When I tell people I have a business I run from home, their immediate reaction is something along the lines of, “Oh, wow! It must be so awesome to be able to work when you want.”
Well, sometimes . . . but not exactly.
As a WAHM, you may find yourself being asked to take on responsibilities for other people and/or expected or asked to do things because you have “so much free time on your hands”. What your friends and family need to understand is when you work at home, you actually do need to work.
Sure, you may have the luxury of being able to stop working and go pick your kids up from school in the afternoon or take them to the playground during the day . . . but it’s not always that easy.
Any stay-at-home-mom will tell you their days are really hectic between kids, chores, errands, dinner, etc. It’s a full-time job being a mom. Doing all that on top of work becomes challenging.
Friends and family may assume that because your work schedule is so flexible, you have the time to help them out with a task or fit anything you choose to fit in throughout your day. Sometimes people assume this about me, too, and a lot of times I feel guilty saying no. Look, I’m more than happy to help someone if they need me too if I’m available, but some days it’s just not in the cards.
I’m fortunate to have a family who understands my crazy schedule. They know that some weeks, I only really have to work 10-20 hours a week and can fit other things in my days. However, they also know that some weeks I’m literally working 70 hours and just can’t fit it in. When I say no to something, they don’t take offense.
Here are a few common things people who don’t work at home have a hard time understanding:
- You are unable to do a task for someone immediately
They know you work from home and could, theoretically, leave your house and take care of their problem, since your work schedule allows for flexibility and theirs doesn’t.
If I’m not particularly busy, I’m more than happy to help you out. However, just like you work and have a busy life, so do I. Sometimes doing extra unplanned tasks isn’t feasible. Taking time out of my busy day to help you out may mean that I’m awake until 2:00 AM working to catch up with my own work, or potentially miss a deadline. I understand you have to work late today and may need someone to pick up your kid from soccer practice or help make cupcakes for their bake sale, but I also have work to do. Please understand if I’m not able to help you out today.
- You said you were busy, but they see you commenting on posts on Facebook
People who don’t work from home sometimes have a hard time wrapping their head around it. You said you were too busy to fit them into your day, but they see you active on Facebook.
I do give myself small breaks throughout the day. If I am working a 10-12 hour day, I do allow myself 5-10 minute breaks every now and again to do something that’s not work related. I may click over to Facebook to see what’s going on for a few minutes.
For me, I transcribe audio for a living. If I am sitting typing for hours, it will hurt my wrists. If I don’t rest them periodically, I’ll injure myself. I take small breaks throughout the day. Just because I comment on your Facebook post doesn’t mean I lied about being busy to avoid you. It just means I stopped for a few minutes. I’m sure you take small breaks at work as well.
- They see you out for dinner when you said you were busy
Just like you may work long days, so do I. I’m sure if you’re working a 12-hour shift at work, you stop to eat. Since my work is my home, if I’m busy, I don’t really get a chance to leave. Sometimes if I’m really busy and haven’t been outside my house for a few days, I just need to get out. I will take a break for an hour and go get something to eat, just like if you work a 12-hour shift, you may take a break and get a bite as well.
While a lot of times I eat at the computer, sometimes I’ll take an hour and treat myself to a nice dinner with my family. Sometimes I need that hour to get out of the house and recharge.
- People randomly stop by your house because they know you’re probably home
Look, I like you. I really do. But I’m a super-busy work-at-home-mommy and my to-do list is long, and I barely have any time to do things for myself, let alone entertain you unexpectedly. Some days, even a shower isn’t possible for me. In fact, most days, I consider my 5-10 minute showers mini vacations.
So if you want to stop by, please text or call first . . . and don’t take offense if I say it’s not a good time. Unless you’re stopping by to vacuum the floors, do the dishes, and scrub the toilet. Then you’re more than welcome to stop by anytime J
- You can’t talk right now and/or don’t return phone calls
When I’m busy, a lot of times I’ll let my phone ring if I know who it is. If it’s a number I don’t recognize, I’ll pick it up in case it’s a client or a potential client. However, if I know who it is, a lot of times I’ll just let it ring. I’m sure if it’s important, they’ll call again, text immediately after or call my hubby.
If I’m in the middle of something, I’ll make a mental note to call the person back. But as all us WAHMs know, our days are often very hectic and by the time we get a chance to catch a breath, it may be too late in the evening to call you back . . . or I may have forgotten (sorry!).
Bottom line: when I’m busy, I don’t usually pick up the phone unless it’s potentially going to make my business money.
- You make plans and then cancel
This rarely ever happens to me, because at this point, I do have a strong team. But in the early days, this used to happen every now and again. I’d make plans a week in advance, only to have a big project come in that I couldn’t refuse and have to break plans.
I’m sure this happens a lot to people who don’t work from home, or any business owner really, but I think people sometimes have a hard time understanding why you can’t just “do it later” when you have such a “flexible” work-at-home schedule.
Look, if I made plans with you, I want to be with you. I’d much rather be sipping margaritas across a table with you chit-chatting and laughing than sitting in front of my computer all night. Please don’t take it personally if I happen to have to cancel plans.