I left my day job exactly 8 years ago to become a freelance writing WAHM. Prior to that I worked as a freelance writer for two years while still juggling a full time day job. Freelancing from both sides of the fence wasn’t always easy, especially when just starting out. Thankfully I worked hard and stuck with it. Thankfully, I was successful and didn’t have to return back to an office job.
Working at Home: It’s Not What You Think
In ten years time, I’ve seen many of my fellow WAHMs start a business but go back to full time outside of the home work because they weren’t succeeding, or the money wasn’t rolling in as much and as fast as they hoped. The truth is, this looks so easy and glamorous to the outside world. What can be more attractive than working from the back deck while sipping premium coffee as the youngsters run around?
Except that’s not a far picture of the WAHM lifestyle. Working at home involves actual work and very little of it is glamorous.
After building relationships with WAHMs over the past decade (and being one myself) I think I have some insight into why some of us succeed, or why some of us have to “go back to work.” I can tell you many of us didn’t expect it to be so lonely. Also, plenty of WAHMs found out they need to have other members of a team at hand to motivate them and keep them on task.
The truth is, there are many reasons WAHMs go back to their day jobs.
1. It’s Harder Than You Thought
Working at home isn’t easy. I’m not talking about the job itself, I’m talking about the physical act of working. At home. If there are kids in the house your attention is constantly being diverted in different directions. You’re constantly called on to open juice boxes, referee arguments and act as taxi driver for playdates and cheerleading practice. There are other distractions as well: lunch with the girls, Dr. Oz, the fridge…and the list goes on. Sitting down and completing one task at home is a rude awakening when compared to the ability to sit down and complete one task at an outside job.
2. You’re Lax in Your Habits
When you’re a WAHM there is no boss standing over you reminding you of project deadlines. There are no team members waiting on you to do your part. You’re accountable to you, and you only. When you’re a WAHM it’s easy to take sick days whenever you want or blow off work in favor for a day out on the beach or afternoon at the spa. Truthfully, the most successful WAHMs are those with the best working habits. They know they can enjoy down time, but they make sure all their commitments are complete before taking fun time. That isn’t to say that as WAHMs you can’t schedule fun time, just be sure to get your priorities straight.
3. You Have No Defined Path
Many WAHMs leave the traditional workplace wanting to work from home but not really sure of what kind of work to do. The choices are overwhelming. Should you write? Become a virtual assistant? Consult as a business coach? The most successful WAHMs know exactly what they will do before leaving their present job and research accordingly. They don’t quit a job and wonder what to do next.
4. You’re Looking to Earn Money Rather than Looking for a Job or Career
Many WAHMs aren’t necessarily looking to have a career. Rather, they want to earn money so they can contribute to the household while staying home with their kids. There’s nothing wrong with this until it leads to a lot of “here and there” earning. Instead of focusing on one particular avenue, some WAHMs simply take whatever pays. They’ll do party plans, residual writing, transcription and anything else where a mom can work at home. The problem is, all this piece mail working can lead to burnout. Scrambling to fulfill obligations from several different ventures diverts focus and procrastination sets in.
5. You Work Whenever
Another common issue among WAHMs is finding the time to work. Or, rather, finding the time to work without interruption. Just like taking piece mail jobs, working here and there throughout the day also diverts the focus. As mentioned above, it’s hard to pay attention to a task when attention is demanded elsewhere. It’s true not everyone has the time or means to work an eight hour day, undisturbed. However, even one or two quiet hours make a difference. Having regular business hours can help you — and others — respect your time.
6.You Don’t Take Your Clients (or Your Business) Seriously
Deadline. Schmedline. Your client will get his work when you’re good and ready. Cable outages, sick kids and Aunt Martha’s funeral are some of the excuses you use when not fulfilling your promises. Eventually though, clients stop being sympathetic and start seeing excuses as, well, excuses. Even though you like being a WAHM because of the flexibility, you can’t blow off your work all the time because now you’re letting down the people who pay you – and the people who can refer you to other clients.
7. You Don’t Want it Bad Enough
Eh. If this doesn’t work out I’ll just do something else. Whatever.
8. Your Few Precious Hours of Working Time are Spent on Facebook, Twitter and in Forums
Social media and social networking can do wonders for a career. It can also be an amazing timesuck. If you only have two hours to spare for client work and that time is being spent playing Mafia Wars or Tweeting about your kids, you may want to rethink your priorities.
9. You’re Not Cut Out for the Lifestyle
My sister in law worked at home for a couple of years and hated it. She had no kids at the time and telecommuted for her full time job after moving out of state. The problem is she was lonely. She missed the camaraderie and the lunches out with her friends. She missed being a part of a physical team rather than a virtual team. She missed the commute and being around people all day. This isn’t the lifestyle for everyone and you’re not a failure if it’s not your cup of tea.
10. You Actually Thought You Could Earn $50,000 per Month
You decided to work from home because those ads with all the exclamation points lured you in, didn’t you? I’m sorry to beak it to you that doesn’t happen. Plenty of WAHMs earn several thousand each month but we worked very hard to get where we are. No job, in virtual land, or the real world, is going to pay you that much money – especially during your first week on the job. Realistic WAHMs make it. Those who follow false promises fall behind.