Work at Home Moms

How it works and how it can work for you

Working from home is a smart option for moms who want an alternative to the daily commute, the hefty costs of parking, gas and public transport, and brain-numbing office meetings. Work from home moms may also find it easier to balance time with children while still earning a salary.

Benefits of Working from Home

  • Personal attention and time to bond with your children. They will be thrilled to have you there when they come home from school.
  • No worries over bad childcare services. Your younger kids can stay home with you.
  • More flexibility. You can adjust your routine around your family schedule, instead of taking time off from work.
  • You're your own boss. You aren't bound by your employer's whims or office politics. In fact, unless you're telecommuting as part of a regular job, you don't even have an employer.

Challenges of Working from Home

Of course, working from home is not as simple or idyllic as going to work in your pajamas. Young children can be very distracting and disruptive, which makes it difficult to make a phone call, much less maintain a professional image. It's a good idea to train them from an early age to have a routine and stick to it, so that you have better control over your schedule.

Remember, do what works for your family. If you can't manage the house cleaning or find yourself screaming at the kids over little things, you may be losing the big picture. You can also get help. The cost of hiring someone to clean the house or mind the kids may be justifiable if it means more productive output and a happier and saner mom.

You should also know your own limits. Set boundaries so you don't lose your work / life balance. If you're a perfectionist or a workaholic, the desire to succeed in your home business may overshadow your original purpose for staying home. If you're the laid-back type who falls apart in the absence of structure and routine, consider setting up some sort of time management system.

You may need to ask whether working from home is the best option for you. One good way is to sit down with your loved ones every six months or so to review where your home business is headed, whether you are meeting your business goals, and whether working from home still fits with your family's goals and plans. That's why before we even talk about great ideas for moms who work from home, it's important to ask ourselves a few hard questions.

Discover Your "Why"

Why do you want to work from home, mom? Is it the best decision for you at this time, financially and emotionally? We know the usual reasons:

  • Boredom
  • Need an outlet to express yourself
  • Need to keep creative and busy
  • Want to help others
  • Want to put your skills, knowledge, talents to practice
  • Want to contribute to family finances
  • Planning for future career
  • Want to set positive example for children about being financially responsible and socially engaged

It's not that any reason is right or better than another. What is important is that you must be clear why you want to work from home. Make sure you have considered all the implications and possible consequences. Don't let peer influence, societal norms or a misguided need for self-sacrifice be your reason. Above all, don't see your decision to work at home as something cast in stone or the magic solution to all your work / life issues. Things change. Your needs (and your family's needs) will be different a year or two from now.

Discover Your "Who"

Discovering why you want to work from home is intertwined with the more fundamental questions about your identity and life purpose, which could be called your "who":

  • Who are you?
  • What do you want to do with your life?
  • What legacy do you hope to leave?
  • What talents, knowledge and skills do you enjoy using that can help others and that people would gladly pay for?
  • What practical ways can you think of that would allow you to work from home without conflicting with your family commitments and your need for "me" time?

Now that you've worked out where your best strengths lie, let's look at some business ideas that have worked for other moms who work from home, and see which ones fit you best.

Work from Home Job Ideas

  • For the mom who loves to teach, you could teach music or create educational video clips and e-books.
  • For the hands-on or arts-and-crafts mom, you can craft some design costume jewelry or do some scrapbooking. If you're interested in food, there's catering, cake making or cake decorating.
  • For the artistic mom, you could get involved in graphic design, architecture, interior decoration, website design, book illustration, painting, pottery, sculpture, song and lyric writing or you could learn to play an instrument.
  • For the mom who loves selling and enjoys talking to people, there's telemarketing, market research or MLM business.
  • For the mom who wants the freedom to choose assignments, you could do all kinds of freelance work.
  • For the mom with some background in consulting or a specific business skill, try travel consulting, business consulting, conveyancing, accounting and bookkeeping.
  • For the mom who loves to offer a listening ear, try counseling and coaching.
  • For the mom who loves writing and language, there are jobs in writing, editing and translation.
  • For the Internet-savvy mom, there are affiliate programs, website building, e-commerce stores, trading on eBay, paid surveys.

This is just a sampling of the many exciting possibilities in work from home jobs, but you can find many work at home moms business ideas or work at home jobs for moms online.

Home Office Requirements

To create a home office, you'll need: a computer, broadband connection and the right software will be enough for most of the suggested work at home jobs for moms. Of course, a desk and chair (ergonomically designed, for your health's sake) would help. And if you are going to spend a lot of time on the phone, invest in a good hands-free set.

If you're running a home business, you can claim a deduction for most of your business expenses for the same income year in which you incurred the expenses. Running expenses refers to utilities, business phone costs and depreciation of your office equipment. You may also be able to claim occupancy expenses, which are defined as the cost of owning or renting your house (rent, mortgage interest, insurance, rates). Check with your tax office for details.

Five Tips for Work-at-Home Success

  1. Be clear why you want to work at home.
  2. Find a work-at-home job that is a good fit for your skills, knowledge and talents. It should be work you enjoy and that will help others – and which they'll gladly pay for.
  3. Review your work-at-home decision once or twice a year to check that you are on track to achieve your business goals and that your decision is still right for you and for your family.
  4. Be self-disciplined. Have a healthy balance of work, play, family time and "me" time.
  5. Children and housework can be great distractions when you need to work. Hire help if you must.

By Serena Tan