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Integrating Worklife with Homelife

I occasionally question my choice to work from home rather than from the comparative calm of an office...but my anxieties are quieted as I realize that right now the pull to be with my children is irresistible. Fortunately, working at home means that there is no need to choose between my daughters and my profession.

© 1998, by Amy Contra-Peters

I began publishing a small-press magazine two years ago, and during that time I have frequently been grateful for the benefits of working at home. Being able to simultaneously edit submissions, send e-mail, nurse my daughter and nonchalantly spill coffee on my nightgown has allowed me to achieve my career ambitions with graceful privacy! "Entrepreneurial Parenting" has also allowed me to combine my two passions -- motherhood and writing -- with unanticipated ease.

When I first decided to work from home, I underestimated just how much this choice would benefit our entire family. During my former work as a full-time college student, my daughters attended the university's childcare center. Zoe and Emma both loved their school, and initially I was worried that my decision to have them stay home fulltime would come as a disappointment, as a disruption rather than a cause for celebration. I needn't have worried -- they were thrilled to suddenly be home with me, and I have shared their excitement!

Working from home offers me the opportunity to set my own routine -- I often choose to work at night so that I can spend my afternoons with my daughters, picking lilacs and blowing bubbles up into a clear blue sky. And it has also given me the chance to share my work with my daughters, rather than to keep that part of my life segregated and remote from their daily routine.

One day, shortly after I began working from home, I observed my oldest daughter playing with her doll house. She had set up the kitchen table as a desk in the parent's bedroom, and the mother sat at it doing what Zoe described as "work." I asked if the little girl doll minded that the mommy was working? Zoe said, "No, she'll just play nearby until mommy is done." In fact, Zoe and Emma often join me as I stuff envelopes or sort through photograph submissions. Zoe has even been inspired to create her own magazine!

Integrating worklife with homelife is nothing new. Until the time that the Industrial Revolution divided our society into "public" and "private" spheres, both men and women would work from the home -- tanning hides, churning butter, sewing clothing. Traditionally, home-based work blended well with the rearing of children, and in my own experience I have found such co-mingling of work and child care to be extremely rewarding.

Admittedly, during a hectic stint of balancing a crying toddler, a ringing telephone and a looming deadline, I occasionally question my choice to work from home rather than from the comparative calm of an office. Then my six-year-old will burst in, eager to tell me about her day at school, or my four-year-old will snuggle against me for her afternoon storytime, or my one-year-old will point to a bug crawling across the sidewalk... My anxieties are quieted as I realize that right now the pull to be with my children is irresistible. Fortunately, working at home means that there is no need to choose between my daughters and my profession.

The choice to work from home has allowed me to establish my career even while I nurture my three young daughters. Creativity, resourcefulness, a never-ending supply of both patience and perseverance -- these have all proven essential both in the establishment of a home-based business and in the daily rhythm of child rearing. Everyday, I attempt to strike a balance between my need to work and my need to be with my children -- so far, working at home has evened the scales!


The above essay is written by Amy Condra-Peters, the former publisher and founder of the The Mother Is Me: An Alternative Publication on the Motherhood Experience,

 
 
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