The choice is not binary. You don’t have to choose either a) go to work or b) stay home. It does not have to be all or nothing.
How Much Do You Want to Work?
Do you want to work full time or part time? Financial considerations are usually a big part of this decision. My family situation requires that I work full time, so I had never given part time much thought. The few corporate moms I knew who had tried working part time were searching for the best of both worlds but ended up with the worst of both worlds. I hadn’t heard very many happy endings.
I have recently become acquainted with Suzanne Brown of Mompowerment. She interviewed more than 110 women for the book Mompowerment: Insights from Successful Professional Part-time Working Moms who Balance Career and Family. I am almost finished reading the book and it is rich with inspiration and action steps for professional working moms who want to explore working part time. All these stories prove that professional part time work is not the Sasquatch we assumed.
Where Do You Want to Work?
Do you want to work from an office or from home? Would a mixture of home days and office days meet your needs? Or do you want to be able to work from anywhere?
I have been working from home for more than 15 years and I love it. But it’s important to note that when I’m speaking to clients or prospects, I never say I work from home. I don’t say, “I’ll look into it when I get home,” I say, “I’ll look into it when I get back to the office.” I don’t say, “I won’t be home this afternoon,” I say, “I’ll be out of the office this afternoon.” If I need to mention it for some reason I will say, “I work remotely,” and never, “I work from home.” I don’t ever want my clients to imagine me at home in pink fuzzy slippers with a baby crawling around my feet. I love working from home, but it takes a lot of discipline and clear boundaries to be productive from home.
Some moms don’t like the idea of working from home. They want a clear separation between home and work, and they enjoy being around other working adults. Some moms find working from home too isolating or lonely, especially with a new baby. Some moms try it and just can’t manage to stay focused on work while surrounded by everything that needs doing at home. Or they miss the stimulation of the office environment.
I work mostly from home, but my business is such that I can work from anywhere. I have worked from dance studios and soccer fields, from Hawaii and Salt Lake City, Utah. I have done conference calls from Costco, the park, a treadmill and even Disneyland. I have been able to plug in at my Mom’s house following a surgery or at my Dad’s house after he lost his wife. I even worked from the hospital when I had my second baby.
I want to point out that working from home doesn’t have to mean starting your own business and working from an office doesn’t have to mean working for a corporation. There are corporate jobs that allow you to work from home, and there are so many affordable co-working spaces that you can work from an office even if you are starting your own business.
Do You Want to Work for Yourself or Someone Else?
Some people know they never want to have their own business. They perceive It as too risky and they have no interest. Some people know they just aren’t cut out to work for anyone else. I worked in corporate America for many years and I was perfectly happy. It would be hard to go back now after all these years on my own, but I did just fine. And guess what? This is another place where the choice does not have to be binary. There are franchises where you own your own business, but you have a lot of structure and support. There are many network marketing options where you have teams and support. Side hustles are all the rage right now. You can have a corporate pay check and work your side hustle along with your job. This is an awful lot for a working mom, but some women work their side hustle into a full-time business and then quit their 9-to-5.
When Do You Want to Work?
Do you want to work prescribed hours? Or do you want something where you can set your own hours? Would you rather work early in the morning or late at night? Would you rather split your work day? Would you rather work four 10-hour days? Or some combination of these options?
I can set my own hours for the most part. I need to be available for clients on a reasonable basis, but I certainly don’t have to drop everything when they call. I typically work half my work day during the day and half at night. I like to work and play every day so it’s rare that I take a full day off work. I find I’m more productive if I have a routine of when I work. I get most of my household chores done before the kids go to school. I do my workout or go to dance class after they get dropped off. I do a few more chores while I’m cooling down. Then I shower and get to work. I have specific time frames for these activities each day. Otherwise, it’s too easy to get caught up in other things and not get enough work done. There have been plenty of days that I have acted like a stay-at-home-mom all day. Then I sit down at my desk after I get the kids to bed and remember that I am, in fact, not a stay-at-home-mom, and that I still have a full day of work to do. I fire up the tea kettle and settle in for a late night.
Why Are You Thinking About Changing the Way You Work?
Do you need to work fewer hours? Or maybe you just need more flexible hours that allow you to handle the normal twists and turns of life with kids. Do you want a change because what you’re doing right now doesn’t work for your family? Do you need to work from home because you have a special needs child? Or a new baby? Are you and your partner stretched so thin that your marriage is in trouble? Are you dealing with a chronic illness that makes it difficult to get to the office on bad days? Are you a single mom with no back-up for sick kids and other emergencies? Or, do you just like working from home?
What Will You Do?
If you started this article thinking there were only two choices, work or stay home, you are probably overwhelmed by the options. Sometimes it’s a matter of sprinkling the thought seeds in your brain and seeing what takes root. Give yourself some grace if you are struggling right now. If you can be patient, sometimes a path will emerge from the mist. The exploration process may make you see new opportunities in a different light.
I mentioned Mompowerment earlier. I highly recommend the book if you are considering part time work. The Mompowerment Resources page has a lot of great resources.
Beware of the multitude of work from home scams. Holly Reisem Hanna has created a reliable work-at-home resource for women. She covers everything from work-at-home jobs to launching and running a home-based business. I encourage you to take a look at her site. I had the privilege of writing an article for her, How to Stop Dreading Monday Mornings.
WERK is a members-only career platform that will help you find, negotiate, and succeed in a flexible role. It also has a section for employers to help build flexible cultures. I don’t know anyone personally who has gotten a job through WERK, but it looks interesting.
Do You Want to Try Consulting?
And if by some coincidence, you’re interested in consulting, Billable with Baby® can help. The mission of Billable with Baby® is to help you find the courage to start your own consulting business so you can have the freedom and flexibility to raise your children the way you wish. You can replace the full time pay your family needs.
It’s easier than you think to start consulting. All you need is a computer, a phone, brainpower and business experience. The work is the same as the work you’ve been doing in your corporate job only better.
The best way to get started as a consultant is to dive in. This free email course will walk you through three action steps to generate revenue now. If you start right away, you can be doing billable work as soon as next week. Following these three action steps gives you the best possible chance of landing a consulting project. It works for me and I see it work for others, over and over again. Why not give it a shot?