Vivian Manning-Schaffel: With layoffs escalating by the nanosecond, more and more moms are opting to freelance at home to spend more time with their children while alleviating childcare costs. But, in many ways, the reality of freelancing with kids can prove as frustrating as it is frugal.
Take me, for example. My home office (a.k.a. the desk in the corner of my living/dining room) is smack in the middle of my daughter's play space, so I lurk about my local Wi-Fi coffeehouses for three- to five-hour stretches of time -- a vagrant in search of a power strip and a sandwich.
The negatives? It's always noisy. I'm forced to vie for one of the two tables with an electrical outlet. I have to fork over at least $30-$50 a week I wouldn't normally be spending on lunch, coffee, and sundries to justify my presence. I can't take conference calls at these places, so for those, I retreat to my bedroom closet to muffle the sound of my two kids pounding on my bedroom door. It's hardly a professional environment in which to conduct business. I don't know what's worse -- the professional displacement or the maternal guilt.
When her job ended a few years back, food editor/Mama Chronicles blogger Jennifer Perillo opted to freelance at home so she could cut childcare costs and spend more time with her daughters. And instead of feeling like she has it all, she says she often feels like a gerbil on a wheel: "It feels like I'm on a never-ending deadline, trying to make sure all my 'universes' do not collide."
In spite of having your balls in the air -- and to the wall -- most of the time, the ability to carve out more kid time is a mighty big payoff. "At the end of the day, I call the shots," says Perillo. "Not some boss who just doesn't get why I need to leave in the middle of the workday to make cupcakes for the PTA bakesale."