Can Working From Home Work For You?

Two parents on how they balance work and family by working from home.


Published:

Just three weeks before her maternity leave was over, Caroline Arey knew she could never go back to her full-time office job. Financially, becoming a stay-at-home mom wasn’t an option, but after crunching the numbers, Arey, a marketing professional, and her husband, a chef, determined that securing some freelance work would help supplement her lost income.

Arey took the risk and left her corporate job in March 2015. She then started her own firm, offering social media, marketing and copywriting services for five regular clients — all from the comfort of her own home and with her daughter, now 19 months old, by her side.

“I knew, based on our family structure, that I couldn’t be a full-time stay-at-home mom without work, but I feel like the schedule I have now allows me to be as much of a stay-at-home mom as I can be,” says Arey, who lives in Matthews, North Carolina. “I put my daughter to bed every night and wake her up every morning. I never miss a milestone.”

With more parents craving a better work-life balance and more companies offering flexible work options, some parents are finding ways to work from home instead of commuting to an office. While this allows parents the best of both worlds — the opportunity to spend more time with their kids while maintaining their professional careers — there are challenges that come with this type of arrangement.

“I like that I contribute financially to my family, that I’m keeping my skill set fresh and that I have an identity with my work,” Arey says. “And I love that I get to do storytimes and playdates and be an insider in my child’s life. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Caroline Arey with her daughter and husband.


Setting a Schedule

As a business owner, Arey works seven days a week. She has arranged for a nanny come to her home from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and schedules all of her in-person client meetings during those timeframes. The rest of the week, Arey juggles work during nap times, while her husband is home and after her daughter has gone to bed. Arey’s mother lives close by, so she is also available to babysit when Arey needs an extra hand. 

“The skeleton of my week is organized for productivity, but things come up all the time. Really, no day is the same,” Arey says. “The bulk of my work happens after bedtime, and wonderful child care is a must to have time to focus.”

Unlike Arey, Brian Barbour from Apex, North Carolina, is a work-from-home parent with a more regular schedule. Barbour, a sales engineer for an international technology company, says his employer is a strong proponent of what it calls “a mobile workforce,” and he has worked from home for almost four years. Because he has older children — a 19-year-old and a 9-year-old — Barbour’s typical 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday is rarely interrupted by child care needs, but his flexible schedule does come in handy from time to time.

“There is a lot more flexibility in my schedule so I can help drive kids to activities,” he says. “It’s also easier for my wife to schedule appointments or run errands, knowing that I am home with our daughter.”

Barbour says the greatest advantage to working from home is not having to factor a commute into his daily schedule, which alleviates the stress of fighting traffic and rushing to get to places on time. But, he says, working from home always makes it easy to spend all day at his desk, adding that he usually doesn’t even break for lunch. He has to be intentional about taking a few breaks throughout the day, and takes his laptop and phone outside on nice days.

“It’s easy to forget to leave your desk without a commute to end your day, or the distraction of fellow employees chatting or walking by,” he says. “Remember to take a walk or get some form of exercise in. I know a guy [who works from home] who walks his neighborhood for 15 minutes at the beginning and end of his workday, pretending that he has a walking commute.”

The Barbour family.


Being Productive

While it can take more discipline to be productive while working from home, Arey and Barbour agree that they are more efficient with their time now than they were when they worked in an office setting. Arey says that between employee interaction, emailing, lunch breaks and internet browsing, she often spent only two to three hours a day doing actual work. Now, because her time is so precious, she is more determined to use it wisely.

“The nice thing about working from home in snippets of time is because when I’m working I’m actually working,” she says. “I’m not just spinning my wheels during work time.”

Barbour says his household sometimes gets “slightly unruly,” especially when all family members — including their two Cairn Terriers — are home. He adds that it took some time for his family to adjust to the idea that, even though he was physically home, he was unavailable for activities, events or chores during regular workday hours. Barbour enforces ground rules so his family knows not to disturb him and to keep the noise at a minimum, especially if his office door is closed or if he’s on the phone. During particularly busy times, he chooses to wait until his family has gone to bed to focus on important tasks.

“In retrospect, I think there was much more distraction at the workplace than at home,” Barbour says. “I was assigned to sit in a cubicle. There was constant foot traffic and interruption, and I was never very productive sitting at my desk.”


Overcoming Obstacles

One of the more challenging aspects to working from home is how isolating it can be. Barbour says he sometimes misses the daily camaraderie with coworkers, but calls a friend or gets together with a coworker for coffee or lunch when he needs some interaction.

Another challenge is creating a separation between work life and home life. The house can be a distraction when there is housework or laundry to be done, which is why having a dedicated work space is important.

“As happy as I am to not be in a traditional work environment, what I do now is much harder than my last job,” Arey says. “There is no separation at all from work and home, and there are many days I feel that I’m not doing my best in either place because I’m not fully focused on either place.”

“But I fully recommend working from home to anyone who can do it,” she adds. “I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world, no matter how messy things can get.”


Emily Schappacher is a wife, mother and writer based in Huntersville, North Carolina.


SEE ALSO: 5 Tips for Convincing Your Boss to Let You Work From Home

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Cost: Free

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Cost: $18 Regular/$15 Student with valid ID

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Catawba Theatre, Performance Place - UNCSA
1533 S Main St
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View map »


Telephone: 133-672-11945
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

More information

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Cost: $10-$30

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Starr Theatre
520 S. Elm St.
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Included with museum admission

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SciWorks
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View map »


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More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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Cost: Free

Where:
Southside Recreation Center
401 Taylor Avenue
High Point, NC  27260
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Home has personal significance and meaning.  Home may be a place, landscape, object, journey or relationship. Through contemporary art and ethnographic artifacts, home is envisioned as a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Museum of Anthropology, Wake Forest University
1834 Wake Forest Road
W-S, NC  27106
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Sponsor: Museum of Anthropology, Wake Forest University
Telephone: 336-758-5282
Contact Name: Sara Cromwell
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Babies from birth to toddlers are welcome with their parents/caregivers. We sing songs, repeat chants and rhymes, and have a great time! Please join us. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Reynolda Manor Branch Library
2839 Fairlawn Drive NW
Winston-Salem, NC  27106
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This is the first STEM Challenge for elementary students. Each student gets a cup of LEGOs and then they vote whether to build in teams or individually. Building in teams lets them pool their...

Cost: Free

Where:
Glenwood Library
1901 W. Florida Street
Greensboro, NC  27403
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Enjoy $4 admission per person after 5 p.m.

Cost: $4

Where:
Greensboro Children's Museum
220 N. Church St.
Greensboro, NC  27401
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Sponsor: Greensboro Children's Museum
Telephone: 336-574-2898
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For ages 12-15. Learn to make this delicious and festive bread. We'll prepare the dough together, and each participant will braid and bake a mini loaf. On the menu: challah bread and...

Cost: $30

Where:
Greensboro Children's Museum
220 N . Church St.
Greensboro, NC  27401
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Spend the night in the museum! Explore activities related to Scout requirements and enjoy a planetarium show or Discovery program. Visit kaleideum.org for details and registration information.

Where:
Kaleideum North
400 W. Hanes Mill Road
Winston-Salem, NC  27105
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Telephone: 336-767-6730
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For ages 9-13. Registration required. Join us for some after-dark, egg collecting fun! 2,000 "glow eggs" to collect plus music, food, glow vendor, and more. Hunt begins at 8 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
High Point Athletic Complex - North Fields
2920 School Park Road
High Point, NC  27265
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Music for a Great Space presents organist David Higgs. The focus of Music for a Great Space is to facilitate classical chamber music, including piano, jazz, organ, vocal and instrumental...

Cost: $5-$22

Where:
Christ United Methodist Church
410 Holden Road
GSO, NC  27410
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Sponsor: Music for a Great Space
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Adapted by Jesse Berger. Among the most acclaimed plays of the Jacobean era, this macabre story of a widow who remarries beneath her and is punished by her vengeful brothers is full of the lust,...

Cost: $18 Regular/$15 Student with valid ID

Where:
Catawba Theatre, Performance Place - UNCSA
1533 S Main St
Winston Salem, NC  27127
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Telephone: 133-672-11945
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

More information

Music for a Great Space presents organist David Higgs. The focus of Music for a Great Space is to facilitate classical chamber music, including piano, jazz, organ, vocal and instrumental...

Cost: $5-$22

Where:
Christ United Methodist Church
410 Holden Road
GSO, NC  27410
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Sponsor: Music for a Great Space
Website »

More information

Presented by the Community Theatre of Greensboro. Here is Rydell High’s senior class of 1959: duck-tailed, hot-rodding “Burger Palace Boys” and their gum-snapping, hip-shaking...

Cost: $10-$30

Where:
Starr Theatre
520 S. Elm St.
Greensboro, NC
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On $4 Fun Fridays starting at 5, the usual $8 per person admission fee is cut in half. Come enjoy the museum at this amazing discounted cost 5-8 p.m. 

Where:
Greensboro Children's Museum
220 N. Church St.
GSO, NC
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Telephone: 336-574-2898
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Join the quest! Learn about energy – what it is, where it comes from, how we use it and why it’s so important to use it wisely. Conservation Quest® delivers important conservation...

Cost: Included with museum admission

Where:
SciWorks
400 W. Hanes Mill Road
Winston-Salem, NC  27105
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First Presbyterian Church of Burlington Women's Retreat  "In Returning and Rest: Falling into the Sacred"  As women, our lives are filled with expectations and...

Cost: $30

Where:
First Presbyterian Church
508 W. 5th St.
Burlington, NC  27215
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Sponsor: First Presbyterian Church
Telephone: 813-263-6097
Contact Name: Sarah Vincent
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Join our hands-on workshop and you and your child can build a bunny basket, perfect for keeping Easter treats a short hop away. Once the basket is built, your child can decorate it with paint and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Home Depot
4425 W Wendover Ave
Greensboro, NC  27407
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Join our hands-on workshop and you and your child can build a bunny basket, perfect for keeping Easter treats a short hop away. Once the basket is built, your child can decorate it with paint and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Home Depot
5721 University Parkway
Winston-Salem, NC  27105
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Join our hands-on workshop and you and your child can build a bunny basket, perfect for keeping Easter treats a short hop away. Once the basket is built, your child can decorate it with paint and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Home Depot
1000 Hanes Mall Blvd
Winston-Salem, NC  27103
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Website »

More information

Join our hands-on workshop and you and your child can build a bunny basket, perfect for keeping Easter treats a short hop away. Once the basket is built, your child can decorate it with paint and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Home Depot
2300 N Main St
High Point, NC  27262
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For ages 2+. Join the Easter Bunny for breakfast and a morning of fun games and activities. The Easter Bunny will be available for photos as well. Register here.

Cost: $5

Where:
Oakview Recreation Center
503 James Road
High Point, NC  27265
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Bring a friend and a basket to Friendly Hills Church for the annual Easter egg hunt. There will be crafts, a snack, and separate egg hunts for various age groups from toddlers through fifth grade....

Cost: Free

Where:
Friendly Hills Church
1450 Guilford College Road
Jamestown, NC  27282
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Sponsor: Friendly Hills Church
Telephone: 336-292-7788
Contact Name: Cindy Beck
Website »

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Celebrate Spring and the re-opening of the Old Stone House for the season. Historical tours of Michael Brown’s Colonial home, Easter egg dyeing activity, musket firing demonstrations,...

Cost: $5 per adult, $3 per student

Where:
Old Stone House
770 Old Stone House Road
Salisbury, NC  28146
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Sponsor: Rowan Museum
Telephone: 704-633-5946
Contact Name: Aaron Kepley
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Celebrate the new spring season with the wildest egg hunt around. Watch zoo animals hunt for treats inside decorative eggs and learn why enrichment is so important for our animals and how you can...

Cost: $11-$15

Where:
NC Zoo
4401 Zoo Parkway
Asheboro, NC  27205
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Telephone: 800-488-0444
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We'll read stories, sing songs, dance around and color pictures together! For ages 8 and under. Parental supervision is required. Story time will take place in one of the covered shelters. In...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fourth of July Park
702 W. Mountain St
Kernersville, NC  27284
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Sponsor: Kernersville Branch Library and Kernersville Parks and Rec
Telephone: 336-703-2930
Contact Name: Stefanie Kellum
Website »

More information

Home has personal significance and meaning.  Home may be a place, landscape, object, journey or relationship. Through contemporary art and ethnographic artifacts, home is envisioned as a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Museum of Anthropology, Wake Forest University
1834 Wake Forest Road
W-S, NC  27106
View map »


Sponsor: Museum of Anthropology, Wake Forest University
Telephone: 336-758-5282
Contact Name: Sara Cromwell
Website »

More information

Annual Easter egg hunt. Call for details.  

Where:
Lake Reidsville
630 Water Works Road
Reidsville, NC  27230
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Telephone: 336-340-4738
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Get ready for the Easter Bunny! We’ll provide eggs you can dip in dyes made from plant material, like onionskins and blueberries. All ages welcome. $1 per egg. Limit 2 per person. Free for...

Cost: $1 per egg

Where:
High Point Museum
Historical Park
1859 E. Lexington Ave.
HP, NC  27262
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Sponsor: High Point Museum
Telephone: 336-885-1859
Website »

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Parents, students and youth are welcome to attend weekly ‘Saturday Children’s Story Hour.’ Guests are invited to meet at the museum every Saturday at 11 a.m. to hear dynamic...

Cost: Free

Where:
International Civil Rights Center & Museum
134 S. Elm St.
Greensboro, NC  27401
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Sponsor: International Civil Rights Center & Museum
Telephone: (336) 274-9199
Contact Name: Nakia Hoskins
Website »

More information

Parents, students and youth are welcomed to attend this weekly event. Guests are invited to hear dynamic leaders and educators from the community narrate stories and interact...

Cost: Free

Where:
International Civil Rights Center & Museum
134 S. Elm St.
GSO, NC  27401
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Sponsor: International Civil Rights Center & Museum
Telephone: 336-274-9199
Contact Name: Nakia Hoskins
Website »

More information

For ages 0-12. Candy, toys, prizes. Please bring your own basket.

Cost: Free

Where:
Spencer
8th street ballpark
Spencer, NC  28159
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Sponsor: Spencer Jaycees
Telephone: 704-637-6080
Contact Name: Amanda Bowman

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ArtsRevolution is an arts fun, free arts festival featuring performances from a variety of local artists in dance, music, culinary arts, storytelling, theater and much more.  The whole family...

Cost: Free

Where:
Revolution Mill
1200 Revolution Mill Drive
Greensboro, NC  27405
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Sponsor: The North Carolina Entrepreneurship Center at UNCG
Telephone: 336-509-1701
Contact Name: Susanna Sechler
Website »

More information

Adapted by Jesse Berger. Among the most acclaimed plays of the Jacobean era, this macabre story of a widow who remarries beneath her and is punished by her vengeful brothers is full of the lust,...

Cost: $18 Regular/$15 Student with valid ID

Where:
Catawba Theatre, Performance Place - UNCSA
1533 S Main St
Winston Salem, NC  27127
View map »


Telephone: 133-672-11945
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

More information

Presented by the Community Theatre of Greensboro. Here is Rydell High’s senior class of 1959: duck-tailed, hot-rodding “Burger Palace Boys” and their gum-snapping, hip-shaking...

Cost: $10-$30

Where:
Starr Theatre
520 S. Elm St.
Greensboro, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Join the quest! Learn about energy – what it is, where it comes from, how we use it and why it’s so important to use it wisely. Conservation Quest® delivers important conservation...

Cost: Included with museum admission

Where:
SciWorks
400 W. Hanes Mill Road
Winston-Salem, NC  27105
View map »


Website »

More information

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Annual Guides

Education Guide

The all-new 2015-2016 Education Guide is packed with everything parents need to know to navigate more than 500 education options and resources in the Triad, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

GPS [Go. Play. See]

It's your complete family guide to Triad living. Parents are busy and on the go. Use this guide to help you explore all this great area offers for families in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point and surrounding communities.

Exceptional Child

For parents of kids with special needs, finding help and support can be challenging. We've compiled valuable resources for Triad parents in our latest annual publication, Exceptional Child, which is also available as a digital guide.