Staying Home

A recent Grand Avenue comic portrayed a woman who listed all of the errands she was running while her kids were in school. The punch line was that she was a stay-at-home mom who wasn’t staying home.

The same can be true about those of us who work from home: sometimes, our work-from-home jobs are not performed all the time at home. For example, while dog sitters, pet walkers, caterers, photographers and house cleaners might base their businesses at home, the work they do takes place in other locations.

For me, that’s the beauty of at-home businesses—you can do them anyplace, in your home office, at a client’s home or place of business, in the outdoors. Anyplace you can do your job works.

I’ve edited copy while sitting on my front porch watching my children draw with sidewalk chalk. I’ve written articles on my laptop at a local coffee shop. The ability to change venue can be invigorating and can boost your productivity and creativity.

I’ve grown to love the flexibility of working from home and, after nearly six years of working from home, can’t imagine going back to a nine-to-five office environment. And the ranks of people who feel like I do are growing, as telecommuting and at-home employment opportunities expand.

Until next time,

Sarah

On the Air, part 1

My first radio interview about my book, Hired@Home, will be aired on WRMB-FM/Boynton Beach, Fla. The interview will be split over four days: Monday, Aug. 18, through Thursday, Aug. 21, at 7 a.m. ET. The “Mornings” show host, Audrey Altman, and I spoke several weeks ago about working from home, while my older children played downstairs and my youngest cooed in my arms:).

At the end of the week, the entire interview will be archived and available for downloading from the station’s Web site, http://www.mbn.org/GenMoody/default.asp?sectionID=F747DDC842B5443391F4920E02479579.

Take a listen!

Until next time,
Sarah

Heat Daze

For me, the hardest part of summer is the heat and humidity. Virginia summers are chock-full of heat and humidity, and you’d think a native like myself would get used to it. But no, I still suffer through every summer wondering why God created a world that got so hot where I live.

But the worst part is the way the weather affects my wanting to do anything, from keeping up with the housework to playing with the children to going to the grocery store to cooking supper. And let’s not even begin to tackle writing, which requires thinking–that grows increasingly difficult the higher the thermometer and heat index rises.

As my brain turns to mush in August, usually the hottest month of the summer, I remember that I don’t have to wallow in despair. (And yes, we do have air conditioning, so on really hot days, I’m not suffering too much.) That God has provided the perfect remedy for the heat blues in his Word. That I have much to be thankful for, such as ice cream and cold drinks. A nearby community swimming pool. Fans and money to pay for the extra electricity used to run them and the AC.

And I’m thankful for a mind that can work despite the heat and humidity, one that I need to keep sharp and focused in order not to sink down into nothingness or boredom or just the plain old blahs. That it’s my duty to not complain but to rejoice in everything, even the dog days of summer.

So as summer blazes on, I will choose to be happy in my circumstances. I will choose not to allow the weather to influence my choices or attitudes. I will choose to glorify God in all things. And in so doing, I hope—and pray—to beat the summer heat.

Until next time,

Sarah

The Mom Connection

With the recent release of Hired@Home, several of the women I interviewed have blogged about the book. Check out Sandra Joseph’s blog at http://sandrajo.wordpress.com/2008/07/01/featured-in-hired-at-home/ and Rebecca Jean Rivera at http://strivingtoliveeachdayhisway.blogspot.com/.

Also, several people have inquired about contacting some of the work-at-home mothers I interviewed. Below is a directory of contact information for those women who wanted their information made public.

Julie Divine
The Elevation Group
www.theelevationgroup.com
Julie@theelevationgroup.com

Toni Friese
Blessings Unlimited Independent Consultant
6571 20th St N
St Cloud MN 56303
320-230-7646
www.blessingsdirect.comlukesmom16@hotmail.com

Lisa Harmon
McNamara & Company
2376 Ravenhill Drive
Raleigh NC 27615
919-413-5347
www.valueabode.com
lisaWharmon@gmail.com

Sandra Joseph
542 Sherritt Drive
Darlington, PA 16115
724-601-2377
www.sandrajo.wordpress.com
sandrajoseph@windstream.net

Martha Leone
703 455 6604
marthag86@verizon.net

Dixie Moore
Crickhollow Knitting
8427 Fletcher Bay Road
Bainbridge Island, WA. 98110
206-842-1402

Meagan Price
724-327-3026
meaganprice@alltel.net

Valerie Ottinger
byFaith magazine
1700 North Brown Road, Suite 105
Lawrenceville, GA 30043
678-825-1005
www.byfaithonline.comvottinger@byfaithonline.com

Carolyn Wayland
Wayland Window Treatments
Curtainscushions@aol.com

Leslie W. Whelchel, M.Ed.
Openbook Educational Therapy
20849 Driftwood Terrace
Potomac Falls, VA 20165
571-434-0990
www.openbook.us

Until next time,

Sarah

Money Talks

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.” Matthew 6:34 (ESV)

I recently lost a weekly freelance job, one that had provided a steady paycheck for 18 months. And even though in the back of my mind I knew it could end any moment, as I was a contract employee, the longer it went on, the more I “counted” on the income and work.

During that time, I had other freelance assignments (and wrote Hired@home), so I wasn’t exactly hurting for business. But nothing compared to knowing each week, I would make X amount of money.

With the loss of the weekly job—the company wasn’t unhappy with my work; the product I wrote took on a different form and thus my part became extinct—I began to think more fretfully about how to get more projects. Not that I had nothing on my calendar, as I did have several articles already assigned.

But I found myself starting to worry about how to replace that steady income before I remembered that it’s not my job to worry about what’s going to come tomorrow. That tomorrow’s worries are enough for that day, as Matthew’s Gospel puts it.

I needed to look to the past to see how well God had taken care of us financially, that it wasn’t all up to me to provide the additional income that made our lives a bit easier. My husband’s work provides just enough for us to pay our monthly expenses; my freelance work contributes to the niceties, things that we could do without.

While I need to do my part to seek out additional assignments whenever possible—and to fulfill my obligations to my current clients to the best of my ability—what I didn’t need to do was fret about the loss of income.

So I’ve stopped worrying (well, for the most part—it’s hard to do that completely!) and started rejoicing in what God has done and is doing in my freelance life. A much more refreshing way to live and work!

Until next time,

Sarah

Accounting Time

One of the advantages for most work-from-home businesses is that you can set your own hours. Of course, that means you’re the person who has to motivate yourself to do the work. That can be particularly hard when the weather is nice, you’re itching to read the latest novel by your favorite author or you just don’t “feel” like working.

In an office environment, you may have experienced times when you really have to force yourself to concentrate on your work, but you also have more accountability with your supervisors and other colleagues being physically around to keep you working. At home, the pull of household chores, children and other activities can be stronger and harder to resist.

Overcoming those temptations when you have a deadline in work-related projects takes discipline and constant vigilance to make sure you dedicate enough time to do a project to the best of your ability for your clients or customers.

This is something I think every work-from-home woman experiences from time to time. I know I certainly do. For example, as I write this, I really should be focusing instead on a project that I’ve been putting off because the deadline is really flexible.

This particular project has been on my to-do list for a while and I’ve yet to make real progress because it’s something that I just don’t feel as motivated to do as some of my other assignments. But I’ve decided to set some deadlines of my own in order to stop my inclination to procrastinate—and to get the project done sooner rather than later.

Keeping myself accountable in the time I need to spend on each assignment is tough sometimes, but it’s what God requires of me—that I do all to the glory of God and part of that means making sure I set aside enough time to properly accomplish the tasks and assignments I have as a freelance writer.

So I’m preaching to myself when I encourage you to not waste your work time at home. Be vigilant in guarding the time you set aside for work by actually doing work instead of thinking about housework or children or the relaxing things you want to do after work. Use that time to accomplish your work-related tasks and then you can tackle the other things on your to-do list.

Until next time,

Sarah

Realistic Expectations

I’m a list maker—it’s one of the ways I stay organized and on top of all that I need to accomplish during the day, week or month. But at times, I fall prey to what I term “the hole of great expectations.” Forget what Charles Dickens wrote, having great expectations can sometimes create more work for you with no better results.

For example, one item on my list might be to vacuum the bedrooms, but before I can accomplish that relatively simple task, I’ll add that I probably should clean out the closets first. Which means I’ve added more time and the chance that I won’t get the original item accomplish.

Sometimes, I keep adding to my to-do list without taking the time to do what’s listed there. This keeps my mind racing with things to do, but leaves little time to actually get the tasks done.

How do I conquer my great expectations? Sometimes by prioritizing my to-do list and crossing off unrealistic items. Sometimes I have to scale back my own sense of what “cleaning the kitchen” entails and skip reorganizing the plastic-ware cabinet for now. Sometimes, if I have a particularly busy week with freelance work, I have to do the bare minimum of household upkeep.

If time was unlimited, then we could all fulfill our own great expectations. But since God has given us a finite amount of time each day, week, month and year, we need to develop a sense of realistic expectations and learn to rejoice within that limitation.

So when I feel the tug of my own great expectations, I am learning to be content that I am doing all I can right now, in this season of my life. Perhaps one day I will reorganize my kitchen cabinets, sort through the downstairs dresser or write a blog every week. But for now, I will be content with my own set of realistic expectations and leave the great ones to Dickens.
Until next time,

Sarah

Superwoman or Super God?

As a freelance writer and editor who has three children at home, I often am asked how I manage to write and care for my children—and have time to sleep. After reassuring the questioner that I am not, after all, Superwoman, I usually reply that I tend to be well-organized, disciplined, and deadline-oriented. But that, too, can give the wrong impression. I am those things, which are assets to a writer’s life, but I certainly have my moments of coming undone, either because of my own shortcomings or my children’s, or just because of circumstances.

Would I love to say I handle every situation with grace and calmness? Well, sure, who wouldn’t? But the thing is, I flub up even minor frustrating situations. While the outside world might see calm and organized, inside can be chaos. Good thing God is always there with His grace and mercy.

For me, and for many other woman I interviewed for Hired@Home, the key to a successful at-home business or employment is balancing your work and your family. Sometimes this is an easy task; sometimes it’s extremely difficult. I find myself periodically re-evaluating my work and family obligations to make sure my priorities are correct, that I’m not neglecting my clients, my children, or my husband.

Until next time, Sarah