My breath may have caught in my throat when I asked my manager if I could speak with her privately, but once I'd tendered my resignation, I walked out of her office with an overwhelming sense of freedom. It was as if a weight -- or a 100-pound gorilla -- had been lifted off my shoulders. And in my heart, I knew I was doing the right thing for my family and me.
I didn't come to the decision to work at home lightly. Indeed, I struggled with it for months before deciding to take the plunge. Then I held out just a little longer to make sure it wasn't an emotional reaction, or that something magical wouldn't happen causing my income to grow and commute to shorten. Neither did, and that brought me to her office.
The biggest concerns I had before resigning were all financial: did I have enough freelance work to sustain our family? What was my backup plan if something didn't work out? Would I still have enough money to live comfortably? With answers affirmative and a backup plan in place, I was ready. Another concern was what about daycare? I decided to forgo daycare in the short term as a money saver and planned to work towards using part time day care for the children in the near future.
The big decision
Are you thinking of taking the work at home plunge? Here are the three most important things to get in order before you do:
- Know your cash flow. Laugh all you want, but lining up work before you quit is 100 percent essential to success. It's easy to say that you will find work once you have the free time, but in reality, it can take months to line up. Preparing ahead will set you up for a positive experience. Be sure to put money away in a safety fund as well, just in case anything goes awry.
- Set your hours. Once you know what you will be doing, figure out when exactly you will be working. How much time do you need to devote to work each day? Can you fit that into nap times and night shifts or will you need some extra help to get the work done? Again, it's a nice idea to be a work at home parent and have your kids home with you, but it's not always feasible. Bringing in a mother's helper or sending the kids to daycare a few days will only serve to enhance the time you spend with them.
- Prepare your family. You family needs to understand that just because mommy works at home doesn't mean that mommy is free all the time. Having your partner's buy in as well as your childrens' is really a key thing. Working at home is as serious or more so then working in an office.
Now you've done it
Working at home can be a rewarding experience, if you are prepared and organized when you approach it. Before you make the decision to work at home, think long and think hard. And if you decide to do it, then go with gusto!