When you have kids, figuring out how to handle work as well can be tricky, to say the least. As with just about everything, once you become a parent, it’s a fine balancing act. One the one hand, you want to be able to support your family and do so while doing something that makes you happy and fulfilled, but on the other hand, no one has kids with the intention of not actually spending any time with them. The problem with a lot of jobs is that they’re just not flexible enough. Despite what many companies say, it’s remarkable just how little employers seem to understand about the needs of being a parent and the flexibility that needs to come with that. Things get especially bad when the kids are on break from school, and suddenly you need to find a way to look after them since they’re at home all day. It would be nice to be able to take a vacation from work every time they’re on break, but for those of us who have to worry about things like money, that’s hardly realistic.
However, there is one option that many parents are now discovering as an alternative to either going out to work every day and being a stay-at-home parent: working from home. The appeal is pretty clear. After all, who wouldn’t want to spend every day at home? You get to have total freedom over when you work; you no longer have to deal with commuting, workplace gossip is a thing of the past, and best of all, you have the freedom to make time for your kids and look after them without having to sacrifice making a living.
Of course, if working from home was as perfect as easy as that makes it sound then everyone would be doing it. Because no matter what the benefits are, and there are certainly a lot of benefits, working from home also comes with its fair share of difficulties. So if you’re considering a career working from home so that you can balance your work and family lives a little better, then here are some important things to consider.
You need to create a suitable workspace
The biggest, and most common, misconception that people have about working from home is that you spend all day in bed wearing your pajamas. Now, there are probably people who do that, and there is a certain appeal in the early days of being able to do something like that while still technically being at work. However, that kind of novelty wears off pretty quickly, and you will actually find that it’s far harder to work and focus when you’re mixing your work space and personal space too much. The best thing to do is to create a separate area in your home that’s there for your work and nothing else. It should be well lit with a dedicated desk and chair so that you’re not wrecking your spine by working on the sofa all day. You should also make sure to keep it cool and comfortable as much as possible. You’ll want to check out this portable AC buying guide because the last thing you want is to try and work in an environment where you simply can’t focus because of the heat. Whatever environment you create, use it for work and work alone. As soon as you let that space encroach onto your personal life, you’re not going to be able to achieve the kind of work/life separation that you need to stay sane.
Work might not be consistent
When you’re working from home, it’s likely that you’re doing so as either a business owner or a freelancer. Because of this, you can’t really guarantee that the work you get will be as consistent as it would if you were in full, or even part-time employment. It’s important to factor the possibility of losing clients or customers and earning less one month that you did in another into your budget. It’s not necessarily going to be the end of the world, but it is something that you’re going to have to get used to and make allowances for. Far too many people assume that they’ll have the same job security working from home as they would working for a company in an office, so when work dries up a little, they’re left out of pocket and panicking.
Distractions are everywhere
Everyone gets distracted at work, that’s just a fact of life, and there’s nothing really wrong with it, sometimes your brain just needs a little break. But if you thought it was easy to get distracted when you’re in a professional environment like and office, you won’t believe how much harder it is to focus when you’re at home. At least at work, you don’t have the TV, unlimited internet access, your phone, books, food. In fact, your home has just about everything you could ever need to try and distract yourself from doing any work. And that goes double when your kids are around. The key is to be incredibly disciplined. No manager is looking over your shoulder to check that you’re working. You need to take responsibility for that yourself.
You aren’t always going to be able to monitor your kids
If you’re working from home, you are still working. A lot of people tend to forget that, and they assume that you can take care of kids while working from home without it causing any problems. Of course, just imagine bringing your kids to the office to realize how wrong that is. Of course, that does depend on how old your kids are, since older kids are generally a bit better at taking care of themselves, but if you have a toddler, then they’re going to require a great deal of attention. Even if you’re working from home, there may come a time when you need to hire a babysitter, at least for a few hours a day.