I have been a Work at Home Mum (or WAHM, as the trendy kids call it) for over 5 years now. In that time I’ve discovered people have some odd ideas what a WAHM gets up to. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s really like to work at home when you have kids, check out […]
Work at Home Mum Life
What is a WAHM? WAHM stands for Work at Home Mum. The abbreviation has come about as an alternative to stay SAHM (Stay at Home Mum) to describe the growing number of mums who work from home in order to be able to look after their children while still earning an income.
What is a WAHM?
In previous years most mums had the choice between being a stay at home mum or going out to work, either full or part time. Staying at home means living on one income, which simply isn’t realistic for a lot of families. Going out to work means paying for childcare, which often costs almost as much as work pays or, once the children are older, finding a part time job that fits around school, but these are few and far between.
In response to this, a lot of mums decided to start their own business. This led to the term mumpreneur. Love it or hate it, the word describes mums that have rejected the work place in order to start a business that can fit around their families. While lots of WAHMs could be described as mumpreneurs, there also plenty that don’t fit the traditional entrepreneur description.
My mum was a WAHM back in the 80s, long before the term existed. She was a legal secretary, she had a typewriter at home and twice a week she would drive to the office to collect huge laundry bags full of files to bring home and work on. It was logistically challenging and often involved emergency dashes to transport files that were unexpectedly needed at the office or the court.
Modern technology would have made her job 100 times easier and has now made it possible for many women to become WAHMs. The ability to send documents instantly, to collaborate on reports in real time, conferencing software, online learning environments and hundreds of other developments, have made it possible for people to do work from home that they would previously have needed to do in an office.
What Do Work at Home Mums Do?
Years ago, if someone was looking to work from home, their options were envelope stuffing or telesales. These days there are a huge variety of jobs done by mums from home.
For a lot of women, they simply do what they did before, but from home. This can work in two ways. They might still work for their employer but instead of going into the office, work at home all or some of the time. Alternatively, they might be self employed, offering their skills on a freelance basis.
Another popular option is working as a VA (virtual assistant). Lots of businesses need admin support and mums can offer these from home. The exact nature of the work will depend on the client but it might include typing, managing diaries, making bookings or updating websites. There are also people who specialise in social media, usually called social media managers, whose role is to run a company’s social media for them.
Personally, I have a couple of work at home roles, which make up my portfolio career. I work as a freelance distance learning tutor. My learners submit work via an online portal and I assess it and send them feedback. It’s something that wouldn’t have been possible before the internet. I also run baby and children’s nearly new sales. I run six a year, and on the event days I do work outside of the home. Almost all of the planning, admin and marketing is done from home.
Plenty of work at home mums are bloggers. It takes hard work and time but once you’ve grown your audience it’s possible to make money blogging. That usually happens through either collaboration with brands or by selling adverting.
For some, work isn’t all about being online, although it still helps with sales and marketing. Some mums make things from home, cakes, clothes crafts etc. They then sell them, either through websites like Etsy or or direct to the customers via commissions. Childminding is also a way that mums can make money from home.
What’s it Like Being a Work at Home Mum?
While being a work at home mum so that you can be there for your children may sound like the perfect solution, it does have its challenges.
When your children are small it’s probably the hardest. When they are babies, it’s reasonable to expect them to sleep a fair bit during the day. That allows for some chunks of time for work. Once they are toddlers and sleep less, or not at all, it gets more complicated. Realistically, if you don’t have any family support, you’ll be working in the evenings. You might also work in the mornings, if they aren’t super early risers, but you are.
If you’re lucky, family may be willing to help. Even if they are a fair drive away, it can be worth going to spend the day with them. Just popping out to a cafe for a couple of hours can let you get stuff done. This means you get some work done but they don’t have to drive to you.
Once they are a bit older, you’ll get some respite in the form of preschool. Depending on your income and the number of hours you work on your business, this could be from the age of 2, and is between 15 and 30 hours a week. You’ll want to check exactly what you’re entitled to.
Alternatively, some mums earn enough from working from home to justify paying for some form of childcare. This might be something regular at a nursery or just ad hoc sessions at the leisure centre crèche while you work in their cafe.
Once children are school age, things will get much easier. Until of course it’s school holiday time. Work at home mums can usually manage with less childcare than working mums. However when you’ve been used to have six hours a day to work, you may well still need some. Check out my guide to childcare for work at home mums in the holidays to get some ideas.
If you think being a work at home mum might be for you, pop over to Business for Mums to check out the stories of some real life work at home mums.
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