Homework (For stay-at-home Moms)

(C) Copyrighted Article. Originally published in “Equipping The Saints”. Vol. 5, No. 2 – Spring 1991. Used by permission. Sysops: for information contact Christian BBS Abba II at 619-487-7746.


Through Creative Home-Based Income Opportunity, More And More Mothers Are Contributing To The Family Income While Meeting The Developmental Needs Of Their Children.

B Y N A N C Y R . P E A R C E Y

My friend, a mother of two, wanted to quit her full-time teaching job. Her husband wanted her to continue. So they consulted a financial analyst to calculate how much her teaching actually added to the family income. After deducting from her paycheck all the additional expenses entailed by the second job–maintenance of a second car, work clothes, convenience foods, and child care–the couple was astonished to discover that the wife’s job was clearing only $400 per month.

At the time, I was working from my home only about two hours a day as a writer, with flexible hours, almost no overhead costs, and lots of time to spend with my young son. And I was clearing $500 per month.

The moral is that families need to count the costs, and not just the income, of a second job. When a mother has to contribute to the family income, she might do better–both financially and emotionally–to think creatively of alternatives to the standard 9 to 5 job.


For many women today, working is not an option but a necessity. Nationally, the median income for dual career families is $38,346, while for one-career families it is only $25,803. This means mothers often cannot afford to walk away from paid work outside the home unless they create paid work inside the home.

Working and mothering are not all-or-nothing propositions. As Christine Donovan, publisher of Women’s Workshop, says, “It’s the rare home based mother who doesn’t find some way to contribute to the family income, whether she baby-sits, teaches classes, or makes crafts to sell.”

The challenge for a mother who wants to combine childbearing with income-producing work is that she may have to create ~ slot for herself instead of hoping to find one ready made. She has to ask questions such as: Can I negotiate a part-time position or job-sharing? Would my company consider flexible hours or take home work? Can I free-lance from my home? Do I have skills that I can par lay into a home-based business?


The first women to enter the work force felt that to be accepted they had to adopt the male career pattern–for example, putting job first and not allowing family responsibilities to encroach on it.

But in recent years many women have begun to reject the male model. They want the freedom to enter and leave the work force according to the developmental needs of their children. They want the flexibility of home-based and part-time work that can be coordinated with raising a family.

If they can’t find family-friendly employment, they create their own. Women-owned businesses constitute the fastest-growing segment of the small business population in the United States.

Many people have the impression that mothers are leaving their children in droves to work full time. The media loves to cite Labor Department statistics showing that some 65 percent of mothers are in the labor force. But what that statistic hides is that most of those mothers are working only part time and/or at home.

In its definition of employment, the Labor Department included an extremely wide range of working situations. It counted as working mothers woman who

ù work part time as little as one hour a week;

ù work seasonally as little as one week per year;

ù work alongside their husbands on a family farm;

ù work at home for an employer;

ù run a home-based business;

ù work without pay in a family operated enterprise fifteen or more hoursper week (e.g., keeping the books for a husband’s business);

ù provide child care in their homes for other mothers.

The Labor Department statistics even include women who are not currently working because they are unemployed or on maternity leave, as long as they express plans to work in the future!

When the statistics are broken down, it becomes clear that only a fraction of mothers actually work full time, year round. Most find ways to adapt paid work to their parenting responsibilities.


Creative work arrangements can allow even single and low-income mothers to raise their own children. Brenda Hunter was divorced and working full-time when she began to feel that her children were being negatively affected by their separation from her all day. She used her experience as an English professor to create a home-based business as an editor, which enabled her to be home with her children.

Jeanne Anthony faced a life of dead-end jobs as a low-income single mother until she attended a training session of the Women’s Self-Employment Project (WSEP) in Chicago. There she learned how to turn her love of art into a marketable skill. Now Jeanne makes hand-painted clothing (“wearable art”) at home, which she sells through several Chicago-area stores. Her daughter helps by modeling her products.

Beverly Smith, interim executive director of WSEP, says mothers who work
at home are in a unique position to shape their children’s values. Most
children today never see their parents except during leisure hours. They
have no role model of working adults with whom they can identify.

Children of home-based workers, on the other hand, actually see their parents meet deadlines, manage finances, wrestle with decisions. They have the opportunity to learn from their parents the values and attitudes appropriate to the work world.


Working at home isn’t just for mothers. Bob Hamrin and his wife were both working full time when they decided the stress of balancing work and family was too great. His wife persuaded the State Department, where she worked, to create its first part-time position so she could be home more. Bob began to work from home as an author and consultant. Now he can adjust his schedule to attend a child’s school function or sports event.

“We hear a lot about superwomen, about how hard it is for women to juggle career and family,” says Bob. “Well, we should be talking about supermen, too. Fathers can’t afford to give the time and emotional commitment it takes to climb the career ladder and still hope to be responsible parents.”


Futurist Alvin Toffler, in his book The Third Wave, predicts that the next era of Western culture will be characterized by decentralization of the work place and a proliferation of home-based employment. Mothers (and fathers) who start now to create alternatives to the 9 to 5 work day while their children are young are forerunners of that coming era. They have the opportunity to model an integrated vision of life and labor for our fragmented world.

– Nancy Pearcey is a home-based worker and mother in Washington D.C

Sidebar: Resources For Alternative Ways To Work:

þ Books

Working At Home: The Dream That’s Becoming A Trend by Lindsey O’Connor, Harvest House Publishers, 1990

Best Of Both Worlds: A Guide To Home-Based Careers by Joan Westen Anderson, Betterway Publishing, 1982

All The Way Homeby Mary Pride, Crossway Books/Good News Publishers, 1989

The above books are by Christians. Other books can be found in your public library. Look especially for books by Barbara Brabec, Paul and Sarah Edwards, Marion Behr and Wendy Lazar, Arlene Cardozo.

þ Periodicals

Home Sweet Home, P.O. Box 1254, Milton, WA 98354
A Christian magazine promoting home-based work

þ Organizations:

American Home Business Association, 397 Post Road, Darien, CT 06820 1-800-441-2929. Newsletter: Home Business Line

Association of Part-Time Professionals, Row General Building, 7655 Old
Springhouse Road, McLean, CA 22012. 703-734-7975

Home Business Resource Center, P.O. Box 115023-233, Carrolton, TX 75011. Organization run by Lindsey O’Connor, author of “Working At Home: The Dream That’s Becoming A Trend.” Newsletter: Homework

Home By Choice, Box 103, Vienna, VA 22183. 703-281-6334National Christian organization that founds support groups for mothers and encourages home-based businesses. Bimonthly newsletter

Mother’s Home Business Network, P.O. Box 2208, Merrifield, VA 22116

National Association for the Cottage Industry, P.O. Box 14460, Chicago, IL 60614
For more information, send a self-addressed stamped envelope.  Newsletter: The Cottage Connection

National Association of Home-Based Businesses, P.O. Box 30220,  Baltimore, MD 21270. 301-363-3698

þ This article was originally published in “Equipping The Saints,” the quarterly magazine of Vineyard Ministries International. For a one-year subscription (four issues), send $8.00 to Vineyard Ministries International (VMI), P.O. Box 68025, Anaheim, CA 92817-0825.

þ Note: (C) This textfile is copyrighted. Christian BBS Abba II has obtained permission from the publishers to enter this article into electronic media. This file may be uploaded to, and posted by other Bulletin Boards. However, it’s content, including this notice, may not be edited in any way. For more unique, Christian files, call Abba II at 619-487-7746, or write: Abba II, P.O. Box 927114, San Diego, CA 92192-7114.