The reason most people decide they want to work at home is to be there for their kids. It’s a good reason. You have the potential to be there more for your kids and you might get away without paying for daycare, although that’s not always true for work at home parents. But when you’re applying for a work at home job, how much do your kids matter?
That depends on who you’re thinking about at the moment. The kids, yourself or your potential employers.
If you’re going to be home for your kids, but working at the same time, you need to figure out which jobs are going to let you do that. What’s going to work around the things you do with your children during the day?
Are they young enough to take naps or old enough that they go to school? How independently do they play? What kinds of activities do you intend to involve your children in? Are you willing to put them in daycare part time if necessary? Do you have alternatives if you need to work during the day while the kids are around?
These things matter when you’re figuring out what kind of work you want to do from home. There’s nothing wrong with using daycare while working at home if that’s what it takes to earn a living, but for most at home parents, that isn’t the goal or even close to it. Still, unless you can work exclusively at times when your kids don’t usually need you, it’s best to acknowledge the possibility.
You should also consider how you will handle things when the kids get sick. Even if you work when they’re gone or sleeping, that’s going to be an issue at some point. How will you get any work done? Will you need to take some time off?
Your needs matter too. One of the hardest parts about working from home for many parents is the lack of interaction with other adults. Being home with your kids is great, but sometimes it’s hard on the brain.
Then you have to consider when you’ll really be able to work at home. It’s great to say that you’ll work nights or early mornings so that you’ll always be able to focus on your kids during the day, but will you really be able to do that? Really? Be honest with yourself.
It’s hard staying up late and giving up evenings with your husband (for moms, giving up evenings with your wife if you’re an at home dad) after the kids have gone to bed, or getting up at dark o’clock to get some work in while everyone else sleeps. Make sure you choose the most workable schedule for you when you commit to working at home.
Your Potential Employers
Honestly, your potential employers usually won’t care in the least about your children. When they hire someone, they want someone who will do a good job working from home, kids or no. When you’re writing a cover letter or going through the interview process, don’t keep emphasizing that you want to be there for your kids. Focus on what you bring to them as an employee, not on the benefits you expect to gain from working at home.
When you work at home, you’re supposed to handle things like your children without problems that will impact the work you do. Certainly the kids will have an impact on your work sometimes; that’s true even when you work outside the home. You’d better know how you’re going to handle such issues.
I don’t mean that you can never mention your children to potential employers. When I interviewed for my medical transcription job, one of the interviewers concerns was that I was about to graduate college. She was wondering if I would leave the job right after graduation and get work outside the home. As I was expecting my first baby at the time, I did then explain that I intended to stay at home for my child.
That was the only mention, however. Caring for my baby was my reason to work at home, and an easy reassurance for my employer that I wouldn’t spend months in training and then vanish.
That’s what you have to think about if you mention your children. Are they the best answer you can give to your employer for the particular question they’re asking? If asked why you want to work at home, for example, do you want to focus on how you want to care for your children or on another reason? There are so many other benefits after all, such as flexibility, the lack of a commute, or better yet, an interest in that particular kind of job. Employers want to hire people who will do the job well after all, not people who just want the benefits. Think about what’s most important to your employer when you’re being interviewed.