“Oh, so its your hobby – you don’t really work!”
…….is the response I get when I tell them I’m an Artist and a WAHM (Work-At-Home-Mum).
It irks me, to say the least, how many people there are out there who just assume WAHM translates as ‘bored-housewife-who-just-wants-something-to-do’, the emphasis being on bored housewife. As if being a mum and ‘housewife’ is not a valid full-time job in itself.
The number of mums who want and need to work from home is increasing. An article on Management today in Aug , 2015 writes about ‘The Rise of the Mumpreneur‘.
“The ‘mum economy’ is growing. Businesses owned by women with children under 18 contributed £7.2bn to the UK economy in 2014, according to research conducted by Development Economics and commissioned by eBay. That’s 30% higher than it was in 2011.”
Its real. More and more mums are contemplating, having to, wanting to be able to work from home because they want to:
- watch their kids growing up,
- have more flexibility with their time so that they can fulfil their motherly duties without a constant guilt conscience.
- be able to be around for their sick children when needed without having to scramble around for a last minute nanny,
- still have a life, have a career and utilise their degrees/knowledge and experience in life,
- not being completely dependent on hubby when they are no longer in the corporate career.
Side Note: Interestingly, when you google ‘work from home’ – its all images of Happy Women and their children. Stereotyping? Maybe but it tells me that working from home is a growing trend
However, the question I get most from friends who feel this way is not “how do I start a business”, but more “how do i split my time when I’m working at home?”.
Up till today, what I struggle most is dividing my time between my children (a 13-month old and a toddler who craves attention), husband, painting and trying to get a business up and running. Oh, plus exercise time to shed all that baby weight and of course, time for friends, family, myself and the world (yup, social media consists of interacting with real people).
I can’t speak for everyone but Five Tips I’ve learnt along the way in the past nine months of my Mumpreneur journey on how to ‘Work from Home’ are:
- Prioritise your needs – Its important to stick to your priorities when you work form home:
- Exercising my back is very important for me (I have a very bad back) so I know that I need to allocate time for swimming and yoga three times a week, for example.
- Quality time with Hubby is especially important because we never find the time to talk otherwise – we have Friday lunch booked in our calendars every week so (1) I get out of the house aka ‘mummy’ mode and (2) we have real conversation without the kids.
Of course, sometimes these priorities change when the child gets sick or there’s a deadline or fair that I need to prepare for. I then literally write down my top three priorities for the week and …prioritise them. These priorities can sometimes include ‘coffee time’ with friends I know who need my help or someone to bounce ideas with.
2. Strictly allocate time in a month, week and day for everything – and then book it in your calendar.
- Business vs Creative time – Lately, I’ve been struggling with finding time to paint because I’m constantly ‘stuck’ on the computer. I used to allocate mornings for ‘computer/email’ time and afternoons for painting but that wasn’t working out for me. So what I am now trying out is allocate two days a week for emails, business meetings, following up on leads (Tuesdays and Wednesdays work well for me) and the other three days for creative work – which includes design work aka Photoshop, Photography and of course, painting.
- Going-to-market-time – One of the most important thing about running a business from home is being disciplined in going out to market, i.e. talk to people, attend local fair, coffee catch-ups, networking events. I give myself an allocation of two networking nights a month (maximum), one fair every four to five months and then work through my calendar to fit them in.
- Self time – We women are bad at prioritising ourselves. As much as I hate going for facials and manicure/pedicure sessions (because they take up so much of my time!), I schedule them in as I know that part of maintaining my self-confidence as a woman is loving myself and giving myself some time.
3. Multi-task – I’m very much against being on my phone when I am with my children, so I am not talking about multi-tasking that way.
- As I’m still breastfeeding, I work on the computer or go on social media when I’m pumping at home
- I listen to TED talks and other online motivational videos like Marie Forleo – who is all about creating a business and life that you love, whilst I’m painting
- I make business calls when I’m in transit in the taxi or respond to social media when I’m on the train or bus going to my supplier
Time is precious. Especially when you are mum trying to raise two human kids and a third online child.
4. Delegate – this is something I’m not very good at (and I think most type ‘A’ personalities).
- Delegate tasks that drag you down mentally – Even though I am an accountant by training, doing the Bookkeeping for my own business gets me depressed when I see the numbers because lets face it, which startup makes huge profits in their first three years. Calling up Emma, my future accountant, made me feel that I had someone else looking out for me – numbers wise. Someone I could have a business/financial discussion with instead of my own head.
- Delegate things that you are not efficient at doing – The word ‘Photoshop’ was something that was completely foreign to me when I first started out. Least to say, it took me ages just to create a mask or clone something.
Hiring Kate, my next door neighbour / designer for certain projects sped things up threefold and yes although its a lot more expensive than if I would have done it myself, but I’ve also learned a great deal and it allowed me to focus my efforts on other things that I was better at doing.
5. Plan little breaks and treats for yourself.
- Its hard enough to put your head down and focus when you hear your child outside your office room crying or giggling away – so I make sure to plan pockets of time during the day to play with Emily or read her a book whilst Facetiming with my mum (multi-task, remember?).
- I give myself an hour’s lunch break when I get to watch an episode of ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ or ‘Mistresses’ – something that takes my mind away from work.
The list can go on but these are the five key things that I have found worked for me in order to work from home and I hope for you too. Besides, my blogging quota is now up and I need to get on with my next task of the day. 😉
Here is an article I came upon which gives some good tips on How to be a WAHM – from the SG Parent.
“When at first things don’t work out well, don’t be discouraged because it takes time to finally get the feel of working online and staying at home.”