When I tell people that I work from home, they often say something like, “Wow! That must be nice. You can work your own hours!” or “You never even have to get out of your pajamas if you don’t want to.”
I love working from home and it does allow me to have flexibility with my children, for which I am very grateful. But it’s not a pajama party over here. And working my “own hours” can be both a blessing and a curse. More often than not, those hours are dictated by deadlines, my children’s schedules and when I have a quiet house!
No time clock, true. But that also means that it’s always been very difficult to “clock out.” The “office” is always just down the hall.
So, having said all that, would I trade it for a 9 to 5 job in the office? Not a chance! Working from home suits me well. For me, the pros definitely outweigh the cons.
But if you’re toying with the idea of working from home, how do you know if it’s right for you? Well, I’ll tell you some of the benefits and challenges, as well as how I’ve made it work for me. Then, I’ll let you be the judge.
Flexibility with kids. For me, this has been the #1 advantage, by far, of working at home. This has been especially important for me as the mom of two kids with special needs. Tutoring, doctor and therapy appointments are a regular part of my routine. It has been so much easier to schedule these as a work-at-home mom. I’ve usually been able to make field trips and class parties. And I’m able to pick up the kids from school and hear about their day. I LOVE that … I’ve always found that my kids are particularly open and chatty during that time of day.
Have more control over your workload. This can be a benefit and a downside. It’s great to be able to turn something down or pull back on the workload when I’m in a busy season at home and my family needs me more. However, sometimes I’ve wanted more work and it just hasn’t been there. When you have an employer, you generally know the income you can count on every month. That is reassuring and helps you to better plan your budget.
It saves money. Although I bring in less money working at home (at least right now), I found that a lot of my income went to things like gas, clothes, lunches and dry cleaning. As a WAHM, I save on all these things, making the gap between what I made as an employee versus what I make now much smaller than I originally thought.
It requires self-discipline. Now, for some moms, this may not be a challenge. But, for me, it is. I am somewhat organizationally challenged and suffer from ADD. Seriously. I have many “Squirrel!” moments. So, staying on task at home is difficult. I have learned strategies that have helped me. Here’s a few:
Eat the frog first.
You’re fresher and have more energy.
Set goals. It help me tremendously to make monthly, weekly and daily goals. When I start to head down a rabbit trail or lose focus, I can go back to my list and get back on track. It also helps me to see my accomplishments as I look back over the week or month. That can be encouraging and motivating, too.
More Distractions. At an employer’s office, you don’t have laundry staring you in the face. Or the doorbell ringing. Or people stopping by because you’re home and they don’t think you really “work.” Here’s how I try to tackle these challenges:
Get up earlier than the family. I get up about 15 to 20 minutes before the rest of the family. I get so much done in that time! I clean up the kitchen, throw in a load of laundry and tidy the living room or other cluttered areas from the day before. Having things in order allows me to work without thinking about my trashed house. I also occasionally hire someone to help me get on top of things.
Do It Now. Throughout the day, I just try to do small tasks that need to be done around the house. Putting away shoes, placing a dish in the dishwasher, wiping off a countertop. Those things really help to keep your working environment less distracting and nice for your family to come home to.
Tell friends and family your work schedule. I try not to answer the phone (unless it’s my husband or kids) during working hours. I also make sure my closest friends and family know about important projects I’m working on.
Difficult to shut down the office. The office is always just a step away. This is SO tough for me. I’m driven and I love my work. Here’s a few ways I’m learning to close the office door:
Ask for accountability. Kathy, my blogging partner, and I try to keep each other accountable in this area.
Media-free Sundays. Recently, I’ve made Sunday the day I completely “unplug.” No computer, TV or texting. It has been great to have this mental break and truly make it a day of rest and worship.
Work while the kids do. It’s not always possible, but I have tried to get the majority of my day’s work done while the kiddos are in school so I can focus on them when they get home.
Working from home may not be everyone. But I think it can be a great option moms for some moms and their families.
Just don’t count on days filled with pillow fights, eating popcorn and typing in your jammies.
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