Working as a freelancer really has its perks. It means staying home in comfortable clothing, chucking on a load of washing on your lunch break, and meeting a friend for coffee at a moment’s notice. It’s the dream for a stay at home mum who still wants to work. The flexibility of my job and the working hours meant that before I had a baby, I lived in a blissfully ignorant state that led me to believe I had an advantage to this working-from-home-mom thing, as I was already a freelancer. Boy was I wrong.
There is almost nothing that could prepare me for life as a new parent. The first couple of weeks were a beautiful, yet terrifying blur of feeding, soothing and crying. But that’s a story for another blog post. Despite the advice, books and forums, I really did think it would be my old life with the addition of a baby. I thought I’d be able to take care of the baby, and then still have copious amounts of time to meet my work deadlines. I’ve worked in marketing for the best part of a decade.
When it came time to start thinking about having kids, that meant thinking about living off one income or paying a disproportionate amount of our combined salary to day care. Eventually, after much deliberation with my partner, we came to the conclusion that starting my own small company was the best compromise that we could come to. 18-months on and our local marketing business is flourishing, and we have been able to retain our dual income household status and plan for the future. But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing.
It turns out that having a baby changes your life completely. Who knew, right?
The most challenging part of this entire experience was finding a balance between being a mom and working. I’m still figuring some parts of it out, however, I think I’ve got a pretty good idea of the pros and cons for those thinking of making the transition into a working from home mom.
Working from home ultimately means having control over the hours you are working. This means you’re able to structure your day so that you can squeeze in doctor’s appointments, attend events, and pick up your kids from school. The flexibility allows you to take breaks when needed (or when your children need) and make up working time later on, when more convenient.
Keeping your own hours will also allow you to be more productive. Being able to choose your hours means you won’t be trapped in the mould of the 9-5 and will be able to identify when you are being most productive, when you’re not, and take breaks to enhance your focus. If you have your own business and work from home, you’re also able to choose how much work and you take on depending on what your family needs. Most research indicates that workers are only productive for around three hours per day, so it’s about finding when those hours are for me, and working hard in short bursts.
Con: Distractions – Lots of Them
Unfortunately, having this flexibility and odd hours doesn’t always mean the structure will always fall into place. Sometimes you’ll find yourself getting bogged with house-hold chores, last minute appointments or running errands. Not to mention the added distraction of your actual child or family while you’re trying to work can be really challenging to manage.
Working from home requires high levels of self-discipline and dedication to get your work done. There’s nobody around to hold you accountable for the amount of work you put in during the day, and how much time you spend accidentally checking Facebook or Instagram. It’s really important to be aware of how much time you can waste on these apps and to be diligent before losing an hour or two each day to them out of routine.
Pro: No More Wardrobe Anxiety
Working from home means you’re able to stay in your most comfortable attire, all day, with no judgements! Having a home office cuts out the need for any work-appropriate clothes and gives your budget a break in this area. And let’s be honest, slipping into your favourite pair of yoga tights is so much nicer than traipsing around in tailored-cut work pants and high heels!
Con: It Can Feel Isolating
Being at home while working means being there for your children when they need, but it also means just being home… all the time. If you’re someone that thrives in a social working environment, working from home might be tough! Having a home office can be isolating and less than stimulating. It’s also the same place you eat, sleep, relax and clean. Sometimes it can feel like there’s no escaping either your work or home life.
Pro: Save money on working expenses
With the costs of childcare and work-related expenses like petrol money, lunches and work appropriate attire, being a working mum can get expensive. By staying home and doing your work from there, you’re saving yourself and your bank account. The kids get to stay home, and I can relax knowing all of your hard-earned money isn’t being poured into just maintaining your work lifestyle.
Working from home as a mom is not always the glamorous life other freelancers make it out to be. However, the pros definitely outweigh the cons, especially the main one being that you get to be there for your children. You can be there for your baby’s first few special moments and be present with your family while still having a thriving career.