The flexibility is great, but there are some areas that take some getting used to, says this work-from-home mom of three.
I have always been a 9-to-5er, but when I had a son and then twins 22 months later it broke my heart to leave my babies in someone else’s care for 10 hours a day. I spent many mornings crying in my car and I was really just not a very good employee.
So, I resigned and embarked on a contract position through my previous employer, mostly from home.
It was a really big transition for me emotionally and I went through several marked stages, which I can see clearly now, 18 months on:
1. Initially I thought ‘working from home
’ meant going for breakfast and lunch and having play-dates. I spent many a morning ‘quickly’ going to the shops and returning 4 hours later to a pile of work which I would promptly ignore. And then I would try to get through it at night after the kids were in bed, when I should be spending time with my husband.
2. Speaking of which, my husband immediately assumed I was now available to take over all the household chores
like sorting out broken door handles and washing lines. (‘But darling, you’re home anyway?’)
I used to refer to myself as his PA. Luckily we had a heart-to-heart on this and sorted it out before it got out of hand. I didn’t want my relationship to turn into a mountain of resentment and whine at him every time we laid eyes on each other.
3. Cutting back on spending. I needed to get my head around the fact that there might not be a stable income, so everything that was not critical immediately got placed on hold. And pretty much still is.
4. Loneliness. Although I would rather die than admit it, initially I was incredibly lonely and it was really hard to force myself to do a job just because it would generate an income. In order to work effectively on your own you have to be really committed and passionate about what you do.
5. Fear. Throat-clenching, gut-wrenching fear as to how I was going to pay my portion of the bills. And fear, I have learnt, can be quite a debilitating thing. Because you don’t have constant feedback from others, you are responsible for defining your own worth and then translating it into an income.
6. Withdrawal. You get to a point where you almost don’t WANT to engage with people. You are quite happy to spend your day huddled at your desk in your sweats clutching a cup of coffee.
Now I have a happy medium: I engage with people in person and through social networking, plan my time properly, set myself goals and just make up the rest as I go along.
Do I regret resigning? Only occasionally during school holidays
and bonus-times, because I now work for myself.
For the rest of the year I love the flexibility and have never looked back! What are the benefits and pitfalls of working from home?