Do you have what it takes to work from home?
In my pre-kids life, I was a project manager for a psychology research centre at my local university. I met with clients, I attended meetings, I wore lipstick.
When my son was born seven years ago, I had all intentions of going back to work. Then I started to think of all the things I would miss out on with him, and decided not to go back. Luckily, my husband had a good, stable job that allowed us to make this decision.
Over the years I picked up various freelance writing jobs, and now run my own website and blog called Valley Family Fun. I work from home. I work around children being home, around laundry and dishes, and around life in general. It’s worked out really well, but hasn’t always been easy.
Recently, I gave a presentation about the benefits and drawbacks of working from home. Here’s what I came up with.
- Can work in your PJs all day long. This saves you a lot of money on wardrobe!
- Can multi-task. Do some work, do some housework, walk the dog, do some work.
- Flexible schedule. I can rearrange my hours to chaperone a school trip or to take an afternoon nap.
- Saves money. No gas to work, wardrobe expenses, tax write-offs for home workspace, day care expenses.
- Get to watch all the other schleps who have to shovel themselves out after a winter storm, before their first cup of coffee.
- Wine. Yes, I have been known in the evenings to do some of my writing with a glass of wine.
- Can work in your PJs all day long! As another work-at-home mom says, “You can go a couple days and realize you haven't showered!”
- People don’t understand what you do. You constantly have to explain to people that you really are working and not just adding to your Pinterest files all day!
- Intercepting phone calls all day. Well-intentioned family members or friends will call you wanting to chat when you are in the middle of a deadline. Solution: turn the ringer off!
- No other employees to talk to for social interaction or to bounce ideas off of. You end up talking a lot to your spouse, or at least I do, who really is not nor needs to be that interested! Solution: find some good friends. One of my best friends also works from home as a sole-employee. Every once in awhile we get together to only talk about work and share what we are working on.
- No dental or health plans.
- No professional development. Solution: seek out courses through your local universities, community college, or chamber of commerce. Join professional and networking groups to stay in touch with what opportunities exist.
- No office supplies. I don’t get updates on software packages or new post-it notes unless I buy them.
- No IT support. I run a website and can manage the basics, but sometimes I am so stuck and have no IT department to call. Solution: make good friends or join professional groups to meet people with a variety of backgrounds. I am lucky to have several IT friends who I can call upon in a pinch. As payment, I bake them cookies. We’re all happy.
- The fridge is too near. That extra weight gain is too easy. Solution: join a gym as a means of also getting out for social interaction, or explore the idea of a treadmill desk, like one fellow WAHM is doing.
- Bad ergonomics and make-shift desks. I was suffering from massive neck problems and headaches until it was pointed out to me that my workspace was damaging my body. A laptop on the dining room table wasn’t cutting it. Other WAHMs will work on the bed, the couch, the table. Solution: carve out a proper work station for yourself and stick to it. Your body will thank you for it.
- Hard to conduct client calls when your kids are around. I’ve had to lock myself in the bathroom with the shower running just to hear when I was conducting a phone interview. Solution: better planning on when to make these calls on my part! Make sure the kids are well occupied or bring in a sitter.
- Mommy guilt. This is the worst. Putting the kids in front of the computer so you can get that last minute project done, or ignoring their pleas for attention when you have a deadline. It hurts.
Overall, for me, the decision to work from home has been the best. I get to spend so much time with my kids and have really carved out some time for me. Who knows what the next five years will bring, but this works for me now!
Check out these 5 tips to organize your home office, and what this mom thinks about working from home.