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Work & Family Book Club Pick: It's A Jungle Out There And A Zoo In Here


Book Review by Sonja Meyer

You might be a work-at-home mom, also known as a WAHM, if you:

--- Call four hours of uninterrupted sleep a good night's rest;
--- Synchronize your working hours with the 'Blues Clues' TV schedule;
--- Type e-mail while nursing; and
--- Think a great anniversary gift is a new laser printer.

Those are sure signs that you're busy each day balancing your roles of mom and business owner, according to Cheryl Demas, author of "It's A Jungle Out There And A Zoo In Here: Run Your Home Business Without Letting It Overrun You," (Warner Books, 2003, 224 pages. Paperback, $14.95.) Her book is the May pick for the Work & Family Book Club at BellaOnline.

Like many women today, before Demas had children she was quite the career professional. Unlike some women, she used her degree in math and computer science to do what traditionally has been a man's job: writing computer software for an avionics group that produced "black box" computers for airplanes.

After losing her first baby at birth and then having a healthy girl, she worked hard to balance motherhood and a career. When her child was diagnosed with diabetes and a second baby girl was born, though, she took the plunge: she gave up her job and stayed home.

Again, like many women, one question haunted her: "How would we pay the bills?"

Her solution was to become a WAHM, a work-at-home mom, and she shares her experience and her advice in "It's A Jungle Out There And A Zoo In Here."

This book offers a humorous and hopeful hand to women who are caught in the stressful situation of trying to take care of their children while meeting the family budget. It gives a good overview of what to expect as a work-at-home mom, with tips for deciding whether you have the WAHM personality and drive, and suggestions for how to figure out what kind of business to run.

It touches lightly on the basics of setting up a business, such as whether to incorporate or operate as a sole proprietor, on balancing work and family, on setting up an office and on promoting your business.

However, "It's A Jungle Out There" is best at introducing mothers to what a work-at-home life can be like, suggesting things you should consider to get started and then inspiring you to research more specifics on your own. Demas includes a good resource list with books and Web sites where you can get more business information. You can also find a wealth of information on her Web site, www.WAHM.com.

"The successful WAHM may have big goals and dreams, but she also has a realistic vision of what she will be able to accomplish with her home business," Demas gently advises. "She looks at the time and resources she has available and makes a realistic plan."

Demas used her computer job experience to first start a Web site design business. Later, she began her own Web site to help other work-at-home moms, www.WAHM.com, The Online Magazine For Work-At-Home Moms. When the site started generating income through advertising and affiliate programs, she closed her Web site design business to concentrate on WAHM.com.

In fact, in her book, Demas weaves in the stories of women who visit her WAHM.com site.

Those stories and her own make reading "It's A Jungle Out There And A Zoo In Here" feel like you're talking to a good friend.

Sonja Meyer is the host of the Work & Family site at BellaOnline: http://www.bellaonline.com/site/workandfamily.
She is also the mother of three girls and a freelance writer and editor. You may visit her business sites at http://www.CoventryParkCommunications.com and http://www.CoventryParkGifts.com.

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