Common Ground: Challenge of working from home is rewarding

BY CHANTE WARREN

It’s been nearly three years since I left my full-time newspaper job and became a freelance, work-at-home writer and stay-at-home mom.

About 23 percent of employed people did some or all of their work at home in 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

One benefit is flexibility and convenience. I can work whenever, wherever or however I choose. My lunch break is in my kitchen. I can work in my pajamas or sweats. If my eyes grow heavy, I can take a nap.

Of course, working from home does present its share of challenges and interruptions.

Laundry and dishes constantly beg for attention. Visitors pop in. Occasionally, I have had to reschedule phone interviews after hearing my children erupt into yelling matches.

Thankfully, with laptops and tablets, at-home workers have the flexibility of working wherever plugs and WiFi connections exist.

I wrote part of this column under the mid-day sun at a picnic table beside a public pool. It was hot, but the outing provided the perfect outlet for my children to release all of the screaming, laughing and energy I’d cautioned them to contain earlier.

Staying home to work is convenient as well, though convenience comes at a price. Sometimes I write in the wee hours of the morning before the children wake up. And throughout the day, it’s not uncommon for them to knock on my office door yelling, “Mommy, I’m hungry. When’s breakfast? When’s lunch? When’s dinner?”

While conducting phone interviews in the morning or in the afternoon, engaging them in activities around the house including watching a movie, reading, playing games inside or playing softball in the backyard, does solve much of the problem.

Another lesson I’ve learned while working at home is to separate mom duties from business duties. Once I close my office door and post my “do not disturb” sign, I can ignore dishes, laundry and other duties that ordinarily call my attention. When the children see me sitting at my desk, they know it’s time to hush.

Another challenge for parents who work at home is dealing with countless interruptions. My youngest daughter fell off her scooter one afternoon as I worked on a story. I consoled her, treated the skinned knee and took some time away from my work to play with her.

It is also important for parents to ask for help from time to time. I don’t miss bringing my children to child care, but occasionally I ask a sitter or a grandparent to watch my kids while I take a break or while I’m covering a weekend story assignment.

Working at home can be challenging and it does require scheduling, planning and taking time to separate the parent duties from the work duties. But, the flexibility involved and the time spent with family is worth the challenge.

Chante Dionne Warren is a freelance writer. She can be reached at chantewriter@hotmail.com.