by Erin Odom

It wasn’t long after my second daughter’s birth when I realized working as a writer from home would be even more of a juggling act than it had been with just one child. I was conducting a phone interview for a story with my newborn asleep on my lap when she started to get gassy. And it was very audible. I had the phone on speaker, so I could easily type and balance my little one on my legs.

I quickly turned the phone off speaker.

“I hope this woman didn’t think that was me!” I thought.

A few seconds later, I mentioned to her that I had a newborn and worked from home.  I could sense the woman’s smile.

“I remember those days,” she said. “They’re hard, but enjoy them. They end quicker than you think.”

In today’s still-shaky economy, it seems almost impossible for mothers who desire to stay home with their children to be able to do so.

But some are finding they can successfully balance motherhood and a career from home. In celebration of Mother’s Day, I interviewed three Lake Norman mothers who are doing just that.

Davidson residents Jill Martin and Sara Merritt have both worked at home since 2008, and Mooresville resident Tifaine Hash started her home-based company, DoodleBugs Bowtique, in 2010.

The three ladies weighed in on the joys and challenges of life as a work-at-home mom.

What was your profession before becoming a working at home mom?

Jill: “Attorney.”

Sara: “Teacher.”

Tifaine: “Office secretarial work – a job that is never rewarding, always stressing and one I totally hated!”

What is your work-at-home job?

Jill: “I provide writing and research services drawing on my experience in the private practice of law and as an ethics attorney.”

Sara: “I publish two websites – and – and do contract work.”

Tifaine: “I make hair bows, tutus, pillowcase dresses, headbands, bow ties and clippie bows of all kinds! I’ve loved every single minute of it!”

Why are you a work-at-home mom?

Jill: “I wanted to be home with the children yet keep a foot in the working world, so my skills don’t become obsolete.”

Sara:  “It’s important to our family that Ellie be raised by the people who love and care about her the most. I enjoy the flexibility of working from home. It allows me to schedule family time first.”

Tifaine: “I started making things for my kids, and moms started asking me to make things for their kids, so I turned into a working-at-home mom overnight!”

What is the most challenging part of working from home?

Jill: “Balancing responsibilities and finding the time to accomplish everything.”

Sara: “When you desperately need to work on a project and there are little eyes staring at you, asking to go to the playground. If there’s a deadline, I have to tell her ‘no.’ It can also be a juggling act – washing windows while on a conference call, writing in between loads of laundry or researching a topic while cooking dinner.”

Tifaine: “My girls request orders as well. Sometimes I just have to say ‘not this time.’ Another challenge is balancing my work orders, homeschooling my children and fulfilling my (home) duties. My family always comes first.”

What is the most rewarding part?

Jill: “Getting to be with my children.”

Sara: “I haven’t missed a milestone in my child’s life.”

Tifaine: “When I sew on the sewing machine, my girls ask to sew, too!”

Do you have any funny stories to share?

Sara: “When Ellie was potty training, I was on a conference call when, suddenly, she came sprinting into the kitchen shouting, ‘I have to poop, Mommy!’ I got her situated on her potty quietly, but she started giving play-by-play action. As I apologized, my project manager said, ‘This is... awesome. Yea, Ellie!’ They all cheered her on. Such is the glamorous life of a work-from-home mom!”