The real cost of flexible working and being a WAHM

time-management-clockWorking for yourself is certainly one way in which to take control of your working hours, be more flexible with childcare arrangements and, more importantly, spend more time with your children when they need you. However, nothing in life is for free: everything has a cost attached. So what is the cost for work at home mums?

The house, the husband/partner/significant other and the children all continue to need you, and make demands on your time, but there is also a ‘New Kid on The Block’ – your business. For that to survive and be successful it also needs as much care & attention as a new-born baby. So when all these demands have been squeezed into a day….well there aren’t many minutes left.

On a personal level, being able to do the school run is a very important and key reason for choosing to work for myself. However, the pay off for that is a shortened working day, which results in working evenings and weekends. This in turn impacts on my relaxation time and time with my husband. So how do you counteract this?

Time management is one of the hottest topics around as we seem to be under pressure to cram more and more into each day. Mums generally are very adept at both multi-tasking and fitting 48hours worth of tasks and activities into a day. Where the problem may lie is in delegation and prioritising, especially when it comes to ensuring we still have time for ourselves and our partners.

If you start with 24 hours and all the things that have to be fitted in, you will quickly come to the conclusion that ‘cut backs’ need to be made. The trick is to ensure that every ‘department’ should take a part in these cutbacks. So rather than the ‘me time’ and ‘us time’ sections being all but eroded, why not look to all areas. Highest on my own list for a cutback is housework, and it doesn’t take me a lot of encouragement to miss the dusting for a week or leave the ironing pile for another day.  Likewise, much as I love cooking, there are times when the usual ‘home cooked from scratch meal’ is replaced by a take away or conveniance food, and – surprise surprise - the world doesn’t end!

The majority of mums take the decision to work for themselves because of their children. However if this enables you take and collect your children from school and be with them in the holidays, then  you shouldn’t feel guilty if Daddy does bedtime or you spend 3 hours working at the weekend; they will benefit more from the key times you are there compared to paid employment.  Equally it is good to have your partner onside who can help understand that your attention and energy is being drawn in a new direction, but will support you and understands that in the long term this is a solution which will benefit you all.

Most important of all is ‘you’ time. This in my experience is the first to go when working for yourself and takes real strength of character to maintain; you have never ending to-do list, the housework is falling behind and the family are missing your undivided attention.  How do you justify time for you, let alone actually find it?  Firstly you need to re-train yourself; not an easy job if delegation is not one of your strengths or you are used to being’ mistress’ of the home.  Secondly you need to gradually retrain the rest of the family that mummy doesn’t do everything, and accept that their way isn’t the wrong way.

And finally, convincing yourself that you deserve that time; you work hard all 7 days of the week for the benefit of the family……..so even if you only manage a half hour’s peace with a G & T in the bath, you truly need and deserve it. Without you, neither the  business nor the family would be so successful. Cheers!

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This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Kath says:

    Often, the G&T in the bath (or equivalent) is be the most productive time of the day. It can be a time when your brain is free to formulate – and focus on – new thoughts, options and ideas.

  2. peabee72 says:

    Great post, I’m a WAHM too and empathise with everything you say. The one thing that absolutely needs to be shed or locked away in a little box somewhere is GUILT. We seem to think that we have to do everything and are constantly apologising when we don’t manage it, and you’re so right- we deserve a little R&R now and again!

    Thanks, Px

  3. Harriet McAlonan says:

    I agree with this too, though always fall down on the me time, I never have any me time. But to be honest my business doing well is like me time in that I get great pleasure from it…. does that count?

  4. Dee Uzoka says:

    I’m still trying to get the balance right! I work longer hours than I did when I was employed. I’m getting there slowly. I’m grateful to have a very understanding family (95% of the time).

    I will get there as will we all. Great post Sam!

  5. Rebekah Harriman says:

    Great post Sam! This is one of the biggest things I’m grappling with both of reminding myself that I really can’t do everything and getting used to a new dynamic in the family.

    Thanks for sharing your perspective and reminding we are not alone with this balancing act. I am so much happier now as a WAHM than when I was employed despite being busier than I have ever been and that is half the battle.

  6. Pippa Haines says:

    I launched my little webdesign company last year, not had too many customers, but because of the nature of what I do I open the laptop and tinker between screaming kids, or Jo Jingle classes etc. Sometime struggle to log how long I’ve been working because of interuptions. Bigger stuff has to wait till nap or bedtime. Also trying to sell house ready to move to new city. I would say it’s hubby and me missing out, because when he’s home, were usually trying catch up with tv and I multitask by working / playing on the computer then too. One day I hope after we’ve moved to spend time with hubby and maybe even go out together???

  7. Studiostitches says:

    Hi

    My business is my me-time – I’m doing something I love and will not give it up easily. Yes its hard work setting it up and running it, but compared to the harder work of being employed and having to fit a family around that, there is no comparison. I value each day because if circumstances were different I would not be running a business, I would be employed for ever more and dreaming of it.

    Children, quite often don’t require full on one-to-one attention, they are happy that you are in the same room as them, you doing your thing while they do their thing.

    Delegation is great and works well in our house. We have a weekly task rota (rota because of fairness) and as long as the tasks are done by the end of the week, they can be done anytime that particular person wants to do them. Not only does the housework get done, but it gives the children a bit of responsibility to plan it into their life – new types of life skills.

    We have family-time, us-time, them-time, you-time and me-time all fitted in. I try to work evenings if Ihave to do extra work so that we can do family stuff at the weekends.

    It is true though, trying to keep everyone happy at the same time is a big juggle sometimes. If you find something that works stick with it.

  8. Caroline says:

    Oh how very true but I must admit, when I am working for myself running my own business from home, I enjoy it so much it just doesn’t feel like work – however I have to say the housework does get shifted down the list of things to do as I would much rather be building my empire!

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  12. Lianne says:

    Completely agree with this in fact it’s gone midnight, I’m sitting at the laptop. My fiancee has fell asleep on the sofa and I can only assume he gave up waiting for me :(. I tell myself in time everything wil be worth it.

    Great blog post, I’m a beginner to blogging head in the sand and only come round to the idea since starting my business. Mine is here http://www.workingfreedom.org.uk/blog as you can see it’s very basic but I have high hopes after I’ve put all the time and effort in

  13. Tania Tirraoro says:

    I work from home and have found that I feel perfectly justified having a cleaner to do the housework once a fortnight. I do bits and pieces in between but having just published an ebook on Special Needs Education, it takes all day, every day to promote it, as well as working PT as a PR.
    Excellent post!

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