|Work-at-home moms do it on their own terms|
|Written by Suki Wessling|
Besides the fact that all jobs involve casting aside monsters once in a while, what they have in common is that all three are ways that Santa Cruz moms are able to work and be full-time, stay-at-home moms to their kids.
It’s a quandary all too familiar to modern moms: How can you find employment that allows you to be there for your kids as well? For each of the moms in this article, the answer came about in a different way.
“I began working at home because it was the cheapest and easiest way to start my business as a freelance writer,” explains mom of two Marina Chicurel. “At the time, four years before having my first child, I wasn't thinking much about how this decision would affect me as a parent, but it turned out to be extremely convenient.”
Jennifer Gress was concerned about how she’d be able to spend enough time with her baby and continue breastfeeding after her maternity leave.
“I went to my supervisor with a plan,” Jennifer says. “The plan included some days I was in the office the entire day and others I was in a partial day. The plan was approved—pending, of course, that I was still productive.”
Stephanie Corey worked a full-time, corporate job during her first years of motherhood. But then she decided she was ready for something different.
“I know that sounds kind of cliché, but after all those years in corporate, I realized that kind of lifestyle wasn't making me happy anymore,” Stephanie explains. “I wanted to do something that was actually going to help people—something I could feel good about, all while having more flexibility with my hours so I could spend more time with my husband and kids.”
Flexibility, for many work-at-home moms, is a major component of their success.
“I made it eight months of working full-time with the partial at the office and partial from home arrangement,” Jennifer explains. “At that point, I was totally exhausted. I quit ‘full-time employment’ with the company and began working for them as an independent contractor doing a portion of my duties. It was less money and less stress. That little bit of financial sacrifice was so worth the opportunity to be with my family in a less stressed-out state.”
For Marina’s part, the flexibility is what she cherishes most about her work. “I can work around my kids' schedules. I usually work mornings, three days a week, when my kids are at school, and evenings and weekends, depending on my work load.”
Though many work-at-home moms continue with skills that they learned before becoming parents, parenting inspires some moms to go in new directions. Stephanie started her own company, Miss Stephanie’s Potions (missstephaniespotions.com), last year after she helped her son get over his fear of zombies.
“He literally would not even go into his room at night, much less go to sleep,” she remembers. “Out of desperation, I slapped a ‘Zombie Repellent’ label on a bottle of lavender spray and told him that if he sprayed it around his doors and windows, it would keep the zombies out.”
Working at home, all three moms say, isn’t always as convenient as it sounds.
“The drawbacks are creating those boundaries between work and family, because the reality is that I end up working more hours than I did while I was in an office,” Stephanie says. “When the business is your own, it's hard to create those boundaries.”
“Because I work at home and my schedule is more flexible than my husband's, I'm usually the one that has to deal with the children's emergencies and changes in plans,” Marina explains. “At times, this can be challenging, especially if I'm up against a deadline.”
Another common complaint is how mom-work such as cleaning the house can cut into work-time. Marina also points out that work-at-home moms have to keep an eye on developing their careers.
“During the past eight years (since my first child was born), I've been taking on assignments that are fairly ‘easy,’ not making full use of my training as a scientist and writer,” Marina, whose younger child is only three, explains. “I know I want to be fully involved in raising my kids, but I worry that my professional abilities will become more and more limited.”
Jennifer’s experience, however, shows that her years working for others while her daughter was young exposed her to the skills she’d use in her own business now that her daughter is in middle school.
“I had to find something I could do that someone who is twenty, with no kids, and is willing to work for ten bucks an hour over the hill can’t do,” she says.
While working for other companies, Jennifer had the support to build up her own website design company, Snapdragon Services (snapdragonservices.com).
All three moms say that balance is the hardest thing to achieve.
“With a ‘job’ you show up and work and get the money,” Jennifer explains. “Then you go home and you do your things you do at home.”
“Depending on my workload, at times I feel I'm not giving enough attention to my family and other times I feel my business is suffering,” says Marina. “Most of the time, I find myself wishing I had more time for both.”
“It is a constant struggle to balance the two,” Stephanie agrees. “I just make sure that at the end of the day I was as present for the kids as I possibly could be, and that I did at least five good things for my business. If I meet those goals, I can go to bed happy.”
But what with the flexibility, being able to chase their dreams, and still being home to support their kids’ needs, all three moms say the struggle is worth it.
“I do believe that ultimately, the extra effort and work and even less money is worth it to work from home and be able to care for my child, serve my clients and do the laundry at the same time,” Jennifer says. “I won’t trade it for anything.”
Suki Wessling is a local writer and mother of two children. Find her at www.SukiWessling.com.