The Best of Both WorldsGuest_Blogger | Feb 15, 2011
It’s a dream for many parents to be able to work from home and be able to afford spending time with their young children. But as most find out, it isn’t immediately smooth sailing from the moment you decide to start working from your kitchen table--or home office, couch, etc. Stef Daniels, veteran blogger and content writer, recalls why she made the decision to work from home and how her work on Elance made it the right call for her. Perhaps more importantly, she speaks on the challenges she faces as a work at home mom, and how she ultimately came to manage the realities of balancing home and work lives that often crossed paths.
Professional dreams and aspirations are one thing before you have children. Then, the pitter-patter of little feet hit your hardwood floors and the harsh realities of juggling family and work can leave even the most prepared person, stumped - to say the least.
That’s exactly how it was for me. I had spent several years dreaming of following my father’s career footsteps in law enforcement, while working on my award-winning manuscript to be – only to find myself unexpectantly pregnant with twins. Suddenly the 12-hour night shifts that left me sleeping all day, working holidays and missing important parts of my children’s lives was no longer an option. Childcare was ridiculously expensive, and my husband and I agreed that it was most important to usto afford our children the stay at home lifestyle. We both surmised that we could make cutbacks financially and that this would give me more time to finish my multiple pieces of writing work in progress.
Fast forward a few years later and I have to admit I desperately missed workI had been writing since I was old enough to put pen to paper, and being home did give me time to unleash my creative energies. Yet, it still wasn’t enough. I missed earning my own money and the validation that comes from succeeding professionally. I found myself perusing the Internet and local newspapers desperately looking for something I could do from home because I wanted to ensure that I would always be available to my children. In this day and age, it didn’t seem unreasonable to dream for the best of both worlds – pursuing my personal passion while earning an income and raising my children and having a presence in their lives.
Unfortunately, the search for work from home was a hard one. I resisted the idea of becoming a one-woman sales team pushing Avon, Mary-Kay or cleaning products to my friends and family and I definitely didn’t have the quiet atmosphere conducive to taking phone calls or doing customer support at home. It seemed that the dream of being a working stay at home mom was definitely fading away. Then one day, I stumbled across Elance.
In the back of my mind, I always believed that writing for a living would be a dream come true, I just didn’t know how to begin. Then, an advertisement on the bottom of the page for Elance caught my eye. I immediately clicked on the link and found myself with butterflies in my stomach. In an instant, I found that the ‘best of both worlds’ platform I had been seeking was staring me straight in the face. I quickly completed a profile, signed up to be a Provider and submitted proposals on my first writing jobs. With a few reputable references supporting me, overflowing desire, hopeful optimism and some samples I hoped would best reveal my passion for the written word, I was on my way to changing my life forever!
I realized that I had nothing to lose by trying. Elance made all the steps necessary to launch a work from home career easy. Today, several years after landing my first paid writing job – I use Elance every day to supplement our family income and to build my career and profile. Obviously, with so many people connecting on one site from all over the world, there is plenty of room for error. However, to date – I have to admit that I have had no problems. I find that I have made invaluable connections, met wonderful people, and yet am able to maintain the flexibility needed to balance family with career.
One of the aspects of using Elance that makes it perfect for parents is that you can decide your own schedule. You aren’t tied to a 9-5 job. You don’t have to scramble for babysitters when the kids are sick, on a snow-day or during any of the holidays throughout the school year. You can take your job on vacation with you. You can work anytime you want, and as much as you want – without missing a softball game or band performanceAdditionally, should you ever decide to return to the brick and mortar walls of an office building, Elance makes the reentry into the work force easier. It voids the long lull that many stay at home parents have on their resume from years of raising children and ensures that you haven’t skipped a beat in understanding the current trends of your chosen field of business. Plus, it is impossible to deny the benefits of the added income and financial autonomy that working on Elance provides. And what family could not use some extra money?
Obviously, there are challenges to working from home. Some days, as I work on articles or E-books, I have a three-year old nestled in the chair next to me. Although not ideal, I realize that it is a small price to pay for balancing the best of both worlds. The biggest challenge by far is setting aside the space and time to launch your work from home career. In order to be efficient you need a place to call your own – where the kids will not intrude and your spouse won’t interfere.
Next up in the list of challenges is getting your family members on board. At first, they may not respect that you are in fact working. However, with careful explanation and persistency, even young children can learn to give mom or dad time to work. Another challenge can be time management. It is important to schedule yourself just as you would at an office so that you stay on top of projects and assignments - and it is important to be a self-starter. However, even folks that have difficulty in these areas will likely appreciate the freedom and flexibility of working on Elance so much that they quickly develop these skills. I know I have!
Today, I feel like an important part of the working world. Elance has allowed me to bridge the gap between being a mom and a professional, pursuing work that I love providing work that resonates with my personal passions and aspirations. Every day, I feel blessed to be a part of such a large community of providers and buyers that come together to merge what the very best of both worlds, family and work, have to offer.
Stef Daniel is a 40-year-old mother of 4 freelancing from Temple, Georgia. Her work is featured on many prominent websites and includes E-books, Books, articles, blogs, marketing, children’s work and much more. She has worked with hundreds of happy clients on Elance for the past three years. Her professional motto is to write compelling material with a client’s intention in mind, bringing it to life with the written word at fair costs. She is most passionate about writing for women and children, but looks forward to new opportunities in any niche.