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A Work-At-Home Mom Graduates From The School of Hard Knocks


by Barb Niehaus

During my sixteen year tenure thus far of telecommuting from my home office, I think I have officially paid my dues and earned my "diploma." It's been a continual roller coaster ride of juggling family and work, but I think I have learned some valuable lessons and tips through the years.

When my children ( I have four and the age difference between the oldest and youngest is only six years) were babies and toddlers, I quickly discovered the futility of attempting to productively work during their waking hours. I arranged my work schedule to coincide with their naps and early bedtimes. After my second child was born, I wised up and hired a baby sitter to come to my house for several hours two or three times a week. These times were utilized for making uninterrupted client calls or researching and writing with no disturbances. If I had days where I was solely answering emails or filing, etc I brought the kids, a portable t. v. and a basket of toys into my office with me. Many times they were actually able to help me by stamping envelopes or other chores that made them feel they were an integral part of Mom's business. As they get older, I pay them for helping me in my office occasionally. It's a great way for them to learn responsibility, make some extra money and it's a tax write-off for me, so it's a win-win situation all around!

When all four were finally in school full time and believe me, there were a couple of years that I felt time was standing still and the youngest would never start school (lol), my schedule became easier and the majority of my work is completed by the time school's out. I like to be able to pick my kids up from school and to be here to hear all about their day.

Summers were definitely challenging. When summer comes, I curtail my work hours to be able to spend more time with my family. I will generally work for a few hours in the morning before they surface- (thank gosh I'm a morning person and they're late sleepers), take a break to fix breakfast, etc, return to my office for a couple of hours and knock off mid afternoon most days. If the pool or park seems to be calling our name, off we go. After all, the flexibility of being able to be with my family is the main reason that I chose to work from home. While I gave up paid time off and vacation days when I retreated from the corporate world, the "perks" now definitely outweigh the advantages.

My family is aware that I have to work, particularly now that I'm a single mom. They have grown up with me always having telecommuted and realize that when I'm in my office,I am working which at times means no background noise or disturbing me. If something comes up that requires my immediate attention, they know I'm here for them.

I honestly can't think of one drawback to working from home. No regrets, never a second thought. Not once have I ever wished I was back in an office. Initially, I think all new teleworkers have a few kinks to iron out when trying to juggle the work day and family but if you all work together as a team, you'll soon gel and settle into a routine.

Good luck!

Barb Niehaus, mom and webmaster, also publishes two WAH ezines at no cost. To subscribe, mailto:
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[email protected]

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