Ten Lessons I Learned About Working At Home!

Working at home… I had this grand notion of sipping coffee in the morning in my jammies while answering emails and being completely stress free because I wasn’t catching the metro into DC. Yeah right! Granted I am super duper grateful to be working at home. As a mom and especially a single mom it does make my life and Anya’s life a heck of a lot easier, but working at home isn’t always easy. There is an accountability that you have to produce that is much higher virtually than when your in the office. I for one, want my company to be confident that when I’m at home I am working just as hard as if I would be in the office for 8 hours. I think for this reason, I find myself working even harder and being more strict with myself. However, I’ve found that for this telecommuting option to work I need to have balance, organization, and have a plan So here are a few things I’ve learned.

Don’t STAY in your PAJAMAS!! I never thought I would be one of those stay at home working moms that would lounge in her PJs while clicking away at the keyboard.. But I AM! Listen, this is such a bad idea. It started innocently with me having early morning meetings and then answering a snowball of emails and then sending a ton of emails (seriously like 1087 to be exact) then making a ton of calls. Next thing I knew it was 4pm and I’m in my coffee stained nightgown. SO NOT GOOD. So if you are working from home… GET DRESSED! You will feel better believe me. Now that school is starting I think the getting dressed part will be easier, since I don’t want to mortify my daughter as I drop her off in my Pjs. Not to mention not getting dressed and sitting in front of a computer all day looking like something the cat dragged in does nothing for your self esteem.  Take a shower, get dressed, do your hair, you’ll feel better!

Don’t Skip Lunch or Breaks Ever! You need a break and if you don’t take one you will quickly burn out. You also need to eat and not munch. Make sure you eat breakfast and lunch. Take the hour and make yourself a healthy lunch full of energy fueled foods. Try big salads with veggies and add some protein and don’t forget hydration is key along with a good multi-vitamin. It is tempting to snack all day or to forget to drink water. Don’t do this! Have some pre-ready snacks available that are healthy and steer away from junk food. Also keep a big bottle of water nearby to swig at throughout the day. If you work through your lunches and breaks you’ll find yourself exhausted by the end of the day.

Utilize Your Breaks. What’s the point of working at home if you can’t get a few things done right? If you get breaks, throw in a  load of laundry, tidy up the bathroom, make the beds, get the dishes out for dinner, polish the furniture in one room, pay bills, anything you can do in 15 minutes take advantage of getting it done. This will make for a less stressful week.

Get Outside! Okay you can easily get cabin fever from being inside all day. Even if you work away from the home getting fresh air is a good idea. After you eat lunch go for a walk or eat lunch on the porch. I try to eat breakfast on the porch to get a little sunshine. If there is work you can do outside, by all means do it and take in the outdoors. It can be motivating and refreshing!

Create Boundaries. Just because mom is working at home doesn’t mean she has time to play Candyland. If your kids are home for part of the day, explain that mom has to work and people are depending on her. Let them know that you have a job to do. If you have a meeting or conference call, put a little sign on your door letting the kiddos know now is not the time to ask what you thought of the, “Good Luck Charlie,” episode from the previous evening. Kids aren’t the only ones you have to create boundaries with, sometimes you have to create boundaries with friends on when is an appropriate time to call or visit.

Create a Designated Work Area. This is so important. I have a den that I use as my office. It has 2 windows with plenty of natural light, a desk, comfy chair and a door I can shut when I need privacy. Working in a designated area also motivated me to get the job done, more so compared to if I were sitting in my bed. Make your space comfortable, functional and keep it stocked with the supplies you need. Let the kids now this is not a playroom.

Be Organized. Organize your schedule and have it in full view. Without organization it is easy to get sidetracked. You are now managing your job and home responsibilities at home so make it flow for you. Get a chart or calendar  that shows the day’s activities including work and home. Create a calendar and sync it with your phone. Set alerts so you know when a meeting is coming up or if your kid’s ballet class is in 20 minutes. I found myself getting so immersed in work that I forgot about things I had to do around the house or thinking I had time to do it because I worked at home and that simply wasn’t true. Get on a schedule and stick to it!

Get Creative. Find a way to make telecommuting work to your family’s advantage. If you want to be finished with your work day by the time your kids get home, ask your boss if you can work early hours. However, don’t work 6:00 am to 2:00 pm and be so exhausted from the early morning schedule that you’re crabby and can’t enjoy your time with your kids. Find a schedule that is conducive to you getting the most out of your workday while spending time with your family. Really consider and evaluate what works for you and manage your time accordingly.

Be Clear About Expectations. If you want to be successful and keep your virtual position, be clear on your job’s expectations. This means maintaining close contact with your coworkers and supervisors. Let colleagues know you’re available, be aware of what you’re expected to produce, agree on the hours you work and keep the communication flowing. If you are going to be away for extended time let others know how long. Working at home requires trust and accountability make sure your boss knows they can count on you.

Make Your Life Easier. Take advantage of what working at home allows you to accomplish! Count your blessings that you can  pick up your kids from school at 3:15 instead of 6:00, go ahead and prepare a fun snack for them, maintain your home, and find joy in the flexibility this opportunity offers you and most of all be grateful!

One last important lesson- KNOW WHEN TO QUIT. Don’t keep working quit at your appointed time. I’ve found myself working way after hours and that isn’t balance. Know when to disconnect from the phone and the computer for yourself and your kids!

Working at home is a privilege and a blessing! Enjoy it!

More Reasons Telecommuting is A Great Option! A Short Video That Says Alot!

As you know I will soon be telecommuting and words can’t express how thrilled I am for this lifestyle change for myself and Anya. I was asked to post this short video that was done by OnlineMBA.com  about the benefits of telecommuting from one reader, Amy Clark who helped make this film. It  actually packs a lot of the benefits of telecommuting in a short time frame. If you are thinking about pitching the option of telecommuting to your boss I suggest you watch this video. Thanks Amy for sharing!

Working At Home May Come With It’s Sacrifices But For Me It’s Worth the Investment

Isn’t it fascinating how one day can just change everything? Actually, each moment is capable of changing our lives. I’ve had some big changes recently. Ones that I’m very thankful for although if I told you right now what they were you would be like, “ahhh you think that is a good thing? Aren’t your worried?” I would answer you by saying that I’m concerned but I’m confident that God has a plan and I have to obedient and follow his will. For years, seven years to be exact I’ve had a longing in my heart and soul. As soon as I saw that head full of curly hair and those big brown eyes of my little girl emerging in the world I knew that I wanted to spend every second I could with her. When I had to put her in daycare when she was barely 5 months old I cried almost everyday. I wanted to be a stay at home mom, then I became a single mom and the hope of being a SAHM all but vanished. Now, don’t feel too bad she has had great caretakers, is extremely bright, and pretty well adjusted, but I still feel a twinge of ugg when she stays past 3:30 pm at school. One of the best times of my life is when I wasn’t working for about 10 months and was home with her full time. Some of you may be thinking I must have a few screws loose if I considered being unemployed a good thing, but I had savings to support us and it was the least stressed I’ve ever been.

I have worked at jobs where I’ve been able to work at home, but not as a permanent situation. Well, one of those moments that change your life happened to me recently. I may be in the position to work full time at home! It isn’t as much money as I made before, but I’d be gaining something more than extra income I’d be home for my daughter. Money can’t compensate for time. It can’t compensate for the extra time I get to spend with her by picking her up when school is actually over. It can’t compensate for my real longing which has always been to be a stay at home mom. Money will never make up for the investment that I’m making in my daughter. I’m hoping that it all works out. I’m listening very closely to God and letting him guide me on this one. I didn’t listen once and it was a disaster, so I’ve learned my lesson. 
I’m writing this post though because I know how many of you have the desire to work at home and find it almost impossible. I want you to know that it is possible! Everything with God is and hold onto that hope. Keep looking for those telecommuting jobs, try negotiating with your boss, and most of all know that whether you are a stay at home working mom or you go to an office every day it is the quality of time you spend with your kids that matter. Also know that with almost everything there are sacrifices and some of those sacrifices are worth making if it benefits your family’s life. I want to be more diligent about sharing telecommuting opportunities when I see them. So, I will be posting what I find and if you want me to post an opportunity please let me know. I want to make working at home for single moms more of a reality. 

Yes Jesus Can!

Well, ladies I have had one amazing week. It all started on Saturday. I went to a Lady’s Inspiration Day at my church with my friend Christina. The moment we entered I was overflowing with emotion. The theme was, “Nothing is Impossible.” The theme was built around Mark 9 and the healing of the boy possessed with the evil spirit. The father explains to Jesus that the boy has had the evil spirit since childhood and it has caused him great distress. He says to Jesus,  “But if you can do anything take pity on us and help us. Jesus replies, “If you can?”Everything is possible for him who believes.” I had to laugh at this when I thought of Jesus saying this, he probably wanted to say, “Man don’t you know who I AM!” Isn’t that what we do though? We say, “well Jesus if you can, please let me get that job, if you can please heal me, if you can help me get that loan.” When it has never been about if Jesus can it is about if we believe in him and have faith! Everything is possible not just what looks possible to our human eye. The Inspiration Ladies Day did just that it inspired me! It reminded me to ask myself the question, “Don’t you know who Jesus is?” He is the author the creator of life… my life! My Father has it all planned out. He knew when I would stumble and he knew when I would give my life over to Christ. Can I tell you how happy I am to be a Child of GOD! When I was driving home after the Ladie’s Day I felt exhausted but in that beautiful, serene peaceful way. I find myself in tears just thinking about how God has worked in my life to show me his infinite power and goodness.

I wrote before about my desire to work at home or at least have a flexible schedule and working close to home. Well, I had an interview a little while back, that interview turned into four interviews and finally I was offered the job! It seemed picture perfect! I had flexible hours and was in walking distance. Problem was the total package wasn’t something I felt comfortable in accepting. So I had to turn it down. At first I was incredibly disappointed. I thought God, why did you put this in front of my face and make it almost everything I needed and take it away. After about a day, I wrote the woman I interviewed with and told her I couldn’t accept the offer. It was too bad I really saw this position as a career and was extremely excited. But, after some prayer I let it go. Then I received an offer that surpassed everything I was even asking for! Again Jesus reminded me through him ALL WAS POSSIBLE! In two weeks I start my new job. Not only is it in walking distance from my house, I can create my own hours and will telecommute once a week, and I’m am so excited about the mission of the organization that I can hardly wait to start. The job is also kid friendly! If there is a day Anya has off and I don’t I can either telecommute or bring her to the office! TELL ME GOD DOESN’T HEAR OUR PRAYERS! He created a package for me that I didn’t even ask for!

I want to tell all of you that whatever it is in your life that you don’t think can happen because it seems impossible, stop that stinking thinking and put your trust and faith in God. He wants the best for you and if it is in his will, he is going to make it happen. Be faithful my sweet sisters and know that God hears you, he created you and he loves you. There are always going to be bumps in the road, but know that if you believe those bumps can be driven out of your life just like that evil spirit was driven out of the boy. Take the words, ‘if you can,’ out of your vocabulary when you’re speaking to Jesus and be confident in his absolute power in your life. There is nothing God can’t accomplish in you. So tonight go to bed knowing that JESUS CAN.

Finding Balance When You’re A Single Working Mom

I’m a single mom so being employed isn’t an option. I have to work to provide for me and my daughter. I am thankful for a job that provides for us financially and is for the most part flexible. If I could be a stay at home mom I definitely would and am always striving toward that goal, however in the meantime I will sit at a desk for 7.5 hours. It can be exhausting working full time and being a single mom too, but I have found that the key is balance. If your life isn’t balanced you become out of synch emotionally, physically, and mentally. God didn’t make us to be stressed out and barely enjoying our family and life. It is important to take the time to balance life, work, and family. Here are some ideas on balancing work and home life.
There is no Balance if God Isn’t Your Main Priority
The first vital step in balancing your life is getting your priorities in order. Your first priority should always be God. If you put God on the side everything else will be out of whack. If you allow your job or even your children to come before God you are travelling down a dangerous road. Having a relationship with the Lord is first. Once you are in step with God the balancing becomes easier. Have a devoted time for prayer and worship. If you need to read the bible while on the subway, do it! If you have to wake up earlier and spend that quiet time with the Lord by all means set your alarm. Remember that God is your priority.

Be Honest with Your Employer
Most likely if you are a working mom it is because you need to work. Don’t feel guilty about it. But, put work in perspective to the rest of your life. Be honest with your boss about what you can and can’t do. If they expect you to work a lot of overtime and you have a four year old you need to pick up from daycare let them know this. Get clear on your job’s expectations and make your position clear to them also. Never sacrifice your kids for your job.

Explore Your Options
Research the flexibility that your position offers. Is there a possibility to telecommute? If there is discuss it with your boss. Don’t be afraid to ask! The number one reason women don’t get what they want is they don’t ask. Telecommuting is a great way to be home for your children while earning income. If you find yourself craving being an at home mom, explore other career opportunities that can make this a reality for you. Get creative and pray for guidance.

Leave Work at Work
Do not become a workaholic. I am not referring to just staying late or bringing work home. Mentally leave work at work. If you bring your frustrations home it is easily transferred to your home life. When you come home focus your attention on your family and if possible keep work in the office.

Get Organized
I can’t stress enough how important organization is to balance in your life. Take a good look at how your household is running, is it smooth or are you constantly running around like a mad woman? Sit down and think about the areas of your household that need to be organized and get to it. Here are some helpful organizational tips:
Create a cleaning schedule. This allows you to focus on specific rooms on specific days of the week. For example, schedule a laundry day, choose a day to clean the bathroom, or to clean the family room. This schedule will keep you organized and eliminate wasted minutes.
Develop a Chore List. Depending on the ages of your children assign age appropriate chores to everyone. Don’t take on the burden of doing everything, families should work together. This also fosters a sense of responsibility in your children.
Maintain a budget and keep your finances tidy. Money is a big stressor for single moms. Become savvy with your money. Create filing system for your bills and an excel sheet that you can record your payments. Deal with bills as soon as they arrive.
Plan meals in advance. Invest in a crock pot and have dinner ready when you come home. Pick a day and plan your meals and go grocery shopping for the week ahead.

Spend Time with the Kids
Children who have working moms don’t have to be a statistic. Spend time with your kids, when you get home from work make it a point to sit around the dinner table and eat together. Take walks after dinner, read the bible together, make weekends your family time and don’t let work interfere. After God raising your children in God’s will is the most important job you have. If you need to take a sporadic day off to spend with your family do so and don’t feel bad about it.

Nurture Yourself
Don’t forget to take care of you! Find some time to do the activities you enjoy. Take care of your health and work towards feeling good on the outside and inside. If you share custody or if the kids are over their dad’s house on the weekend take that time to pamper yourself.

Balancing it all isn’t easy and there will be times when something is neglected. Remember that you aren’t perfect and sometimes hard decisions have to be made when it comes to work and home life. Always do what is in your heart and what God is telling you to do and balance will eventually become easier.

Looking for A Virtual Position? Check out this Christian Website

 

Source is MAG

 MAG (Miles Advisory Group)-Church Outsourcing is a site I came across through the Co-Founder, Shannon Miles via Twitter. The concept of MAG is to assist churches in delivery of services through outsourcing. They have positions available for:

  • Virtual Executive Assistants
  • Executive Pastors
  • Bookeeping, Audit and Payroll Services
  • IT Services
  • Virtual Group Pastors

If you’re looking for some part time or full time work that can be done remotely, check out MAG. I applied and received a response rather quickly. This is a great way to earn some money while working to assist a church. Check out the site for a more in depth description of the positions available. http://milesadvisorygroup.com/services/

Tips on Creating a Home Office

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Home offices are becoming as common as family rooms. Many moms are opting to work at home instead of in the office. Although I travel into the office daily, I have the capability of working remotely. As a single mom whose parents live four hours away when my daughter is sick it is a blessing to have the accessibility to work at home while still being able to take care of my daughter. Telecommunicating is a way of life for many moms.

Home offices are essential for those of us who need to escape to a private space to work. Even if you aren’t employed creating a home office can be a sanctuary for you to write, spend some private time with God, or work on personal projects. If you have a little space it doesn’t take much to create a comfortable home office. Cheap and easy tips to make a home office that suits your needs

 

Furniture

  • A great desk is the centerpiece for any home office. The desk should be sturdy and have enough drawers to store paper, folders, office supplies, etc. Check out garage sales for antiques desks at cheap prices. If you spend much of the time in your office glued to your desk a comfortable chair that supports your posture and back is essential, so don’t skimp on the chair.
  • File Cabinets or book cases are great for storage. Look at Target or discount office stores for reasonably priced book cases or file cabinets. Overflowing book cases add character and coziness to any room.
  • A chaise adds a classy touch, but more than that sometimes you just need to relax on something other than a chair!

Organizing Tools

  • File folders, binders, and accordion folders are great for keeping those papers in order. Use them for your job and for your financial papers.
  • Use pretty pots or pottery as pencil and pen holders.
  • Busy moms need a calendar or planner to keep it all going. Get a calendar that either hangs on the wall or fits comfortably on your desk.

Decorative Touches

  • Work doesn’t have to be so serious! Liven up your office with a fun vibrant paint color for the walls.
  • Pillows, curtains, plants, and decorative throws are great touches that bring coziness into your work space.
  • Give the office character with pictures of your family and artwork. Gather all those pictures your kids draw for you, put them in frames, and let them see how proud you are of their masterpieces.

A home office can be as formal or as informal as you want it to be. Most importantly it should reflect your personality and your working style. Your office space should be welcoming and inspiring. I always find I work better when I have spiritual literature or quotes around that encourage me throughout the day. Incorporate small touches that bring a smile to your face or warmth to your heart. With more opportunities to work remotely a home office is a good investment whether you are a writer, a lawyer, or a stay at home mom that needs her privacy.

 

 

 

Maintain a Healthy FICO Score!

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“Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8

FICO scores are 3 little numbers that determine if you can get loans, credit cards and sometimes even jobs. Amazing how these 3 numbers have so much power! For a single mom it is extremely important that we keep an eye on our credit scores. Here are a few tips on keeping your FICO score healthy:

What is a FICO Score– FICO score is a 3 digit number given to an indvidiual based on various factors that lenders use to determine your risk. You have 3 FICO scores from 3 credit bureaus, Transunion, Equifax, and Experian. Usually, your score won’t be the same for all 3 but they shouldn’t be wildly different either. Your scores will flucutate from time to time.
-What is in Your FICO Score? All of these factors are considered both positive and negative.

  • Payment History-35% of score
  • Amounts Owed-30% of score
  • Length of Credit History-15% of score
  • New Credit- 10% of score
  • Type of Credit Used- 10% of score

Payment History
You want to be extra dilligent about paying your bills on time. Payment history is a whopping 35% of your score. Every late payment is recorded and is a hefty ding to your credit score. If a lender notices a pattern of late payments, there less likely to give you a loan. Keep your payment history current by:

1. Pay bills on time.
2. Set up automatic bill payments to ensure you won’t be late
3. If you’ve been delinquent try your best to stay current, after awhile these negative marks will mean less to your score.
4. If you’re having problems paying on time contact your creditor and set up arrangements. It is better than the account going into collections. Collections will stay on your report for 7 years!

Amounts Owed
The higher your debt to credit ratio the lower your score. Keep it below 30% if possible if you reach 40% lenders look at you as risky. Look at your credit limits and the sum of your available credit for example if you have a credit limit of 10,000 with a 2,000 balance your credit to debt ratio is 20%.

1. Keep balances low on credit cards and revolving credit. If possible pay off balances at the end of the month to avoid finance charges or try to pay more than the minimum.
2. Don’t close cards unless necessary this will lower your available credit. Old credit cards also establish length of credit and will boost your scores. Only close it if you are paying monthly fees.
3. Don’t open a whole bunch of credit cards this is a ref flag for credit bureaus.

New Credit and Type Of Credit Used
Minimize credit card and loan applications. Too many inquires can lower your score. Installment debt such as student loans, mortgages and even car loans are good for your credit score if they’re paid on time.

Order Your Credit Report
You are entitled to one free credit report a year please order one! Also if you are denied for credit you can obtain the credit report the company used. Check for discrepancies, it is unbelievable how many mistakes are found on credit reports. Once you locate a  mistake dispute it with the credit bureau either through writing or online. Be wary of identiy fraud. If you suspect fraud contact your creditors immediately and put a freeze on your credit.

Monitor Your Credit Score
If you’re in the process of rebuilding your credit, monitor it by ordering your score through FICO or signing up short time for one of their monitoring tools. This is also useful if you’re going to make purchase such as a house or car.

Creat a Goal
Financial goals help you to attain a healthy financial future. If your credit score isn’t as high as you’d wish, create an action plan to meet your goal. Credit Score ranges are from 300-850 if your score is above 700 it is great if its below 600 it isn’t so good. The higher your credit score the lower your interest rates and the more money you save.

Financial and Credit Resources
If you haven’t already order your credit scores:

Also check out Suze Orman’s site and Jean Chatzky for some great financial advice. Jean’s blog has a wealth of information and videos.

Single mom’s have serious financial responsibilities and its vital to keep yourself educated on all of your financial options and to maintaing a healthy credit score. Don’t allow yourself to become a slave to debt, a bright financial future is yours if you take control of your finances.

Disclosure-I am not a financial consultant. Please consult your financial advisor for advice on finance.

Can Single Moms Work at Home?

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I can say without hesitation one of my biggest challenges as a single mom is working outside of the home. I want to work, I like to work, but I’d rather be working in my home than in an office. Surviving on one income is difficult and especially if you reside in an area where the cost of living is high. Most telecommuting jobs don’t pay a salary that covers rent, a car payment, food, clothes, school, etc. I like my job and I’m fortunate to be able to work at home when Anya or myself is sick. I’m not sure if that option would be available to me fulltime. I prefer to work home for a few reasons.

1. Money– I spend close to $40.00 a week riding the metro to work, if I drove it would be $18 a day for parking! I’m spending $160.00 a month to get to work. Add in costs for aftercare in the fall.
2. Time- I leave work around 4:45 I pick up Anya and we normally get home around 5:45 or 6:00, I get to spend around 3- 3 1/2 hours with her until bed time. Not much time considering there are 24 hours in a day!
3. Quality of Life– Working at home affords me time to work on multiple things and get more accomplished in my day, which gives me more time to pursue writing and to spend with Anya.

Clearly, I want to be a stay at home mom because I want more time with my daughter and I don’t want her to spend most of her day in school and aftercare. Every mom is different and being a stay at home mom is a personal decision, but I’m curious to know if any of you are stay at home moms and how did you negotiate it? What are your thoughts on working at home and as single moms can we make it happen and how?

My goal is to find a job that I can work at home on a full time basis. During my quest I’ll post any information, links, or insights that I discover. Please share yours with me! I’d love to read your thoughts on this topic.