The New Stay-at-Home Mom
Forget everything you've heard about stay-at-home moms. A new generation is starting their own businesses, blogging, and working at home.
WAHM: The Best of Both Worlds
When I first started working from home 15 years ago, I had never heard the acronym WAHM (work-at-home mom). The landscape has certainly changed; now, instead of "Work versus staying home?" the question for moms-to-be is often "What work can I do from home?" Brooke Hall, who runs a Web design business (brookehalldesign.com) and stays home with her 10-month-old son, Owen, is happy doing both. "I get to be here for the first giggle and step, and yet working from home gives me an identity other than ‘mom,'" says the 27-year-old from Dublin, California. "I'm still the same person I was before the baby—partly due to my continuing professional life."
It can be a crazy juggling act on some days, but most WAHMs say the multitasking is worth it. "The best part of the work/kid combination is that I'm not lost and drowning in diapers and plastic building blocks," says Amy McAllister, 23, of Elk Grove, California, who teaches others how to bake and decorate cakes at littleladycakes.com and is studying to be a licensed acupuncturist. "I feel strong as an individual, which makes me a better mother and an even better role model to my 2-year-old son."
To Be a Successful WAHM, You Need:
- The right attitude Working at home is still work, there's just not someone else telling you what to do and when to do it. The key to success is being self-motivated to haul youself out of bed at dawn and get cracking before the baby wakes up—or stay up past baby's bedtime, when you're likely tired too.
- A plan Crossing your fingers and winging it is not enough. "Even before I had kids, I chose a profession that would allow me to stay home and raise children while working on the side," says Melissa Leonard, 37, a New York City etiquette consultant. "I've made it work by taking jobs when it's convenient for me—mostly on weekends when my husband can be at home with our baby."
- A support system Since my husband, Tony, works nights, he was often able to take the babies when I had phone interviews or pressing deadlines. I've also done swaps with other moms, hired baby sitters to fill in during crunch times and kept a stash of exciting new toys to pull out when necessary. (A crinkly orange caterpillar once bought me about 15 minutes of quiet time.)
- A realistic schedule Nap time is almost always work time for WAHMs. "I'd almost hyperventilate running to the computer as soon as I got the kids down—I knew the time would be short, and so I had to make the most of it," says Shelley Hunter, 44, who runs a gift card website (giftcardgirlfriend.com) from her Danville, California, home.
- Your own space Even if it's a tiny corner of your dining room, you need a physical space devoted to work. "I turned a spare bedroom into my office, and it's set up just like any professional space would be," says Angela Halloran, 35, a web designer (boutiquewebdesigns.com) who lives in Noblesville, Indiana. "At the end of each work day, I close the office door and don't open it again until the next morning."