Work and Family Balance Question ... Any Advice Would Be Great!

Updated on August 10, 2007
J.S. asks from East Lansing, MI
25 answers

I apologize for posting this twice but I've decided to try a different category in the hopes that someone might read this and have some advice. The advice can be your own, personal experience or perhaps, the experience of a friend or family member. Here is my original question:

Hello Moms! My name is Jen and I am a mother of a sweet 7-month old baby boy. When he was 3 months old, I returned to work full-time, outside the home. This worked out for a while but the stress of the commute and not spending much time with my family is taking a toll. I have an opportunity to work from home and am excited at the prospect but I wanted some real-world advice from moms who work from home. How do you juggle your work schedule and family life with a home office?

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So What Happened?

THANK YOU to everyone for your advice! It is so helpful to hear everyone's views on the pros and cons of working from home. Someone asked about the type of work, and I would be doing graphic design and copywriting from home. I may have a scheduled conference call once a week but for the most part I would be working on projects and emailing them to staff and vendors. This type of work is easier to do from home than other professions but there are still challenges of boundaries and schedules.
Once again, I SO appreciate you taking time from your busy lives to give me advice. I am supposed to be discussing this possible job opportunity with the employer next week and your advice has helped me know how to plan and what questions to ask. Thanks!

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L.H.

answers from Detroit on

So J. how is everything going now with the working at home? and if all is well how did you get such a great deal? I would love to be able to work at home! Hope everything is well for you! L.

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L.

answers from Columbus on

What are you going to be doing? I am an RN and I need a change very badly! I admire you. I think you just have set up times for "family" and work and stick to it. It has to be better!!!!!!!!!

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M.O.

answers from Cleveland on

hey thats great you work from home the best thing put in day care so you you wont be stress .I have my daughter in daycare since she is 3 months old. my daughter was born in march 2004

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T.C.

answers from Cincinnati on

HI J.. I don't want to be the one to rain on your parade, but it's TOUGH working from home with a little one. I was a full-time realtor before I had my first child. He is now 16 months old. After he was born, my husband and I decided that I would keep doing real estate since this would allow me to work out of my home. It was a no brainer (we thought). Unfortunately, it wasn't that simple. I found that the only time I was able to do anything work related was when he took his nap, usually averaged about 1 1/2 hours.
You are probably wondering what I ended up doing. WELL, I put real estate aside until just recently, plus I own/manage a convenience store. Now that my son is older, I am a little more comfortable with putting him in daycare. He attends 3 days a week. This has really improved his social skills. Best of luck in what ever you decide to do. I hope I was able to help. ~ T.

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L.

answers from Detroit on

Hi, I have a 10 month old and just started working from home (~2 months). I love it. I still send my daughter to daycare, which is a must for me. My husband takes her in the morning and I pick her up. Working from home has saved me ~1-2 hours of driving time during the day. I am able to start earlier in the morning, so I get off earlier. I am also able to check on things before I go to bed at night. Now I realize this may not be a good habit to make because you need to keep your work and outside work lives separate (otherwise you are working all the time).

I feel I have a lot more quality time with my daughter and husband. I can do more small chores during the day 10-15 min of cleaning a day goes a long way (a load of laundry, mopping the floor).... I am also able to start dinner before I pick up my daugther if it is something that is a little more involved to make. Then when we come home we have one-on-one time together for 15 min to 1/2 hr before I do dinner. We are able to eat as a family a lot earlier than we use which means more daddy time for all of us before bedtime.

Those are my thoughts... I haven't been at this long, but I am really enjoying the things I can do for myself, my daughter, and my husband while continuing to work the 40 - 50 hour work weeks.

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L.O.

answers from Detroit on

HI..

I too have a 7 month old born Dec 20 2005. I was blessed to be able to stay home with her until she was 6 1/2 month old. I returned to work on july 10. after much negotiating I now have a part time schedule-- 8 hours a day 4 days per week. I wanted to return to work 3 days a week- but my office would not agree to that. My daughter is cared for at home by a nanny. After 4 weeks it seems to be going ok. MY job offers the flexibility of sometimes being able to work from home.. I have worked at home 3 days in the past 4 weeks. I can only work from home if I am reading to prepare for an upcoming project or writing reports.. Many days I have to be in the office or in the field. The days that I do work from home I still have to have the nanny. There is no way that you can do a full days work and care for an infant. But the days that I work at home - I do save an hour that I am not commuting to and from work, I do get to nurse my daughter when she is hungry. and I do get to supervise the nanny.

So working from home can be a good option... but you will still need childcare. Unless your work at home job has very flexible hours and you can work during your sons naps and after he is in bed. You will save time by not commuting. You wont feel so rushed and stressed out at the end of the day.

I am still not sure that returning to work was the right answer for me and my daughter. Once you pay for childcare and the other costs of working, (lunches out, gasoline, work clothes) it just doesnt seem like there is much money left from my check.. I really think I should just stay home for 3 or 4 years.. I think my everyone in my family would be better off if I was home..

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J.S.

answers from Kalamazoo on

Well, I have worked independently for the past 3 years. I am currently pregnant with my second baby and am also working from home. I have found it easier to still let my son go to daycare 2 to 3 days a week because he is two and has so much energy. He has been at my side at work since he was born so he was a great office baby. Try to set yourself a schedule between feedings and work. It may be hard to transition but I have found I get more done here at home than I ever did in my office. Do not overwork yourself if you normally quit work at 5pm then stop working and go spend time with your family. If not you will find yourself working way to much and taking away from your baby and hubby. Well good luck
J.

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Y.N.

answers from Detroit on

J.,
I have a 8 month old daughter and returned to work when she was 3 mos old. I had a long commute that didn't bother me until Audrey was born. I started working closer to home 3 weeks ago and love it. My husband was doing so much when I was working far and now I feel more involved. He works from home about once a week and it's impossible for him to watch her. I have Fridays off and that's when he usually works from home. He's very disciplined and quite productive but trying to do both just makes it hard to do either well. Either the baby doesn't get enough attention or work doesn't get done. When he works from home when I'm at work he feels bad taking her to daycare but she has fun there.
Y.

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K.B.

answers from Columbus on

Hi J.,

If you have the opportunity to work from home, then I would say "take it". I did, when my three children were young. I do agree with many of the other Moms that it would be best to still arrange for "child care" while you are working. When you take breaks from your work, you can choose to throw on a load of laundry, clean "something", eat more healthy, etc... Even though you won't be saving that much money because you'll still have to pay for childcare... just think how much you'll be saving on gas! Also, if your child is sick, at least you won't have to call off either. Do you know of a reputable child care provider in your area?

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C.

answers from Cleveland on

I can't give you an advice based on experience but here are my thoughts. I too am hoping to have the opportunity to work from home a few days a week. I don't think I could really have my 9 month old son home alone with me as he would just demand too much of my time. But what I'm hoping to gain is the hours spent on drive time. I also think this would allow me to start dinner, work while it is cooking and still eat at a decent hour once my husband gets home. You could take 5 minutes to throw in a load of laundry here and there. I would work a little later to make up for the time preparing the meal. This would also allow me the fleixibility in case of an emergency, to have my son home, get some work done and then make up the missed time in the evening when my husband can look after my son. Something you could think about doing is having a helper come in to watch your son while you are able to "supervise". Maybe a college student working on their education degree. For instance, my mom isn't physically strong enough to watch my son on her own but if I were there to "supervise" she could watch him while I worked. Hope this gives you something to think about.

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R.K.

answers from Detroit on

Hi! That's wonderful that you want to stay home and work! They are only little for a little time:) I run 2 home based businesses and go to the university online! I feel blessed to be able to do this because I was a paramedic and Unit Coordinator for a hospital and had babies! I chose to put that side for family time, thanks to my husband! I do all my work online in the am when hubby goes off to work and the little one's are asleep, then right before they get up I sweep, mop, dust, wash, shower and prepare breakfast by 8:30am when they usually get up. After breakfast cleanup we get dressed and go outside until lunch then we eat, clean up and nap. Then right before dinner we put an hour of homeschool in for the 4 & 2 year olds! They set the table, we all sit together and say grace,eat and I do dishes. Then we all relax outside with dessert and coffee (for mom and dad), play then we give the little guys a bath and they settle down with a kid movie before bed but hubby and I go off to our room to talk and play a game or two! Then we tuck them in and we get shut eye ourselves. Some days are better than others but we manage. Oh yeah, we have our share of troubles...terrible 2's have nothing on terrible 16's and 20's by the way! Cherish everyday as the last and love your children..they will love others and most of all themselves. Congrats on your time together!

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N.W.

answers from Detroit on

Jen,

What type of work do you plan to do from home? I'm an attorney and work full time. I occassionally work from home (or try to) when Brendan (2) is sick. It was pretty easy until he turned 1. Now it is almost impossible. Working from home full time would not work for me unless he was in daycare and I don't think it would really be fair to him. At least while at daycare he is getting someone's full attention. If you can juggle only working in the am or during naps...that would be great!

Good luck.

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K.

answers from Cleveland on

I have a 15 month old daughter, who I stay home with full-time, and have just recently become a Pampered Chef consultant. I do cooking demonstrations at home parties with amazing kitchen products. I absolutely love it!! I make about $20-$25 / hour and work for myself. You can do with this business what you'd like - it is very flexible. I work when she naps and then go to my parties a few nights a month when my husband comes home from work. The Pampered Chef is really an unbelievable company. The support that I have received from everyone that I have met has been incredible. Some people became consultants to take the place of their full-time jobs, while others did it to pay off a credit card or get out of the house. If you (or anyone else) are interested in finding out more information, please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]____.com or check out my personal website at www.pamperedchef.biz/kellyleroy.

Here is some additional info about this opportunity:

20%-25% commission - great promotion potential
Ability to earn free products (I earned $2000 in free products during my first 3 months)
Unlimited Growth Potential - personal and financial independence
Free Training - audio, video and one-on-one personal training
Flexibility - you work when YOU want to work
Personal development - monthly workshops, newsletters and info meetings
Tax Benefits - multiple home-based business deductions
Travel Awards - can be earned for yourself and your family
NO inventory - your starter kit is all you need
NO Delivery - all products shipped directly to the customer by the company
NO Industry Saturation - only 70,000 consultants currently in US, Canada, UK and Germany
Low start-up investment - $155 gives you products, training & supplies
Low pressure environment - educational, entertaining and fun!

The Pampered Chef is the #1 retailer of kitchen tools in the US.

I would love to tell you more about this opportunity and hope to hear from you! Good luck with your job search!

Take care,
K. L.

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J.B.

answers from Grand Rapids on

Working from home is ideal, however it can become difficult to get work done because they dont know your working. They just see mommy home. It might be necessary to plan on having specific time set aside for work. Early morning, naptime and evenings are some suggestions. Its possible to do. It is just harder for the children to grasp that you work at home. I hope that you are able to find a comfortable compromise to being able to work at home. God Bless!

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J.

answers from Detroit on

Hi Jen,
It's a good question, I'm not sure that there is a right answer, but I'll tell you what works for me. I worked full time as an engineer until the birth of my son. When he was 6 months old, I went back to work part time - 2 days in the office and one day at home. The one day at home turned out to be "on call" for 3 days due to my inability to uphold boundries between work and home. My easiest days are the ones at the office because the baby is hard to entertain while working at home. It's just the line of work that I'm in, but I know other jobs that are more flexible. When I'm on a conference call, I really stress out when the phone isn't on mute because I don't want the guys to know that I'm home with the baby.... I've recently given birth to another boy and will be going back to work full time in Dec but my husband and I are each working one day at home so there will only be the need for a nanny 3x per week. It's a hard balance. But I don't think that there is a right answer out there, it's what you find works for you. Personally, I prefer being in the office but then I have the guilt of leaving the kids - it's a tough choice. Good luck to you!

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J.

answers from Cincinnati on

Hi Jen, My name is J. and I am the mother of a 10 month old little boy. I also work full time, and my son goes to Day Care. You are right - it is a difficult balancing act!! The nice thing is that I do work from home most of the time. I work for a company in Indianapolis, so I just have to travel there periodically. However, my job still requires that I have full time child care. The nice part is that on most days I have no commute. I also have the luxury of being able to get things done around the house on breaks and during lunch (ie do laundry, clean up, etc.) I did have a nanny at first, but that person did not work out. I think that you will enjoy working from home. It will give you some more flexibility to feel like you are (somewhat) more in control. Will your little one be at home with you while you try to work? That would be more challenging, but you could definitely get things done during naps. Let me know what other questions you have.

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C.M.

answers from Saginaw on

Hi J. , I work when the kids are playing or in the evening when they are in bed. I love the work fromhome that I do ... It all depends what type of work from home opportunity you are looking at. Some you can work a few hours per week others you still work a 9-5. This is what I do Check it out. Have a great day C.
http://buildlastingsuccessteam.com/direct.php?id=B###-###...

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C.S.

answers from Toledo on

J.
I completely understand the way you feel. I too was in your shoes not long ago. My little girl just turned a year old yesterday and I started staying home and working out of my home in June. The transition to not going to the office...piece of cake...the transition to WORK from home and be able to get anything done...that is a whole 'nother issue!! I am still working on mastering the art of getting "work" accomplished, but I am LOVING being home with my babe. I have a "pack and play" in my office and put my little babe in that while I work and work during her naps. The hardest part is making yourself work. Best of luck to you!!
C.

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T.

answers from Toledo on

Hello Jen. I am a stay at home mother of two girls ages 2 and 4. I work one day per week out of the house, but I also need to grade papers, approximately 8/week. Do you have any family members that live nearby who you trust who would be willing to watch your son a couple of mornings/week so you can get some time to work on your own? I had my mother-in-law watch the girls for me for a few hours of uninterrupted time and I got so much done. Another thing you could try is to work during his nap times and after he goes to bed each night. Could your husband do bath time for you in the evenings to give you extra time to work? I think that the most important thing for you to do is to create a daily and weekly schedule that you can stick to. Incorporate nap times/ work times/ sitter times/ play time/clean time, etc into your schedules so you can feel like you are managing your time in a way that feels good for you. I want to say that it was the best decision I have ever made to be home with the girls most of the time. Good luck to you and your family.

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A.S.

answers from Columbus on

Hi J.,

I have worked at home either full or part-time for about 5 yrs and have a 5yr old and a 2yr old. I have someone who watches them at home while I work and my older child goes to preschool two full days per week and she loves it. This year my 2yr old will join her.

I don't know if you have someone to watch your baby while you work, either at your home or outside, but I wouldn't recommend trying to work at home with no help with the baby. It's a full-time job just being a mom and if you're trying to work and spend "quality time" with your baby, and taking care of your house, etc..., you may end up feeling like you are failing at everything and being a stressed out mess. (Speaking from experience!) For me, the best balance was when I was going to the office twice a week and working at home 3 days. In my case, if I don't have a reason to go out, I tend to be a hermit.

If you do have help with the baby, I highly recommend working at home. The pros are cutting out your commute time, saving gas, saving on lunches out, saving on work clothes, flexibility, more time with family. I know I've learned to be a better cook since I've been working at home because I have more time to make meals!

The cons are less adult interaction, perhaps not feeling like you are in the loop if you are still working with people who are in the office, could be more difficult to advance in your career depending on what it is you are doing, not being able to draw the line between work and home and either working too much or too little. (I make an effort to turn off the laptop at 5:30 and not turn it back on again until the kids are in bed... but that can be difficult to do sometimes.) Probably the hardest thing is telling your little ones that you can’t play with them or help them when they really want mommy, and not the sitter.

Whatever you decide to do, I wish you the best of luck. Trying to do the best thing for your children, yourself, your career, your marriage, your finances... it's a challenge!
-A.

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N.K.

answers from Cleveland on

Hi- my name is N. and I am a stay at home mom of four, I worked full time with my first two children and then quit when I was pregnant with my third I have enjoyed the opportunity to stay home and be able to see first each stage of the babies development. I can not imagine trying to juggle my family and a job from home but my family is much larger I would think that with a good schedule you could juggle both, not sure if this helps any but maybe I could be of help with future issues.

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F.R.

answers from Columbus on

HI J.,

Grab the chance to do both! And working from home is even better! I am a SAHM that does photography from home. The best thing I can tell you, is to set aside a certaint time each day to dedicate to your work. This will make it easier to follow a rutine this you son. Nap times are great. Or if it runs into time while he is up, hire a "mommy's Helper" to come in and keep your son entertained while you work. You could even have her help with light cleaning.

Hope it all works out for you!

F.

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T.M.

answers from Grand Rapids on

Hi. I work as a medical transcriptionist from home. There are pros and cons to working from home just as there are when working outside the home. You need to weigh what means most to you. If you want to see your baby grow and be with your baby, then you will love being home. There will be times when you feel disconnected from the world and maybe even wish to be out in the working world but you will just have to remind yourself of what it is you were missing when you were there.

Now if you are married, I noticed that my husband thought that my work was not really work because I was at home. You have to make strict rules about this in regards to cleaning house, paying bills, and even running errands. I still struggle with him not taking on his part of the job and often he asks me to call someone or run an errand.That can put me far behind and make me feel like I am working all day long.

If you can afford it, as your child gets older, you may want to put your child in a daycare or camp once a week so that you have some time for yourself and also if to let your child interact with others. I only have one son myself and he has not had that opportunity. My husband was an officer in the Marine Corps and we traveled a lot too so that made it hard for him to make friends, etc.

It really is great to work from home as long as you are disciplined. If your child is sick, you are the one taking care of the child and not someone else. I hope this helps a bit and think it is great that you want to be with your child. There needs to be more parents who want to be involved in the children's lives too. Good Luck...

T.

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A.

answers from Columbus on

Hi Jen,

I have a 4-1/2 year old son and a 20-month-old daughter. When my son was born, I found I just couldn't stand the thought of going back to work full time and missing out on his young years. I went back to school to study medical transcription and have been doing it from home ever since. I love being an at-home mom and am grateful that it has been possible for us to do while the kids are small. My husband helps by being with the kids on his days off so that I can work, and I work at night and during nap time as well. The problems I have found with this schedule(and I have friends who work at home who say the same), are that sometimes it simply feels like I am always working. I rarely have time when I can sit down and read, watch TV, garden or do anything, let alone really get the house clean or all the laundry folded! I highly recommend scheduling at least one day a week when you are not doing your work from home, because it is so easy to let it take over your life. It is there, you have a few minutes, you want to get it done, but remember to take a few minutes just for you. Also, my kids are old enough now to understand that mama is working and papa is in charge, but when my son was younger and I was just starting there were more than a few times that he would stand outside the study and bang on the door because he wanted me and not his dad. It really helps to have someone who can take the kids out of the house to play when you need to work. You will also have to get used to not sleeping much. In a very real sense, you will have 2 full time jobs, if you have to put in full time hours on your 'paid work'. I have kept my hours to 3/4 time since my daughter was born and it helps.

All of that being said, I really encourage you to take the chance to be at home with your son. It won't seem like very long before he is going to school and you can work outside the house again (if you want too...)

Good luck,
A.

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J.

answers from Cincinnati on

I arranged to work part time I work 10 hour days on Monday and Friday. With the cost of child care I actually make more money that I made working full time, since my husband covers some hours and family can do other hours

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