Over the past years I’ve navigated a variety of positions – working outside the home, being a stay at home mom, working outside the home again, and now, being a work at home mom. It’s taken me quite a while to come to this place and I firmly believe it is God’s purpose for me to stay at home with my son, while also bringing in a supplementary income.
I understand that not all mothers have this option though; you might be a single mother or need an extra full-time income. I know there are women who want to stay at home, but aren’t able to… and also those who feel stifled if they have to stay home all day. It is up to you to discuss with your husband and pray about where God wants you to be.
But in case you’re interested, here are a few benefits of being a work at home mom:
- You are always there for your family.
- You feel productive because you are also bringing in an income.
- You work on your terms, not a company’s.
While working from home has its own plus points, sometimes we start off with the wrong mindset. And instead of blessing our family, our business opportunity only wrecks havoc.
I started out with a wrong attitude; my aim was to find my worth through online ventures. I started competing with my husband, hoping to earn more money than him. I was selfish and got easily agitated when things didn’t work out as I expected. When things went awry, I grumbled a lot, dumped my frustrations on my family and even blamed them for not supporting me!
Let’s just say I’ve learned a lot of hard lessons and I’m in a better place now by God’s grace :).
Starting a business and working from home seems easy and is doable, but there are a variety of traps you can fall into if you are not careful.
Here are common mistakes to avoid as a work at home mom:
1. Mixed Up Priorities
This is something I still struggle with. I know that my priorities are God, my husband, my son, and then my work. But when you start taking up additional projects, you soon find yourself getting your priorities all mixed up. It is essential that right at the beginning you make a list of your priorities and put first things first. Also ensure that the new ventures you commit to do not compromise your priorities.
2. No Fixed Working Hours
When working from home, we tend to keep switching between our work projects and the household chores. It is essential that you choose the time of day when you are most productive and set it aside for work alone. Guard that time by limiting interruptions and focusing on the task at hand, and you will get much more done in that period.
I used to get a lot of personal calls during working hours that reduced my productivity. Subtle hints that I would not be available to chat during work time cut down those interruptions.
Another thing I’ve found is that a daily/weekly routine helps. Split your day into sections and work out a routine (rather than an hourly schedule) made up of the tasks you need to accomplish during that time frame. When you know what you need to be doing at a particular time of the day, it will help you be more productive.
3. Not Planning Your Meals in Advance
This may seem too trivial to even factor into the working from home equation, but I’ve found that planning meals in advance helps me have a better work day. I don’t have to worry about what’s for dinner in the evening and my day goes smoothly because I have a plan in place. Try to plan your meals in advance – if not weekly, at least daily. Planning out what you need to thaw, cook or bake earlier in the day will definitely make for less stressful evenings.
- Plan to Eat (has a 31 day free trial)
4. No Backup for Your Technology
Technology is a must for work at home moms, especially when running an online business. But technology is also something you cannot count on. You need to have a backup plan for when things go wrong. When my computer crashed a few years back, I lost a lot of data that could not be retrieved.
Periodically back up your important documents on an external hard disk. It would also be wise to have a secondary device to work on should your computer/laptop crash and a backup internet connection.
5. Online Distractions
Have you ever taken 5 minutes off your work day to read an article online, and found yourself deep inside a rabbit trail 2 hours later? Yeah, me too! With Facebook, Pinterest and the plethora of interesting blogs, we can easily get distracted online. You can set a timer, disconnect the internet or close all browser tabs, so you can get more done. But of course, your own determination plays an important role in staying away from distractions online.
6. Not Rewarding Yourself at the End of the Day
Nothing dampens the spirit more than unrewarded work. If you were working outside, you’d periodically be appreciated for the work you’ve done or be awarded something for it. As work at home moms, we have to put ourselves in the position of the employer and the employee. If you don’t reward yourself for the work you do, there’s nothing to look forward to when it’s done. Your work becomes mundane and you lose interest in it. Give yourself a little incentive once in a while – a scoop of ice-cream, a night out with friends, a new book or even a new outfit.
7. No Designated Workspace
Another mistake most of us make is not having a defined workspace within the home. I agree that sometimes the couch, bed or dining table may seem more comfortable. But if you want to be more efficient, I suggest that you find an exclusive place for you to work. It doesn’t have to be big, flashy or picture perfect; just tidy and business-like. There is also the added advantage that when your work day is done, you can shut down your computer and just walk away.
- Home Office Inspiration (Pinterest Board)
8. Never Taking a Day Off Work
After several years of working from home, I thought I had it all figured out. And then my son made an offhand remark that I was always in front of the computer. It was time for a reality check! Our families need to know that they are important to us. Take a break once in a while and spend quality (and quantity) time with your family. You don’t have to spend every waking moment thinking about, planning or working on your business. Take a day off once in a week, go on a vacation every few months; shut down your work and go have fun!
9. Not Taking Care of Yourself
A work at home mom has so many things on her plate that there’s no room left for herself. Amidst being a mother, wife, homemaker, planner, businesswoman, organizer, cook, maid, we forget our own needs. We neglect important things such as healthy eating habits, exercise and even sleep. Remember that if you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot take care of your family or your business. Take an effort to put yourself back in the radar. There is only one you, and your health matters! Take care of yourself first.
10. Trying to Do it All
It’s true that when you’re just starting out, you will have to take care of all the business details yourself. But as your business grows, try to recruit someone who can help you. Trying to do it all yourself is a sure way to experience burnout. Outsource some of your tasks so you can free up your time for the things that matter. For your business, you can hire an intern or look for freelancers from websites such as Elance and Guru.com. You can also check with people you know and hire someone who can help you with the kids or the housework once in a while.
Let me conclude by saying, I’ve been guilty of making almost all the mistakes mentioned above. Live and learn, right?! I hope the resources mentioned above help you become a better work at home mom.
If you’re a work at home mom, which areas do you struggle in? Share with us in the comments below.