What is holding you back from working from home?

Getting started working from home can seem like a daunting task. My story is not so unusual in that my current work-from-home career as a freelance writer and editor kind of just happened.
Nine years ago, when I was pregnant with my first child, I was working as managing editor for a large trade association in Washington, D.C. Two months before the baby’s due date, my husband got laid off his job, which we had been expecting.
Instead of my quitting like we had originally planned, I officially took maternity leave, not knowing if the generous 16-weeks leave would be enough time for my husband to find another job.
During my time away from the office, the association asked if I could work from home on a few projects. With hubby still out of work, I agreed. Thankfully, my husband started a full-time job with benefits before my leave time expired and I was able to segue from a full-time employee to a contract, at-home worker.
Today, four kids and nine years later, I love working from home and have no desire to go back to an office environment. I’m constantly grateful for the work that I have on a fairly regular basis, but know that not every woman can so easily find at-home work.
That’s why I wrote Hired@Home: The Christian Woman’s Guide to Working From Home. The book details how to think about work and gives tips and suggestions on what at-home work to pursue. Sprinkled throughout the book are the testimonies of more than 50 women who work from home in a variety of professions, jobs and businesses.
This summer, I converted and updated the book into ebook format for Kindle and Smashwords. I will be giving away one ebook or PDF copy this week to readers who answer one of the following questions in the comments section of this blog. Your answers might be used in an upcoming issue of my free, monthly e-newsletter (to sign up, visit my website at http://www.sarahhamaker.com/).
To enter the contest, answer one of the following questions in the comments section of this blog:
What is holding you back from working from home?
If you currently work from home, what held you back from starting sooner?
I look forward to reading your responses!

Dating When Married

Remember those heady days of early dating with your now-husband? The dinners, movies and outings that just the two of you went on as you discussed everything from favorite bands to politics to religious beliefs. How many times in the past year have you been on a date with your husband?

I do realize that there are seasons of life when it becomes necesssary to hunker down and stay in, such as a newborn baby in the house, sickness (let’s not talk about the chicken pox quaratine in our house earlier this year!), or the like. But I sometimes think we have a funny way of letting life overtake our marriages, too, and before we know it, we haven’t been on a date with our husbands for way too long.

Finding the time for just the two of you–and I’m not sure falling asleep in front of a DVD in the family room really counts–is as essential to your family as putting food on the table. I’m a firm believer that a happy marriage is the best thing we can give our children, that the relationship between husband and wife is even more important than the parent-child one.

To that end, dating your husband should be a top priority, and finding reliable babysitters is paramount. If you don’t have any regular babysitters, check with the teens in your church to see if they babysit. Try the local MOPS or other playgroups for leads, and ask other neighborhood moms at the bus stop or park. Start a babysitting co-op with friends.

Once you have a pool of babysitters, go put some dates on the calendar. Spend a few hours one afternoon making a list of things you could do together–them pencil those ideas in every month or so. Your ideas could be expensive, such a dinner at a fancy restaurant for your anniversary, or free, such as a summer concert at an outdoor mall.

I’ve tried to be diligant about doing this every few months, because our calendar will fill up with things to do, but not necessarily dates with my spouse. This summer, we will go out to dinner with friends; see a movie together, not separately; get away to celebrate our anniversary at a B&B (my parents will help out with childcare for this one); see a musical play; and hear a band at an outdoor venue.

Now that you’re jealous of my good fortune, go make your own plans and enjoy reconnecting with your spouse in a new way.

Toddler TV Time

Another new study was released this month decrying the side effects of too much television on toddlers. According to an article in the May issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine (a JAMA/Archives journal), the side effects of too much screen time may not be evident until the child enters grade school.

Children who watch more TV at 29 months old (2½) seem to exhibit more problems in school and poorer health behaviors when they enter fourth grade.

A study of more than 1300 kids around 29 months old found that each additional hour of TV in early childhood corresponded with a 7 percent unit drop in classroom engagement, a 6 percent decline in math achievement and a whopping 13 percent decrease in weekend physical activity.

It gets even scarier: Each additional TV hour in early childhood is linked to a 9 percent higher score for soda consumption and a 10 percent higher score for snack consumption. In other words, watching TV as a 2 year old contributes to fatter kids.

“The long-term risks associated with higher levels of early exposure may chart developmental pathways toward unhealthy dispositions in adolescence,” the study’s authors wrote.

This research, coupled with previous studies, shows that television programs on a regular basis are not good for toddlers and preschoolers. In my house, the TV is rarely on during the day and only at night when the children are all in bed. Yes, sometimes I do long to pop in a video because the kids are driving me crazy, but I curb that tendency and instead kick them outside for some playtime. With more and more evidence stacking up that TV time is not good for the health and well-being of children, especially young children, I think it’s time we stop our love affair with the boob tube and start realizing the very real dangers even “educational” programming can do to our kids.

Pressing On

Isn’t modern technology wonderful–until it isn’t? We had Internet connection issues that dragged on for more than a week before resolution. I’m still tired from spending literally hours on the phone with tech support. Whew.

But I’m back up and running just in time to jump right in and try my hand at writing a novel in a month. November is National Novel Writing Month (http://www.nanowrimo.org), where you can win a “prize” by banging out a 50,000-word book in 30 days. The emphasis is on quantity rather than quality, granted, but there’s something to be said for just getting it done.

Worrying too much about the craft or quality of something can become a hindrance if it stops you from actually getting the project done. Sometimes, everyone suffers from “writer’s block”–even if you’re not a writer. Whatever keeps you from starting that project or task or whatever because you don’t have all your ducks in a row can be a block.

As a writer, I learned early on just to start writing, whether or not I had a lede or intro to my piece or not. Often, my articles start after the first few paragraphs, jumping to the meat of the story. Sometimes, my conclusions wait until the rest of the article is complete.

It will be interesting to not worry about the grammar or the content when tackling this project. I’m looking forward to seeing how writing 50,000 words in a month will jumpstart my creative juices again–and hopefully, I’ll have something worth revisiting with my editor’s pen.

Until next time,

Sarah