Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Juggling Work and Home: The Benefits of Self-Employment

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Juggling Work and Home: The Benefits of Self-Employment

Article excerpt

Different parents juggle different schedules in different ways, depending on the different situations they face. The feature common to all is that some--if not all--of the juggling is done from home.

Lauren Agoratus has developed a flex-time arrangement with her employer Nan and Joshua Kaufman have created their own juggling act, both as self-employers in their separate away, from-home offices. Karen Freeman often finds herself home-bound simply because it is the base for her own home-run services business. Adrienne Arkontaky shares the same situation, but for a retail business owned and operated from her home.

Finding Time

After eleven years as a representative for Shaklee Inc., a multi-level-marketing company that sells vitamins and other health products, Lauren Agoratus appreciates the word "flexibility" When her daughter, Stephanie was born four years ago with a kidney disease, her company allowed her to change her hours to accommodate her daughter's needs.

"They've been really understanding," says Agoratus, who is a Customer Satisfaction Representative for the company. Now, Lauren puts in 20 hours each week at Shaklee and another 16 at Mathematica Policy Research, a public policy research data collection firm in Princeton, New Jersey Lauren works a few hours during the day and then again at night from home.

Because Stephanie is on a renal diet, takes numerous medications and caloric supplements, Lauren prepares all her daughter's foods and medications in advance to make it easier for Stephanie's caregiver, Tara, who is with her during the day while Lauren works. Tara makes sure Stephanie gets to all of her therapy and doctor's appointments, and even tutors her in speech.

For Laura, who is also a board member for SPAN (Statewide Parent Advocacy Network) and works with Family Voices and National Family Caregivers--all in New Jersey--finding time for herself is difficult. "Lunch hour is `my time,"' she says, although much of that time is spent filling out paper work for Stephanie or pursuing other advocacy issues.

Lauren says her husband, Steven, is extremely helpful. "I couldn't do it without him." she says. Because one of them always has to be with Stephanie when Tara is not there, "He does everything he can. He helps me in terms of advocacy, will type up letters for me and makes sure he spends time with Stephanie."

Of course, Lauren says working at both office and home has its ups and downs. "It is hard financially. You have to struggle between staying at home with your child or getting a steady salary."

But having a job means earning money to help pay for Stephanie's therapies and other needs. Lauren feels that if she stayed at home and did not worry about the finances that have such an impact on her daughter, "what kind of mother would I be?"

As for the future, "my future hinges on Stephanie," Lauren says, adding that Stephanie has just been accepted to a special day school. "I plan to work while she's at school and be home when she's home."

For other parents, Lauren says the key to success is organization. "Prepare things ahead of fume. Take notes on everything and be sure to schedule everything on a calendar."

The Benefits of Self-Employment

When Nan Kaufman, a psychotherapist, saw her group practice wasn't giving her the flexibility she needed to take care of her two sons, thirteen-year-old Jay and ten-year-old Aaron, both with cerebral palsy, she knew she needed a better solution. So, she left her job and began a practice of her own.

Nan's husband, Joshua, is a self-employed attorney. Both have their own offices outside their home. Because they are their own bosses, Nan and Joshua can set their own hours.

"It's working as well as it can," she says. "We need flexibility to respond to our children's needs, not only for therapies and doctor's appointments, but also for surgeries. …

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