What do you need to be a work-at-home-mom?
When I tell people that i’m a work at home mom, I usually get asked how I do it. And most of the time, it’s because the questioner would love to work from home, they say. (Whether or not they really do is another question!) But what does it take to be a work at home mom?
Besides the obvious (a job or a business at home + kids) there are a few essentials to being a work at home mom. You need a plan, you need a planner, you need support and you need some time off occasionally.
Being a work at home mom requires that you be a mom.
I know, I know, this should be obvious, right? The word ‘mom’ is right in the term. But work at home moms have different challenges than a woman without children who works from home, or a stay at home mom does. We even have different challenges than working-outside-the-home moms do.
Being a mom is a full time job all on its own. Motherhood is at once the most primally satisfying yet frustrating job in the world. It’s never actually finished, and it’s hard to tell when you’re accomplishing anything. And yet it fills a biological need that is so much a part of us, we even have cliches about “biological clocks ticking”.
As satisfying as motherhood can be, many of us moms can feel trapped by motherhood, with our own identities in danger of being erased by being someone’s mom. Some go back to our careers, not (just) out of necessity, but because we love who we are there. Some of us start new careers, to create and fulfill that part of us that wants to be more than “just a mom”.
Being a work at home mom requires that you work.
Raising children is work, don’t get me wrong. It’s hard, sometimes physical labour. But the work part of being a work-at-home-mom isn’t the work of parenting or even home management. It’s work that is paid for in cold, hard cash.
Some moms want to be work at home moms, but they forget the work part. They may start a home based business, and dabble in a direct sales or network marketing thing, but they never truly work. It’s fun, they may see a few dollars here and there, but it isn’t the kind of work that you get paid for on a regular basis.
Putting the work in is what determines whether or not you are a work at home mom. If you receive money for products or services regularly, even if that schedule isn’t like clockwork, you’re a work at home mom.
Being a work at home mom means that you’re at home. A lot.
So a working mom and a work at home mom are two different creatures. There may be a lot of overlap, but work at home moms have different challenges than working moms. They may both struggle with childcare needs while working, for example, but the work at home mom may carry a greater layer of guilt, because .. they’re at home! They may both find balancing the home management needs tricky, but the work at home mom can get distracted much easier by the chores, because she’s .. at home!
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you aren’t a working mom. But it can be easy to lose sight of that fact, and pile on the commitments, obligations and guilt trips, because you’re a mom at home. Work at home moms need respect too, from themselves as well as from others.
What do you need to be a successful work at home mom? A plan.
Well, if you want to be a work at home mom, and actually make it work, you need a plan. Probably even more than one plan.
You’ll need a career plan.
Work at home moms need a plan for their work. Whether that’s a business plan or a plan to move-up-the-ladder at their job, work at home moms need a plan.
These plans differ from goal setting in that they have action steps in them. Work at home moms know what they’re doing now and next to move their job or business forward.
You’ll need a daily plan.
While stay at home moms may be able to wing it and still get things done occasionally, and working moms have their agendas set at the office, work at home moms really can’t survive without a plan for the day. Like having a budget for your money, you need a budget for your time. If you don’t, you can spend your time on things that don’t accomplish much, just like you would fritter away your money on coffees and random things. You won’t even know where it’s all gone at the end of the day, unless you have a plan.
To be a work at home mom, you need a record of your plan.
Plans do no one any good if you can’t see it, track it and remember it. I often make the best plans, while I’m in the shower. And just like the dirt and soap go down the drain when I’m done, my ideas and plans often disappear as soon as I step out. (I need waterproof paper!!)
Having a plan is a great first step. Having a planner turns your plans into reality.
It doesn’t matter what kind of planner you have.
Paper or digital, dated or undated, bullet journal or traditional — the choices abound. There’s a planner for everyone, so you can find the best fit for you.
Work at home moms need help.
And we need to get better about asking for it.
For some reason, many people assume that all work at home moms are painted with the same brush. They can think that work at home moms can do all the same chores and projects that a stay at home moms. But we need the time to actually work, even though we’re at home. And that means, we need support.
Getting childcare can help.
So you have a deadline, and your son is teething and your daughter is “decorating” your home office, while you desperately try to finish off an email. Sometimes caring for the kids and working don’t mix.
Whether you live with a partner or not, having reliable, flexible childcare is an amazing support. You can get some work done, while at the same time your child is taken care of. Don’t be afraid to ask family and friends for help with the kids when you need it! There’s no shame in asking for help.
Getting housecleaning can also help.
I’m a huge proponent of outsourcing those tasks that don’t pay for you to do them. For me, this means cleaning my house. For the price I pay per hour, in my area, I can make more money working. So it makes way more sense for me to hire a cleaner to come in regularly.
Some may say that housecleaning is too expensive. But think about it seriously first. Make sure you know what the going rates are. And price yourself correctly.
Being a work at home mom can lead to burnout!
Late nights, early mornings, and the hundred and one things on your to do list, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. No human can keep up that kind of schedule for long. When you try to do too much, all at once, you can burn out, and then you’ll do nothing for months and months while you hide and sleep.
Prevent burnout by taking time off daily.
Instead of burnout and it’s related causes and symptoms, make sure you take time off. Workers at jobs outside the home get regular breaks to use the bathroom, eat a meal, and chat with friends. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a break, eat something and maybe even get in touch with a friend or two.
Build time off into your daily schedule. Whether that’s a walk to enjoy nature, working out at the gym for health reasons, or just sitting with a cup of coffee, you need that time away from your work.
Burnout can be cured by vacations.
If you’re approaching burnout stage, that’s your cue to implement the cure. Take a vacation. It can be hard to unplug, and you may be tempted to justify it by saying that you need the money. But taking vacations are important! They aren’t just important for your physical health, but your mental health too.
Sleep declutters the brain and promotes healing every night. Just like sleeping, taking a vacation helps to declutter the brain too. When you come back from a vacation, you’ll feel energized to keep writing. And you may even end up with renewed creativity that helps spur you to the next level in your business.
Work at home moms aren’t supermoms.
Society can view work at home moms as supermoms, with expectations that are, frankly, ridiculous. So if you haven’t showered in 4 days, and you’re feeding the kids cereal for dinner tonight because you haven’t made it by the grocery store in ages, you’re not alone. Work at home moms are just moms trying to do way too much in too little time, and earn some money while doing it.
What do you need to be a work at home mom?