Guest post by Kelly McCausey
I know that working at home is sometimes romanticized. Abstract photographs of Adirondack chairs on white sandy beaches and images of moms sipping coffee at the kitchen table with a hand on her laptop suggest that the work at home lifestyle is easy to acquire and a breeze to manage.
A more accurate image of my work at home life is one of me sitting at my desk in my comfy clothes for long days and late nights.
Of course – that’s not what my whole life looks like – in fact I’ve made several decisions in recent years to ensure that I don’t let the desk take over my world entirely.
Big Move Number One – I Quit My Day Job
I didn’t actually start my home business with the goal of working at home full time. I just wanted to pay my utility bills on time and keep the lights from being turned off again. I loved my job as office manager for my church. I enjoyed the work and liked my co-workers, unfortunately the paycheck was small and being a single mother – I desperately needed to make more money.
Three years after starting my business, working at home nights and weekends, I was pleased to find myself debt free and earning as much at home as I was bringing home from the church. It was then that I realized I had an option. (Not something I was used to.)
I argued with myself for some time about whether to quit. I had finally received health benefits at work and had received a nice raise, bringing my income up into a decent range. On one hand the thought of letting that go seemed ridiculous. On the other hand, if I could match my full time paycheck with part time hours – what would be possible if I gave it my full attention?
In the end it boiled down to a decision to follow the path that I had the greatest vision for. When I look forward to the next few years at the church I saw more of the same and had few ideas for making the job more interesting or challenging. When I looked forward at my home business I saw limitless potential and excitement for future projects.
That was that – I gave notice and came home full time.
Big Move Number Two – I Sold My House
Back in the mid-1990s when my son was little and I was supporting us by doing home day care – I needed a house. I qualified for a zero down mortgage with a great interest subsidy which helped us move into a three bedroom, one car garage home with a big yard. It was a great place to raise Sean. The house payment was affordable – though as the years passed I had a growing list of home repairs that I couldn’t afford to pay for.
A few months after making the move to working at home full time it dawned on my one day – that I could actually live anywhere. Sean was almost grown – he hadn’t been into our back yard in two years other than to mow it.
Most people I spoke to counseled me to keep the house. I head ‘It’s your nest egg’ and ‘Rent is a waste of money’ over and over. But the longer I thought about it – the more I realized that I really wanted to be out from under home ownership.
I let my mind wander and really consider where I’d like to live and decided that with Sean starting college the next year that I’d be happiest living downstate, nearer to family and his classes.
I put the house on the market and waited for a buyer. Four months later we were packing the moving truck and moving into a nice three bedroom, two bathroom apartment in west Lansing. I said good-bye to home repair and upkeep with a big smile on my face.
Big Move Number Three – Putting Family First
Just as we made the move to Lansing, my niece discovered that she was pregnant with quadruplets. At seventeen weeks she was placed on permanent bed rest. The lived a half hour from the hospital and her husband worked midnights so I started to spend a few nights a week at her place, helping her out with their five year old and just making sure she had everything she needed.
As she grew larger the doctors wanted to keep her in the hospital, fearing the long drive from out of town should she run into trouble. Since we lived in the city and I worked at home full time, we were able to strike a compromise by having her move into our spare room. We got to play caretaker that way for two weeks before she gave birth.
Four beautiful tiny babies were born at 29 weeks – Max, Brody, Piper and Willow. The next three months were spent in the NICU. As homecoming has drew closer – it became more and more obvious just how much help they would need. Mom was going to have to keep working. She had the best job with good health benefits. Dad was going to quit his job and stay home full time.
Sean and I talked things over and decided the best way that we could help would be to take on the night shift so that mom and dad could get sleep and maintain some of their sanity. My schedule was flexible and his homeschool work could be done anytime – it would mean making some changes of course, but of all of our family members, we were the only ones with that much flex in our schedules. We made a one year commitment to be there from 10pm at night until 9am in the morning.
The months that followed were simply amazing. Can you imagine having four sweet little babies to cuddle and feed every night? My son and I loved doing it. It was a privilege and an honor to be such a big part of their lives. There were some nights that it was almost too much for the two of us – when one baby was feeling cranky or another baby couldn’t sleep unless they were being bounced… but even on those nights – it was a joy.
Driving back and forth through the winter weather every night and morning was increasingly un-enjoyable so we made yet another move, renting a two bedroom apartment just five minutes away.
After eight months, Sean moved to day shift to help Dad out and I stayed on solo night shift for two more months after that – resigning my ‘Quad Watch’ position as they all started to sleep through the night.
For as long as Quad Watch lasted I only worked four hours a day on my business. It meant working smarter, outsourcing more and letting go of some projects that just weren’t pulling their weight. Interestingly enough, while my business surely grew slower during that year – I made just as money money as the year before and then some.
A Lifestyle of Choices
I’m not building a business for the sake of building it. I’m not trying to make the most money or be the biggest or best of anything – I’m proud to have created a business doing work that I love and the yields a lifestyle of choices for me.
Guest post by Kelly McCausey. Kelly worked hard for others for many years and never made ends meet. Now this single mom enjoys the freedom that comes from working hard for herself as an internet marketer, podcaster and WAHM business coach. Host of Solo Smarts Kelly is driven to help other moms achieve their personal and professional dreams of working at home.