How I’m Planning to Be a Work-From-Home Mom Someday


young mom and dad lying on blanket with two kidsWhen I was in high school, I met a woman named Marsha* who changed my entire conception of how I could balance motherhood and work.

Marsha was my grandmother’s next-door neighbor. A mother of two, she ran a small accounting business out of her home—carefully balancing clients and projects with diapers and play dates.

To me, she had it all: time with her kids. meaningful work and the freedom to schedule her life the way she wanted.

Marsha hired me to babysit for her kids one summer, and I was thrilled to peek into the inner workings of her life. As a high-schooler, I didn’t know exactly what career path I would head down, but I knew that by the time I had kids, I wanted to live like Marsha.

So, when I got engaged to my husband three years ago, I told him of my intended plans. I told him I wanted to stay at home with our future children for at least the first two to three years of their lives (maybe longer, depending on life circumstances), while holding down my own small business doing financial planning that I could scale based on my family’s needs.

Of course, I knew that my desire to stay at home wasn’t the only solution. Both my and my husband’s mother worked full time and raised well-adjusted children. Plus, in these economic times, having two steady incomes makes life much easier. Was it really necessary for me to ditch a traditional career to spend extra time with my children?

RELATED: Money Mic: The Case for Stay-at-Home Moms

For me, that answer was yes.

With the work world becoming more flexible, I believe that it’s possible to have a fulfilling career that supports, rather than detracts, from motherhood. And I’m crazy enough to think I can engineer that life for myself … if I start working on it now.

Always supportive and practical, my husband asked me what we needed to do to make my vision happen.

Here’s what we’re doing.

  • Claire

    It’s awesome that you started thinking about this in highschool and planning for it before you even got married. Of course you can’t predict every variable, but you have planning has put you in a place where you will be able to handle many potential curveballs and make it work.

    • Leah Manderson

      Hey Claire,

      Thanks for your comment :) I’m definitely aware that I can’t plan for every variable, but, like I said, I feel proud that I’m giving myself options!

  • Gracious

    I love this idea and think you are wise to plan in order to give yourself options. As a single mom, I must work, but working from home is a great option (though you still require child care). This is increasingly becoming an option as teleworking (at least part time) is becoming increasingly popular with employers.

    • Leah Manderson

      Hey Gracious,

      I think the good news now is that you don’t have to start your own business to work from home. Teleworking, job sharing, remote offices and even just work-from-home-days for full-time workers are all blooming in the work world :) This can only be good for parents–both moms AND dads!

      Thanks for your comment!!

  • B

    I absolutely love everything about this article, because it shows both the challenge and reward of what you’re doing. I loved how you said that somehow when you reach 6 figures you’re “supposed to” be able to afford everything and save aggressively, but that isn’t always the case. I appreciate the honesty and it’s given me some great ideas of my own as well! Thanks for sharing

    • Leah Manderson

      Thanks, B.

      Glad to know the article gave you some ideas!

  • Em

    This is awesome, and might be one of my favorite LearnVest pieces yet. You did a great job laying out your plan while also acknowledging what might change with time. Best of luck – I’d love to read a follow-up in a few years!

    • Leah Manderson

      Hey, Em!

      Thanks for your kind words & well-wishes.

      Even though it’ll be a few years, I’ll let the editor know that you want a follow up ;)

  • Sara

    I have been living your planned life for almost ten years. When my youngest was born, I went back to work (from home) 20 hours a week. I hired a nanny who came to my home to watch my son while I worked. As he got older, I increased my work time. I was able to do playdates as well as keep my professional position with the company I worked for. My two kids are now both school aged. I work from home during the time they are in school, so I get to drop off and pick them up. They go to a local camp during the summer. It’s not always easy. They still get sick and need to be home sometimes while I work. There are school events that I miss because I’m working. I am not getting promotions at this point because I telecommute and work part time. But, for me, I get mostly the best of both worlds. I am still contributing to my retirement accounts and helping my kids with their homework each afternoon over a healthy snack at home. I can’t say I planned it all out this way before I had kids, but it has worked out. Best of luck to you!

    • Leah Manderson

      I’m so glad to hear your point of view, Sara, and for sharing the highs and lows.

      I think we all know that (even with the best laid plans) there’s really no “perfect” situation, and that it’s never going to be easy!

  • Karyn

    I really like this article. Although I don’t have any children yet, I’ve been planning to have a similar discussion with my husband. In ten years, I’d like to have the flexibility to switch gears and run a home-based business while raising our children. Your article is very realistic and presents some great ideas! We’re also above that six-figure line, but unlike you – don’t save nearly as much (yikes). I’m going to discuss with him we can up our savings in 2015. There may be hope for us yet!

    • Leah Manderson

      Hey Karyn,

      Flexibility is my driving ambition right now :)

      As for saving, no need to wait to 2015! Start super small now (even $25 per month adds up!) and bump it up gradually.

  • Colette

    I have a similar mindset. Great article! Thank you!

  • Angelica

    This article gives me great encouragement! last year I took the risk of doing my home business full-time and I have family looking at me weird because I quit my traditional job for the same reason. My mother, with struggles, never worked when I was little it was the best family memories. The only thing I’ve done different from this article is that I have not invested in a retirement plan yet, but instead my husband and I purchased an income property and I opened my photo/video business. (I went to school for broadcasting and this was the best family choice) Although I still don’t have kids I feel much more relaxed working from home and now I feel I have the opportunity be a future stay-home-mom. my husband and I (as first generation immigrants) we don’t have a great income like Leah’s nothing over 100k, but the income property opened our doors to reach that goal and the photo/video company contributes to that goal too! I have more work and more deadlines right now, but I have more control over my time especially during the week and it feels good! :)

    • Leah Manderson

      Thanks for the comment, Angelica. It’s nice to have a kindred spirit!

      Congrats on all the work you’ve done already.

      I love the idea of investing in rental property someday, but I’m taking one business at a time. :)

    • Allie Davis

      How did you decide on your rental property? I often toy with the idea, but I do not know the location or price range I would go for if I did.

  • Jamie Nolan

    Great piece – definitely gave me something to think about, and Leah seems to really have her head square on her shoulders! :)

    • Leah Manderson

      Hey Jamie,

      Sometimes I wonder if all this planning is an outlet for my financial anxiety, rather than having my head square on ;)

      (Hopefully you’re right!)

  • Julie

    How wise!! My only suggestion is to consider flip-flopping your work hours. Kiddos are freshest in the mornings and the afternoon nap is the last to go. You’ll get more of the best of what you want if you spend your afternoons working in those early years. :)

    • Leah Manderson

      Oooh, very astute observation, Julie :)

      There’s obviously still so much more to learn!

  • Allie Davis

    This was really encouraging to hear of someone else who thinks the same way I do. I have all of these plans and calculations for when my husband and I start a family as well! You make it sound really possible to get your business going, that’s the part I struggle with. (Probably because I haven’t really chosen a business to go after..) Best of luck!

    • Leah Manderson

      Hey Allie!

      I’m happy to have found a kindred soul! :)

      The business part all sounds easy in theory, but it is a TON of work! However, I’m operating under the theory that it gets hard before it gets easy, so I’m hoping to get the “hard” stuff under wraps before trying to bring on a little one.

      Although, like I said, all of this is likely to change. I mean, we’re still years out!


      • Allie Davis

        Good thinking! Is there a particular book or something you ate using to guide your actions to get the business going? Obviously there is the certification, but the whole finding clients is the scary part for me if I tried this. I tried to be a primerica financial representative 8 years ago and it was a disaster.

        • Leah Manderson

          I operate 100% independently from one of those organizations–Primerica, Northwestern Mutual, etc. I’m not a salesperson (and never will be), so instead, I focus on JUST the advice side of the business so that people feel they can steer their own financial ship a little, too. The vast majority of my clients find me through my website and get to know me through my newsletter. Then, when they’re ready, we work together.

  • neville

    Hey Leah,

    Your story is so powerful, I think its great that your planning for the future. Most people live in the here and now and lose what they have and be dumbfounded. I think you would be a great stay at home mom. Because with that you give your child all the attention he or she needs. You just have to find the right vehicle to stay home and make money with.

    Neville from NY

  • Joyce

    Okay, here is another idea for those thinking about making money from home – I’m a stay-at-home mom since my first child was born. Now I have two lovely children which I am able to spend more time tending to. Why? Because I sell wall vinyl decal designs from home.

    I currently sell locally to friends, neighbors, acquaintances and anyone I meet. I do drop my business card to folks I meet at the doctor’s office or even a supermarket. I plan to sell online, eventually. But, I am happy with what I am able to make from home, at the moment, while my children still need me.

    I did all my research online like on YouTube and even sign vinyl forums like

    There are a great number of areas to get into in the vinyl sign business. For example, decals for windows and cars. But, I focused more on interior wall vinyl design because it was what I felt I could be best at doing from home… And, I love it!

    Most of what I learned about my interior wall design business was from a site called Wall Decal Business at

    The gentleman who runs the site is a full-time school teacher and he does this from home as a part-time. He tells you all about the wall decal business and his personal experiences. Take a look if interior wall design is for you.

  • CC

    Lost of variables indeed. I would also figure something in case a child is born disabled. That could happen to anyone at any age. Happened to me at age 23 (child has a chromosomal disorder). We did not even know until after birth. May be something to think about since that will most certainly cost you way more than the average kid. Plus many times you will need to care for them for the rest of their lives, and the medical costs on top of that can be insane. It happened to me and nothing I could have done would have prepared me for that. It is really not something any one talks about being a possibility, but it is.