Last week’s Financially Savvy Friday launched the first post in a multi-week series featuring the Work at Home Mom (and a few Dads too!). While we typically focus on money saving tips, this series focuses on parents who earn income, while also being home with their families.
Multi-Talented, Multi-Tasking Wonder Women
As I mentioned last week, this series started as a single post to feature a handful of women, all WAHM‘s, who inspired me to pursue my vision for PlaygroundParkbench. Since launching PGPB, I have had the opportunity to encounter even more WAHMs with amazing stories through blogger networks and as PGPB followers. I continue to be awed, humbled and inspired by all these women have built and what they accomplish in a 24 hour day. Women entrepreneurs are a force to be reckoned with!
What started out as as a post featuring 3 women, has grown to more than a dozen with responses still coming in. Last week, we featured Melissa, Co-Founder of weeSpring.com, Rachel, a pediatic OT by training and Founder of CanDo Kiddo, and Kira, a freelance writer and blogger at Sunshine and Hurricanes. This week, we feature an Online Educator, an SEO Specialist, Owner of a Leading UK Parent Blog, and a Co-Founder of a Production Company. Despite the diversity of jobs, many articulate a consistent message: working from home not only can generate income, it provides a creative outlet, flexibility, and life balance (although that takes practice even from home!). Oh, and an added bonus – NO commute! May you be as motivated by them as I have been. Please show them your support by checking out their websites and products.
Jennifer, Mother of 2, Co-Founder: Think Ten Media Group
My husband and I have a production company that also has a digital arts education division. I used to do hands-on education programs, but since I started working almost exclusively from home 3 years ago, I shifted my work load to focus on social media, publicity, and writing, with some program coordination duties and project development for our film projects.
I started by running a comprehensive, after-school program for our company. Right before our second child was born, the school district was facing budget cuts that were going to heavily impact our program. The cuts meant that the school needed to run the program themselves, rather than outsourcing it. I decided, rather than getting a job outside of the home and sending our sons to daycare or hiring someone to come watch them at the house, that we would focus on shifting my work to include projects that would benefit the company, but could be done at home. Rather than primarily doing on-site educational work, I would develop our educational programs to expand out and add new programs (closing the revenue gap left from losing a program). I would also coordinate sales of our latest film, outreach events related to that film, and would focus on general publicity and social media outreach for our company. It was a scary transition at first, but now I am so grateful that we made this shift.
The major benefit it provides for me is to have a nice balance in my life between professional work and family time. I live in Southern California where long commute times are pretty standard, and I am so grateful that I am able to work from home and not spend a significant amount of time in traffic each day.
I measure my success, professionally, primarily by the relationships I am building through social media connections and the growth I see in our company regarding the outreach of our most recent film and the outreach as we develop our next project. I measure my success, personally, by my ability to balance all that I have to do gracefully. It is not always easy, but when I have a week where the balance felt really good, that is a huge success for me.
My sons are both in school in the mornings, so that is quite helpful, and they often will both nap for a bit in the afternoon. An ambitious goal would be for me to get a solid 5 hours of work done each day (20 hours a week) with additional catch-up work often done here and there on the weekends. Also, when we have special projects, like our Spotlight On Hope Film Camps (a free filmmaking program for pediatric cancer patients) or are in production on a project, the hours per week will go way up. For instance, during a camp, I will likely spend almost 20 hours in just one weekend, and during production, it is easy to work for at least 10 hours per day, but we don’t do this everyday and plan ahead to have enjoyable, quality care for our children (typically it is grandparents or close friends).
I most often work from home on my laptop. I recently created a standard workstation that I can easily set up at my kitchen table and purchased a quality mat for standing to work. It has made a huge difference. I will pop to a local coffee shop 1-2 mornings each week for a change of pace and for some social interaction, but most of the time I am working at home. I also try to get to one event or networking outing each month, but sometimes that doesn’t happen.
The balance can be challenging, but trying to set clear work times/boundaries helps quite a lot. I focus on quality work time in the mornings while my boys are both at school and quality work time during their naps/quiet time. Since my oldest son doesn’t always nap, I try to create ways that he can be near me or with me, engaged in something quietly while I also work — often checking in with him frequently. I also benefit from the boys playing well together and find that it helps me feel balanced when I remind myself of this: one day, the boys will play well together for 2-3 hours after their nap which will give me almost a full 6-8 hours of work that day, but the next day, they might really want mommy time, so I’ll spend the afternoon on the couch with them reading books and then outside playing games.
Learning to lean-in to the ebb and flow of their needs, and mine, helps me the most with balance. My husband, who works from home 2-3 days each week, sees our life as one in which we live in the “lap of luxury” despite our limited income because of the balance we have. He enjoys that during a “bathroom break” or “lunch break,” he steps out of his “office” (our bedroom) and gets see the boys playing with their Legos or gets big hugs and kisses from them and reads a quick book to them before heading back to work. We also both find that the family-life balance is best when we communicate well with our sons. They don’t view what we do as “work:” they know that mommy and daddy make movies and teach kids to make movies and are doing what we love. That makes us very happy.
Think Ten Media Group’s most recent film, SMUGGLED, tells the story of a 9 year-old boy and his mother as the couple are smuggled into the U.S. in a compartment underneath a tour bus. Unfortunately, the journey doesn’t go as planned as a new destiny awaits Miguel and his mother. Check out the Kid World Citizen review that is specific to watching the film with kids and the lessons they can learn from it.
Jennifer was also kind enough to share this great shot of her son at 18 months old on the set of SMUGGLED.
Zebulun, Father of 2, Independent Contractor – SEO Specialist
I work for a company that does search engine optimization for Google. I started in July 2014. I got the job on a fluke. I had a very hard time trying to find a new job after leaving the military and had just had a potential job offer fall apart because my security clearance had lapsed and cost too much to renew. I started looking for new jobs to apply for and stumbled across my current job.
As an independent contractor, there are no benefits financially outside of my paycheck. The real benefit lies in being able to focus on school, which I am also going to full time. This job allows me to work at any time of day, so I can drop things to work on school or run my kids to any events they have. I would love to say that I work 40 hours consistently ever week, but it doesn’t happen. Between going to school full time and helping out around the house and with the kids, I average between 25-35 hours each week.
With my job I have to work from home, to make sure that any trade secrets are not released. I can’t work from a coffee shop or the library. I usually work from the kitchen table or on the couch in the living room. It’s definitely hard to strike a balance between work at home life when you work at home. Luckily for me, my job can be done on my time, and that allows me to drop everything and do family activities. Balancing the two requires diligence and self motivation. There is no one here to tell me to get up and start work or to tell me what to do. It is completely upon me to ensure that I get my hours in each week. Working from home is not for everyone and it requires a person to be self motivated and interested in their work.
Beginning this month, Zebulun will be guest blogging for Suzy Homeschooler. His posts will appear the 2nd Wednesday of every month, and are primarily geared towards geeky dads who want to raise well-rounded geeklings. You can read his first post here.
Helen, Mum of 2, Professional Blogger and Social Media Consultant
I kind of “fell into it”! I had an idea for developing my own site, and I loved writing. I wanted to be able to both develop a “product” and also keep my writing passion going. I had spent a long time in my career writing, but it was mainly for businesses, and I thought it would be rather nice to write about what I wanted to for a change. The blog seemed a great way to be able to write, and to develop a business slowly around the kids, all at the same time.
The main benefit is that it allows me to be there for the kids; I pick them up from school, I take them there. Now they are a little older, they do after school clubs a couple of times a week, but other than that, I am at their at carol concerts, I can watch them in swim galas and I can cheer them on at Sports Day. Because I am generally able to manage my time, I can fit my work around them. It is far from perfect, particularly on my social media side. I have client demands that do need to be met. However, I am learning to make sure I am realistic about the amount of work I take on *she says having signed up for a professional qualification ;-)*
I work when my kids are in school, and after school club, with a few household emergencies here and there! This week, I have had to take time out due to a leaking roof! Generally speaking though, I work about 25-30 hours a week. I have my own study area within the house, but I also LOVE to get out and work in local coffee shops, I wrote about it on the blog once actually as part of a campaign I did (for free) to get more women working from home and using free WiFi as a great resource to connect; I rather like my coffice 😉 In terms of what I use, I LOVE my iMac and Apple stuff…I have a whole orchard of products!
Working at home basically means I am around when I need to be, and when the kids want me. I can take time off if they are ill, and go to school to support them if I need to. I work from home during the holidays only one day a week, and the rest of the time I am looking after, and often having fun with them. I don’t think I could go back to doing an office job full time. I love working from home. It brings its own challenges, of course, like the tendency for my brain to be “always on”, but it also allows so much freedom. I can’t recommend it enough.
Cindy, Mother of 2, Online Educator and Manager
I have been an online educator and manager for about 4.5 years now. When my first daughter was born, I went back to work teaching elementary art at 12 weeks at a brick and mortar school. I didn’t like my school, so I quit at the end of the school year. I joined a play group over the summer and met another teacher who works for my company, so I applied and totally lucked out that they needed someone with my specific state certification at that time
Working from home offers convenient benefits. Flexible schedule, being able to take my kids to the zoo or to our weekly playgroup and adjusting my work schedule accordingly. Working in my yoga pants. Not dealing with annoying coworkers in person. Autonomy and individual responsibility without someone hovering over me. I can cook and fold laundry while in meetings. I measure success at my company no differently than I would anywhere else – my job is a full-time, salaried, 40 hours per week job.
I have an office in my home. I also work from the couch, the kitchen table, the bed, and the back patio. I’ve even worked in the bathroom while my daughters take a bath. It’s convenient, but sometimes too convenient. It was a HUGE adjustment when I first started. HUGE. It was very hard to separate home and work, because you never leave work. I would find myself getting out of bed to do something I forgot. I have to remind myself when my work hours are. When I turn off the computer at the end of the work day, it stays off. I close the office door and don’t come back until the next day. I also have to turn my work e-mail off on my phone, because I would find myself replying to work e-mails at all hours. It’s also hard because you are at home, so you think you should be able to do housework and stuff, but when I am working, I have to be working, not doing housework. It’s hard. I’m in a pretty good groove right now. I also have childcare two days per week, so I schedule all meetings and phone calls on the days that the kids are not home.
Show Your Support for WAHMs!
Think Ten Media Group
|Website: Think Ten Media Group
Most recent film: SMUGGLED
Zebulun, Guest Blogger for Suzy Homeschooler
|Blog: Suzy Homeschooler
|Blog: Kiddy Charts
Social Media Consultant: Smart Social Media
Inspired to put your expertise to work yet? Come back next week to see profiles of a professional photographer, a hand stamped jewelry artist, and an in-home daycare provider.
We love to network with other WAHMs, and the more stories we tell, the more women we hope to inspire! If you would like to feature your blog or business in our WAHM Series, please email us!