In previous decades, women have been maligned by turns for working outside the home and for not working outside the home. There have been vicious wars with women hurling opinions as weapons. When religion is introduced to the equation, liberal feminists and radical Christians seem to fuel the extremes of the debate.
While I have formed my lifestyle on my own opinions of the matter, I am not interested in answering the questions for anyone else. There are way too many variables to provide a definitive, across-the-board answer for every woman.
With that background, I am thankful for the recent surge in popularity of the work-at-home option. While I have worked for pay at home for almost 17 years, it helps that there is now a growing community of women that work at home. Although other people’s opinions don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, it also helps that most no longer sneer when I share my occupation.
I am very aware that working from home is not for everyone. Working outside the home may be the best option for your family. Not working for pay at all is also a very valuable choice in many families.
1. Do I need the money? This is probably the most obvious question. If you are currently working outside the home and need to replace that income when you come home, it will make a difference in the journey you take. If the money would be helpful but not absolutely necessary, you might be able to take a slower, more circuitous route to your goal.
2. Do I have the skills? There are many work-at-home jobs that require no extra skills other than desire and ability to work hard. However, if you want to be a virtual assistant and have no technology knowledge, you may have a difficult time. Obviously, if you cannot play a musical instrument, teaching music lessons may not be the best fit for you. Finding your natural abilities and capitalizing on them offers the best chance of success.
3. Do I have the patience? There is a stereotype of the work-at-home mother sitting in her pajamas with a cup of piping hot coffee working away in her office or craft room for hours at a time, only emerging to change a diaper or fix a meal every couple hours. Unless your children are in school or you have child care, this is usually not the case. You will have to be willing to build your business with frequent interruptions and the realization that being home with your family means being more involved with them than a mom that works outside the home.
4. Do I have support? Most successful work-at-home moms credit their husbands with making it possible. I think it would be inadvisable to work from home if your husband is not completely on board with the idea.
If your husband works from home as well, trading off childcare and responsibilities may work well. However, if your husband is employed outside the home or if you are a single mom, you will still need to have a support system in place.
Beyond friends and family, look to your line of work for support. If you have a home craft business, find other moms with similar businesses with which to build friendships. If you are a blogger, network with other bloggers or attend a blogging conference, if possible.
5. Am I able to manage myself? If you work from home, you will be your own boss. This means that you will decide what you make, how you schedule your days and when you take your breaks. For most, you will also have to be responsible for the day-to-day care of your children. Many of us have also chosen to add educating our children into the mix. You will have to be organized enough to keep your schedule and commitments to your business while keeping your home and children as well.
6. Is this the best choice for my particular situation? This is a choice you will have to make based on your answers to the previous five questions. You may find that you can make a go of it after considering all your variables and values. However, if you find that working from home is going to jeopardize your family values and relationships, by all means abandon it for what does work for your family.
For you, the reader: Do you work from home? Would you like to work from home? What are the questions you have asked yourself when making the decision?