After graduating college, it never occurred to me that some day I would be self-employed and loving it. I wrote for my college newspaper, but found a full-time job after graduation investigating medical malpractice cases for an insurance company. Later, I was a project manager at a health-care technology start-up. I was paid every two weeks like clockwork, and got health and dental insurance and a company-matched retirement plan. Pregnant with my daughter, I quit my job, and my husband and I moved across the country for his work. I learned that it’s hard to find a job when you’re six months pregnant.
Everyone says to sleep when the baby sleeps, but I was
itching to earn some money and I missed the intellectual stimulation work
provides. During nap time, I wrote occasional articles for local business
papers, and then travel articles for newspapers across the country. The
internet made working from home possible.
Two years later, my son was born and I continued adding to
my portfolio. It was the early days of blogging, and to learn something new, I
started my own blog about family-friendly things to do in the area, founding one
of the first local parenting blogs. I sold advertising, joined affiliate
marketing programs, and learned about search engine optimization. Not only did
my blog bring in advertising income, but other companies hired me to write for
their blogs. Suddenly this stay-at-home mom was able to pay for family
vacations and contribute to the kids’ college funds.
As my kids started preschool and then elementary school, my
writing time expanded. My insurance and medical background was a great bridge
to writing about those industries. At some point, my income exceeded the salary
I earned at my last full-time job, even though I was working part-time during
My kids are now in high school and college, and my career
growth tracked with their growth. I’ve been referred for jobs that would
require me to go into an office. I don’t want to commute, but at this point in
my life, I also don’t want to be an employee. I value the freedom of working
for myself. In the past few years, my income exceeded what I thought was
possible for a freelancer writer. While I still have a 401(k) from my full-time
employee years, I’ve been contributing each year to an individual 401(k). I
love my work, and I love being self-employed.
As a work-at-home mom, I walked my kids to and from school
for seven years, until they were in middle school and walking them to school
was no longer socially acceptable (to them). I’ve been room parent more times
than I can count, planning Valentine’s Day and end-of-year parties. I never needed
to ask my employer for time off for school field trips or the Halloween parade.
As the parent robotics coach for our high school teams, I go to after-school
meetings multiple times a month, because I work from home and control my
schedule. I don’t have to ration my vacation days to see if I have enough for
religious holidays, spring break and a summer vacation. Instead, I take six to seven
weeks off a year, and don’t worry about finding backup to watch my kids on their
days off or figure out who will stay home with them when they’re sick. My kids
know that when they walk in the door after school, I stop working so we can
talk about their days. My son actually thanked me multiple times for being there
for him after school. Not all parents have this luxury, and I do not take it
My income and work flexibility allow me to provide for my
family and still be there for my kids. If I wanted the benefits an employed
status provided, I would get a job with those benefits. Forcing companies to
hire me as a part-time employee would lower my income because they’d have to
pay additional taxes and the overhead that goes with employment. I would either
get paid less or, more likely, they would no longer use my services. As an
employee, I would likely have to sign a non-compete agreement, which would
limit my income as well, since I write for multiple companies and publications
within the same niches.
I’m asking that New Jersey support its independent
contractors who want to continue working in this model, and let work-at-home
parents continue contributing to our communities and our state.