I first met Carla last year sometime. It seems that we both got our book contracts, her for The Shadow Catcher's Daughter and me for Sanctuary for a Lady, around the same time. And that's how we hooked up. Carla will be giving away one copy of Colonial Courtships to a commenter. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment with your email address at the end of the post. I hope you enjoy the interview.
Tell me a bit about your family. How many children do you have, and if they still live at home, how old are they?
I live in central Maine with my husband, Brad. We have two sons, Brandon (24), and Justin (25) who live nearby, but have their own apartments. Justin is going to be a dad in the spring, so I’ll be a Nana!
Why did you choose to work from home rather than find a job elsewhere?
For the most part I was a stay at home mom while my children grew up. I occasionally had a part-time job, including paid ministry work, and did home day-care for a time. When they were older, I worked from home as a web designer for many years, and taught adult education courses. It was important for me to be the primary caregiver for my children. I also home schooled my children for several years, as it was important to me to be involved in their education. After my boys grew up, I worked part-time for an adult literacy agency. Even though finances were tight, I have never regretted my time spent working “inside the home” and I commend moms who can do so, though I know it is not always possible.
What is the most challenging aspect of working from home while raising children?
When my sons were small, I started writing fiction as a hobby with dreams that perhaps someday I might get published. But, given our family circumstances, I had to put some of my dreams on hold, although I still enjoyed writing occasionally, and wrote a newsletter for young mothers. It is important to keep in step with the Lord for his timing for our goals and specific needs of our family.
Over-commitment is something to be wary of for a mom at home, be it part-time work, volunteer activities, or children’s activities. When I do something, I tend to go into overdrive and hyper-focus and I knew my kids sensed my frustration when I felt they were interrupting me. My “just one minute” mantra didn’t cut it. Children don’t like to be interrupted either, but we tend to disregard that. Practically speaking, we learned to give each other time to switch gears while displaying the proper attitude: they knew they were ultimately my top priority, and they need to show respectful obedience. Balance, pacing, respect. And showing by example how to make a discerning choice by not saying yes to everything that comes along so we can better concentrate on our true purpose and not be distracted by the busyness. It’s also important for them to understand what your work looks like, so they know when mom is working or not, especially true when you do computer work.
Did you ever get your children involved with your home business? What advice would you give mothers thinking about having their children help with their business?
My children often helped with ministry projects, entrepreneurial activities, and business. I wanted them to feel like they were contributing, too, and that their participation was valuable. Both of my sons were hired to help out on occasion. One of my sons did some graphic design and computer work for me, giving him an opportunity to earn monetary compensation for his talents. And when we directed youth camps, everyone had a job. One son worked in the kitchen, another ran the camp store. As adults they are often complimented–and rewarded–for their strong work ethic and helpful attitudes. That, they learned at home!
If you're married, what challenges did working from home present to your marriage, and how did you compensate?
My husband was more objective than about how much I could handle. I have a lot of health issues, and as I said earlier would sometimes take on too much. My enthusiasm didn’t always match my physical state of being. It is important to consider your husband’s opinion and develop a realistic plan for meeting goals together. Nothing can breed resentment quicker, though I am happy to have a very supportive and considerate huz! I found that communication is really important to coordinate schedules and family responsibilities. When you work at home, it affects your husband, too. One thing that helps is setting work hours that fit your family’s and marriage's style.
If you could start all over again, what would you do differently? What would you do the same?
Be more discerning about how I spent my time and not get so exhausted. But for the most part, I’m happy to have homeschooled my sons for as long as I did, and that I was around when they were teenagers. I’m glad I was able to teach them the benefit of working and serving together with their family and others. One thing I’d do exactly the same is belong a mother’s support group as I did when my boys were young (I was a co-founder and also led a mother’s Bible study). It enriched my life and was invaluable.
Is it worth it? What keeps you home instead of having an outside career?
Yes, it was worth it! I cherish the time I was able to spend at home with my children and now that I have an empty nest, I miss them so much. Since I’m such a homebody though, I’m happy that now I can write full-time as a career from my home office.
Thank you for that lovely interview, Carla! We're so pleased to have you with us this week. Carla will be with us again on Thursday to share a quick recipe. In the meantime, don't forget to leave a comment with an email address for a chance to win a copy of Colonial Courtships. The giveaway will end Saturday, October 27, at Midnight.
Unexpected adventure has the four Ingersoll brothers rethinking their futures. But will it thwart their plans for good or bring about four colonial courtships?
Carving a Future - Connecticut, 1753: Ship figurehead carver Nathaniel Ingersoll has apprenticed for many years under his Uncle Phineas and hopes to become a master ship carver in his own right. Constance Starling was spirited away from England to the Connecticut coast as an indentured servant, arriving too ill for anyone to accept her. When Nathaniel takes pity on her, he purchases her contract. Has he jeopardized the future he has worked so hard to achieve for the welfare of a weakly servant?