Excerpted with permission from Hired@Home by Sarah Hamaker, all rights reserved. Hired@Home is available in paperback from Amazon.com. In ebook form, Hired at Home is available for Kindle from Amazon.com, and in other e-reader formats from Smashwords. Sarah can be contacted at www.sarahhamaker.com.
Chapter 4: Do You Have What It Takes?
What is Your Personal Situation?
What kind of person are you? Do you have what it takes to work at home or run a home-based business? If you have discerned that your calling as a wife and mother could expand to include working at home, if your family situation allows you to do so at this time, and if your financial picture would support an at-home business, then the next step is to see if you personally could work at home.
All About You
You may desire to work from home, but taking a closer look at the way you run your home and care for your children may reveal hidden depths or concerns that could affect you if you take on an additional responsibility. The following questions should help clarify how you view work and its inherent responsibilities.
- How much time do you spend on housework and meal preparation?
- On running errands?
- Is there quiet space in your home for an office or work place?
- How much time do your children need from you each day? (This is especially critical if your children are not in school.)
- How independent are your children?
- Do you have childcare options available if needed?
- Are you frazzled at the end of a typical day?
- Are you a procrastinator?
- Can you meet deadlines?
- Do you handle pressure well?
- How do you handle interruptions or unexpected happenings?
- Do your days need a lot of structure?
- Are you more at ease with an open schedule?
- Can you motivate yourself to complete tasks?
- Do you need more direction or input from others to work well?
- How did you view working before marriage or children?
- Did you enjoy the office environment?
- Do you feel you have a genuine desire to use your God-given skills to benefit your family, community, and yourself?
- Do you feel that by working you are fulfilling your calling in Christ?
“Sometimes, women do not understand the work world and how it functions,” says Jennifer Smithfield, a Nashville, Tennessee-based mid-level manager for a group of research analysts. “You need to treat your at-home job as a job and operate the same way as you would in an office in order to fulfill your obligations to your employer or clients.”
By taking the time to think through the answers to these and similar questions, you can get a fairly accurate picture of how you would manage the potential stresses and commitments that go with an at-home job.
Time Marches On
Home-based businesses or jobs take time, a precious commodity in anyone’s life. Usually, you will have to devote more than a few hours a week to make your business succeed, and when you’re trying to establish your at-home work, you may need to dedicate more hours to your business. In order to do a good job, you must be willing to sacrifice some of the things you spend time on now. Before you start your home-based business or take on an at-home job, think about the following questions.
Will you be able to cut back on some of the activities you enjoy doing to devote those hours to your business? Can you extract yourself from volunteer or church commitments at least while you’re getting settled into your at-home work? Do you really want to sacrifice play group or soccer practice for conference calls? If you have preschool age children, are you ready to consider childcare options if necessary? If not, will you really have time to fit work into your daily schedule of caring for young children?
“I thought having a baby would just mean I would have to work while he was sleeping,” says Lenore Ealy, who does consulting work for philanthropic organizations out of her home in Carmel, Indiana. “However, it didn’t quite work out that way and I ended up working in the middle of the night when my son was little.”
To see exactly how much time you could conceivably give to a job, keep a time journal for at least a week. Each day, from the moment you open your eyes until you close them at night, write down your activities in fifteen minute increments if applicable. Try to be as accurate as possible. You will be amazed at how quickly time flies—tasks you thought took only a few minutes can really take much longer.
Suzy is a stay-at-home mom with two children, ages four and two. Take a look at a typical day in her life.
Suzy Q’s Tuesday Time Journal
7:30 a.m. Get up, make bed, get children up, make breakfast
8 a.m. Eat breakfast, read the newspaper
8:30 a.m. Help children get dressed
8:45 a.m. Family devotions
9 a.m. Wash breakfast dishes
9:15 a.m. Shower and dress
9:45 a.m. Sort laundry, start first load
10:15 a.m. Check email, make phone calls
10:45 a.m. Put first load of laundry into dryer, start second load
11 a.m. Run errand
11:45 a.m. Fix children’s lunch
12:15 p.m. Fix and eat own lunch
12:30 p.m. Wash lunch dishes
12:45 p.m. Finger puppet show for children
1 p.m. Take children outside for a walk
1:30 p.m. Fold and put away first load of laundry, put second load in dryer, start final load
2 p.m. Get children down for rest/nap time
2:15 p.m. Work on volunteer project for local historical society
3 p.m. Fold and put away second load of laundry, put final load in dryer
3:15 p.m. Finish working on volunteer project
4 p.m. Fix snacks for kids
4:30 p.m. Fold and put away final load of laundry
4:45 p.m. Play with children
5 p.m. Dinner preparation
5:30 p.m. Husband home, talk about day
6 p.m. Dinner
6:30 p.m. Wash dinner dishes
7 p.m. Bedtime preparation for children
7:30 p.m. Bedtime for children
8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Watch television and relax
10 p.m. Get ready for bed
10:30 p.m. Bedtime
Once you have a week’s worth of time charted, examine it to see where you might have “time wasters,” those chunks of time that don’t really accomplish much at all. For me, time wasters include spending too much time reading the morning newspaper, taking long showers, constantly checking email, surfing the Web, watching television, and indulging in the occasional afternoon nap. These things in and of themselves are not bad, but they can gobble up time quickly. Sometimes I find myself falling behind in my household chores or freelance writing assignments wondering where the time went.
You’ll probably spot pockets of time you could dedicate to working from home. If you are looking for full-time, at-home work, you need to either find a job or business where you can work odd hours or restructure your day to accomplish your job during the normal business hours of nine to five.
To free up more time, you might need to get up earlier, go to bed later (don’t neglect your sleep, though!), schedule errands differently, stop watching television or DVDs, or curtail the time you spend in chat rooms or online in general.
However, be careful that you do not neglect your husband. And do not shut yourself off completely from your friends and family, or you will burn yourself out. In chapter 11, we’ll look at specific ways to handle work, family, and me-time.
The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer
The Mother At Home by John S.C. Abbott
Woman at Home by Arlene Cardozo
Proverbs31 Ministries encourages women through resources and a magazine, P31 Woman.
Sarah Hamaker is a certified Leadership Parenting Coach™ through the Rosemond Leadership Parenting Coach Institute. She’s also a freelance writer and editor. Sarah lives in Fairfax, Va., with her husband and four children. Visit her at www.parentcoachnova.com.
Publication date: April 9, 2013