If you’re new here, let me just start by defining WAHM: it is a ‘work-at-home mum’. WAHMs can be self-employed or work for an employer – there are so many options available these days. However, the primary requirement to be called a WAHM is to, well, to work from home.
My first experience of working from home started about 13 years ago, shortly after returning to work from maternity leave. I had applied to work flexibly at work, and the editorial director was so incensed by the audaciousness that she made me a full-time homeworker. I would show up in the office once a fortnight just to stay connected to my work colleagues and to attend meetings.
Being a WAHM sounds like a dream come true for many new mums. I thought it would help me have the best of both worlds: being a mum and working. However, the reality was that it wasn’t all milkshakes and loungewear. I had to develop a thick skin and learn how to navigate emails so that I wasn’t offended by my colleagues and didn’t sound angry when replying to their requests. I always felt the pressure to appear that I was working, even though I was. If my phone rang, I beat myself up about not getting it in a couple of rings, also if I had a justified reason like using the bathroom. It could be pretty stressful. Not to mention managing comments about me being a “part-timer” because I could get away with next to anything at home – or so those who don’t really understand the pressure Is mentioned before seem to think about home working.
So, I learnt hands-on that there are certain qualities that WAHMs must have to survive and not buckle under the prejudices and perceptions one’s colleagues can have about how much work we are doing.
To be amazing at working from home, you really do need to be organised. That’s in mind and in the actual work you are doing. Personally, I’ve always liked to keep an electronic and hard copy paper trail of everything I’m doing – it’s for protection!
To be honest, you can actually squeeze in a load before you start work, and set it to dry in the tumble dryer at lunch etc. without getting distracted – I did it for years successfully! But this level of organisation is about staying on top of what is going on in the office (where your colleagues work) and keeping on top of what you’re doing.
If you are rigid and expect everything to go the way you think it should all the time, you will likely be disappointed as a WAHM. We need to have a flexible mindset in the working world these days, and WAHMs must be flexible. Imagine if a child gets sick, or the dishwasher breaks or your invoices don’t get paid on time, you have to handle it without flapping. It can also mean that you start working a little earlier or a little later, but at least you’re doing it from home.
Ability to say ‘No.’
What I mentioned before about the perception about colleagues can often make you feel as if you have to agree to everything, so you donor rock the boat. In hindsight, I would go a step further and flip the actual ship over! Don’t be a doormat – if you start taking on requests that have no business coming your way, it can soon become an unofficial part of your job. It can sometimes be difficult for people to wrap their heads around the idea that a working mum who stays home is working full time; is contributing in a significant way to the family’s income, and isn’t skiving off at every opportunity she gets.
Sadly, sometimes these perceived ideas come from friends and family as well. Get prepared to field off calls from friends and relatives who think that once your car is parked outside and you’re clearly indoors, you actually have work to do.
Do you have self-discipline to be a WAHM? Can you work hard when nobody is looking; and when nobody knows that you spent Friday taking tea and biscuits with the mums from your child’s school, or coffee mornings with the PTA? The ability to be disciplined with your work when you don’t have someone micromanaging you is essential to being a successful WAHM.
Not everyone has the self-discipline when it comes to working. Some people just need to have other people around them to ensure that they will do the work they are supposed to be doing. But if you work at home, there won’t be other people there to egg you on and to encourage you to work.
This goes hand in hand with being disciplined, but it is still a bit different. Self-motivation comes when you’re actually enjoying the work you’re doing. You should want to do your job and get to it as soon as you wake up each day.
Unlike an out of the house job where there might be a supervisor keeping an eye on your efforts, at home itís just you. If you arenít self-motivated enough to get up in the morning with an eye toward what you need to get done that day ñ without anyone reminding you of your responsibilities ñ you might not be well suited to working at home. But if you are self-motivated and are able to keep yourself going even in the face of many bumps in the road, you might do well working for yourself at home.
Working at home, especially when youíre a mom, take a certain level of multi-tasking expertise. You should be able to handle the house, the kids, and the work. You should be able to handle all of it and sometimes all of it at once. If you get very stressed when things donít go perfectly, or if you canít focus on more than one thing at a time, working at home might not be for you.
People who work at home must have a certain level of entrepreneurial initiative. That is, they operate independently and are willing to take the necessary risks to achieve some success. If you want to work at home and be successful, you too should have this independent streak.
Working at home take a myriad of personality characteristics, but these are by far the most important. Hone the traits you already have and work to develop the others, and work at home success will be yours.