It still seems alien to me to refer to myself as a ‘work from home mum’. This must mainly be due to the fact that primarily I see myself as a ‘stay at home mum’ and also that I genuinely love my job so much that it often doesn’t seem like work. But still the fact remains, I am self employed, I earn money, I work from home. Being able to stay at home to raise my children whilst earning my own income on the side is a dream come true for me, but that doesn’t mean that it is always plain sailing. It’s not the ‘easy life’ people could assume that it is. Over the past six months or so of being officially self employed I have certainly learnt the juggling act and gradually over time I’ve found a rhythm and a routine that works for me and my family. My priority is always Darcie (and Ernie when he arrives) so as much as I can I try to do the bulk of my work while she is asleep or entertained by other people. I stayed at home to look after her not to become a blogger and that is always at the forefront of my mind.
I thought I would share some tips that I have picked up over the last few months that could be useful to anyone either starting out working from home, or for anyone who is struggling to make it work for them.
I’m going on the assumption that generally if you are working from home you are likely to be quite in control of your work load and your hours. As a self employed blogger I have total control over what campaigns I agree to, what deadlines I commit to and how much I take on over all. I’m certainly guilty of often taking on too much at one time and then feeling totally overwhelmed by all the deadlines that need to be met. I’ve learnt the hard way to only take on what I can actually manage. Now, with each new project that lands in my inbox I weigh up various factors before agreeing to it. Is it worth my time? Is the money good or would I be selling myself short? Do I actually love the product/campaign? Do I have the time to commit to it around my existing projects? If the answer to any of those things isn’t what it should be then I won’t take it on. I think most people would be surprised at how much work bloggers turn down. The majority of us don’t promote everything that lands in our inbox either because it isn’t a good fit for our brand, it isn’t worth our time or we just don’t love the product enough to recommend to our readers.
Some people have a strict routine with their working hours at home. They might have their child booked into a nursery three mornings a week and use that time specifically to do work, or they might commit to have a couple of solid work days a week. Everyone will be different on this one. For me, it’s not so much that I have a routine but I certainly have set circumstances when I will work, and ones where I won’t. Generally I work while Darcie is asleep. Aside from sending the odd email throughout the day, I do the bulk of my work at night or in the day if she happens to take a nap. I don’t work every evening but I definitely aim to do a few hours every evening about five times a week. On those nights I will have set tasks I want to get done and will usually work up until they are done, sometimes that will be 10pm, sometimes that will be 1am. I do it this way because I don’t want it to eat into my time with Darcie in the day. I don’t have childcare for her and I’m not at a point where I even want to send her so that I can get more done. I love being a stay at home mum during the day and then I love working on my own things in the evening. Although some days are very long, I love each part of it and that is my motivation to keep doing it all.
Sometimes it can be tempting to put up with older, slower technology simply to avoid spending any of your hard earned cash on new equipment, but honestly having the right tech can make all the difference to your work life efficiency. When I first started blogging I used to do it all from my iPhone but these days I wouldn’t be able to do everything I need without my computer. I was also recently gifted the HP DeskJet 2632 Printer which is a really useful piece of technology for me to have as a blogger. I chose the Teal colour so not only does it function really well, it also looks super pretty sitting on my desk. The printer is a scanner and a photocopier as well and you can also print directly from your phone which is such a handy feature to have if you’re like me and have most of your life stored on your phone. It’s easy and simple to set up and the print quality is great! Even though most of my work is online it makes it really convenient to be able to print things out like spreadsheets for managing my accounts and important emails, receipts and invoices. The printer also came with two ink cartridges which is so convenient not to have to go out and buy ink straight away. The equipment you will need to work from home will obviously hugely vary depending on your line of work, but I would say that generally a computer and a printer are essential.
Whether you are working during your babies’ nap time or while they are at childcare, make sure that your dedicated work hours are as productive as possible. Working from home it is easy to get distracted by other things that need to be done around the house or unexpected visitors. If you have specific work times then make sure family and friends know not to come round at these times and try to work in a part of the house where you won’t be too distracted by visual reminders of things that need to be done. I tend to write a list at the beginning of the day of any tasks that I really need to complete, usually that will be writing blog posts, taking photos, scheduling posts and sending emails. Then as soon as I have a spare bit of time to get some work done I can immediately make a start on the most important tasks without having to waste time working out what it is that I need to do. For me, I have certain jobs I can get done with a toddler running around, and some jobs that I really can’t. So, as soon as she is asleep, I crack on with something that would be otherwise impossible. I also need natural daylight to take the best quality blog photos so that is a job that I prioritise for nap times and will often save the writing until the evenings. It’s best to send emails during the day as this is when PRs and brands will be working in the office.
If you are self employed then hopefully it is a job that you love. However that doesn’t always mean you will love every day that you work from home. Sometimes life gets in the way and it can seem impossible to get everything done around the rest of the demands of your family. Some days I just have to write off the hope of getting anything done for my blog, maybe Darcie is particularly hard work that day, or we are going out on a day trip, or she just won’t sleep. Whatever the reason, on those days I just give myself a break. If it can’t be done, it can’t be done and there’s no point becoming more stressed about it than necessary. The thing I love the most about working for myself from home is that I can fully work around my family’s needs. Those needs always come first so if I have to take a day off then I will and I’ll just pick up the slack another day (or instead find myself burning the midnight oil to meet a deadline!).
I’d love to hear any ways that you make working from home work for you. I’m still quite new to this life and always keen to pick up any tips to make life easier or to work more productively.