Five Things To Think About First…
Let me be clear – I love my career.
I am lucky enough to help support my family by working in an industry I love. But as I write this post, it is a beautiful Sunday afternoon. My husband and son are outside playing catch and enjoying June in New England. I am hunched over my desk, eyes slightly bloodshot, hair in a scrunchy trying to remember what our backyard looks like. This is because I am a “Work At Home” Mom.
Every parent has, at some point in time, fantasized about working from home. You dream of time spent with your kids after school, of actually having a clean house and even catching ‘The View’ live instead of recorded. This fantasy typically occurs after surviving a three-hour meeting on a Friday afternoon followed by a two-hour commute home.
But before you start begging your boss to let you telecommute or, worse yet, find yourself clicking on one of those god-awful “Make $5,000 / month from home!” banner ads, ask yourself these questions.
Do you enjoy working a set schedule? The reality of working from home is that you never leave your office! This is never more apparent to me than in the morning when my first stop is my laptop to check my e-mail. Not the bathroom, not my kitchen for coffee… my office. Which (and this is poor planning on my part, I’ll grant you) is in between our bedroom and the bathroom. This means that I have to walk past my desk and can see how full my Inbox is. Which has resulted on more than one occasion in my not remembering to pee until mid-morning because I get so wrapped up in responding to “urgent” e-mails. So it’s a good thing I didn’t get that coffee either…
Do you enjoy spending quality time with your family? Someone asked me recently how many hours a week I work. Before I could even begin to speak, my normally soft-spoken husband rolled his eyes dramatically and proclaimed, “Too many!” My day starts earlier and ends later than it ever did when I worked a traditional office job. Weekends, holidays, vacations… all have been interrupted by the sound of my office phone ringing or my Blackberry chiming. Yes, I am home to get my son on and off the bus every day or pick him up from school when he is sick. Yes, I do occasionally make time in the middle of the day for coffee with friends or, if I’m being really self-indulgent, a pedicure. But those hours away from the office simply mean more time that night or early the next morning.
Do you enjoy a regular paycheck? Many work-from-home positions are commission based or are contractor / consultant positions. This means that if I am not working, I am not getting paid. No sick days, no vacation days, no benefits. My income depends on someone mailing me a check. And there is a certain level of freedom in that! That is, until one of those checks is late and you find yourself mentally shuffling bills to try to cover the shortfall. Or when you do your taxes and get to the dreaded self-employment tax section. (It is right around April 15th every year that I reconsider getting what my mother refers to as a “real” job.)
Do you enjoy having co-workers? I have four assistants. I mean, sure they all have four legs and fur but they do try to be helpful. (If your definition of helpful is knocking stuff off my desk and barking when I am on a conference call!) My cats and my dog are usually the only other living things I see between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:30 pm. Actually, considering the co-workers I had to deal with in my old jobs, this may be one of the biggest perks of working from home. But seriously, there are times when I find myself looking out the window hoping to catch the Fed Ex guy just to have a face to face conversation with a human being. There is no venting to co-workers in the break room, no post-work happy hours.
Do you LOVE what you do? This is the most critical consideration. Working from home is both challenging and rewarding but what truly makes it work is if you are doing what you love! This is also what motivates you to keep working on beautiful days when the warm weather beckons, keeps you at your desk when the Oprah series finale is on… Okay, who am I kidding. You KNOW I shut it down for Oprah! But there are a lot of temptations to slack off at home. If you truly love what you are doing and are invested in succeeding, all of the things I just mentioned may be worth it.
So yes, I have worked in my pajamas. And yes, I do get to watch daytime TV on occasion. (Usually with my laptop balanced on my knees while I simultaneously do data entry and try to get ideas on what to cook for dinner. As though I have time to cook dinner most nights. Hello, Mr. China?) And best of all, I get to be there for my son in a way I wouldn’t if I went to an office every day. But there are times when I find myself envying mothers who begin and end their workdays at set times. And even envying their commute because I can’t remember the last time I had a chance to transition from working woman to Mommy with more than 5 minutes to spare.
So if you’ve read to the end of this post and still think working from home is for you, go for it! But take it from me; make that morning bathroom pit stop a priority. You can thank me later.
Sara Varney juggles being the Editor of PassPorter News, Co-Host of the PassPorter Moms Podcast, a travel planner for MEI & Mouse Fan Travel, Mom to her incredible 7-year old son and Wife to her husband of 13 years. When she’s not at her computer, she’s probably reading or sleeping. Or pretending to read while she sleeps.