Today I would like to finish up the Talk Shop Saturday series I’ve been running for a few weeks. I hope that whether you’re a fellow blogger or a reader, you’ve found these posts to be of interest! In case you missed them, you can read the other posts below:
- Defining your “Enough”
- Managing your Emotions Online
- Reaching out to Brands
- Deepening Relationships with Brands
I’ve saved probably my most personal post in this series for last – giving you a glimpse of what it’s been like to be a work-at-home parent. From the outside, it may seem like a really great gig – and in many ways it is! I couldn’t imagine doing anything different at this point. However, working from home while raising children definitely has its challenges. I’d like to explore some of these today and shared what I’ve done to make it all work. Then, I’d love to hear from others of you that work from home (blogger or otherwise!) or folks that may be considering making the leap.
Challenge #1: Feeling like others don’t see my job as Legit
On one hand I know I should just get over it. But there is part of me that very much wants to be perceived as the professional I know I am. I work harder at my blogging business than any other job I’ve held previously. I’ve built this business from scratch – teaching myself the tech stuff, figuring out social media marketing, stepping out and networking with people I’ve never met in real life. In the four years I’ve worked my butt off here, I’ve managed to create a near full-time income from this site. One that pays the bills, supports a contributor, and helps off-set the expenses involved. I know what it is I’ve done, but sometimes I have a difficult time expressing it all to others.
I have had people ask me how “my little blog” is going, thinking it to be more of a hobby like stamp collecting or scrapbooking. I’ve had people assume my time is wide open because, after all, I’m at home. I sometimes feel people would treat the work I do as more legitimate if I did it out of an office I drove to instead of one I walk down the hall to.
People are sometimes shocked when they come to learn I actually do make a living from what I do. I’ve had folks ask if I donate my income (after all, this is just in good fun – why should I keep the money I earn?), and I’ve had folks want to know exactly how much I earn, and I’ve even had folks want me to hand-hold them through the entire process to do the same thing. Perhaps some of this is jealousy, or a misunderstanding of what it is I do. I’m not sure what it is about blogging, but sometimes, people feel entitled to rather personal information. (How would you feel if I asked you how much you make – or suggest you donate all your income? Oh, and ask you in front of thousands of other people in a very public forum? My guess is you wouldn’t like it.)
Challenge #2: Time Juggling
When you work at an office, you have a clear separation between work/home. Or I should say, clearer, because I get that sometimes work may come home with you or you need to tackle a personal errand on a lunch break.
This separation gets really muddy when you work from home. For instance, as I type this post today, I hear my children running around in the background. My daughter may interrupt me for a glass of water, or my son to have me take his bike out of the garage. I can almost always find ways to interrupt myself too and procrastinate! “I don’t really feel like reconciling my bank account right now – oh hey look! Dishes are calling!”
I am generally a pretty self-motivated and driven individual, but I have to be very mindful of what my goals are and if I’m accomplishing them or I’ll let other stuff get in the way. One tool that’s helped me immensely (and that I’ve written about before), is this Daily Docket from Simple Mom. I use it virtually every day. What I really enjoy about it is it has a section for blog to-dos. This has helped to give my days some direction and focus.
Positive #1: Flexibility
I don’t want this to be a Debbie Downer post, because as I stated earlier, I wouldn’t trade what I do for anything! So I’d like to end this post sharing two “positives” about my home/work life.
I love the flexibility I have with what I do! I can volunteer at my son’s school, go shopping when I want, fit in a workout at a time that makes sense for me, and work when I feel like it. When I am stuck on a project, I can take a break and fold a load of laundry or take the kids to the library. I can play whatever music I want (and as loud as I want!), or work where I want in my home. Right now, I’m blogging from outdoors, on my porch swing. I sometimes pack up my laptop and head to a place where my kids can play that has free WiFi. (We’re huge fans of Odyssey in Tacoma!)
Some people like structure, and I do like some – hence the Daily Docket referenced above. I’ll also create a general map of my day/time using that docket. But I love being able to have some flexibility to complete tasks in a way that makes sense for each particular day. If I’m having an “off day,” I will simply work less or take a nap. I have to admit, my job has a lot of freedom!
Positive #2: Being with my Kids
I always knew I wanted to be an at-home parent, and for a long time, I assumed that meant being a stay-at-home mom. But a few months after my son, I knew I needed to do something just for me, to engage my creative side. This blog (along with doing some freelance writing work), helped alleviate some of the postpartum depression I experienced and become a more involved, caring parent.
I love that I’m there to take my kids to school and pick them up, help with their homework, and show up for special school events. I truly feel that in so many ways, I’m blessed with the best of both worlds.
A word here, before I end this post. I want you to know that I believe that every family is different. Is working from home the best for everyone? No, it’s definitely not! Do I think ill of people who choose to work outside the home? Absolutely not! Nor do I think of ill of parents who solely focus on raising their children and/or choose to homeschool their kids. It’s my wish that as parents we’d learn to listen and respect more, and judge less. I believe that for the far majority of parents out there – we want what’s best for our kids and best for our families. It’s not my place to judge if what you’ve chosen to do looks different than me. I will say, if you have this gut level feeling that something’s not working for your family – that you feel guilty more than you feel content about your choices – pay attention! It’s never too late to make a change and life is too short to live with regrets.
Now it’s your turn! Are you a work-at-home parent? If so, what do you do (and you are 100% welcome to leave a link on this post as well)! What challenges do you have? What things do you enjoy about your lifestyle? If you’re thinking of making the leap to working from home, what questions do you have for me and the other work-at-home parents out there?