Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

Dave and I have been successfully working at home running a business for more than ten years. It was a rough start, but after different corporations had told us both that our choice was a career or our family, the decision was easy: Family comes first, not atrocious bosses. We wanted to teach our children something other than being choosing corporate slavery.

The work-at-home life can be especially appealing to moms with young kids. With little to no maternity leave offered in the US, it can be heart-wrenching to leave babies at day care after only a few short weeks. Not to mention, the cost of day care can make working barely worth the hours put in. Although managing work with young children at home was no easy task, it was well worth saving the cost of day care. Most importantly, by working at home,  I had a lot more time with my kids.

I was there for every pick up and drop-off. I could attend every concert, meeting, and extracurricular event because I made my own hours. I never had to negotiate with a boss about sick time because my kid had the flu (again) or worry about making both the meeting and the doctor’s appointment.

As my kids got older, I was there for them every step of the way. As a business owner, I didn’t have the time to be a “classroom mom” but I had plenty of availability for field trips. I could run my daughter’s gym clothes to her when she forgot them, or I could take a forgotten project to my son just in time for class. I was home after school every day to field the excitement and the tears, the anxieties and the successes.

The flexibility was and still is a major benefit of working from home. Summer vacation means that if I want to work twelve hours one day I can have the next day off completely to go on an impromptu adventure with my family. It means that I can prepare clients that I am taking a four-day weekend, because I can. Work will be done, but I won’t be available. I’m not on call to anyone but myself and my family.

Now that one of my children is heading off to college and the other is a senior, I get to be a part of everything that is important in their transitional stages. I get to take my son to grab his books on a Thursday, and the next week, take him to move in on a Friday. I’ve already scheduled my daughter’s audition for her dream school, along with last minute getaways to make up for what will soon be an empty nest. I also have another grandbaby coming in October (yay!) and no corporation I know offers grand-maternity leave. Regardless, I’ll be taking a few days to support my daughter and spend time with both my grandchildren. No, I don’t get paid vacation, but I do get to take time as I deem appropriate. My work happens on my terms, which means my family always gets to come first.

The work-at-home life is not an easy road to travel. Honestly, we’ve had to bust our butts to get this far, but it has been worth all the times that I’ve been up at 5am fielding emails and working until dinner (or editing a blog in the middle of a sleepless night before sneaking away for one last vacation). The benefits far outweigh the negatives, and I’ve had moments with my children that I would never get in a cubicle.