As a woman we are often many things; a sister, a daughter, an auntie, a wife, a granddaughter, an employee, a homemaker, a friend. When we become a mother it instantly affects all of those existing roles. If the role of employee resumes after maternity leave there are specific separate time slots for work and being mummy and they generally only encroach on each other when sickness or childcare issues arise. But what happens when as a mother, you start your own business or start working from home? Where does work end and home start, where does the relaxing zone begin and the working zone end?
There are so many benefits to working from home but there really isn’t a more appropriate phrase to describe the situation than ‘work and home life balance’. It’s a total balancing act and even for me as an organised English rose it’s hard not to let a petal or two fall to the ground every now and again.
I began my business in 2009 when I was made redundant from my employed marketing role two months into my first pregnancy. I saw it as a temporary situation but five years on, I’ve not looked back. At the time our house was small and I sat with my laptop on the sofa, serving my clients and building my business. That was the ultimate invasion of work into the home environment. My current home has a dedicated working space which does make the separation easier. Becoming freelance enabled me to actually be a mummy but I also believe that I am a better mum because I work. So what have I learnt along the way about the work-home balance?
- Set working days. Make sure your family and friends know when they are; it reduces interruptions from visitors and makes you plan ahead to be ready for work.
- Make time count. When you are mummy, do the non-urgent household tasks later, don’t run to your mobile every time a new email arrives, sit and eat with the children at lunch time and be present. When you are working, leave the dishwasher alone, focus your mind on your customers and promoting your product/services.
- Believe in yourself. However many hours you work at whatever price with whatever product or service, if you take your business seriously, other people will too.
- Set your rules with minimal exception. Such as where you work within your home, what hours you are available for work phone calls, when home/parenting tasks should be done.
- Never apologise for what you do. There’s no need to apologise for not being available at one particular time because it’s not work time and there’s no need to say “I’m only a freelancer” or similar, trivialising your achievement of finding work for yourself.
I’m not saying that by following these rules you can manage everything perfectly. ‘Stuff’ does get in the way sometimes and I have had to take work calls whilst pushing my boys on the swings in the park on occasions. In contrast there is the ultimate benefit of being able to attend the nativity play without taking the morning off work.
Keep your petals intact with personal nurturing along with care and support from those around you. Regularly review how much you’ve taken on and how your time is being managed.
Written by Rachael Dines, Marketing Professional. Find her on Twitter.
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