Guest Contributor: Gwen Payne, Invisible Moms
Once upon a time, being a stay-at-home parent meant putting your career on hold, if not giving it up entirely. In the digital age, however, working while parenting from home is far from impossible. In fact, there are opportunities out there to fit every availability level and intensity. You can pick up a few extra bucks here and there, or launch a full-time career right at home.
Here’s a look at a few of the options available, how to figure out what’s right for you, and how to get started.
Best Jobs for Stay-At-Home Parents
Right now, there are more options for remote work than ever before. However, traditional office opportunities that have recently transitioned to remote may not be a good fit for a stay-at-home parent. Often, these kinds of opportunities still expect you to work a traditional schedule, and only offer so much in the way of flexibility. This is not to say a full- or part-time remote role can’t be a good fit – it absolutely can – but it may be harder to find a company that can work with you the way you need it to.
If you want guaranteed flexibility, consider looking into freelancing. Contract work can be a perfect fit for stay-at-home parents. It gives you the ability to define your own hours and workload, meaning you can schedule your time around your family’s schedule. Moreover, it’s a great way to keep your resume active and avoid a massive career gap.
If you’re a graphic designer, for example, you’ll have a much easier time getting back into the industry if you’ve spent the interim years working as a freelancer. Contract work builds connections, keeps your skills sharp, and makes sure you stay relevant while parenting from home.
Do You Have a Workspace?
One obstacle that often stands between parents and remote work is a dedicated workspace. It’s hard for anyone to get their job done from the couch, but it’s even worse for parents. Children need boundaries, and they can’t understand that Mom or Dad is working if they’re in the same place where they usually play or hang out. A dedicated workspace makes it easier for kids to understand, and easier for moms and dads to delineate limitations.
If you have young children who need to be supervised, consider creating an office/playroom area. A gate or playpen can keep your kids in their zone while you knock out your tasks for the day. Give yourself a good start with the best equipment: you want a sturdy desk, a comfortable chair, a reliable printer, and, of course, a capable computer.
Teach your kids how to play independently while you’re in your workspace. It may take some time for them to get the hang of it – especially if they’re still little – but eventually they’ll be able to entertain themselves while you get to work. Then, once you’re done, you can enjoy quality time together.
To put it bluntly, some people will not thrive while or even enjoy working from home. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you do need to take some time to evaluate your own skills and work needs before you dive in full-tilt. Remote work requires focus, organization, and a lot of internal motivation. Leaving things to the last minute will create a ton of stress and pressure.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t do this kind of work if you, say, struggle with time management. But you should start slow. The skills you need are skills you can develop as you go, but if you take on too much, too early, you’re at serious risk of burning out. Give yourself the chance to figure out your workflow and find your limits before you take on a full-time workload.
Working from home can be an excellent fit for stay-at-home parents who need to bring in some extra cash. Focus on finding a good fit for your abilities and schedule. Remember to build your workload slowly, and reflect regularly to make sure you’re not at risk for burning out. With the right approach, you can build the career you’ve been dreaming of!
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