Working at home. Sounds like a dream and the perfect solution if you have young kids. Make money, save on childcare and spend time with your kids? Score!
If you are a parent or parent-to-be looking at work-at-home jobs, I will tell you this – the reality is far from perfect. The truth is that working + kids don’t go together. They will not leave you alone to work in peace. They will demand your attention and get up to no good when your back is turned. It is absolutely impossible to work while they are awake. The only time you can do it is while they sleep. And that will mean less sleep, no free time and no life for you.
If you can afford it, think of working at home as the same as working in the office (save for the fact that you are in your pajamas). You will still have to send your kids to childcare. If, however, you are like me and cannot afford it or don’t want to do so, then the sacrifice is sleep, your social life, and your general sanity. Yes, it is possible but it is hard. If you are thinking of getting into some kind of work-at-home job sans childcare, then I say consider the following first:
How disciplined are you?
Looking after kids and the house is a full-time job in itself. When you are already exhausted at the end of the day, will you have the discipline to still work? Can you avoid the temptation of surfing the net or watching TV? Will you be able to live with less sleep and less time to yourself?
How much do you value leisure activities and your social life?
You have no choice but to simplify your life if you want to work at home and look after the kids. You won’t have time to watch your brainless drama series and you will have to re-evaluate your social life and probably cut a few friends because you don’t have time for everyone. Some days you won’t even have time to eat or have a shower, let alone catch up with friends.
How strong is your relationship?
It’s fair to say you will need a very healthy and harmonious relationship to work at home. This is because working when the kids are asleep will cut into your one-on-one time with your spouse. He/she will probably have to help out more with the house or help with the kids if you need to work on weekends or when they are off. Do you have a spouse who will be willing to support you and help you with the kids and the house chores?
How much do you need the money?
Unless you have an existing career that allows you to transition to working at home, most work-at-home jobs (online retailing, blogging, transcription etc) do not earn you much in the beginning or sometimes not even take off at all. Is it worth the sacrifice?
Basically what I’m warning is that far from being a dream, it is tough tough tough. Instead of going to work in an office then coming home and putting your kids to sleep and enjoying a bit of time to yourself, you are doing a double shift. It is not for everyone and you want to think carefully before getting into it.
If you’re able to juggle it all, then the reward is that you get to raise your own kids and be there for them. To be very honest, most days it is overwhelming and I feel like I’m barely surviving. I am exhausted and sometimes it feels like I’m not doing a very good job of anything. But I know for me, being at home is my priority. It is something I want very much and that is the reason I keep chugging. It will only work if you feel like there is truly no other alternative. I know one day I will look back and feel it was all worth it. At least I hope so!