Mothers choosing to work from home are not always taken seriously by the wider community or even our extended families, at times. We know, of course, that it is a balancing act between many factors the needs a unique skill set that hasn't been seen before. The ultimate blend between being at home and working at home can be achieved but for it to work for you and your family, this unique skill set needs practicing.
Take it seriously
The first stage of getting into a WAHM mindset is to take your business seriously yourself. Be clear in your own mind that this is valid work, just as going to an office, shop or factory for 40 hrs a week is. This doesn't mean that you can't have fun and enjoy your work but acknowledging to yourself that working from home is a valid work option is important. Once you believe it, it is easier to explain to other people or to push aside the criticism or scepticism.
Go to work
I find the mental challenge of separating work and home the hardest - when getting started, it feels like I am always think of work / doing home things / thinking of work /doing home things… eventually that continual state of doing both is exhausting. It also produces that feeling of guilt that only comes from the feeling that your children aren't getting the attention they deserve as your mind is somewhere else. Or silently cursing the children because you would rather be writing proposals and updating your website rather than reading that story book one more time.
At other times, it is hard to get into work mode, as there are still dishes on the sink and a load of washing to throw on and…. there's always another home task to complete and this can take up valuable time if you are not aware of what is going on.
So the approach that I have adopted is a "go to work" one. I have a weekly plan which outlines the times and days I will be at work, sometimes off site, sometimes at the home office. On these days, I get up, get dressed have breakfast and announce to the family that I am going to work, give everyone a kiss and a hug - and go to the home office and close the door.
When getting dressed for a day at the home office, I don't wear my best suit, but I do where "Work clothes" and shoes. There is the theory about putting shoes on when making an important phone call or people in a call centre being encouraged to dress for the office which improved their performance as they had a professional mindset. This is what we are dong - telling each part of the brain that we are "going to work".
Announcing it to the family makes a clear hand over to my husband that the kids are now his (whether to get them off to school or for an hour or two, as agreed). As the kids get older they begin to understand that working from home is what mum does and unless there is a fire, or other emergency, they are not to disturb mum. This takes time for them to adjust too, but a simple lock on the door above where they can reach helps in their younger years.
Having paid care or school for the kids does make a huge difference - trying to work while baby is sleeping is a huge task and serous questions must be asked - as much as you want to do this, it isn't the best time to start a business; research, keep you fingers in, do some training, help a friend but leave the real heaving lifting of starting a business for when they are at school.
While at work - work. Don't answer the home phone, only your work phone / mobile. Resist the temptation to do any house chores unless you "go home" for lunch.
Going how was the best part of the day when you used to go to work and reclaiming that "going home" feeling is great. At the end of the day or hour block - go home. Write a to do list for tomorrow (or next hourly session) save files, put things away and… walk out the door, announcing "I'm home".
Go and get changed out of your work clothes to your home clothes and mentally switch off. Then you can go back into kid mode and be happy that you have had a productive day / session and not feel bad about spending time with them.
If work issues come up, write a list but defer as much as possible - working from home doesn't mean you are on call 24 /7.
I hope these few tips help, especially if you are struggling with trying to do everything all the time. Again, you need to be serious and have a mind set to match. Working from home is a valid career choice and you need to know that before you can be at peace with the nay sayers. But it is all about flexibility and keeping your mind stimulated and earning some money, so have fun and good luck!
Michelle Brown is a WAHM with a two primary school aged boys and a SAHD husband. She spends her working time between consulting with manufacturing companies to implement business improvement strategies and various internet-based businesses. She is based in Melbourne, Australia. To see her latest endeavour visit www.MixedMediaArt.net