Friday, 18 January 2013

Working from home - Snowy thoughts

It's a lovely snowy day in Fareham, and I have just updated my facebook page as follows:

"Lots of lovely snow here - downside of working from home - can't really play the 'can't make it in' card !!!"

Which got me thinking, I have been working for myself, from home now for 13 years, you would think in that time I would have cracked them best way to make it work, but every year I change things with the hope that I will be 'more organised', 'seperate work and home', 'work smarter', etc. etc So why haven't I got it right yet ?

You have to go back to why I gave up 'proper work' in the first place. I have three boys, very close in age. When they were born I worked in the civil service (defence) and in fairness work was very flexible with my hours, I went part time after number one was born. I stayed part time throughout and after number three was born I went back to work.

The boys were in nursery when I was at work, and back then there was no help with childcare costs and so the whole of my wages went on the nursery fees. In addition I moved jobs and really didn't enjoy the new post. I steadily reduced my hours until I was down to 10 hours a week ! It then dawned on me that I really wasn't happy, and so work agreed to me taking a 3 year career break, and so my 'working from home life' was born.

My OH has a very odd job and works strange hours - generally afternoons and evenings, with different days off each week. Being at home meant I saw more of him and more of the children.

My 'work' at home has taken various forms over the years, computing, childrens crafts, childrens second hand clothes, websites and now 'upcycling' (although the computing / website work has continued throughout)

I have always found it difficult to get enough work done and also find the time to have a break - with work in the house it is very difficult to get away. Work / Life balance is near on impossible when the two are in the same place.

I think the main reason that I never feel I get it right though is that the needs of my family have changed so much over the years and you have to continually adapt and be aware of that. In the early days, though hard work with three young sons, the children do sleep more - afternoon naps and early bedtimes free up lots of evening time.

When they start school the day initially seems long - even though they seem to finish school very early ! But because you 'work from home' you end up helping at school, going on school trips, being a school governor, fundraising, going to assemblies, school plays, concerts....... and so it goes on. Don't get me wrong, I was very lucky -  I was able to take an active part in all these things and I wouldn't have changed it for anything, but it eats into your time and work takes second place and you are left wondering why your business isn't making any money.

Of course as they get older the involvement with school lessens - you no longer have to walk them to school, there aren't school plays anymore :( BUT they need more support in other ways as they hit the teenage years, AND they go to bed much later !! So time is restricted in other ways.

I think that as a mum working from home you have to constantly remember why you chose to work that way - for me it was to be there when the children needed, to take them to and from school, and even now (they are all teenagers) be here when they get home - they might only grunt at me when they come through the door but I am lucky enough to be here for that grunt !

So why haven't I got it right yet ? - because it constantly changes - Advice for anyone thinking of being a 'work at home' mum - be adapatble, and don't give yourself a hard time - you can't do everything :)






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