house clean. It also takes lower expectations as nobody can get it all done all the time. I’ve come to accept that I will never have a home that’s perfectly company ready. And that’s OK. We live here, we learn here, and we work here. Our home is going to look lived in.
Kids Don’t Raise Themselves
If you’re expecting to go from an office job to a work from home job and work while the kids blissfully play all day, you’re probably in for a rude awakening. I get very little blogging accomplished when my kids are awake. Sure, I’m able to keep up with social media here and there and answer a few (short) phone calls, but getting any serious work done means getting a babysitter or waiting until the kids are in bed.
Kids need adult attention during the day, and that need doesn’t change when you begin working from home. You have to temper your expectations to reality. That reality is your kids will likely interrupt your work. A lot.
Self-Motivation is Key
If you don’t have any self-motivation, working from home is not for you. To be an effective work at home mom, you need to be able to make yourself do your work, whether you feel like it or not. And you need to motivate yourself on sunny days, when you’d rather be outside and on snowy days, when you’d rather be curled up with a book. If you need a boss standing over you, reminding you to work, you’ll never succeed working from home.
My most difficult days are the days I have a deadline looming and the rain is falling outside. Those are the days I love to curl up with the kids and watch videos or read books. But whether I feel like working or not, the work needs to be done.
Before you make the decision to work from home, you need to take a long, hard look at your personality. Do you have what it takes? Will you really be able to stay motivated at home? Will you be able to juggle all of your responsibilities?
Working at home has been at times very difficult for me. But I have found that the upside is worth every late night I’ve spent catching up on work, because of interruptions during the day. I love watching my kids grow up. I love homeschooling them. For my kids, I will work well into the night every night, if that’s what it takes. If that’s the way you feel, working from home might just be the the best work solution for you.