Work From Home-Self Employment and Family Demands
Juggling Self-employment and Family Demands
There is something incredibly special about being able to work from home. There’s a sense of freedom – a sense of flexibility. At the end of the day, though, those of us who really do work from home know that freedom and flexibility can only occur if our schedules reflect just a little bit of structure. The hardest part about quitting my full-time job to become a full-time freelance writer was helping my friends and family members understand what it really means to work from home. Until that point, the only people I knew who “worked from home” were people who had office jobs and got to telecommute a couple of days per week – an altogether different animal.
Self-employed vs. Unemployed
Not long after I quit my full-time job, the phone calls started rolling in. Can you take your grandmother to the doctors? I need you to stop by the house and let the dog out for me. Do you want to go on a bus trip with us on Thursday? Can you pick your cousin up from school? All of the sudden, I was viewed as “available.” My family and friends didn’t think of me as self-employed. They knew nothing of working from home, looking for private clients, or setting their own schedules. They had a complete lack of regard and respect for my time and my work. They thought I didn’t work. They treated me like I was completely unemployed.
Making People Understand
This is where things get difficult for a lot of people who are self-employed. It doesn’t matter if you’re a writer, a graphic designer, an internet marketer, or in some other sort of business. Your biggest hurdle will involve making those around you understand your need for structure.
What does this mean?
It means not making yourself available to others 24/7. Set “office hours” for yourself and stick to them as much as possible. You obviously own the flexibility to change those hours as you see fit, but you’ll not only provide yourself with a little bit of structure but will help to draw boundaries that others aren’t welcome to cross. It will be a lot harder for your mother to call and ask you to run to the store if you don’t answer personal calls before noon; or if your friends know you are only free to go out to eat on Fridays.
It means learning to say no. It’s a tiny word with a lot of power, and you have the right to use it. Your lack of formal employment in the corporate world does not mean you have the time to run around and do things for others all day long. What many of my own family members and friends did not understand at first was that I no longer have paid vacation time or personal days. I have to plan the days or hours I take off because if I am not working, I will not get paid. Period. End of story.
It means you need to be patient. It is going to take time for those who love you to gain a firm understanding of what you do. Be calm and respectful and explain your new work situation as clearly as you can. Be consistent with your boundaries and with the times you say “no” to certain requests. Before long, those around you will start treating you as they would if you were working a regular 9-5 office job.
As a self-employed professional you have the obligation to put yourself first at all times. Your success – personal and financial – rests on your ability to get your work done daily. There will be an adjustment period and you may feel a bit overwhelmed at times but before long you will have a stable routine you can stray from occasionally if you really need.
About the Author: Patty Kleen is a full-time professional writer with a passion for education, careers, and personal finance. When she is not helping other new entrepreneurs make their way, she focuses primarily on credit repair, bad credit loans, and money saving tips for those with poor credit histories.