My office is located in my home which means, I work from home. I know from talking to our students and those of you considering our courses, that this is what many of you strive to be able to do too and I can tell you it is one of the reasons I am successful – working from home makes me more productive and works perfectly for my family, it has also enabled me to grow my business in a number of different directions which is something I really appreciate. I have been working this way for over 10 years now, so I have it pretty well worked out, although I won’t say work doesn’t creep into home sometimes, although funnily enough, home rarely creeps into my office.
But it wasn’t always that way
When I first started working from home, I was very focused on how flexible it made my time. I would refer to working at home in an off-hand way, as if it hardly mattered, or made a ripple in my day and to be fair, in the early days it probably didn’t and I could get on with the business of being a Mum and making some extra money on the side.
This casual attitude worked only to the point where the business started growing and I started taking it more seriously. I began to care more and more about my business, increased my working hours and was putting a lot more energy into my work, but, did I change the language I used when referring to where I worked, no I didn’t. I still answered the question of, what do you do and who do you work for, with; I work from home. It was not just the words I used either, I said it so casually that people assumed working from home meant I had huge amounts of free time and I did nothing to deter this type of thinking. This led to me putting my hand up for everything at Kindy and School, because the other mothers sat on theirs and looked in my direction when the request for volunteers went out (at least I assumed that is what they were doing, in their heads).
I was also the ‘go-to-Mum’ when someone else’s working life interfered with them being able to pick up a sick child from school, or look after them on a ‘pupil-free’ day. I can recall days where my house would be full of children and I would be trying to answer an email, or keep the tribe quiet, whilst I answered a phone call. My children knew what my hand signals meant when I was on the phone, but unfortunately, the others thought I was playing a game that required them to join in, loudly! Their Mums and Dads were in their quiet offices, working, but my attitude towards my work meant that I was drowning and letting home come into the office with me.
About 3 years into ‘working from home’ and combining that with my children being at school, I met another professional, who was also working from home. Seeing my plight from across the school hall during a meeting, she cornered me and asked me what I did and didn’t take; ‘I work from home’ as an answer. With her question properly answered, she promptly told me that I needed to start seeing myself differently in order for everyone else to see me differently. She encouraged me to stop saying, I work from home and start referring to my profession. The work from home bit was for my benefit, not information anyone else needed and she was absolutely right.
That subtle shift in how I saw myself, changed everything. I realised that I wasn’t really being taken advantage of by others, I was promoting the fact that I was available. I wanted to be helpful and involved, but it was beginning to impact on my business and actually stop me from being able to participate in the activities I wanted to be involved in at school; like helping out in the classroom with reading and craft. As much as I loved being so involved with the school and helping others whose working lives were not as flexible as mine, I had to put up some boundaries and when I did I started to enjoy the flexibility I did have, because I could choose what I participated in and what I didn’t. No one questions why the Mum or Dad who has a 9-5 job can’t help out in the tuck-shop and that is how I needed to see my job, so others could understand why I wasn’t able to do the same.
10+ years on
My eldest child has just started University this year and I have worked from home for most of his school life. Once I set those boundaries I really did achieve the work/life balance I was hoping to when I made the decision to work from home. I was able to participate in the activities at school that mattered to us, be there when he was sick and on school holidays, at the same time as growing my business. That has been a huge WIN for me.
Could this be something you need to consider, if you are already working from home, or intend to? How do you feel about the idea of working from home and what does having a balance between being available and being at work mean for you? This month I want to encourage you to think about those things as part of your business planning, so you can enjoy all the benefits of working from home. If you are a student of mine at the Academy and need some more help or advice on setting up a home office, I would love to hear from you!
And if you’re interested in a career in weddings and events that you can fit around your family life and other commitments you can view our courses here and connect with Christine or other work from home members of the Academy Team.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christine Ligthart is a lead Tutor with the Academy and Founder of I Do Crew which specialises in offering On the Day Wedding Coordination. Christine is passionate about creative small business and helping others to achieve success. At home you will find Christine hanging out with her family, listening to old records and loving life on the farm. www.idocrew.com.au
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