When you're a work-at-home mom, taking a break means not getting paid, and possibly, missing out on valuable opportunities. But with a little strategy, you can leverage summer travels to reap all their rewards, mentally and financially. In this issue of Working Mom 3.0, writer Stephanie Taylor Christensen explores how.
I grew up in a home where my father, the primary breadwinner, was self-employed. Though we took vacations each summer, he was still working during them, frequently calling into the office and following up with clients to ensure that no balls were dropped. At the time, I didn't understand why my dad couldn't just kick back and relax at the beach. As a stay-at-home working mom, I identify with his plight completely. When you work for yourself, vacations usually mean missing out on financial gain, and possibly letting opportunities that arise while you're on leave pass by. But there is a way to have it all — even when you're a work-at-home mom on vacation. Here's how.
I take my computer with me on our travels, and while some might label that as a "workaholic" tendency, I assure you it doesn't hinder my family time. In truth, it's the perfect balance. When we vacation, I find myself waking at the same wee hours of the morning I do at home. But instead of shuffling downstairs with eyes half-open, that early-morning time is the perfect opportunity to sneak off with my laptop and take in what can be the most serene aspects of the trip. Last year on a trip to Orange County, I wrote as I sat outside, sipped coffee and listened to the waves of the Pacific Ocean. I recently had a similarly enjoyable experience watching the sunrise over the bobbing sailboats in Lake Erie. Yes you're working on vacation — but on your terms. It's a very different experience than when you're exhausted and stressed at home, and can serve as a meaningful reminder of why we work-at-home moms actually do have it so great!
Don't back yourself into a corner
The key to not resenting working on vacation? Be realistic about the fact that you may have a case of "vacation brain." If you've got clients contacting you with urgent needs while you're in line at the Magic Kingdom, you will indeed ruin your vacation. But if you use the time to catch up on things that don't have a pressing deadline, to further your education from industry experts, to prospect or to brainstorm about your future strategy, you may find a new inspiration and passion for your business.
Leverage the financial benefits
If the primary purpose of your trip is business, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) states that your transportation and lodging costs and 50 percent of your meal expenses on business days can be written off. (If you drive instead of fly, you can deduct 56.5 cents per mile, plus parking and tolls). Though the IRS is explicit about that "primary purpose" rule (you can't work for a few hours and call it a business trip), combining business and pleasure has its benefits. For example, if your trip would require you to secure a rental car and hotel if you were traveling solo and purely for business, you can still deduct those costs, despite the fact that your family uses them too. You can also meet the business travel standards by attending trade shows, industry events, or training — provided the event is directly related to your business and/or has the potential to enhance it.
Working Mom 3.0
The modern woman is redefining what it means to have a successful career. Rather than feeling torn between climbing the corporate ladder and having a happy family life, many women are choosing to merge the two and transition their careers from a traditional role to a more flexible one. Working Mom 3.0 is reinventing the definition of "working mom," as office hours are held at home and revolve around nap times.
This column begins by chronicling the experiences of Stephanie Taylor Christensen, a former marketing professional turned self-employed stay-at-home mom, writer and yoga instructor as she strives to redefine "having it all" on her own time and terms.
More tips for working moms
Working Mom 3.0: Self-care is not selfish
Working Mom 3.0: Get happy
Working Mom 3.0: Is your hard work paying off?