As you know, I’m big on gratitude. If you don’t express what you are thankful for — in your own private moments, to those you care about, it is very hard to be happy.
One of the things that that routinely express gratitude for is my career. When I put the kids to bed and we take turns sharing a few things for which we are grateful, I often include: “I’m grateful I have a job that lets me earn enough money to take care of us and also spend a lot of time with you.”
Over the past month it seems that this flexibility and ownership of time has come into even sharper play. Here is a list of 30 times in the past month that I found myself grateful for being a self-employed work-at-home mom.
- Helena was sick with a fever and stayed home from school watching videos, reading and napping while I worked nearby.
- A bazillion snow days did not ruin my life.
- A half-day of school (really, can’t the schools be open for a full week already!?)
- When my mom came to visit I skipped out of work in the middle of the morning to pick her up at the airport.
- When my mom came to visit I kept Lucas home from school that day and join me at La Guardia Airport (super-exciting for a 3-year-old!) and then spend the day with his grandma.
- Threw the requisite piñata birthday party at the daycare at 2 p.m. on a Wednesday.
- Every day I enjoy making myself a chopped salad lunch in my own kitchen.
- I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes or time shopping for clothes because I don’t need them. The cat could give a shit what I wear to work.
- I can run to the post office in the middle of the morning when there are no lines.
- I exercise almost every day during business hours.
- I use business hours to get my hair cut.
- I use business hours to go to the gyno.
- I use business hours to shop for the kids’ birthday gifts.
- I met a friend for breakfast and didn’t have to lie to the boss about my car not starting.
- I dropped off my kids at school most days.
- I picked up my kids from school most days.
- I chaperoned Helena’s school field trip.
- Because I’m home all the time I’m friendly with the mailman. And FedEx guy, my super, the servers in the cafe downstairs from my apartment and my elderly neighbors — all of which makes my neighborhood feel like home.
- I signed for my neighbor’s UPS delivery.
- When I had a hankering for pasta e fagioli soup in the middle of the morning I started simmering the beans right then and there so it was ready for that evening’s supper.
- Because I’m self-employed I have total flexibility to try out new things in my business like building out my radio show and list-building promotions. I have total freedom and the resulting fun. Also:
- Spent a bunch of money on a redesign, marketing course and new headshots. And I don’t have to validate those decisions to anyone.
- Signed a few new clients and can afford to set really, really high income goals because I don’t have a boss to tell me what my salary is limited to.
- Helped out a half-dozen professional contacts in varying capacities because that is what I like to do and that is how you grow a business (but is harder to do when your time is committed to an employer).
- Spent time business hours investing unbillable hours in my business: receiving media training, hosting a radio show, blogging, joining networking meetings — all things that, again, can be tough to justify to a boss but are critical to professional success.
- Did what I wanted to do every day.
- Made annual pediatrician appointments for my kids and didn’t worry about taking off work.
- Participated in earnest in book research about moms who “have it all” for my friend Laura Vanderkam’s Mosaic Project (if you earn at least six figures, are a mom with kids at home and can say you have it all, give her a shout here).
- Felt my heart break when a mom told me she “doesn’t really know what is going on” in her daughter’s life because she and her husband get home from work at 6, and even that doesn’t leave much time for casual chatting.
- Wore comfortable (or no) shoes nearly every day.
When I urge moms to keep a foot in the professional world, I often get a lot of pushback. I hear that it’s impossible to maintain a career in less than 50 hours per week, or that childcare is prohibitively expensive. I am fortunate that I found a career early on that allows me to do all of the above and also support a family. But nearly every industry is moving towards contract and freelance work, while part-time and telecommute positions are on the rise. There are tons of opportunities out there — and countless ways to make your own opportunities. I just wrote this article for RetailMeNot about six professional work-at-home jobs that are great for moms, and there are many more at FlexJobs, the mecca for all gigs telecommute.
I’d love to hear from you! Share in the comments ways you’ve found to earn a good living while spending lots of time with your family and other meaningful activities? Do you want to go back to work but can’t find a job with enough flexibility? Or do you work too much and want to be home more? There is a solution! Let’s brainstorm and figure this out!!!