I’ve been a Work at Home Mum for seven years now, since my youngest child was a baby. I knew I didn’t really want to go back to work after my second maternity leave and was lucky that I was offered voluntary redundancy a few months before I was due to return. In those seven years I’ve learnt loads, how to market local events, how to design websites, how to give learner feedback, how to write well, how do search engine optimisation, the list goes on and on. I’ve also learnt quite a bit about how to manage life as a work at home mum and that’s what I want to share.
1. Being a Work at Home Mum Involves Unsociable Hours
When you’re a work at home mum with a baby or young toddler, much as you’d like to squeeze your work life into their nap times and the odd bits of childcare you manage to wangle, the truth is you will have to work a lot of evenings and weekends. When you’re self employed, it’s easy for your work to take over your life and that’s even more the case if you’re based home. Once the children are at nursery/preschool/school, you will have a better chance of getting everything done during the day but there will still be days where they aren’t well or you have a deadline and will need to work at night.
2. You’re Children Will Love Being Involved in the Business…
Being a work at home mum often means you have the opportunity to get your kids involved. It may well seem like everyday is take your kid to work day. Children will often relish the chance to be involved in such a grown up thing and will be keen to help you out, or at the very least, pretend to run their own business when they are role playing.
3. Until They Don’t Love Being involved in Your Business
Once they reach a certain age, usually shortly after the age at which they can actually be helpful, your child will lose all interest in helping. Running events means an extra pair of hands is always welcome but now my oldest is ten he’d rather stay at home or go out with his mates than move chairs at one of my sales.
4. There are Lots of Flexible Childcare Options
While paying for a nursery or a childminder is usually prohibitively expensive for a work at home mum, there are some options that can work when you have the flexibility of self employment. Childcare swaps with friends, the crèche at the local leisure centre or driving over the grandparent’s houses and working from there while they spend some time with your child are all great ways to get stuff done. Once your child is at school there are even more childcare options to help you get through the school holidays.
5. You Will Spend More Time Than You’d Prefer Looking at Your Phone
I find this such a tricky thing. On the one hand, I’m with my children far more as a work at home mum than I would be if I had a regular job but on the other hand, I’m definitely not present for all of that time. While that might seem like a fair trade off, I do wonder how my children see it. They’ve never experienced me working outside of the home so don’t really see that trade off. Perhaps they would prefer it if I was around less but more present when I was around? Without having had the experience of both I think they’d find it hard to say.
I do try to stick to certain rules about my screen use. We have a no screens at the dinner table rule. I never look at my phone on the school run so that means for the time before we separate and the time when we come back together, I am always present. I also have an afternoon alone with each child every week and I try not to be distracted by screens then.
6. People Won’t Place the Same Value on Your Work
If you tell your friend you can’t have coffee because you have to go to work, they will respect that. If you tell them that when you work from home, they will often think you’re blowing them off, and you might well feel like you are too. I think lockdown was the ultimate example of this. My husband and I were both working from home and I did the majority of the homeschooling. It didn’t even occur to me that I wouldn’t. Luckily for me, he could see the discrepancy and took over all the cleaning and much of the cooking but the truth is, as work at home mums, we often aren’t good at setting boundaries to protect our work time.
7. I Never Want to Go Back to a “Proper Job”
I honestly can’t imagine commuting to work now, it seems like a huge waste of time. The idea of working for someone else seems awful and the thought of having to follow procedures and ask permission before following up an idea, is horrendous. The trouble with working from home is that it makes the idea of going out to work unfathomable. Fingers crossed I’m able to keep working from home until retirement!