On the negative side, everyone knows where to find me and my office supplies. Well-meaning friends have been known to call and ask if I want to play hooky, my kids keep setting up tray table desks in my office to “help” me work, and my Post-It notes magically find their way upstairs and on the walls of my kids’ rooms. And in the depth of a New England winter, it can be too easy to skip doing my hair and make-up and spend the day in a bathrobe and fuzzy slippers. But the hardest thing I had to learn is not to pick up the phone just because it rings. Screening my calls saves valuable time.
What are the challenges and benefits of having a home-based business when you have a child with special needs?
The obvious challenge for any parent with a special-needs child is time. Before our oldest was diagnosed, I spent a lot of time researching possible causes for his behavior and being emotionally drained at the end of each day. Once he was diagnosed, I had to add his occupational therapy sessions to our family schedule.
The benefit, however, was that I had more scheduling options since I wasn’t pinned down to a 9-5 workday. Meanwhile, accepting my son’s limitations have helped me accept my own flaws. I am much less of a perfectionist than I used to be and have become better at asking for help professionally (referring a client to a colleague) and personally (asking for parental advice).
What does your husband do? How do you split up your responsibilities at home?
My husband is in retail management, so his schedule is not a typical 9 to 5. This actually works to our advantage because we’re able to share much of the domestic responsibilities and childcare issues. When he has the day off, he takes care of the morning routine with the kids (and once a week that’s a weekday which involves getting them to school). Four to five nights a week, we’re both home to share the responsibility of bath time, reading to the kids, and getting them settled for the night.