How to be a work-at-home mum (WAHM)
Find out how you can be a work-at-home mum by putting these helpful tips into practice.
It’s not easy being a mum — especially one who decides to stay at home fulltime. In fact, it is one of the most difficult, heart-wrenching, rewarding and wonderful things you’ll ever do.
These days though, the added economic struggles are more difficult than they have been in past generations, making the decision to be a stay-at-home mum tougher than ever.
Thus, in many cases, the desire to stay at home with your children isn’t an option unless you can do something to supplement your family’s income. Thankfully, because of modern technology, becoming a work-at-home mum is more possible now.
Before you take the leap and explore the world of a work-at-home mum though, you’ll probably want to take into account your family’s financial situation.
Check your finances before you become a WAHM
When you make the decision to be a work-at-home mum, one of the first things you need to do is decide how much you need to make. It is important to look at this realistically. You most probably won’t need to make near as much as you would working outside the home since you won’t have the following expenses:
- Professional wardrobe (though you’ll still need a few ‘grown-up’ clothes of course)
- Commuting expenses (Or petrol expenses if you have a car)
- Vehicle maintenance and upkeep will be less costly
- Meals eaten outside the home
Of course, you might need to make enough money to justify the time and effort you put into working, and to cover some of your household’s expenses.
Alternatively, if your family can get by on just your spouse’s income, you can set aside your income as a work-at-home mum for the future — e.g. for ‘rainy days’ and vacations.
When checking your finances, it’s always best to include your spouse — the both of you should be on the same page when it comes to this, especially your decision to be a work-at-home mum.
Set up your home office
The type of home office you will have depends upon the type of work you will do from home. Your minimal needs will probably be a file for business receipts and a computer on which to keep your records.
Once those needs are established, you’ll need to ‘build’ your office space around your business.
If you are going to run a home-based daycare, for instance, the office area isn’t going to be your primary focus — the children’s play/learning area will be your major concern.
If, like me, you plan to work as a writer, in accounting, transcription or similar professions that require desk space, you’ll need a place of relative quiet. You’ll need a place where you can spread your work out without fear of it disappearing or having chocolate milk or animal crackers smeared all over it.
An extra bedroom, a large closet converted into a mini-office — whatever space you can find can help you get on your way to becoming a work-at-home mum. As for converting the space into an office, there are multiple websites to give you ideas on how to do so creatively, economically and tastefully.
Are you making extra income by making/selling your artistic creations? You’ll need a room where you can store your supplies in such a way that they are easily accessible at a moment’s notice.
Shelving is paramount for a business such as this, especially labelled shelving. It goes without saying too that you’ll need a space where you can leave your work out without fear of it being reinvented by little hands.
Look at the technical aspects of being a work-at-home mum
In addition to having a specific workspace, you will also need to have the proper equipment. A computer will be necessary for just about any business — it will make record-keeping much easier.
Speaking of record keeping, be sure you set aside enough money to pay your business taxes. Enlist the help or seek advice from someone ‘in the know’ as to how you should file your taxes and which expenses are deductible.
You may also need a desk, file folders, fax and scanner, higher-speed internet service to handle the files you send and receive, business cards, stationary, supplies for your craft and so on.
You will also need to know if you are in compliance with any local and federal laws regarding running a business from your home. Get any and all necessary permits and licenses (if any).
Explore different work-at-home mum options
Work at a virtual office/business
The virtual office/business is gaining in popularity daily. Not only is it more family-friendly, but it is also cost effective for many employers.
That’s why one of the first things you can consider when searching for a work-at-home venture is to approach your current boss (if you currently work outside the home). Chances are you can still contribute to your company’s success working from home and submitting your work virtually.
Of course, you may have to attend a few meetings at the office, but that’s easy enough to work around.
Work as a freelancer
Alternatively, you may also want to try putting your talents to use on a freelance level. Sites such as Elance.com, freelancemom.com and gofreelance.com allow you to put your skills to use on a virtual level literally all over the world.
Take note though that most of these websites require you to ‘join’ them either for free or for a nominal monthly fee (usually around $10).
The fees allow you to apply for the jobs posted on the website. Additionally, some of the sites will charge a commission on work you do (usually 5-8%).
Set up a home daycare
Another work-at-home mum option you can consider is becoming a home daycare provider. However, you should do this only if you love working with children other than your own, and can deal with the noise, discipline and different personalities of children on a daily basis.
Also, you should only do this if you can provide an environment of learning, creativity, love and safety for the children under your care. You will also need to have help in case of sickness, to give you a break and to allow you time to plan lessons and activities for your young charges.
Hiring a part-time helper for your home daycare may be a good choice. It is also important to designate a specified area of your home for the daycare, especially if you’ll be caring for more than 2 children other than your own.
Use your culinary skills and/or artistic talents and sell your ‘products’
Are you creative and artistic? Do people rave about your exquisite desserts, breads or other culinary creations?
If your answer is yes, try approaching local restaurants or cafes about carrying your specialty food items.
If you’re more into creating things like crafts or jewellery or other similar items, approach local boutiques, salons and specialty shops about selling your items in their stores. Rent a booth at local craft fairs and festivals to showcase your products.
When working from home in this manner, you might be better off selling wholesale to 3rd parties rather than working on commission, if at all possible. Just be sure to keep your prices low enough for your client to make a profit but charge enough so that you do the same.
Maintain a balance
Remember, working from home is something you are doing to allow you to stay at home with your children. As much as possible, don’t allow your job to take you away from your children for more than 3-4 hours a day.
It’s okay to type away on the computer, to be baking muffins or designing and making handbags while the kids are playing in the next room but be readily accessible to them at all times. When the allotted time for doing your tasks is up, put your work away for the day and go play with your kids.
Are you a work-at-home mum or do you want to be one? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment!