Why I Started Working From Home

The alarm clock went off.  It was 5 a.m., time to get up to start another day.  The boys were cranky and my mood wasn't much better.  Luckily, I had packed backpacks and diaper bags the night before so I was going to save a little time.  But not much.  We were on the hamster wheel of my getting ready for work.

It was 2007 and at that time, I was working in a real estate office.  I really did like my job.  It involved talking to homebuyers, coordinating paperwork (lots of it!), and assisting with the management of a rental property.  It didn't hurt that my boss was a super easy, fun-loving person.  Even though the job was a great one, I still hated leaving my boys each day.

My youngest son was all of two months old and my oldest son was the ripe-old age of four.  I had a friend who lived in the same apartment complex who babysat the boys while I was at work.  She even had a son the same age as my oldest.  Still, I wanted to be at home with them.

Every day, we got up at 5 am, ate some breakfast, bathed and hiked off to the friend's house where inevitably, I spent at least 10 minutes with the boys, prying them off my legs so I could go to work.  I remember turning very quickly so I couldn't see their faces when I walked out the door.  The guilt was too much.

The day it all changed

I didn't know that the one day I left work early because I was sick would be my last day in the office.

I had a super duper migraine headache that day and I asked my boss could I leave early.  She was pretty nice about it and I left to pick up the boys.  When I got to my friend's house, I knocked on the door.  No answer.  Well, it was a pretty nice day.  Maybe they went to the playground.  I checked.  They weren't there.  You know how you feel when you sense something is wrong?  That's how I felt.

I stood outside of the door for about ten minutes, knocking and not getting an answer.  Finally, a neighbor came out.  "[Insert friend's name] isn't home."

"Do you know where she is?" I asked.

"Honey, I've been hoping to catch you alone.  I don't know how to tell you but [insert friend's name] gets high and she leaves the kids alone."

It felt like all of the breath left my body.  My headache got even worse.  My babies.  Where were they?

The neighbor said she would listen out for the kids when my friend would go out.  She never thought to call the authorities because just like me, my friend was a single parent and she didn't want my friend to lose her son.  A few minutes later, my friend appeared.  She was stunned to see me so early in the day.

I'll cut to the chase -- the kids were napping and you better bet, I grabbed them so fast I think I left a shoe behind.  No amount of words, tears or pleading from my friend would make things right with me.  We were done.  Finished.  Kaput.

After I got home and calmed my nerves enough to talk to my oldest son, I learned more.  My friend regularly beat her son in front of the kids.  Although my son said she never hurt them, I could never be sure.  The guilt was building inside of me.  After a long, tortuous night spent beating myself up over leaving my kids day-after-day with this woman and in deep prayer, I knew what I had to do.  I was at peace.

I got up the next morning and picked up the phone.  I had to tell my boss that I was resigning.

With what I had just learned about my babysitter, I had no other choice.  But I couldn't do it.  I couldn't relay this type of message over the phone.  I had to do it face-to-face.  However, I didn't have anyone to watch the kids now so I could go into the office in person.  I felt like I couldn't win.

When your back is against the wall, it's amazing what solutions you can come up with.  I got up my nerve and I picked up the phone again, this time to invite my boss to my house.  I told her I had to discuss something very important with her.  Since I lived so close to the office, she said she'd be there in a few minutes.

I made a mad scramble to tidy up my house before she arrived.  She knocked and I invited her in.  Could she hear my heart pounding?  It sure felt like it.

After a little small talk, I got down to business.  The words rushed out of my mouth.   I let her know I really liked my job but unfortunately, I had to quit.  I told her the bit about the babysitter and I just couldn't take those chances with the boys' safety.  I would miss everyone in the office, blah, blah, blah.

Whew.  I did it. I pulled the Band-Aid off.  It was done.

Well, she threw me for a loop with what she had to say next.

"I was a single mom for a long time, before my husband and I got married.  I know what's it like to do it alone.  I've got an idea.  How about you just work from home?"

Say what?  Did she just say what I think she said?

Yep, I was handed a work from home job, right on the spot.

To say I was shocked is a true understatement.  This girl was floored, speechless, stunned and any other adjective you can throw out there.  But once the shock wore off, I cried.  Cried like a baby.  A huge weight had been lifted.  God had made a way when it didn't look like there was one.

We hammered out the details:  I'd be working until early afternoon most days and I just needed to come into the office every two weeks to meet with her.  If I didn't have anyone to watch the kids, she'd be more than happy to meet at my house.  I already had a computer, Internet, and scanner so equipment wasn't an issue.  I set up a second line just for work.   I was ready to roll.

My first day working at home

My very first day of working from home was a relaxed one.  There was no waking up at 5 a.m.  As a matter of fact, we sat down to eat a special breakfast that day just because.  I told the boys that from now on, I'd be working from home.  They would be with me all day and we could spend some time doing things we really liked to do.  They were thrilled!  But I also laid down the rules:  Mommy would be working from home and that meant that sometimes they would have to be extra quiet if I was on the phone.  I set up a treat box to use during those times.  There were still times I took conference calls in the closet but it didn't matter.  They were at home with me, the boys were safe.

So, that's it.  That's how working from home started for me.  A bit unorthodox but I am ever so grateful it did happen.  At the time, I felt like I had been thrown a curve ball but had it not happened, I probably never would have worked from home.  I've had lots of work from home adventures since that job in 2007 and I envision more.  But for now, I look back at that time fondly and with gratitude.  As always, God had my back and didn't forsake me.

Regina Lewis

Regina's passion is helping a new generation of virtual assistants launch their new business or take their business to the next level.  When she's not working at the local ministry, blogging or tinkering with Squarespace, she enjoys spending time with her family, watching "Downton Abbey" to the point that it irritates her boys and people-watching from her front porch.