10 Things I didn't realize about having a home-based business
Confession time: On the original challenge, day 11 was to talk about my marriage, however that didn't seem to be the best way to go for me. Fist of all, I wasn't sure which direction to take. Second of all, as some of you may know, my entire family is dealing with a surprise and significant loss. Because of this loss, I was worried about the blog becoming more of a verbal/emotional vomit catcher then an actual blog post. I guess, then, it's a good thing that I was then challenged to write a post about what it's really like to work from home. Thank you for understanding.
Working at home seemed like the perfect solution to so many of my family's challenges years ago. I thought I'd put together a fun office area, sit at my computer, talk to my friends and make money without leaving the house and paying a babysitter. Years later, I can honestly say that there were some parts left out of the "Work from home" brochure. Lucky for you, I'm here to get real with you!
Here are 10 things no one told me about working from home, but I think you should know! As usual, they are in no particular order.
1. You'll become all too knowledgeable about your kids' shows/music/ect.- Not all of you are parents, but for those who are, this is very real. I know, it doesn't sound like that big a deal, but just wait until you find yourself writing your to-do list singing songs from Dora The Explorer, making your lunch and singing Sesame Street songs or even telling your husband that you need to "go party" instead of "I'm going to the bathroom". Before you'll know it, you'll know the names of all of Dora's family, the words to the entire Frozen movie and know all of the modern day, age appropriate (for your kid) slang...and have no idea what the words to the song on the radio is, which huge star can be found in the local movie theater or how to sound your age when you talk.
2. Your house bills will feel the difference- "I'll be saving so much money by eating my lunches at home every day!" Well, yes...and no. But now, not only will you be increasing your grocery bill with all of your lunch items, you'll have to provide your own water and coffee to drink, snacks for the afternoon, power/electricity, water, garbage, ect. Yep. Because you're home all of the time now, your bills will reflect it. Then again, you can counter that by the lack of necessity for an office appropriate wardrobe/shoes, gas/transportation costs to get to and from work every day.
3. You miss social interaction- I know what you're thinking. "I don't like people enough to miss being around them". I get it. People can be hard to deal with, especially when you feel like you have to play by everyone else's rules. But when you work from home, it can be so easy to not leave the house. It can get all too easy to lock yourself away until your social interaction is dictated by who lives in your house, who's on social media when you are and who answers their phone...or calls you. Pretty soon it becomes normal to spend he day alone (or with your kids) in your office plugging away. Of course, there are some great things about it, but it can also take a huge toll on your mental and emotional health, a side effect that is often only noticed after you're suffering the effects. And trust me, the goal of working form home is never to slowly lock yourself away into depression.
4. Working from home does not automatically equal more time for housework- I promise! When I started working from home, I thought I'd have time to provide healthy meals and a spotless house for my family. The reality? My sink is full of dishes, my office is a mess (see the picture above), my living room is carpeted with my toddler's toys and my bed isn't made. Why? Because working from home doesn't mean putting in less time. I still work enough hours to constitute a full time job and then some. I have three kids, two cats, one dog and a husband...things are always finding a way back into Messtown. How do we adapt to this? I recommend taking a deep breath and investing in some cute "My house is a mess because we live in it"merch.
5. You're expected to do more- I think we're just as guilty of doing this to ourselves as others are. We think because we're home and we create our own schedule that that somehow creates magical hours with nothing to do that are begging to be filled. We expect so much form ourselves, and so do others. We get calls asking for help, letters home from school with sign up sheets attached, inviting us to make memories with our child's class and a to-do list that always seems to get longer and never seems to get shorter. We expect healthy, home made meals, spotless living conditions and and organized schedule (with openings for ever request, opportunity and tasks). The next thing you'll know, you'll be ordering your uniform complete with a lasso of truth and cuffs for your wrists that can deflect bullets! If you're lucky, you'll be given a cape for Christmas. If your anything like me, the result is curled up in the fetal position in your bed, crying, flailing your imaginary magic wand around barking orders that you wish would be just the right spell to finish the twenty items still on your to-do list. The cure....
6. It's okay to say no! Go ahead. Say it with me! "No, sorry, I can't." For some reason we think that when someone works from home, they are the ones to be the classroom mom, field trip chaperone, car pool driver, play date moderator, daily short order cook, full time magical maid providing a spotless home, bake sale baker, party planner, full time care giver and fixer of all problems and dilemmas. This is a lot even for the person who isn't trying to run a successful business! It's easy for people to forget that you're working on a never ending to-do list that they may not see you completing, resulting in you being one of the first names that comes up when they need someone. It's okay to say no. Maybe you did leave the traditional workforce so you could be more available, but that doesn't mean that you can't ever say the word, "no" and even though you are pretty super, and I know you're wonderful, you are not Superman/Wonder Women. Traditional job or not, you can't do everything. Pick and chose your obligations.
7. "But it's not a real job."- I can't tell you how many times I've heard that, and let me tell you, that is the first step on your journey of to "I tried that once." You think I sound dramatic? Maybe but hear me out. The very fact that the phrase "working from home" includes the word "working"in it should say it all. Job is defined on google dictionary as- 1. a paid position of regular employment and 2. A task or piece of work, particularly one that is paid. Yep. You know what that means? It means that what you're doing at home is a real job! The difference is that, when you're working a direct sales business or even your own, like me, you have to put in the work to get the pay and the amount of pay you earn is in proportion to the amount of work you put in...especially in the beginning. When people start to view what you're doing is not real, they start to fit into a whole collection of other ideas and thoughts that are anything but helpful, supportive or productive. When you start believe them, you stand in your own way to success.
8. Set boundaries- First, I suggest investing in a fun role of duct tape. Use it draw a visible territory line around your work space. Sound extreme? ok. Maybe it is. But we do need boundaries and they aren't something that you can create yourself. Talk with your family. Figure out their perceptions, their needs then compare them with yours. Define what hours you'll work. Find out what chores and housework are expected of you. Let your family know what you can budge on and what you can't. What aspects are set in stone, what can your be flexible about? And explain to your family why this is what you need and how it helps. Make your own boundaries. Just because you're not going to the office everyday doesn't negate a need for structure and boundaries.
9. Balance- This is one of the hardest parts for me. Because I work form home and I love my job, it's easy to be sucked into the office. When your to-do list is long, it's even harder to walk away. Working at home means that, while while you're always available your family, you're always available to your family. This opens the door to interruptions (again...set your boundaries!) which can further the challenge and help keep you unbalanced. It's also a little too easy to curl up with your book or binge that new release on your favorite streaming source. Because we don't have an office in an office building to go to, it's easy to do too much of something. Actively take time each day to complete at least one task in each of the following categories:
1. House work/chores
4. Personal Care
In my experience, making this practice the norm results in better sleep, less stress and anxious, a more positive and happy attitude and an over all more healthy life.
10- Stuck in your own head/ways and box- Finally, working from home and, often, by ourselves, allows us to lose the map to finding alternative and creative solutions. Without the social interactions, we lose our resources to exploring other's perspectives and ideas and even can lose contact with great and unexpected sources of inspiration. We end up limiting our exposure to music, books, movies, life styles, ect. that others participate in that we may not, or may not even know they exist. While it can limit the reasons to feel over whelmed, it can also leave us in a root or spinning our wheels without a view of a way out. How do we combat this? Well, there's so many, but one of my favorite ways is to set a goal to learn at least one new thing that relates to my business a week.
So, that's my list of 10 things I didn't think about or realize when I started my own home based business. I know some of them seem obvious, but I honestly didn't realize the extent of it until later. What about you? Do you work from home? What do you do? Do you think I covered it all? What is something that no one told you about working form home that you had to learn? Let us know below!