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Is working from home/being freelance actually a WORSE option?

  • I've been freelancing from home for the past three years: all three of my children (ages 2,4,6) go to day care/school while i work, so that's not the problem. But what i'm starting to wonder is this: everyone seems to think that "working from home" is the ideal solution for a mom because it's "flexible." but in so many ways, this flexibility kills me. "Flexilibty" means i work at night when the kids are in bed, in addition to working all day. Because my various bosses are located around the country, it doens't matter to them when it's a snow day/late opening -- i still have to crank it out. I get no paid holidays. When my son was very sick, I brought my lap top to the hospital. I could go on, but recently I've been thinking: If i just had a regular full-time job, rather than six freelance part-time jobs, then i would: make more money, have more regular hours, get vacation time, have benefits. Am I deluding myself?
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Andrea on 15th February 2008
  • I just came out of a regular job and here is what made it hard for me...

    - rushing around in the mornings to get myself and the kids ready to all be at school/work on time.

    - trying to figure out how to juggle this when I had an early morning meeting.

    - having to ask for time off for doc appts, school plays, mothers day teas, volunteering and field trips (which I didn't want to miss).

    - having to rush off to pick up a sick child...then take the next few days off as the others all got sick too! Felt really guilty when colleagues had to take meetings for me.

    - feeling guilty because I had to leave the office at 4:30 in order to get all the kids picked up and home through the traffic so we could have a decent meal at a decent time!

    - getting frustrated at work on slow days, because I could rather be at home doing chores!

    I am not sure what kind of freelancing you do, so you may still face some of the problems I had.....but right now I LOVE the fact that I have the flexbility to work late at night if I have to!

    I am just guessing there is never an easy answer no matter which way we go

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Linda on 15th February 2008
  • That's deep Linda -- thanks for the honesty. Those are the reasons I've hesitated for so long to take an in-office full-time job. But I am struggling with how to keep my work-at-home freelance life inside some boundaries. Because to make enough money, and also "promote" the brand of "me" (i'm a writer/editor/journalist/analyst in a particular sector) to drum up future work, it feels like i have to work full-throttle all the time. That means nights and weekends. Yes, I could "slow down" but that would translate directly into earning less money, and that's not what i want to do, either financially or psychologically (i.e. don't want to be on the mommy-track).
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Andrea on 15th February 2008
  • Hi there! I work from home too, but I have my own business, so I don't have a boss to report to. I set my own hours, whenever I have available and WANT to work, and set my appts during that time.

    I actually market and do account set up for a wellness company. I am part of a wonderful support team that provides me with all the training and support I need. If you're interested in learning about maybe a change in venue, I could help you. It sounds like you have a J-O-B, but it's from home instead.

    Here is my website if you want to check it out:

    You can request info there or just send me an email.

    Good luck!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by on 15th February 2008
  • Hi, timecrunch,

    First of all, welcome to WIM - glad you found us.

    I can really relate to what you wrote. I used to work in a very high-paced corporate setting before I founded Work It, Mom! I do have more flexibility now but it has meant that I work all the time, around the clock, like you say. Like you, this is a serious business for me and I have huge ambition for it -- and I've struggled to figure out how I can set up boundaries and grow the business at the same time.

    I don't have anything too wise to share, unfortunately, but here are a few things I've done:

    -One night a week computer is off from 8pm on. This is tough for me since I do a ton of work at night usually, but I realized that my husband and I needed a night when I am not working.

    -When I leave my office -- it's in our house -- for a break, time to play with my daughter, eat dinner, anything -- I close the door. It's a very small step, but I've found that creating this physical boundary is really important. I try to LEAVE work when I leave work.

    -I organize my to-do list by writing down things I MUST do and things that I should do if there is time. I aim to put no more than 3 big Must do things on the list daily and I work hard to finish those during the day-time hours. Some days I work through the remainder of the list at night, but sometimes I take a "break" and do those the next day. This allows me to accomplish something, feel good and productive about it, but to have some freedom to go downstairs and eat dinner with the family while not typing away at the same time.

    I don't know if this is helpful, but I wanted to share. Re wanting a full-time job -- something I think about is how little flexibility I had. In a way, it was easier, but I really savor the opportunity to spend a bit of time with my kiddo during the day, even though it means I sleep less and work at night. And then, of course, I'm really in love with what I am doing -- and if you like writing as a freelancer, do you think you'd really like to deal with a corporate type job?
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Nataly on 15th February 2008
  • I agree with Nataly -- I think perhaps you should first try to set some boundaries on your current work schedule/day and see if that works for you.

    If not, then perhaps the corporate route is a better bet for you at this point in your life. I think it really depends on each individual and what you are looking for at a particular time in your life. I am guessing that at some point, when my kids are grown, that I will probably return to a "regular" job....that is, of course, if I haven't built myself an empire at home

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Linda on 15th February 2008
  • I used to freelance from home and now I do have a sort of office job (I sell radio advertising, so I'm not always in the office and it is somewhat more flexible than a typical corporate job) - but I've discovered within myself that I'm not a good employee in that I'm a big thinker and an entrepeneur and get frustrated when the higher ups don't move forward on ideas I have and have me stop on marketing initiatives that I know will work (my newsletter for clients was kibashed last year - they said they'd be doing a station newsletter for all clients but it has not been launched yet)...

    I'd love to get back into the freelance side of things...and actually I am in my spare time...but I'm doing things differently. I'm outsourcing things that aren't essential for me to do and trying to keep a tight focus...
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Patrysha Korchinski on 16th February 2008
  • I hear you! I really miss office work. I was much more productive. Much less distracted. The commute and change of environment really sets me up to know what needs to be done and do it. Even if it's my least favorite task. And I like having people around and being part of a team.

    Plus, home offices tend to be shoved into corners and odd spaces. And the computer does double duty as home and work computer. I think one really needs a definite space that says "this is where you work." Now that I think of it, my husband's cousin really does that well. He has a large office that is separate from the rest of the house. And he has a home desk with a computer and a work desk with a computer.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Jenns on 16th February 2008
  • I used to freelance for a company as their in-house graphic designer. I started out very part time because my daughter was only 4 months old, my son 1 1/2. I worked for the owner's wife in the Marketing Dept. on a per project basis. We found a very nice 17 year old girl who was home schooled and available to watch the kids. I worked from home 1 day and out 2 days and that was my work week for nearly a year. The girl needed to quit to find a job that offered health insurance, understandably so.

    The longer I was there and the older the kids got, the more I became a permanent fixture of the company. It was nice to have a set schedule, yet something that I could change within reason. Income was steady so that was a big plus. Technically I was a freelancer with all the perks of a part-time employee.

    I always felt like I had all my eggs in one basket with this situation, so I caution those considering this type of position. A guaranteed pay check does wonders for your peace of mind
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by DandiK on 17th February 2008
  • Thanks everyone for your input. Nataly I appreciate your comments because you hit on the exact point: the issue really arises BECAUSE i am very attached to my work! but the other day i was in such a rush to pick up my child right before the day care closed that i nearly got into an accident with my neighbor's car -- my hair was still dripping from racing out of the shower after squeezing in a run after a full day of work.... i think you can imagine the scenario. But it made me realize that i do have limits.

    I guess that's the question in my mind: how do you know what is too much stress? This is why I came to WorkItMom! because i need some ambitious working-mother peers. I have a lot of SAHM friends, and friends with one child, or friends with jobs they don't care much about. In other words, I'm looking for some perspective. Because some people just look at me, and say, "Wow, you have three kids AND you work at a professional level." But that's where I'm starting from, it's normal. I was a SAHM for three years and, God willing, will never be again (no offense to anyone -- it led to some pretty severe depression for me). So WITHIN this reality of having three small children and big professional ambitions -- well, when IS it too much?

    I know the answer is: only you can figure that out for yourself. Yes. But still looking for answers... sorry to ramble. (FYI, thanks for the invites to other jobs/careers, but i am fully invested in the sector i inhabit now!)
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Andrea on 17th February 2008

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