Work-at-home parenting: the best of both worlds?
It’s a hectic time here at Magic Beans! Our corporate office, formerly tucked into a cozy little office building in Coolidge Corner, is moving to new and more spacious digs in our warehouse, but while the buildout is being finalized, the Magic Beans Creative Team is working from our respective homes.
So while I haven’t got any toddlers underfoot (just a very affectionate cat), the process of transforming my home into a workable office and making sure I plan enough out-of-the-house business to avoid going stir-crazy has me thinking about my generation’s new take on stay-at-home motherhood: the Work At Home Mom (WAHM).
The most prominent WAHMs are busy launching their personal brands via mom-blogs, Etsy shops, and other small self-owned businesses: this article has commentary on the work-at-home lifestyle from a baking teacher, an etiquette consultant, a web designer, an author, and others. I’m also going to venture a guess that WAHM.com, the online magazine for work-at-home-moms, is run by a WAHM. That’s the obvious way to do it, but don’t worry: you don’t have to be a mompreneur to pull off this lifestyle.
In the age of wi-fi, there are hundreds of other job descriptions that allow you to take care of business on the phone or computer while using your foot to rock your baby to sleep in her Nuna Leaf Floating Baby Lounger (advantage: one push will keep it going for about three minutes!). The About.com Work At Home Moms site has a handy directory of over 200 companies that will let you do your job in your jammie-jams, whether you’re doing data entry, telecommuting to an insurance company job, doing remote tutoring, teaching online college courses, or even creating professional illustrations. This article even introduces company chefs who do all of their cooking in their home kitchen. Nifty! One very obvious advantage of working for someone else from home, rather than creating your own business, is that you’ve got a better shot at getting health insurance and a 401K.
Insurance benefits aside, there are some great benefits to staying home with the kids while you work:
- No commuting costs, plus it’s easier to save money on food. “When I worked in a traditional job, I had work-related expenses: transportation, allowance, clothing, etc. One of the benefits of being a work-at-home mom is that I get to save on all these!” writes Martine De Luna.
- Hands-on parenting. You won’t need to lug your giant breast pump to your office and find a quiet place to use it – you can just stay home and nurse. And you don’t need to worry about missing any precious firsts!
- A flexible schedule (as long as the job allows). Kids of any age can have unpredictable needs, and moms who get to make their own work schedule can accommodate any number of contingencies.
Of course, those same unpredictable needs can get in the way of you getting work done, so you’ll need to apply all of these strategies to ensure that you can get through the day’s tasks – and the necessary strategies will change as the kids grow. We love the idea of special “work-only” toys that signal to your toddler that it’s time to play quietly and let Mommy get some work done!
And without the grown-up buzz of the office, it’s important to schedule time outside of the house to make sure that a sense of isolation doesn’t set in. But of course, that applies equally to stay-at-home moms who aren’t doing a work-at-home gig. (We won’t say that they aren’t working, because of course taking care of kids is hard work!)
All in all, every work-and-home configuration that a mom’s life might take on has its pros and its cons. We’re just glad to see more options springing up so that you can choose the one that’s just right for you and your family!