Friday, April 2, 2010

Published January 19, 2002
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

(Author's note: Since I'm now working for an actual, bona fide, real life home office, I thought I'd take a trip down memory lane to see how the same prospect affected me 8 years ago.)

With the birth of my fourth child drawing near, I have home and hearth forever on my mind.  As I plunge headfirst into infant care once again, I find myself at odds with my situation.  With a professional license firmly in hand and my feet barely wet in what could prove to be a lucrative and rewarding career, I find myself feeling ever more nervous about the coming battle between bringing up baby and bringing home the bacon.

Truth be told, if we didn't need my extra income to pay the bills, I would give up working in a second to stay at home and focus on being a champion wife and mother.  However, since my husband has not been offered the six figure income he so richly deserves, I am forced to make do.  But don't cry for me, St. George!  I think I may have found the solution in a growing trend.  I'm talking about the "Home Office."

After an extensive search of at least one magazine, I have learned what the experts say I need to succeed.

- Create a seperate office space.  Ok, we may have a problem here.  I love my home, but it's not exactly overflowing with unused space.  My work-at-night spouse has given me a firm no to moving the waterbed into the family room, so I guess my bedroom is out of the question.  And cramming all the kids into one room isn't exactly what I had in mindm either.  I guess I can always look into toilet telecommuting.

- Dress the part.  From what I read, the fantasy of working in your pajamas should be just that: a fantasy.  A professional should dress professionally at the corporate office as well as at the home office.  Ok by me, as long as it's understood that at Sarah Wilson, Inc., the corporate dress code requires nursing tops, baggy pants, and no less than one spit up stain per article of clothing.

- Purchase the right equipment. I think they're talking about a fax machine, copier, scanner, etc. I can see where those might come in handy.  But as long as there's a professional print shop around the corner, I think I'll spend my capital on equipment that will really matter in my home office: a vibrating bouncy seat, and infant swing, and every Blues Clues video ever produced.

- Write off EVERYTHING. Now we're talking.  I had already planned on deducting my cell phone, mileage, and licensing expenses from my gross income this year, but apparently, a home office is a veritable gold mine when it comes to tax advantages.  The mortgage, electricity, even the chores you pay your kids to do are all potential possibilities.  Hmm...I'll definitely have to consider giving my husband a raise for all those wonderful back massages.  Either that, or I'll have to offer him a great dental plan.

Though a home office isn't quite the paradise I might have previously thought it to be, I'm still excited at the prospect of making some extra money while watching my children grow up.  For a busy but guilt obsessed mom, it may be just what the doctor ordered.  And if after a few months, I find that marketing my business, chasing after clients, and wrestling with the demands of four children under six turn out to be more than I bargained for, I can take comfort in one very important fact.

I can always write off my therapy expenses.