Top work-from-home jobs for moms
A century ago, my great-aunt Ava completed her college degree and applied for a job as a teacher. Along with her employment contract, she signed away her right to start a family. She could choose motherhood or a career, but not both.
Fast forward to today: Stay-at-home mom-professionals are wielding titles like designer, consultant and analyst. Work-from-home careers blur the line between the domestic and public sphere, allowing moms to nurture their children and their professional ambitions. As freelance writer-mom Charlotte Latvala writes in Parenting, "Instead of 'Work versus staying home?' the question for moms-to-be is often 'What work can I do from home?'"
How do they do it? It's a delicate balancing act, says Seattle-based life coach Thekla Richter. A flexible and creative attitude can help you build a life that honors all your priorities. "In having a child you're inviting the forces of chaos into your life. Finding balance is more like dancing with that energy rather than controlling it."
Making conscious decisions about what's important to you can help you arrange the puzzle pieces of your life. For Richter, spending time with her baby is a top priority. Her home-based coaching practice affords the flexibility to work around her child's needs and schedule. "We all have finite time and energy and we have to do decide what we do with it," she says.
Five home-based careers for moms
How are you going to use your precious time and energy? These home-based jobs put you in control of your day. Armed with an Internet connection, a computer and/or a smart device, you can access the virtual office on your terms. The following mom-friendly careers let you do it all:
1. Web designer
Web designers create Web storefronts for businesses and individuals. These creative projects allow moms to work remotely with digital design software, touching base with clients periodically via email. A portfolio of your design work and formal training in design tools can get you started. Most Web designers have an associate or bachelor's degree in Web design or graphic design.
2. Coach or consultant
The 9-5 office is not the only context for putting your business skills to work. Many moms have found their niche coaching social media marketing, time management, public speaking, etiquette and more from home. Richter, for example, parlayed her human resources background into a home-based career as a life coach. An online training program from the International Coaching Federation helped her get her start.
Coaching offers moms flexibility. You set the hours and the means of connecting with your clients -- by phone, email or in person. Training depends on your specialty, but a formal degree validates your expertise to potential clients.
A room of one's own (or the nursery) and a computer can connect you to the world of writing jobs. Web writing, marketing communications, journalism, ghost writing and even some technical writing projects are fair game for home-based writers. Write while your little one naps or plays. Marketing and Web copy are especially mom-friendly, as they accommodate short snippets of available work time. Hone your writing skills with a bachelor's degree in communications or a humanities field.
4. Medical transcriptionist or coder
These essential healthcare administrators work behind the scenes to transcribe physician reports for a patient's electronic medical records or code them for insurance billing. Transcriptionists and coders may do this skilled data entry work remotely on their own computers, making it an ideal job for stay-at-home moms. A 1-year vocational training certificate or associate degree prepares you for a career in this specialized field. For added validation of your skills, seek a voluntary credential as a Registered Medical Transcriptionist, Certified Medical Transcriptionist or Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT).
Moms who know their way around data can help organizations leverage their knowledge base. Analysts work independently to draw actionable conclusions from research data. Depending on your professional background, you may decide to specialize as a quality assurance analyst, financial analyst, social media analyst, system analyst, government affairs analyst or risk analyst. Industries as diverse as real estate and healthcare rely on analysts. The ideal background is a graduate degree in statistics or a specialized area like finance or management information systems. An MBA can give business analysts an edge.
It's important to note that mom-professionals say working from home is no vacation. You're holding down two jobs, leaving scant time for housework or me-time. But the benefits are priceless: Time to nap with your newborn at noon, let go of your little one's hand as she takes her first step or kiss your toddler's scraped knee. Richter sums it up: "I love being able to have many of the pluses of being a stay-at-home mom, but still have the freedom to contribute financially to the household, keep my work skills current and find ways to integrate the things I learn as a mom with the things I do in the business world." It's the gift of living a full life on your own terms. "I feel lucky," she says.