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Book Reviews on Staying Home with Children

The Stay-at-Home Mom's Guide to Making Money
by Liz Folger
Prima Publishing, 1997

How to Raise a Family and a Career Under One Roof
by Lisa M. Roberts
Bookhaven Press, 1997

Come Home to Your Children
by Frank and Ayesha Jones
Stoddart, 1997

Reviewed by Terri Webber
Miami FL USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 15 No. 5, September-October 1998, pp. 145-46

Suppose someone told you that you really could have it all? A satisfying career, plenty of time to raise your children, even a spotless house. The LLLI Book Evaluation Committee has recently approved three books that focus on how to accomplish these goals without sacrificing one for the other. Okay, just kidding about the spotless house. Nobody has figured that one out!

The Stay-at-Home Mom's Guide to Making Money is divided into two parts. Part I is entitled "Home Business Basics" and covers topics such as deciding what kind of business to start, creating a business plan, and managing a house and family while running a home business. The author, Liz Folger, wrote this book at home while caring for her two young daughters.

Part II profiles 29 home businesses, including everything from pet-sitter to attorney, word processor to soap-maker. Each woman gives specific information about her business and shares advice based upon her own experience. The wide variety of professions allows the reader to see that home businesses can take many forms, depending upon the interests, skills, priorities, and imagination of the individual. Though most of the women have a husband who provides the family's primary income, the first profile is of a craftsmaker, a single mother with three children who built her business while gradually getting off welfare. This example illustrates how a home business can work even for those without a high degree of financial security.

Folger repeatedly emphasizes that the primary reason for working at home is to spend time with the children. She states that two of the big advantages are "the ability to breastfeed your child in the comfort of your own home and the end of the need for all-day daycare." Folger feels that children, particularly young children, belong with their mothers, and her assumption is that the child will remain in the home while the mother works. Her ideas for child care help include hiring a young girl as a part-time mother's helper or hiring an adult sitter in the home. She advises mothers to "schedule your work in short spurts so you can always spend a few minutes with your kids. Read to them or take them for a walk or a bike ride."

Folger makes no promises about large profits from the home-based business. "This book isn't about wild dreams; it tells the truth about how you can stay home with your kids and make some money while doing something you really enjoy."

How to Raise a Family and a Career Under One Roof was written by Lisa M. Roberts, a mother of four children under the age of ten. She writes from her experience in "working at home as an employee, developing my own part-time home business, working out of the house full-time, and telecommuting."

Roberts helps the reader decide what sort of business to pursue and gives an idea of the rewards a work-at-home parent will receive, such as challenge, independence, and professional growth. She provides a resource list at the end of most chapters so the reader can further explore different aspects of home business.

Roberts devotes a chapter to "Caring for the Children." Like Folger, she states that the reason for working at home is to focus on family life. "Work is not a separate place to go to out of children's sight; it is instead part of the whole, one of many activities that pulls the family and home together." Roberts gives helpful, practical advice that includes ideas such as installing a business phone line and storing files far out of reach of the children.

Unlike Folger, Roberts devotes a number of pages to child care considerations. She plainly states that without dedicating 15-50 uninterrupted hours every week to your business, you simply will have none. Roberts' child care options include not only mother's helpers and swapping babysitting with other parents but also hiring "a nanny to care for your children on a full-time, daily basis" or outside care, which would include day-care centers, day-care homes, nursery schools, and so forth.

However, in her own "Home Business Diary," Roberts tells how she managed a home business without supplemental child care for three years, and she shares how the dynamics of her business changed with the addition of each subsequent child. She states that, though "I wanted to help my family move ahead financially. . . in my heart I knew who I had become. A primary caregiver. The only real choice for my daughter."

Roberts also discusses the impact of a home business on marriage, the importance of teamwork by husband and wife, and sharing the rewards when the business begins to show a profit. Though most home business owners are female, Roberts also acknowledges that many men work from home while their wives work away from home.

This book is packed with helpful and very specific information on starting and managing a home-based business. Roberts meets objections and doubts with clearly stated suggestions and ideas. Though Roberts sees herself as a mother first, she obviously knows a great deal about running a business.

Come Home to Your Children, by Frank and Ayesha Jones, is subtitled "How Families Can Survive and Thrive on One Income." The authors, parents of six grown children, have been married for nearly 40 years. Ayesha was a stay-at-home mother while Frank provided the family's income, and their book's focus is on having one parent at home full-time, at least during the children's early years.

The authors begin by underscoring the difficulty that working parents face in trying to provide for their family financially, take care of a house, yet somehow find enough time to spend with the children. As the Joneses state. "These precious years can never be repeated- and you're not there to enjoy them. It's the price we're paying for our rush-rush, dual-income lifestyle. Someone else may well see your child take his first step, utter her first word." Some parents may avoid this book for fear of feeling guilty; however, the authors assert that working parents already feel guilty. "You love your job; you love your family . . . You keep telling yourself, 'We both have to work to survive.' But at what price?"

Rather than use their book to criticize working parents, the authors offer workable solutions. The Joneses recommend author Arlene Rossen Cardozo's idea of sequencing, or "having it all-but not all at once." In this way, a woman may decide to get a good education, work to establish her career, take time off to raise a family, then return to her career or begin a new career at a later time. US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is an example of a mother of three who "dropped out of practice for five years" to be at home with her children, yet certainly did not suffer long-term consequences.

Many parents wonder how it can be financially feasible for a family to survive on one income. The Joneses offer many examples of how to live frugally. Though living on less is not emphasized in our society (and in fact is often actively discouraged), the authors suggest buying nothing on credit, selling the second car and relying on public transportation, or moving to a less expensive home in order to survive on one income. Rather than feeling deprived or "poor," those who value a parent at home full-time will instead happily continue to look for ways to cut corners because of the larger goal of raising children the way they believe is best.

No book has all the answers for parents struggling to decide whether or not to go back to work after the birth of a child, and neither home-based business nor full-time parenthood is right for everyone. However, these three books offer parents alternatives to taking a few months maternity leave after a baby is born, finding a child care provider, and going back to work. There are many possibilities available to parents who want to maintain a professional life while putting their families first.

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