As a mother, it’s safe to say your number one priority is your family. You are the glue that holds everyone together and, without you, the family structure would likely crumble. Being a stay-at-home mom has allowed you to watch your children grow, and you wouldn’t trade that for the world.
By now you are well aware that being a mom is a full-time job in itself. But besides being paid in adorable giggles and sweet little kisses, the monetary compensation isn’t the greatest.
The older your children get and the more activities they are involved in, the more expensive things can become. In 2011 alone, middle income families spent just over $13,000 per child, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Because of this expense, you may be considering a new career—one that will help pay the bills. But does that mean you need to sacrifice your time at home with your children? Not necessarily.
More and more moms are making the decision to work from home. The obvious benefits include working in your pajamas, being your own boss and a favorable morning commute. But if you’re still on the fence, it is understandable to be apprehensive of the challenges involved.
Before taking that step, hear from two moms who are currently working in web design from the comfort of their own home.
Meet Marci Smith
Marci is a stay-at-home mom of three who launched Blue Moon Design in 2000. From her home in South Dakota, Blue Moon specializes in web design, desktop publishing and graphic design services. For Marci, the decision to start working from home came when her youngest daughter was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare type of congenital heart disease.
With her daughter’s unique health routines, frequent doctors’ visits, and constant fear of infection, working her full-time job at the local community college became impossible. Fortunately, Marci had a special interest in web design, and had taken a few related courses while working at the college.
With some formal training under her belt, she felt confident attracting new clients through word of mouth. Since 2000, her family has moved twice but business was never disrupted because she operates everything online.
Marci says the greatest challenge of working from home comes during the summers, when her kids are out of school. To combat this issue, she insists on having a home office, so she can have her own space.
“It’s challenging to define that mommy is working,” Marci says. “Because you’re home all the time, it’s hard for the kids to understand that you are not available.”
The most rewarding part, she says, is the flexibility. She is able to drop her kids off and pick them up from school every day, while participating in school activities when she is needed. In addition, if the kids are sick, there is no need to use paid time off to take care of them.
Marci’s biggest piece of advice for mothers striving to follow in her footsteps is to get as much formal training as possible.
Marci also stresses the importance of being a self-starter. With no boss looking over your shoulder to keep you on task, she says it’s essential to be able to work independently and hold yourself accountable.
“I love being able to express my creativity alongside my technical abilities," says Marci. "The flexibility has allowed me so much freedom to manage the other areas of my life.”
Connect with Marci Smith on Twitter.
Meet Brianna Thomas
Brianna is a freelance web designer who works from home in Boston while caring for her 14-month-old daughter. She holds a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from Fitchburg State University and started her career as a junior designer at a marketing and public relations agency. She eventually worked her way up to a creative director position.
After the birth of her daughter, Brianna recalls her maternity leave racing by far too quickly. She struggled with the idea of going back to her high-pressure, fast-paced job at the agency and dreaded the long hours away from her little girl.
So, in 2011, she decided to work from home. She was excited to have the freedom to take on projects that appealed to her, rather than simply completing agency assignments. Plus, the experience and connections she had from her previous jobs gave her a great base on which to build.
Today, Brianna acquires most of her clients through word of mouth. She also displays her work on krop.com, a database of design portfolios that companies can use to commission work or search for designers—and a great resource for stay-at-home mom jobs!
Although she enjoys the flexibility, Brianna admits there are challenges.
“The biggest struggle is finding time for myself,” she says. “Pretty much any time I get a free moment, I’m trying to get some work done.”
For Brianna, the most gratifying part of working from home is having control over when the work gets done. She loves having the freedom to attend a class with her daughter in the middle of the week or to take a trip to the park on a pleasant afternoon.
“Plus, getting to kiss my baby’s sweet face whenever I want to is a definite plus," she adds.
"Getting to kiss my baby's sweet face whenever I want to is a definite plus!"
The biggest piece of advice Brianna has for other moms aspiring to work from home is to have a child care plan in place. She’s fortunate to have her own mother willing to babysit at a moment’s notice, allowing her to take on important rush jobs when needed. But for those who don’t have that luxury, she recommends part-time daycare or a babysitter.
Another tip she shares is to under-promise and over-deliver. “Exceeding expectations is the quickest way to repeat business,” she says.
She also recommends getting in the habit of padding your schedule, because—as you know—children and their needs are unpredictable.
You Can Do It
So, there you have it. You’ve met two mothers who successfully work in web design from the comfort of their own homes. They claim it’s the best of both worlds—you can earn a living doing something you enjoy and still be around for those big childhood milestones.
If this is just the balance you’ve been seeking, familiarize yourself on how to make the transition to work from home.
If Marci and Brianna can do it, so can you!