Working from Home - a Perspective and a Queston

Updated on January 17, 2015
M.C. asks from Olympia, WA
16 answers

After reading SO many questions about finding the elusive "work from home" job, I felt like I wanted to add my perspective - and then I will ask the requisite question.

While there are many perks with working from home, it is hard. You have to be self starting. Most of the time if you don't work, you don't get paid (I own my own business, so this is the case for me). If I am sick, I am still answering emails and sending faxes. My children are adults now, but were preteen when I started. I work in my dining room, so after school they would want to bring their friends over and the noise level would raise considerably. Makes it hard to make phone calls when you can't hear! I don't have a retirement plan, and am very fortunate my husband has a job that provides our health insurance otherwise I wouldn't have that either. I pay taxes out the kazoo because I don't have many deductions. I worked parttime at an office when I started my home business because we couldn't afford for me to only work at home. I worked very hard to get and keep the customer base I have. I have LOTS of young moms that approach me wanting to do what I do. I have to explain that I started very small, learned on my own, and it really wasn't a "business" until I was years into it.

There are SO many companies promising that they will provide training so you can be "certified" to work at home. What they don't explain is that they DON'T find you work - they only train you. YOU are responsible for finding the work. Often the work that that you trained for are only found in office jobs - and those employers are not excited to have you work at home.

Ok, rant over. I DO love my job and wouldn't trade it for the world. I love my "commute", working in my jammies, and throwing a load of wash in while I am on hold on the telephone. I am SO thankful that I have had this opportunity as it provided a way for me to be here at home when my kids came home from school. Preteens and teens need a parent at home at that age more than any other age - but that is another post.

Requisite question: For you moms that work at home, what fun things do you do when you aren't working, and where do you go when you HAVE to escape the house"?

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So What Happened?

All good comments - thank you! I have two dogs and when the weather cooperates I like to get out walking them. They also alert me to when some one is coming to the door, which is nice. I will look into the IRA's for retirement - thank you for the info! Also, just in case I was not clear, I'm not looking for a job change. I love my job, my clients, and the ability to set my own hours. I like the peacefulness of the morning when I am here with just my doggies and starting the day.

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answers from New York on

I've telecommuted back since the dial up modem days. I love it. It keeps me out of the 'office politics' and I've never had to make polite conversation in the elevator with someone I didn't like. Plus I was home when my younger 2 were in jr high and high school which was great. I could set up my day to be able to pick them up after school activities and go to their games.

I have a dog so I get out of the house several times a day by taking him for a walk. Or this time of year I haul in some firewood and do a little snow shoveling if needed. When I really need to get away I'll run up to a local coffee shop and sit and sip coffee for a while. I'm not a big people person so I don't mind being home a lot.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

I work from home, fortune 50 company so I've got a paycheck and benefits. I work flex hours, 6-3, which is very nice. Downside to working from home for a big company is that I'm always out of the loop, always. I'm fortunate that what I do is rather specialized and I'm the only one in the whole company who does it, so I have a little security. Being remote and working flex hours also means I'm frequently working extra, because no one I work with leaves at 3 so if they need to meet/talk/help with emergency then I have to adjust and work. However, I have zero advancement opportunities, none, nada. I'm ok with that, I don't mind my job, I'm good at it, and it's very helpful with school age kids to be off when they are done for the day. Non-work hours are spent taxiing my kids to various sports activities, lol. When I HAVE to have quiet and they are home I don't leave, I send the kids to their friends houses or the trampoline park down the street.

ETA - Like Wild Woman my kids are older, they know that the loud snapping of fingers means "I am on a call". DH works from home too, so we 'snap' a lot, lol.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I have an office....that hours are flexible....but when I need to escape?? I take a walk with my dog....I volunteer at the school....or I meet a friend for lunch.

I don't have my "own" business like you, I work for someone else, so I do have a 401K and a consistent paycheck. My boss still expects me to work and grow the business. I love to meet possible clients and possible employees...

My kids are 12 and 14 - so I know exactly what you mean when you say they need even MORE they don't get sucked into peer pressure...and my kids and their friends? They KNOW I work from home so when I say "I'm on a call" - they KNOW to keep quiet.

Hope this helps!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I don't work at home, but I just want to say, that after the last question on here about this subject, (rolling my eyes), I sure do appreciate what you've said here.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Up until 2 years ago I owned my own insurance agency and for most of it worked from home. While the kids were in school I would go to lunch networking groups to spread the word and get clients. It was all word of mouth and I only needed my phone, laptop, printer/fax and a file cabinet. I tried to do everything while the kids were in school but that wasn't really realistic since most of my clients worked during the day, I would have to call them after their work hours to talk about the quotes and policy info. There was always SOMETHING to do, phone calls, emails, quotes, issuing policies, making policy changes, answering questions, etc. Working from home is what you make of it. It can be part time, but then you get part time pay, it can be full time but then you really don't have any "free" time, so it's hard. If there were an "ideal" work from home job, we would all have it. lol

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Thank you for your post! I've worked from home as a freelance writer and editor since 2001 and like it. However, you've explained the situation well. It isn't a cake walk and there are cons to it that need to be taken seriously. I rarely work when our kids are home from school because that just doesn't go well. And the taxes ... ugh, most years I've had to pay 40 percent of my earnings to taxes simply because I'm self-employed.

As far as retirement, I haven't read through all of the responses to see if anyone else has mentioned this, but you can get a SEP-IRA for retirement. SEP-IRAs are IRAs specifically for those who are self-employed. I contribute to mine monthly.

As far as sanity savers, I make sure I take breaks. It's very easy working from home to just grab a meal and keep on working, so I try not to do that very often. I take our dog out for 10-30 minute walks each day (depending on my work demands) and go to a lunchtime yoga class once a week. The exercise makes a big difference in my productivity and overall happiness.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

We own our company and work from home. Employees/owners are myself, hubby and 20 yr old daughter. We deal with raw materials, distribution and consulting all over the US and abroad. All run from my house with warehousing in Dallas and Houston.

It is a 24/7 job if you want to maintain success. My hubby is routinely up by 2:30-3am to have a conference call with someone overseas. I am up running numbers early in the day and making sure trucking companies get to the specified location with no issues. My main job is CFO and manage all the financials, benefits, 401K's, IRS, and typical bookkeeping work while hubby does the sales, consulting and negotiating. My job is very detailed and 1 mistake could cost my family thousands of dollars. NO WAY could I do my job with children under foot. I have my office in the MIL suite downstairs and my hubby offices from one of the bedrooms made into an office upstairs. That way, we are not in each other's faces all day and that helps, especially when working with a spouse 24/7!!

Daughter is shadowing both of us as she is not sure if she wants to take over the company upon her college graduation or not. Of course, no pressure for her to continue this, if she chooses to go in a different direction, I am sure she will be successful and we can sell this company and afford to retire early.

We typically will go out to lunch somewhere almost daily. I am at the Post Office and bank on a daily basis so I do get breaks that way. This week, I had lunch with a best friend and I got my hair done! We have happy hour at the club every Friday night with friends who are there every Friday night as well. Friday night is our social night.

Like you, it is super easy and helpful to get the load of wash started while on hold. Our daughter lives across town in her (our) condo now since she started college but I did feel it was as important for me to be here for her when she was preteen and teen than it was when she was a baby. SO many things go on in a teen's life and she has told me many times it was good to come home and know she could vent or celebrate and share that with me. We have been blessed.

Now, a poster below was here yesterday wanting info on one of those get rich quick schemes that will "train" you and might pay your once or twice in order to get you to "bite". She was very offended when a few of us tried to show the red flags and claimed people called her stupid. Unfortunately, you can lead a horse to water and some people just don't see the reality. I am surprised she is even here writing on the site today after the SWH blasting people and flouncing off with a Good bye to everyone and she wasn't going to come back to this site. Oh well, maybe she thought long and hard about what was said, we can only hope, and be open to learning that working from home is WORK. It takes a special person to work from home and someone who has a proven track record with a company if they are not running their own company and working from home.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

I'm kinda hermity and mostly prefer to not escape the house. When I feel stir crazy, I go out by myself for a long brisk walk while listening to music. My usual route loop is about 2 miles, but sometimes I go 5-6 if I'm super antsy.

There are some at-home jobs that require a set time frame, have require hours spent per week, need there to be no background noise, etc. To be fair, you're more likely to encounter this kind of job. In this situation, you can not care for a baby/toddler and work at the same time.

I've worked three very different types of jobs at home, all of them with kids underfoot. I started working at home after the birth of my first child. It was my employer's idea! She knew I liked my job, but she was also a fan of kids having a SAH parent. She hired a person to handle things that had to be done in person at the office, and I did all the rest from my home office while caring for an infant; later an infant and a toddler. I did that for years, until the business closed with the owner's retirement.

For a couple years I worked for an internet company. I had no set hours and no human interaction. That job wasn't 'living wage' it was $300-$500/mo depending on how much time I put in.

Now I am self employed providing a service. My kids are in school now, so it isn't a problem to have meetings during the day or be on the phone. I can still do the rest of the work whenever, it doesn't matter if they are home or not.

Gamma G's comment about not paying taxes if you didn't have a 'real' job brings up a good topic - Retirement Planning.

Even when you don't have a job with an outside employer, do properly claim your income. Even if your income is low, sporadic, or from multiple sources.

#1 - You get 1 Social Security credit for earning $1,220. You can earn 4 credits per year. Anyone that earns just $4880 in a year gets the max SS credit, even if their income is too low to pay the other income taxes. To qualify for full SS benefits later you only need to accumulate 40 credits over your lifetime.

#2 - If you're single, you need to have reported earned income in order to save for retirement in tax-advantaged accounts like IRAs and Roth IRAs.

If you're married, you don't need to have any personal income at all and you can still have your own retirement account. So if you're pure unemployed SAHM, you should still look into opening an account for yourself.

*Amounts and laws that are current as of the date of this posting.*

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i was lucky enough to be able to do part of my business from home for several years. the money-making hours were still spent in the courthouses, but it was great to be able to knock out some of it from my dining room table.
and that portion of it was fairly simple, basically data entry (and when i first started doing it that meant hand-writing- how sophisticated i felt when i got my first DOS laptop!)
but even that relatively simple work had to happen when the kids were at school, or after they went to bed. it was simple but very, very precise, and the smallest mistake was costly. i just couldn't risk screwing up because someone was melting down over the tonka trucks.
my fun things were the same whether i worked from home or sallied forth- riding my horse, and power walks, and occasional get-togethers with girlfriends.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I can work from home, I choose not to for the most part. My husband works from home from time to time as well. Heck he probably is today because he has to catch up on service calls from being on an out of town project. Both of us have jobs that we are not managed in the first place. It really is a perk you earn, it is just never handed to people.

I think what floors me is not so much that they think they can watch their kids and be a productive employee, it is that they think they can make bank.

Since I only seem to work from home on snow days I don't really need an escape. Sometimes I have to work remotely on vacation but the escape is rather obvious in that case. :)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

I worked "from home" when I had my own clothing company in NYC before I had kids. At home (tiny apartment) I handled my emails, faxes and paperwork (smart phone would have helped A LOT but they didn't exist).

When I needed to create and design I had to clear my head and get out of the apartment so I would sit in cafes or on park benches and sketch with headphones while people watching. But usually I was commuting to various factories and vendors for my orders to source fabrics and oversee production. I also did a lot of designing and people watching on the subway during all these hours of travel.

But even though my out and about tasks were about 75% of the job, the paperwork and phone calls that needed to be done in the apartment were insane and overwhelming even when I had no kids. And like you said, the TAXES AAAARRGGHH!!! Some years I wondered why I was even doing it. With clients in different time zones, I was up all hours dealing with all that. If I was to do it now I'd do most of my calls and emails and texts from outside on my phone, not home. Being at home is stifling WITHOUT kids. Unless you've got a nice home office and a nanny keeping your kids away...

I left the city before I had kids to pursue painting with a lower cost of living and to have kids and stay home on one income. Now I have to concentrate on painting commissions and new works in my attic studio and it has been nearly IMPOSSIBLE with little kids. My progress was SO SLOW I nearly gave up many times. But I was able to continue because my ex husbands (then husband's) income was sustaining us. Only now that my youngest is in school can I manage it at all professionally.

So I agree. These moms who think, "Hey I'll work from home and it will enable me to focus on my kids and make a good paycheck" are not realistic. If you're focusing on your kids, you're not a great worker. If you're a great worker, then you're ignoring your kids way too much if they're home.

I don't know what that fantasy job is that lets you be super mommy and a well-paid employee, but I think it's possibly a pipe dream...? Or at the very least a rare and exceptional job...?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

In Oregon you can only sub if you have a current teaching certificate. You can do other jobs but none are part time. You may be able to sub as a support person for students who require help in class. Sorry, I don't remember the title.

I've never worked from home. I'm amazed that anyone with children could work from home if they have a supervisor and are required to meet deadlines. I praise you for having the tenacity to build a business. You worked hard and it paid off.

I,too, have a bias against moms who ask about working at home before they have an idea how that would work. The posts cite caring for their children as a reason without mention of how they can work and care for children. The posts seem to feel like they think this is an easy way to care for children. They rarely say what they can do for the employer.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Another option: being a Substitute Teacher.
Advantages? You have the same school schedule/calendar/holidays/vacations as your children.
In my State, depending on your background/education... it is good pay. Per Diem. For example, in my State, the per diem rate is good. It breaks down into an "hourly" pay that is far more than any office job, here.
Many Moms I know, Substitute Teach. And they are also SAHM's by doing so. They are home after school, with their kids, and on school Holidays and vacations and summers.

And, you can get your own ROTH retirement plan. Any employed person can do so.
You already have medical via your Husband.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I have worked at home, doing ironing, mending, alterations, and more. I got so burned out because I didn't have the option of leaving my work at the office. I considered renting a room in an old school that someone bought and turned it into a business. They rehabbed the school rooms some then rent them out all bills paid.

It would have been so nice to take my stuff there and leave it. But I wanted to watch TV while I ironed so I didn't do it...seriously, I love watching TV to keep my mind occupied while I do mindless tasks.

The spray starch was killing my lungs though and I have retired from that. Now my husband has been really sick since last spring and I need to take care of him more.

I wish I had a job working outside the home. I know the house stays cleaner and live is WAY more organized when we work. I miss that and I miss having a life of my own.

So, to anyone wanting to earn some money but you don't want to put your kids in child care and you don't want to go find a real job where you pay taxes and build up your own Social Security for when you get old and need that income, find something you are good at and sell it. Wash clothes for someone that doesn't have appliances, go clean a couple of houses and leave the kids with a babysitter, Sub at the school but again you must have instant child care because they call you at 7:30am and expect you there by 8am in the classroom dressed and make up on.

Working is working and it's not easy.

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answers from Washington DC on

I've gone to run an errand just to have an excuse to go farther than the school and back. I take zumba. I visit friends. I take DD to the store or park. But there are many days where it's laundry, work, dishes, work, clean up the cat puke, work, get the kid again, homework, work.

I am lucky to have my job, even though I work so PT there are no benefits other than flex. If DD is out of school, I'm here already. I could not do a job where I had to be on the phone often, and when DH telecommutes, he goes to another room so no one hears DD (like when we had snow and were all here). I work for another company, but did freelance and prefer working for someone else. They now pay my taxes, but I used to pay it all myself. Everything else is on me/us - retirement, health insurance. DH carries us on his work policy. I have a friend who is trying to get a start up off the ground and working another job to pay the bills. It will be great when her start up is lucrative, but starting a business is not instant. A lot of people forget that work is still work.

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answers from New York on

My answer: wait, I thought there was no such thing as working from home? thats what everyome told me ursterday on my post. So I have to take like two hours to weite a book on here to explain every detail Of my life and past experience and previous knowledge and research that I have done etc etc etc otherwise everyone just assumes the worst case scenario about the person? Wait a minute, judging by my earlier post, why aren't people here claims you are scamming by trying to advertise or promote your obviously nonexistent stay at home job that does not exist? People jumped to all the wrong conclusions about my post, all I wanted was any actual experience or information about a particular company I am
Applying for. And mostly all I got was sarcasm, insults, judgement, and unbridled jaded sinisism from people who have never even heard of the company I was asking about.

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