A lot of stay-at-home moms have an epiphany when their youngest child starts school: They’re bored. Some jump at the chance to return to full-time work, but others want the flexibility to pick their kids up from school and to be home when their kids are sick or on vacation. Working at home can be an ideal solution. But even if you find exactly the right work-at-home opportunity, you might run into some unexpected problems. If you’re stay-at-home mom who’s about to start doing some work at home, here are some surprising trouble spots and what you can do to avoid them.
Resentment from your family
If your kids are used to you being perpetually available, they may have a hard time adjusting to “I’m working.” Even if you do all of your work while they’re in school, their lives will change. You’ll have to run errands after school rather than during the day. You may no longer be able to run to the store to pick up something they want or need. If they’ve been picturing you sitting at home twiddling your thumbs, just waiting for them to come home so you can meet their every need, they’re not going to be happy about giving that up.
Even if you anticipate some resistance from your kids, you may be surprised to get it from your husband. While he’ll probably be thrilled at the thought of extra income, running out of his favorite cereal or leaving the breakfast dishes in the sink until dinner time won’t be so welcome. And that doesn’t make him sexist – it’s fair to assume that a parent who is at home without the kids all day (whether male or female) will accomplish something around the house. Sometimes husbands don’t realize that there will be a tradeoff until they notice that you’ve been too busy making money to get the household chores done.
Your own guilt
As good as it feels to use your brain and add some money to the family coffers, be prepared to feel guilty about focusing on something other than your family – especially if you enjoy it. It can feel selfish to have something that’s all yours, something that you look forward to doing. Working from home really does limit your availability to your family. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s just a fact.
What you can do
A work-at-home mom is expected to do two jobs: meet the family’s needs and meet her employers’ needs. The only way to do that is to manage expectations and to be realistic about what you can accomplish.
First, take a good look at your priorities. Is taking care of your family your main job, and bringing in extra income something you do on the side? Or does your family really need the extra income? If so, maybe working is your priority, and the family will have to adjust. Once you’ve taken an honest look at your priorities, share them with your family so they’ll know what changes to expect.
Next, make a schedule that reflects those priorities. It doesn’t have to be set in stone, but a general routine will help you plan your time. Schedule time for working and for taking care of family chores in proportion to the priorities you came up with. If bringing in revenue is the priority, take on as much work as you can, and don’t feel guilty about it. If taking care of the family is the priority, don’t take on so much work that you can’t get your family chores done.
No matter how you do it, working at home after years of focusing only on the family is a big change. Everyone is going to have to adjust. Even if your family doesn’t see you working, they’ll notice what you don’t get done at home when you’re working. Unexpected resistance can throw you off course and tempt you to quit. Don’t do it. Realize that change is always hard, and be confident that your family knows you’re acting in their best interest, even if it means having to wait a day to get more cereal.