While others are struggling through a morning commute of traffic jams, delayed trains, and foul weather, Cynthia Benn has been at work for an hour only steps from her front door. In fact, she has only had to open the door to send the children off to school and pick up the morning newspaper.
Cynthia is a freelance editor who has worked at home for 12 years. As the mother of two children, ages nine and 11, Cynthia looks at this arrangement as the most efficient use of her time and talent. "Going out to a place to work would be a luxury. Commuting eats up the time I could be putting into the work."
It seems to be the best of both worlds for Cynthia, who is able to not only continue in the career she enjoys, but also be available to actively participate in her children's daily lives. "I want to be able to be here for the children; to volunteer at school and to do things with and for them."
According to the US Department of Labor Women's Bureau, about 600,000 mothers of children under six reported some job-related home-based work. For families who feel conflicted in their need to earn additional income yet do not want their children in outside daycare, working from home is the ideal solution.
Home work for mothers is often supplemental to the family's main income. Home-based opportunities range from assembly and piecework to sales, crafts, and even extending your previous professional experience to your home office. It is an opportunity to try new ventures with little risk. Workwise, anything is possible.
Vicki MacDonald, mother of 4-year old James, has tried a variety of home-based jobs she found in newspaper classified ads. "I did telephone polling for a ratings service. I wore a beeper for a medical temporary service. When they needed a home-health aide or nurse they would beep me and I would locate the person they needed. And I did some paralegal work for an attorney."
Vicki's salary averaged $7 to $10 an hour working at home. She credits her previous office experience as a claims supervisor for an insurance company with helping her manage her time and get her work done.
Vicki concedes that there are drawbacks to home work. "Some places are not careful about paying you promptly or properly. You are not taken seriously as a regular employee. You don't always get respect and attention, and there is a tendency to be taken advantage of. I often felt I was being manipulated into doing more than I originally agreed to do."
Some women become their own bosses in work-at-home endeavors. Recognizing a need and offering a service to meet that need has helped Tina Woods establish a flourishing business as a home-based photographer. When Tina's daughter, Jacqueline, brought home pictures of her soccer team, Tina was not satisfied and knew she could have done a better job. Having working as a studio photographer for five years, Tina had the credentials and professional experience to compete in the field. She began by photographing skating clubs, Little League, and soccer teams, but now includes family portraits taken in the families' own homes.
Tina's prices are not merely competitive: When taking pictures of children's activities, she invariably puts a portion of her profits back into each program.
When friend and neighbor Paula Merryman saw how Tina's business was growing she offered to become her sales manager. Working on a commission, Paula gets jobs for Tina, does the billing and mailing, and packages the finished photographs all from her own home.