I’m a working/stay at home parent with two wild and crazy toddlers. Being a mother, home raising my children is the joy of my life. I’m also a financial planner and author. My career is a part of who I am, and I love what I do. Like a lot of parents, I want both. So this article series is close to my heart. Part 1 focused on evaluating your financials to decide if it’s possible to forego your income in order to stay home with your child. Part 2 is for those parents who plan to stay home with their child, but still want (or need) to work.
I will tell you two things: 1) It can be done and 2) it is hard. Oh so hard. I have help, but it’s never enough. I work when they nap or are entertaining themselves (if you’re a parent you know that last part was a joke). I work after I put them down for bed, often until midnight. It’s hard and I’m stretched thin. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. So here are my tips to those of you wondering how and if you can have both.
Get a job: First things first; you have to get work. Keep in mind that if you are trying to do both, you will need to make some sacrifices. It may not be your ideal job to begin with, but all opportunities can lead to something more. If you already know what you’re going to do, skip to the next tip. If you are trying to find work you can do from home, here are some options:
- Consult – Consulting can sound intimidating, but this doesn’t have to be a formal arrangement. Reach out to all friends and colleagues, and let them know you are available for help. Be sure they know that no job is too big or small. Even if what they need is way below (or outside of) your skill level, it’s an opportunity to add “consultant” to your resume, make connections, get experience and earn money.
- Remote jobs – Technology and the growing importance of life balance means more companies are offering telecommuting jobs. This article provides the top 100 companies for remote jobs in 2018.
- Look local – Lots of communities have facebook pages, newsletters and parent groups where they post opportunities or help wanted. Often since the information is directed at parents, there is opportunity to work at home.
- Start a blog: Passionate about healthcare? Start a blog with nutrition and workout tips. Starting a blog is easy, and there are multiple ways to monetize it. Here are “25 Legit Ways to Make Money Online Blogging with WordPress”.
- Get creative: There are countless additional options to making money at home; here’s a list of 50 Work-From-Home ideas that will help you brainstorm.
Take a maternity/paternity leave. Don’t start working too soon. When your baby is first born, you may think you will have tons of time to work because newborns sleep 20 hours a day. Think again. You’re exhausted, hormonal and trying to figure out how to change the diaper of what basically is the equivalent of a wild raccoon. You are not at your best, to say the least. And your baby needs you. Take some time to get to know each other and figure out how to be a parent.
Get help. This obviously goes back to my first article, and you will need to run the numbers to make sure you aren’t netting a loss. But even a little help goes a long way, and it doesn’t have to be a major expense. Maybe you can trade days with a neighbor, watching each other’s kids. If you are lucky enough to have family in the area, ask for their help. Do your friends have a teenager who wants to earn some extra money? You can pay them to be a parent’s helper and come entertain the kids a few hours a week. Especially if you plan to work remotely for one of the companies I listed above; childcare will be essential.
Prioritize and focus. Each day make a list of what needs to be done, and focus on that. One of the most unexpected and challenging parts of working from home is how easy it is to get sidetracked. There are mornings where my plan is to make the kids breakfast, then go into my office to work. The walk is maybe 10 steps from kitchen to office, yet it can take me an hour because I throw in a quick load of laundry, pick up the blocks my son threw on the floor and get a quick toilet scrub in as I pass the bathroom. Women especially are known to be excellent multitaskers, but it can be detrimental when working from home. On that note…
Lower (some of) your standards. If you are going to try to do everything, accept that it won’t all be perfect. You will never (and really should never) be caught up on all laundry. Your house doesn’t need to sparkle. The kids toys will never stay organized. Just worry about doing the important things well. I work hard to make sure my clients and children are well taken care of. Can you eat off my kitchen floor? No…but who would want to anyway?