It’s a fact of life: most of us Stay-at-Home Moms, at some point, will either want or need to go back to work. While we love being available for our babies, life can throw us nasty curve balls — unexpected medical bills, massive car repairs, a blown furnace or damaged septic system, or just plain old boredom. When it comes time to return to work, what are your options? Should you give up the ghost and find an office job? Or would working from home be a good choice for you?
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In my before-baby life, I was a Resident Director and Career Counselor at a small university in Texas. By the end of my first year working full-time with a baby in tow, I was about ready to blow a gasket. (If you haven’t heard about my introduction to essential oils during this season, check out this video — the story starts around the 10:48 time mark.)
Mommy guilt was in full swing, and I just couldn’t handle working two 24/7 jobs anymore. I wanted to be home with my daughter, not missing out on all her big firsts. So, I left my job and became a Stay-at-Hom Mom (SAHM) for two years.
I can’t say I was GREAT at being a stay-at-home mom, but for that season while our daughter was still so young and needed constant attention and care, it was a huge blessing to be able to concentrate solely on taking care of my family and our home. (As we’ve discussed, cleaning is a struggle for me in general, but I was finally able to create some sort of routine and not keep putting it off out of exhaustion from work anymore!)
Then, our world was turned upside down.
My husband’s position was cut at work in May 2016. After repeated ER visits and hospitalizations for severe GI pain and uncontrollable vomiting, I was finally diagnosed with stage 2, grade 2 follicular lymphoma in July. (You can read more about my cancer story here.)
My husband’s job search turned in to 11, horrible months of waiting, applying, interviewing, rejection, and more waiting. He finally started driving for Uber, which got him out of the house and helped him feel productive, but didn’t exactly pay the bills.
I was more stressed than I had ever been in my life, and there wasn’t a doggone thing I could do about it. I had zero control over when God decided to open a door for a job, where or when we would move, and I was so stuck in my own head about everything that I was just a mess.
Choleric that I am, I needed a way to DO something. A creative outlet that would get me out of my own head for a little while each day and allow me to contribute to our family’s finances again.
Going back to an office job wasn’t an option. I was just too sick with zero stamina, and 4-5 days out of each month were drained away with chemo treatment and recovery. No one was going to hire me with those kinds of limitations.
Working from home was really my only option.
After researching work-at-home options, I landed on a remote position as a contract resume writer with an international company. Everything I did was project-based, so I could take on as many projects as I felt I could handle, and when I knew I would be out of commission for chemo, I wrapped up any current projects and didn’t accept any more work until I was functional again.
I had the flexibility, creativity, and autonomy I needed at that point. My daughter wasn’t forced into daycare, so she wasn’t bringing home more bugs and nastiness to share with my already compromised immune system. And I was able to contribute the peanuts I was making toward keeping us afloat. (It really was peanuts, but that’s a story for another time!)
That brief stint as a contract resume writer showed me the potential in working from home. With my history as a career counselor, it has become incredibly important to me that I present this opportunity to my fellow SAHMs. I hear so many moms struggling with wanting to be home with their children, but knowing that quitting their jobs just isn’t an option financially.
Maybe your being a SAHM wouldn’t work for your family, but what about being a Work-at-Home Mom (WAHM)? Is working from home a good solution for you?
Here are a three key things to consider when you’re ready or need to work again:
1) What are your main priorities?
- Do you need a large paycheck to fully support your family or just enough to fill in the gaps?
- Do you need group insurance? (For some of us with pre-existing conditions, private healthcare is either ridiculously expensive or just plan unavailable.) If you can get group coverage through you spouse’s work, is it affordable?
- Do you need a flexible schedule to be available for kids and family commitments?
Whatever your main priorities are, be sure to keep those priorities first and foremost in your mind as you consider any work-at-home positions. Some WAH jobs will never fully support a family. Others still require dedicated work hours, even from home. And none of the WAH options I’ve seen would include group health insurance benefits. (If you find one, PLEASE let me know!)
Need help thinking through your priorities and what returning-to-work situation would be right for you? Take my new FREE QUIZ!
2) How would your temperament or personality type function in a Work-At-Home role?
- Do you NEED people and lots of socialization? Or are you okay with working independently and seeing people only when you make a concerted effort to do so?
- Are you an organized self-starter or do you need accountability, external motivation, and enforced deadlines to get things done? Or do you need someone to set deadlines for you and be present to inspire you to stay on task?
Please remember: There are no value judgements associated with these questions. I simply want to help you think through the biggest factors in deciding to take on working from home. We all have different aspects of our personalities that lend themselves well to working at home, and other traits that would making working from home a struggle. As long as we’re aware of those strengths and limitations going into this new type of work, any Personality type can succeed. It may just take more determination and a few more coping skills for some of us. 🙂
Understanding your unique Personality is a HUGE consideration for ANY work you may choose to pursue — mom career or not! To discover YOUR unique Personality, hop over to this post and grab my free Personalities Simplified Cheatsheet!
3) What type of home environment do you have?
- Is your house noisy or quiet?
- Do you have a dedicated office/workspace? Or would you be working from the dining room table or the living room couch?
- Do you have dedicated time when you can work? Or would it be a struggle to, kids old enough to entertain themselves while you work, etc?
If we were still living in our 2-bedroom apartment, stuffed to the gills with all our junk, working at home would be a LOT harder for me. I need a quiet, dedicated space to work efficiently. However, maybe you would work just fine from your couch — and have more will-power than I do to keep Netflix turned off!
When we are determined to make this whole work-at-home thing work for us, we can figure out the logistics. We just need to be aware of potential pitfalls with space, noise, and time, so we can plan accordingly.
Is working at home right for you?
Only you can decide if working from home is right for you. My opinion, however, is that if you desperately want to be home and available for your family, you can find a way to work from home.
I was raised with the “where there’s a will, there’s a way” motto, so accepting “there’s no possible way” is simply out of the question for me. I just have to think more creatively and dedicate myself to making it work!
Over the next few weeks, we will be exploring some of the various ways we moms can earn a living from home — or at least help pay a few of the bills! Whatever your goals in exploring this work-from-home alternative, we’ll walk through several of the most popular options and see which one would be best for you.
Read the rest of the WAHM series here:
What kind of work-from-home job sounds most intriguing to YOU right now?
As always, if you’d like to talk through what mom career decision is best for YOU and YOUR family, I’d love to chat with you! Feel free to reach out through my contact page or go ahead and schedule a FREE call to chat about your particular situation.
As a former University Resident Director, Career Counselor, Certified Personality Trainer, and high school Spanish teacher, Laura has quite the “scattered” background — with one underlying theme: education! She writes to teach and inspire women on topics related to faith, family, and lifework. She is also a resume writer, specializing in resumes for moms, career changers, and new graduates.