Whether you are staying at home to take care of your new baby or an elderly parent, you do not have to sacrifice your career to do so.
In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that over 25 million people, nearly 25 percent of the country’s workforce, opted to work at least some of the time from home. If circumstances require you to work from home and your job allows it, there are ways you can ensure it is a positive experience for you, your employer and the person you take care of.
Working from home is not for everyone and it require some discipline and self-motivation, as you will have nobody making sure you are working when you are supposed to. Working from home can also require a bit of capital to set up and sustain your own home office and materials. Making sure you are mentally, emotionally and financially prepared to work from home while taking care of a child or an elderly or disabled person can help you to succeed in being a caretaker and an employee.
When you do not have to punch into work every morning, scheduling your work time can often fall by the wayside. By scheduling your work time and letting everyone in your household know not to disturb you during these times unless it is an absolute emergency, you can ensure your work actually gets done. If you sit down to work whenever it is convenient for you, you may run into distractions or scheduling conflicts that may affect your productivity.
It helps to have a separate room in your home, if possible, dedicated to just your work. Ideally, this room will have a door you can shut and lock to keep out noise and unwanted distractions. Make sure you set a reasonable, realistic and achievable schedule for yourself with plenty of breaks scheduled in for your own mental wellness, as well as the opportunity to check in with those you take care of. If you are taking care of an infant or a bedbound person, you can schedule your work time around his or her nap and resting times and keep a monitor in your work space, so you can be alerted if you are suddenly needed. Some experts recommend allowing transition time in your schedule between your parenting or caretaking duties and your work duties, so your mind has time to adjust for its next task.
Scheduling your time is only one form of being organized. The more methods you use to organize your work, the more efficiently you can separate your work from your home life. This way, you will have adequate time to work and take care of the person you are responsible. A few great methods to help you stay organized are as follows:
The better you are organized, the more effectively you can work in small chunks of time, allowing you to easily start and stop work as needed to juggle your caretaking responsibilities.
Where you set up your workspace in your home is as integral a factor in your success to working from home as how you schedule your time working. If you are taking care of a baby, consider have a play space in or adjacent to your workspace so you can monitor your child and be both caretaker and worker all at once. Regardless of who you are caring for, setting up your workspace next door to the space where he or she will be located while you are working allows you to hear and respond to emergencies much faster.
Managing your space when you work from home also helps enforce your privacy while you work. In addition to shutting and locking the office doors and letting others in the house know not to bother you, you can also get a business phone in the room instead of having the residential line ring in there and disturb you. You can also hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door to let visitors and family member know not to bother you if you are on a very important work call with a client or an employer.
Some people fear possible social isolation while working from home and taking care of someone incapable of taking care of him or herself. If your job does not naturally include communication, meetings or correspondence with other people, you can join a professional organization and schedule lunches with colleagues. If you are still worried about having limited social interactions, other ways to ensure you still get to interact with other people in your new, more solitary, work setting include the following:
If you have yet to find a job working from home while you care for your children or another person, there are many positions offering a convenient opportunity to create a balance between working and caretaking. Some of the most practical and lucrative of these include the following:
If you cannot find an employer to hire you to work from home in these or any other fields, you can still opt to start your own small home-based business in the field of your choice. Being your own boss does have its challenges, but one of the greatest advantages is that you are free to do all your work from home.