Working From Home

It's every new mother's dream - working from home. But how can you balance child care and your career under one roof? Tricia O'Brien, Features Editor for American Baby Magazine, has some tips.

First, be realistic. Just because you want to work from home doesn't mean you'll be able to. Some jobs have to be done in at the office, which means you may not be able to continue exactly what you were doing before you had a baby.

Finding a new job that you can do at home, though, doesn't have to be hard. "You have to think about, 'What am I good at, and how can I capitalize on those strengths?'" says O'Brien. Skills like being good with numbers or excelling at networking can translate easily into a new career.

A little planning can help things seem more clear. By putting together a business plan, you'll be able to set goals and stick to them. Working from home, be it through your own business or another job, takes a lot of organization. "Getting it up and running often takes a lot longer than you think," says O'Brien. Organizations like the Better Business Bureau have great tips on how to get started. You can also find ways to meet other people in similar situations online.

Keep your eyes and ears open for people who have different strengths than your own. Try to build your own "board of advisors" who can help you if you have a problem. Most people will do this type of consultant for free just to get more exposure themselves.

Also, don't expect the pay to be as great as when you were working full-time and going to the office every day. "Generally, if it's your own business, you're not really going to have a set salary to fall back on," says O'Brien. "You should have a nest egg for the lean days."

One expense to consider, though, is child care. Just because you're working from home doesn't mean you can be Super Mom and Career Woman at the same time. O'Brien advises that if you have a job that requires your full attention between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm, consider day care or hiring a nanny. "Some people can do jobs in the evening after their kids go to sleep or while their kids are napping," says O'Brien. Figure out what works best with your schedule.

Don't be afraid to ask other moms for help, either. Other parents who also work from home may be willing to take turns babysitting so that they'll have free time to get their own work done when it's your turn to watch the kids. "That's another networking thing you can do," says O'Brien.

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By Erin Petrun