The dawn of this new economy shines brightly on a growing population of working parents: the work-at-home moms/dads. Techno advances and rising costs have many businesses evacuating their cubicles and sending their employees home… to work! Then there are the converted stay-at-home parents that start a business or freelance to cover some of the household expenses. A lucky few do it just because they love it; most of the rest of us love it but also do it to keep our kids in macaroni and cheese.
I used to daydream about working from home on my 12 minute coffee break at my old job. As a single mom it seemed like the ideal situation. I would picture myself at a blonde oak desk, pencil in hand. My home office was spotless and chic; the whole house in fact looked spectacular (because I would have more time for housework). I would look up from my pleasant work task and gaze magnanimously at my three smiling fresh-faced little angels, who were (of course) playing quietly with a puzzle at my feet. I would breathe deeply of the air of freedom and silently bless the internet for my fairytale ending.
Are you romancing a similar work-at-home fantasy? Put it on hold for just a moment and imagine this instead: you are at your current job and have brought the kiddos to the office with you (to live). Not as relaxing is it? That scenario should rightfully have been the subject of my coffee break ponderings; it is much closer to my work-at-home reality. Think: sticky hands on your documents. Think: tantrum + conference call = bad idea. Think: dinner vs. deadline. Think hard about your situation and your goals before you decide to switch your power suit for teddy bear pjs (yes, I can own up to this one).
I’m not trying to squash any dreams here; I myself love working from home… today. But there were plenty of days along the way when I wanted to hop in the car and drive to any office, a real office, with grown-ups! Just make sure you know what you are getting yourself into and if you can test the waters on a trial basis then that is definitely the way to go. Don’t cancel your childcare off the bat if you can afford to keep it. Give yourself some time to set up and get organized. Working from home can be incredibly rewarding, just don’t expect your life to be instantly less complicated or you may be in for a very bumpy ride.