Wailings Of A Work At Home Mom

The Wild and Wacky World of WAHMs!


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Working Without Experience, Yes You Can!

telecommuting

telecommuting (Photo credit: jessamyn)

I’ve met a lot of moms who expressed interest in working from home. Most of those who don’t go through with it have one thing in common. They all believe that they don’t have the experience needed to be able to work at home.

As long as you know how to use a computer, you have experience.

As long as you’ve had a job before, you have experience.

The great thing about working online or having an online, home-based business is you can practically do ANYTHING you want. You can make money on the skills you already have and what you’re passionate about. You can start a business, freelance, or get a job online.

Just to give you an example, let’s say you’re someone with no work experience, you’ve only finished high school,  you know how to use Microsoft Word and Excel, and you know how to use Facebook.

I can already think of several jobs off the top of my head that you can do:

  • Data encoder – There’s a lot of competition for data encoder jobs and the pay isn’t much but it’s something practically anyone can do.
  • Answer surveys/market research – All you need for this is another email account (to avoid spamming your personal email) and a few minutes to fill up a survey and give your opinion.
  • Blogger/writer – If you love to write, why not make a living out of it. It may take a while for you to have regular clients or to set up a blog that earns but it can be very rewarding especially if writing is truly your passion.
  • Online retailer – If you know how make crafts, cook, or you have talents like playing the piano, tutoring, gardening, you can sell you products and services on Facebook, Fiverr, Ebay, Etsy, Pinterest, Multiply, Amazon,sulit.com.ph. etc. I have a cousin who likes to bead everything (not just jewelry, bags and other accessories, she also beads kitchen items) and she gets regular clients and custom orders from that single skills. Once, she created a set of beaded cutlery and she was able to sell that set for 4 times what it was actually worth. I have friend, who is a sculptor, who sells her custom clay jewelry and accessories online and she also markets her art classes there.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless, even if you think that you have no experience. All it takes is a little imagination and a little elbow grease.

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When Are You Going To Get A Real Job – How To Deal With Unwanted Advice

Home office

Home office (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the things that always comes up in discussion whenever I’m with my friends who also work online is how a lot of people can’t seem to help themselves and tell us that we should get a “real” job.

It doesn’t matter that I’m earning more now than I did in my old office job. It doesn’t matter that I’m working 40 hours a week. It doesn’t matter that I have a fulfilling career. It doesn’t matter that I also encounter the same kind of work related stress.

What matters is that I don’t work in an office, I don’t have a title that I could put on a calling card, I don’t have a boss that makes my life miserable, and I’m not wearing office clothes and make up. Apparently, as long as I don’t have those things, I’m not “gainfully” employed.

For the most part, the advice comes from people who care. It’s annoying but I’ve learned how to live with it. For the most part, I know that the advice stems mainly from the fact that they’re concerned about me. They want me to have my own money. They want me to help my husband with our finances. They want me to feel fulfilled. And those who care are usually happy with this response:

Thanks you for the advice and I understand that you mean well. I’m really touched that you’re concerned for me and my family. But this is the best set up for me and for my family right now, considering our circumstances. I am happy, I am fulfilled, and I have a stable income. If there’s something better out there  I would gladly take it. But for now, this is a good opportunity for me and I want to take advantage of it.

When I give them that answer, they understand. They know that they’re heard and they know I took their advice seriously. They understand that it’s not something that I can use right now but at least they know we’re both on the same side.

But what if the advice comes from people who don’t matter. Complete strangers. Acquaintances. People who think that their opinions should be set on stone and anyone blessed with their advice should follow them or else you would feel the wrath of God?

I have a ton of delicious comebacks for that =)

When are you going to get a real job…

…when my imaginary boss fires me.

…ssshhh, my imaginary boss can hear you…

…you see this (my house), this is all an illusion. We’re actually in a real office. That office that you’re working in is actually your house and you’re working from home.

…when I stop making real money from my fake job.

…when they start letting me wear pajamas to work.

…when a real job can do all my chores, babysit, and errands for me.

…when they release me from house arrest.

…when I can bring my fridge to work.

…I’m enjoying the real responsibilities of my fake job too much to quit.

…but I can’t leave my imaginary officemates. They depend on me.

…I have a real job. I mentally project myself into an office everyday.

…once I get the controls of the TARDIS right, then I’ll be back in an office in my real job.

…once I’m able to climb out of this black hole I call my home office.

…when I shop for groceries again. I’m going to get a  real job, with real milk, butter, sugar…

…and miss “Walking Dead”? No way…

…once I find a cure for my condition, real-job-itis.

Please let me know if you guys have any funny or witty comeback for this. Would love to hear how you guys responded to this annoying question.


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Working While Pregnant: Perks and Pains

A pregnant woman

A pregnant woman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know a number of work at home moms who started working while they’re still pregnant. When I was still working as a medical information analyst, my office allowed me, and other pregnant employees to telecommute.

I also know a lot of women who think that the best time to become a work at home mom is while you’re still pregnant. Working while you’re still pregnant does allow a lot of perks.

For the most part, working at home is more relaxing than working in an office. You don’t have to commute. You’re comfortable. You can take as many bathroom breaks, snack break, and naps as you want.

You get an idea of what it’s like to work at home before the kid(s) arrive. You can set aside workspace as you’re preparing for the baby.

Telecommuting and working at home has allowed a lot of pregnant moms to stay productive. However, pregnant working moms, especially those in their first pregnancy, have to be ready for the surprises and problems childbirth can bring.

No matter how prepared you are to work at home, once the baby arrives, everything changes. You have to give your body time to recover and you have to adapt to your child’s needs.

Not Superwomen

We hear stories of moms going back to work after only 2 weeks from giving birth. These moms are admirable but it’s not for everyone. Some work at home moms feel compelled to go back to work so soon because they feel like they don’t have an excuse to take a longer leave. They’re working at home, which should give them all the rest they need.

But that’s not often the case. Even work at home moms have to take extended leaves for their health and for their child. This means a break from business/employers/clients. This means you might have to change everything you’ve prepared for before you had the baby.

I was hoping for a normal, natural birth and I believed I was healthy enough to go back to work in less than 2 months. Instead, I had an emergency C-sections, surgery complications, a colicky baby, mild post-partum depression and limited childcare options if I did go back to work. From being able to work 12 hours a day (even during my pregnancy), I had to stop working completely for the 8 weeks and slowly pace myself back. As much as I wanted to be like Marissa Mayer who went to work after 2 weeks, it would have been impossible.

Once you have the baby, it’s who new ballgame. Will talk about that more tomorrow.

 


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The Best Time To Start Becoming A Work-At-Home Parent

telecommuting

telecommuting (Photo credit: jessamyn)

“When is the best time to start working from home?”

I encounter this question time and time again from moms who want to try their hand working from home. It’s also one of the questions had the hardest time finding an answer for because most of the moms I know (myself included) didn’t really have the option of choosing when we can start working. All the working moms I know starting working from home either out of necessity or because the opportunity was there and they had to seize it.

But I think this is a question worth answering because knowing the ideal time to start becoming a work at home parent can make process easier.

Working from home can be a big shock, especially if you’re used to working in an office. Those who don’t have any work experience can also have a hard time working at home because of the high level discipline, focus, and time management skills needed do a full day’s work load consistently.

The Answer

I asked a lot of working moms I know this question. And the one thing that we all agree on is that if we were the choice, we would like to start working from home one our child starts elementary school or grade school.

We believe this is the best scenario for several reasons.

  • Grade school classes last all day (at least, for private schools here in the Philippines). This would give work at home parents the most amount of time to focus on work.
  • Even if you choose to home-school  there are enough activities and exercises in an accredited DepEd home school curriculum to give parents enough time to work while teaching their child.
  • Grade school kids are old enough to take care of themselves and do some simple chores. They’re also old enough to entertain themselves from time to time. This frees up more time for work.

The Alternatives

Unfortunately, most of us don’t really have the option of waiting for the kids to go school before we can start working. What if you’re still pregnant or you just gave birth? What if you have a toddler or several toddlers? Tomorrow, I’ll be talking about the pros and cons on working from home at different stages of motherhood, what you can do to allow working from home possible, and job options.


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Office Sharing – An Alternative to Home?

Nicky working like mommy

Nicky working like mommy

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being a work at home mom. But for the past few months my sister and I have been scouring the city for places where we could work, especially once my daughter starts going to school this June.

We figured it’s more practical for us to start looking for places near the school for several reasons.

  1. It’s cheaper and less time consuming to just find a place where we can work close to the school. It’s too expensive and tiring to go home after we drop them off just to work then leave work to pick them up from school.
  2. My sister and I alternate dropping off and picking up our kids. (The school transport service does pass through our area.)
  3. We could work at nearby coffee shops and co-working spaces but they’re too expensive.
  4. This school has a lot of great after school programs and activities their school has for parents (like free Chinese lessons and parenting seminars) that I want to take advantage of. Working nearby would allow me to do that easily.
  5. I want to be able to get to school quickly in case of emergency (our house a bit far from the school).
  6. We want to work in a place where we can be comfortable. A place where we can bring pillows, a small pantry, and maybe have other work at home parents over. We all that’s not possible in a coffee show or virtual office.
office setup

office setup (Photo credit: Rob ‘n’ Rae)

Then, a friend of ours suggested an alternative, why not share an office space?

It turns out our friend P (a lawyer) has this office nearby where he meets with his clients. Even at his busiest, he only uses the office around 20 hours a week.  He got the idea of sharing his office from his fiance, an online entrepreneur who also uses the office to do her accounting and to meet up with suppliers and customers.

After talking things through, we’ve come to an arrangement:

  • We’d be sharing rent, electricity, and internet connection equally.
  • We’d have our own keys and can stay there as long and as often as we want or need.
  • We have free rein over the conference room (which they never use). We can bring anything that would make us feel comfortable.
  • We can bring our own food/snacks.
  • We can have our kids/spouse/partner over. This is perfect for us because it would allow us help our kids homework right away after school (they’re open too tired to do their homework by the time we get home).

It’s a short walk away from my daughter’s school (more exercise for me!) and it’s cheaper than working in a co-working space or coffee shop.

We’re lucky, I know. We’re lucky we had a friend who was open to the idea. We were lucky that his landlord was open and, in fact, encouraged this arrangement with his tenants. We’re lucky the office happened to be in a place close to school and it was something we could afford.

I’m not sure what the future holds with this arrangement. But it’s definitely an option and an alternative for us work at home parents if ever we need to work outside of our house.  Will update you guys on how this “experiment” would work. Wish us luck!


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How Becoming A Work At Home Parent Helped My Marriage

All marriages go through problems and my marriage is no exception. That’s why I’m forever thankful that my marriage has lasted this long and continues to  grow stronger.

We’ve been through a lot and I’m glad we made a lot of good choices along the way. I think, I believe, one of the choices that helped keep my marriage together was the decision to become a work at home parent. It was a decision that wasn’t taken lightly and wouldn’t have been possible without my husband’s total support and our determination to make it work.

Our Struggles

My husband works in a call center and his schedule is often erratic. And before we had our child, there were times that we hardly saw each other. He often works nights and I usually work during the daytime. And although my previous job offered some flexibility in terms of schedule, it still didn’t give us enough time to really be together.

And that first year after I gave birth was really tough on our marriage. We were having financial, health and family problems. We fought a lot and there were times  we literally cried ourselves to sleep because we didn’t know what else to do.

Our Solution

Then my sister offered me a writing job that paved to way for me to becoming a work at home mom.

When I started I was making a lot less than what I was earning in my previous job, but it was enough to make ends meet. Since we didn’t have to spend for child care and I didn’t have any office expenses, what I was making was already a big relief.

But more than that, it also helped life a huge burden off my husband’s shoulders. Being the sole breadwinner in our family scared him. At that time, our future looked so uncertain and he wasn’t sure what he was earning was enough to provide for all out needs. Me getting that job helped relieve a lot of stress and made us more confident about our future.

Unexpected Benefit

Date night at Bellini's

Date night at Bellini’s

The relief from our financial burden was welcome and expected. What we didn’t expect was finally getting that extra time together.

It’s not a perfect set up. We still have to share our time with our daughter. But working at home allowed me to adapt my schedule to his work schedule. I would try to work when he is working so we could be together. I was finally able to wait for him to get home so we could finally talk and just be husband and wife and not Mama and Papa.

And even when I can’t match his schedule (because of our child), I’m still able to make some time for him even if it’s just to talk or take care of him.

Why It’s All Worth It

My daughter, my husband and I at our favorite place: home.

My daughter, my husband and I at our favorite place: home.

A while back, I was seriously considering applying for a job and working in an office. It was one of those days where everything went wrong. My daughter was being difficult and I was having a hard time at work. I started to question if the sacrifices I made were worth it and if I was really cut out to be a work at home parent.

After I shared this with my husband, he held my hand and told me that I was doing a great job. “More than that”, he says, “I’m glad you’re a work at home mom. I get to see you and our baby everyday. I look forward to coming home because I know you’re there waiting for me.”

Those words made everything worth it.


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4 Best Places At Home For Work (And How To Make Them Even Better)

When you work at home ideally you should have a home office. But that’s not always possible especially when you don’t have the space or the resources to build a home office.

Even without a home office, there are plenty of rooms within your own home that would make great work spaces. Finding the best one for you would depend on your situation at home, you schedule, and the type of work that you do.

1. Living Room

For the most part, living rooms are great because it allows you to work comfortably without falling asleep. But if you’re the type of person who is easily distracted, this would not be a good place for you. That because the entire family and guests often hang out in the living room. More often than not, that’s also where the TV is, which can distract you even when you’re alone.

Image courtesy of hit-decor.net

To make the living room work for you, try to carve out some  space away from the couch and the TV. Having a pair of noise cancelling headphones can also help keep out the TV noise so you can focus on work and won’t be tempted to watch TV with your family. And with a bit of creativity, you can blend or camouflage your work space and make it fit with your living room decor.

2. Bedroom

Image courtesy of HGTV.com

I usually retreat to my bedroom when I’m working on a major project and I need to focus. It gives me the privacy I need and it’s a space I know my child respects. But the problem I have with the bedroom is it’s too comfortable. The bed is right there. just a few steps away, calling me to rest my head and take a nap. I can’t count the number of times I’ve fallen asleep simply because I was working in bed.

In order to work in my bedroom without falling asleep, I had to get a table and chair that looked away from the bed. My set up was a lot like the photo you see above. I had a tiny table facing the wall and a chair that’s comfortable enough so I can sit for hours on end without falling asleep. I even resorted to putting curtains between my bed and my work space so I wouldn’t be tempted. That space worked well while it lasted but eventually I had to give it up because of home renovations.

3. Kitchen

The kitchen is now where I have set up shop and it’s been good so far. It’s not as distracting as the living room and it’s not as comfortable as the bedroom which is a good thing. My only complaint with this space is I had to pack up my things every time we had to eat. It’s a good thing I only need my laptop to work so it’s not really a big problem. But my sister and I are thinking of having something like this:

http://media.treehugger.com/assets/images/2011/10/trunk-station-office-workspace-in-use.jpg

That way we can easily hide our office stuff when we have guests over.

4. Outdoors

I know it’s not the best place to work when you’re at home. There’s virtually no privacy, it’s not very comfortable, and the electrical outlets are inaccessible. But it’s actually refreshing to work outdoors, especially when the weather is nice and I don’t have that much to do anyway. All I need is a folding  table, a chair, and a fully charged laptop.

Image courtesy of HermanMiller.com