May 18th, 2011

Should Stay at Home Moms Feel Guilty About Depriving Their Kids By Working at Home?

If there’s one thing many mothers are good at, it’s guilt. Doesn’t matter how hard they try, many moms can make themselves feel guilty about every imperfection in their parenting, whether or not it’s really a problem.

This can be particularly acute for stay at home moms who find a need to start working at home. Didn’t they start staying at home to be there for their kids? Are they depriving their kids by taking a part of their day in order to work?

It gets even worse when others add to the guilt trip. Some people insist work at home moms can’t be fair to their children while earning an income from home. What’s a stay at home mom to do?

Quit Letting the Guilt Get to You

You can’t always keep from feeling guilty about the things that keeping you from being available to your kids every minute. Not do you only have other things to get done around your home, you have the right to some amount of your own life.

When it comes to doing the things you need to get done, you shouldn’t feel guilty if you need help with the kids or if they have to wait a bit for your attention. This includes doing the things you have to do in order to earn enough money from home that you can stay at home.

You don’t have to be immediately available to every whim of your child to still be more available than you would be working outside your home. You’re also showing your children the reality of what it takes to earn a living. That’s not a bad example for them – odds are they’ll be doing that themselves someday, whether at a job outside their homes, or following your example and working from home.

There may be times when the stresses of working at home will make you a little short tempered with your family.  It happens to the best of us. But it’s real, and rather than feeling guilty about it, make sure you’re setting the example of handling the stresses and your temper as best you can. The way you handle these times will make an impression on your kids.

Schedule Around the Needs of Your Children

Your schedule when you work at home is often quite flexible. As much as you can, work it around the needs of your children. This allows you to be more available to them when they need you.

That means working late nights or early mornings for many work at home parents, plus naptimes when you need daytime hours with an infant, toddler or preschooler, or during school hours for older kids.

It doesn’t always work out for all of us to work such a schedule, but you do what you can. If you really need work time when the kids are going to be around and active, try trading babysitting, getting a mother’s helper or even paying for daycare, especially if the need is going to be a regular thing. It’s not that unusual for a work at home parent to need some help with the kids, especially the younger ones.

Remember That Children Need to Develop Independence

Particularly as the kids get older, teaching them to entertain themselves as you work is a way to encourage their independence. As kids get older, they really don’t need your attention every minute, even when they think they do.

I don’t mean leave your very young child unsupervised unnecessarily or unsafely. I do mean teaching your children how to have fun without you in age appropriate ways. Coloring, playing with blocks and other toys, reading, things like that.

If you have a laptop you can often lightly monitor your kids as they play on their own, even outdoors if you find a place where you can read your screen comfortably. It all depends on how much supervision is needed, and how much you can be distracted and still get work done, which varies quite a bit depending on what you do and your work style.

Take Breaks

Be sure to take breaks not only from working, but from parenting too. During your work day, take a short break every hour or so, and longer ones every few hours. These are great times to get a bit done around the house, interact with the kids or just relax a little.

Take breaks from parenting sometimes to remember who you are on your own. Get out with your spouse or with friends. Read a book you want to read just for the fun of it. Make time for one of your hobbies. Be you.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

This is important both in your professional life and your personal life. Spend too much comparing yourself to others, and you won’t appreciate so much the things you do get done.

You can’t compare your progress in your working life to how others are doing. They probably aren’t doing exactly the same thing, and they don’t have your exact home situation.

You can’t compare how you keep your home to how others manage it. They probably have different priorities, different rules, a different amount of time to care for their home, and so forth.

Just forget the comparisons. If you’re doing well enough for what your family needs, that’s pretty good.

Know How Much You Can Take On

It’s all too easy to take on too much when you work at home. The commitment to being a stay at home mom or dad is already pretty huge. Add in working at home, and the time commitment grows tremendously. You have to know how much work you can take on with everything else you need to get done, and balance that with the income you need to bring in for the sake of your family.

Remember the Alternatives

If you weren’t working at home, what would you be doing? Could you afford to be a stay at home mom or dad without the additional income? Would you have to go back to work outside your home? Would you have to tighten your belts but otherwise make it without the income you bring working at home?

A lot of parents work at home because they need the income for their families. Others don’t need it quite so badly, but work because they love what they do. Still others are keeping their skills in so that they can go back to work when the kids get older.

Whatever your reason for working at home, you probably gave it a lot of thought. Working at home isn’t so simple that most people can just plunge into it. There’s usually a long search for just the right job or home business opportunity, and much concern about scams.

Working at home may keep you busy when the kids wish you were free sometimes, but how would it go if you worked outside the home? You’d be gone for hours a day and have much less choice in most cases about which hours you work. You’d have a commute, whether short or long. You’d have to figure out how your children would be cared for while you’re at work.

That’s not the worst thing; many families have no choice but to have both parents working, and make it work for them just fine, but if it’s not what you want for your family, you only have so many ways to avoid it. You can work at home and lose some of the free time you have available to your family or you can deal with having a single income and all the risks and limitations that entails.

Don’t try to be Supermom and have the perfect home, perfect family while working long hours to add to the family’s income. It doesn’t work that way all the time and you’ll burn out trying to do it all. Get everyone to help out and know that the small stuff has to slide so you can take care of the big things.

Too often work at home moms try to keep their home as perfectly as they would if they didn’t have a job, plus be there every moment for their kids. That’s not fair to anyone. Not you as a parent who never gets a moment alone. Not to your kids who learn that parenthood means running around completely frazzled, doing things for everyone else and not for yourself. It’s not the example I suggest you make.

If everyone is safe, reasonably happy and properly fed, you’re doing it right. The rest is extra. Odds are your family will be impressed with all you accomplish no matter how guilty you feel about the things you think you should have done.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

March 14th, 2011

5 Tips to Make the Most of Being a Stay at Home Mom

It’s kind of odd being a stay at home mom much of the time. People have such varying expectations of you. Some figure you for lazy. Others know how much work you do. Too often immediate family takes you for granted.

There’s a lot to get done every day, and never enough time. You could drive yourself crazy with stress, but you’d be better off figuring out how to make the most of being a stay at home mom. With the right perspective and some good family support it’s a lot of fun. The parts where the kids are silly and you get to see them reach so many milestones are always fun, but some days you’ll wish the stress and noise would give you a break.

1. Take a break for you.

That’s right. When you need a break, find a way to take one. It won’t always be easy, but you need to take time for you.

The problem many stay at home moms have is that they’re on call 24/7 and they don’t ask enough help from their husbands. It’s that feeling that he works all day, discounting what you do all day yourself as just part of the deal. The simple truth is that you’re working hard too; it’s just a different kind of work, a different kind of hard. Much of what you do may seem like play to others, but if someone else did that for your kids, you’d probably have to pay them.

That’s why you need and deserve breaks. Children are demanding little rascals. You need a break so that you can deal with the demands in a better frame of mind, more relaxed, and with plenty of time to pursue your own interests.

There’s no good reason to drop all your interests just because you’re raising children, and many good reasons to keep them up. Reading to amuse yourself is a good example for the children, as is showing them that you have interests outside of their care. Nothing selfish about that. Instead you’re teaching your kids about things you like to do and that they can amuse themselves when you need time for yourself. You may still have to keep a bit of an eye on them while you pursue your interests, but the independence they learn in playing on their own, or with siblings and friends is a great skill.

2. Take time for your marriage.

Your kids need you quite a bit, but so does your husband. You need him too, and you both need time together. Make time for it.

Dates don’t have to be fancy, or even away from home. Put the kids to bed, shut off the TV or put a great movie you’ve been wanting to watch together, just make time for the two of you. A special dinner, some massage, even just talking, whatever sounds fun to the two of you.

That’s not to discount getting out on your own away from the house and the kids regularly. It’s just to point out that you don’t have to pay for a babysitter if you want to be spontaneous or the budget doesn’t work out. When you can get out together, do so. Have some fun.

It’s important to keep that connection in your marriage. It’s good for the both of you and a great example for the children. They need to know that your partnership as a married couple is a vital part of life.

3. Take time for your friends and other family.

Being a stay at home mom can be really lonely if you let it. Don’t.

This is a good time to quit talking about the kids and remember who you are. It will help encourage you to keep up your other interests, and of course it’s fun to have time with your own friends.

4. Take time for your career.

That’s right. Just because you’re a stay at home mom right now doesn’t mean you should neglect your career entirely. Stay at home moms have a lot of options right now to be there for their families and still either work from home or keep learning so they don’t lose all their work skills. Make the most of these opportunities.

This is important even if you think you’ll always be a stay at home mom. None of us know what the future holds. Death, divorce, layoffs, disabilities, all these things can mean you suddenly need to plunge back into the workforce. You should prepare in other ways financially as well, but keeping up some sort of job skills or running a home business can mean a lot in the long run.

There are a lot of ways to work at home, whether you telecommute from your usual career, freelance, take a simpler job that can be done from home or start your own business of one sort or another. The internet gives you more possibilities than your own mother had for an income from home.

You could also take time to further your career. Night classes, online classes, take something that will give your career a boost later on. Most of us don’t remain stay at home moms until retirement. Better to work to advance your career than to fall behind because your skills are out of date.

5. Have pride in your work as a stay at home mom.

Despite the common description, you aren’t “just” a stay at home mom. There’s nothing so little about it. You do complex, challenging work. Don’t minimize it. The work isn’t for everyone, but what job is?

You know you don’t have that much time for sitting and watching TV. Your day won’t sound like much to some people, but those who have been there know how much is really involved. Have a little fun talking about it when the topic comes up.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

January 18th, 2011

Where Are the Stay at Home Jobs for Moms That Are Not Scams?

As many families continue to struggle financially, more and more stay at home moms are having to get serious about earning some money. For most, it seems as though everywhere you look are scams. Where are the stay at home mom jobs that are not scams?

They too are all around. They surround you. They’re just hard to see through the haze of work at home scams.

Just because they’re all around doesn’t mean it’s easy to get a stay at home job or to earn any sort of decent income from home. It’s difficult for most people. It’s a lot of work added onto a busy lifestyle.

Want a stay at home job that doesn’t involve getting scammed? The simplest way to do that is to go into business for yourself. And it’s really not that simple.

Offering your skills as a freelancer takes some work, but it’s something many of us can do, and doesn’t involve paying someone for the business opportunity. It does involve risk. You don’t know when you’ll get your first jobs. You don’t know how good a particular client will be about paying you. You have to check with your city hall to see about home business licensing and business name requirements. You have to set up bank accounts.

All that is still usually faster than landing a job working for one of the usual stay at home jobs. Get good at it, and it’s more profitable as well.

You might be amazed at how many opportunities there are for freelancers. You can do freelance bookkeeping, writing, programming, marketing, website designing, graphic design, be a virtual assistant, just look at your skill set and figure out a way to offer your services to local businesses or to businesses online.

There are plenty of traps to fall into as you get started, however. The most common is to set too low a price for your services. That may not get you more clients. That may get you clients who are looking for cheap but still want everything they’d get for a higher price. It’s better to set your prices based on what you need to earn for your efforts.

The other traps are when you do look at your stay at home work options. You don’t want to fall for the scams. Be careful any time you spend money on something and any time you share your personal information. Do your research first, make sure you’re signing up for something legitimate and that you want to do, then sign up. It’s not going to do you any good to sign up for random things and never get anything done, even if you avoid the scams.

There are other sorts of home based work you can do, of course. There’s daycare if you don’t mind taking care of a lot of kids and have the room to do it. Take a good look at licensing requirements in your area if that’s what you want to do. Be prepared for long hours. It’s very much not for everyone, but if you love kids and don’t mind the hours, it could be the way to go.

The thing to remember is that the lists of employers who hire people to work from home is only a small part of the story. If you want a stay at home job, you’re better off taking it to the next level. Make your own opportunities. You might fail, you might succeed, but you’ll learn more than if you never tried at all.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

December 15th, 2010

One Project That Took a bit More Time Than Planned

We finished quite a project here recently. Just barely made the deadline, in fact, and there’s still some extras that need doing.

It was a truly exhausting project to deal with, more than I had expected it to be, but oh, so fun!

We entered California Virtual Academy’s Winterland of Gingerbread event. As I expected, my daughter was pretty ambitious with her ideas for her gingerbread house. Can’t say I discouraged it that much, other than to make sure it wasn’t more than I thought we could handle.

It was closer to too much than I like to think, though. I’d never baked gingerbread before. Made “gingerbread” houses with the kids before, but I always cheated and used graham crackers. Much, much easier!

Still, I think the trouble was worth the results. She was one of four kids in her category to win a prize.

I’m still dealing with the aftermath, in the form of helping my son finish his significantly smaller gingerbread house. Didn’t seem fair to let one kid make a gingerbread house and not the other. At least he isn’t trying to win something – he just wants to have fun and sneak bits of candy as he builds.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

December 10th, 2010

You Know You’re a Stay at Home Mom When…

Being a stay at home mom doesn’t mean you don’t have a boss or a hectic schedule. Even little babies are very demanding about their needs, and the older they get, the more likely they are to need you to run around to suit their schedules. Life as a stay at home mom can be crazy and exhausting.

It’s not all bad, of course. There’s a reason why most of us do this stuff.

You know you’re a stay at home mom when a trip to the grocery store alone is considered a break. No kids demanding your attention or bursting into tears at inconvenient moments. No demands for the truck cart. Just you and the groceries and a crowd of mostly other adults. It’s almost restful.

You know you’re a stay at home mom when you understand how taking care of kids and a house can take all day, then some. It’s amazing how fast messes happen when you’re there all day.

You know you’re a stay at home mom when you rarely get to use the bathroom in peace, anywhere. Toddlers just don’t get closed doors. Matter of fact, lots of older kids don’t get closed doors if they have a question for you.

You know you’re a stay at home mom when everyone assumes you have enough time to make home cooked meals, but sometimes clingy children make it impossible. Who knows when will be the best time to start cooking? You may adore your crockpot at times.

You know you’re a stay at home mom when reactions to what you do range from admiration to calling you lazy or worse.

You know when you’re a stay at home mom when you make it all work financially. Coupons, frugal living, a bit of work at home, you do what it takes.

You know you’re a stay at home mom when staying up late or getting up early is the one time of day you can relax without the kids underfoot at home. You take what “me” time you can get.

You know you’re a stay at home mom when the only reason you know the day of the week is because you need to know whether or not to send the kids to school or if your husband will be home for the day.

You know you’re a stay at home mom when you know far too much about your children’s favorite television shows. All of them.

You know you’re a stay at home mom when you know exactly what caused that strange stain on the wall. You’re just not sure how a toddler threw food that high.

You know you’re a stay at home mom when your exercise routine consists of lifting your children and carrying them around. At least the weight increases as they grow!

You know you’re a stay at home mom when it’s hard to remember how to have a conversation with other adults that doesn’t revolve around your kids. You may need more time to focus on some of your own interests, if the kids will give you enough peace for that.

You know you’re a stay at home mom when you start to enjoy your toddler’s favorite music.

You know you’re a stay at home mom when your work continues no matter how sick you are. And it’s probably worse because the kids either caught it from you or gave it to you.

You know you’re a stay at home mom when, despite all the problems and challenges, you’re grateful to be a stay at home mom.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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