Society’s been quick to label the “stay at home mom” and the “working mother,” but the “work at home mom” is rarely ever mentioned.
I’ve been a work at home mom—in some capacity—since my first son was born in 2010. When he was seven months old, I returned to my day job, working part-time. I was directing a business development team for a non-profit and—despite the boundaries I had tried to set by reeling back my schedule—people never had a problem calling me on my days off or afterhours. I couldn’t just “shut off,” so I was inevitably the mother pushing my son on the swing with a phone at my ear.
I had my second baby in 2013 and I decided to leave my job and start my own business. With two other partners, I launched Baby Caravan—a company that helps postpartum woman navigate maternity leave and the subsequent return to work.
Having your own business definitely provides flexibility, as well as other advantages. When I was getting my business off the ground, my son was three-months-old and I brought him with me everywhere—including the bank while I opened a business account and to client visits. No one blinked an eye; they understood my need to be both a mother and a businesswoman.
Work at home moms have similar perks to stay at home moms. They can attend the pre-school holiday parties or pick up a sick child from school and still make it back home for a 1PM conference call. They’re also able to save money on childcare by working evenings and during naps time (something I am doing at this very moment). It’s almost like you get to—dare I say—“have it all.” That is, if you don’t mind ending a work call abruptly when you notice that the diaper you thought had at least ten more minutes in it actually didn’t.
So why don’t more companies employ work at home moms? These are mothers who can balance their time like any other adult. Instead of fitting work between office gossip, coffee runs and Facebook updates, these women fit it in between naps, doctor appointments, school pickups and childcare relief.
For many women, this sort of set-up would be a total dream. They get to spend time with their families while also advancing their careers and contributing financially to their families. As President Obama mentioned in his State Of The Union address in January, childcare costs are astronomical. Mothers often leave the workforce not by choice, but because it just doesn’t make economic sense to stay—especially if they have more than one child. Having one parent work from home—as a part-time employee or as an entrepreneur—helps families free up some of those funds.
Case-in-point: My husband and I send our 1 ½-year-old to daycare two days a week. This is a gigantic expense for us, but it would be even more costly to hire a nanny to take care of him throughout the week. As a work at home mom, I can adjust my hours to accommodate most of my child’s needs. That’s a big deal for my family.
This set-up would allow businesses to keep talented employees who aren’t looking to have their young children in full-time care. Women who are professionally driven will always be driven, no matter where their desk is.
As technology advances, the idea of what a typical employee and a normal family look like will continue to change. And businesses need to see that forcing traditional work hours on employees with non-traditional aspirations will hurt, not help, the companies in the long-term.