I Quit My Job to be a Work-At-Home Mom
In 2018, I quit my full-time job to stay at home with my two kids. At the time, one was three and one was nine months old. While I desperately wanted to stay home with them, my family couldn’t afford for me to not work. I began doing some freelance writing and remote teaching, but I couldn’t commit fully to either one until I quit my job. It was honestly so scary to quit a job with a salary, 401K, and benefits not knowing how much money I’d be able to make working from home as a contractor.
But I made it happen! I now stay at home with my three kids and work as a contractor writing for dozens of businesses. Between the income I’m able to bring in and the savings from not paying for childcare and after-school care, we are making it work financially.
If you’re thinking of doing the same thing, you need to know that there are pros and cons. In my opinion, the pros far outweigh the cons, but it’s important to acknowledge both. At the end of this post, I've provided some tips for anyone thinking about making the transition to working from home. I am writing this from my perspective as a mom, but these same pros and cons apply to dads too. I know at least a few dads who juggle working from home with their kiddos.
Pros of Working From Home
Let’s start on a high note. There are so many wonderful benefits of working from home. It’s honestly everything I dreamed it would be when I look at all of the positives.
Aside from my kids’ school and appointments, I don’t have to be anywhere at a particular time. It’s wonderful. I can work early or I can work late. As I write this, I’m at a play place with my oldest so I can work while he has fun.
When my kids are out of school I am not scrambling to find childcare. When they’re sick, I’m already home with them and I don’t have to call out of work – again. I have three kids now. It feels like someone is always sick.
I know a lot of parents began juggling remote work during the pandemic. I was so thankful that I was already working from home because I saw how stressful the transition was for so many of my friends.
More Family Time
This is one of the biggest pros for my family. My husband works overnights from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. If I were still at an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. office job, we would almost never see one another. Instead, we can plan our days around seeing daddy before he goes to work.
We can do weekday family activities in the late afternoon without disrupting bedtime. We can meet him for lunch or dinner when he is working. If we want to take time off to travel somewhere, we only have to plan around one work schedule instead of two.
Work More...or Less
When we need extra money, I can often work a little extra. When my kids are home for a school break, I can often work less. Some weeks I work 60 hours and wonder how I’m surviving. Last year I took almost the entire month of December off and got to enjoy a (nearly) stress-free holiday season.
Of course, it’s important to note that when I do work more, it’s really hard. Trying to write when my kids are home and awake is nearly impossible. Someone is constantly telling asking me to open something, crying because someone hit them, or asking me to hold them.
That leaves me with limited working hours after they go to sleep or while they are in school. My two younger kids (now 4 and 2) only go to school a few half days each week at our church. I have to manage my time really well and prioritize work during those kid-free hours.
Overall, I am less stressed out. I still have to get three kids ready and out the door for school. But I don’t have to get up as early and also get myself ready. I won’t lie. I’m spoiled. I can wear leggings and t-shirts and not worry about if someone wiped their face or spilled something on my nice work shirt.
When I was going to an office to work, I had to be there at 8:30 a.m. That meant getting up at 5, nursing my baby, getting my two kids dressed and out the door by about 7:15 to take them to my mom’s and then drive to the office. Inevitably, someone always had to use the bathroom or couldn’t find their shoes as we were ready to walk out the door.
I’m also not fighting 5 o’clock traffic getting home. If I left the office right at 5, it wasn’t bad. But if I stayed over as little as five extra minutes, I might as well stay until 5:30 because I’d spend the same time sitting in traffic.
Cons of Working from Home
I will be honest. The struggle is REAL. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows and fun. But I think if you understand the pitfalls of working from home, you can overcome them or at least learn to accept them.
Professional Competition & No Guarantees
When you work from home, you’re not limited to jobs in your community. You can work for any company around the world that is hiring remote employees or contractors. The downfall is that you are competing with other qualified people from around the world. Even if you have amazing professional experience, there’s always someone out there who is more qualified.
I primarily work as a contract writer, so I’m not employed anywhere. I currently write for dozens of companies. I personally love the variety. But, I’m basically always looking for more work. Sometimes there are more writing projects available than I can complete. Other times, there are very few projects available. Some contracts are one-time projects. Others are long-term commitments to write once a week or once a month.
The House is Always Messy – Always!
For so long I couldn’t figure this out. Why is the house always messy when I’m able to spend more time cleaning? Well, it’s because my kids are spending more time messing it up! There are always spills, sometimes mysterious ones that no one can tell how they happened. And then there are toys. Toys are everywhere. And dishes. So many dirty dishes. We spend more time eating at home, so sometimes I run our dishwasher twice a day.
Burnout is Real
We all experience burnout sometimes. Working from home is no exception to this. Trying to juggle everything gets very monotonous. I really loved when I worked in an office and had a big project to complete. Doing research and seeing the results of my work was great motivation.
At home when I do laundry, there’s always more lurking somewhere. I rarely feel that fantastic sense of accomplishment that I did in my career. But after almost four years, I’ve made my peace with this. When my kids are happy, that joy makes everything worth it. I have to remind myself that working 40+ hours outside of my home isn’t easier. It’s just a different hard.
It Gets Lonely
I generally consider myself to be a social person. Before kids, I loved my career and was very active in the community. I was always with people. Now, sometimes my husband and mom are the only adults I talk to during the week (aside from texting with friends).
You really have to be purposeful about planning play dates and lunch dates to stay in contact with people. I’ve had to step outside of my comfort zone and talk to other parents when we go to the park or storytime. I have to plan coffee dates with my cousin a month out, but it gives me something to look forward to.
Tips for Transitioning to Working From Home
If you’re thinking about quitting your job to work from home, it’s possible! But before you make that leap, you have to be prepared. Here’s what I did in my transition to working from home:
- Assess your budget. Know what your expenses are and how you can cut back if needed.
- Scope out the job market. Do you want to work as a remote employee or work as a contractor like I do?
- Try it out. Pick up a part-time gig that you can get started with. It’s hard to quit when you have absolutely no other income. This is a good buffer.
- Trust yourself. You’ll never be able to match your current income while you’re working full-time. It takes a leap of faith to quit your job and know everything will work out.
- Plan on taxes. As a contractor, I have to pay my own taxes. This means setting aside money each month to pay the IRS. If you don’t pay taxes over the course of the year, you might incur fees when you file your taxes at the end of the year.
Katy Hebebrand is a mom of three and freelance writer working in Pensacola, Florida. She earned her Public Relations BA from the University of West Florida and her Media Design MA from Full Sail University. She was born and raised in Pensacola and spent the first ten years of her career working in Pensacola before shifting to doing contract work full time in 2018.