I think most people have this vision in their heads of what working from home means. Rolling out of bed at whatever time you wish. Strolling into the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee. Still in your pajamas, you make your way to your desk and leisurely begin work.
I, too, had that vision. I dreamed of kicking my feet up on my front porch and typing away in the gentle breeze of the outdoors. Doing what I wanted, when I wanted. Working where I wanted. And never having someone breathe down my neck.
And Then, Reality Hits
Working from home is amazing, don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It gives me the flexibility to work around my kids’ schedules (I, however, am one of the lucky ones; not all work from home jobs are as flexible as freelancing).
And, I really can wear whatever the heck I want.
I’m my own boss and can accept or pass up on whatever work that comes my way.
But, it’s still not all cupcakes and rainbows. There’s a downside to just about any job, even when you run your own business.
Let me tell you about some of the downsides of working from home that most people will never tell you. I like to keep it real around here.
I never realized how much I would miss social interaction with adults as a work from home mom.
And I’m an introvert.
I’m horrible at making conversation and I prefer my own company to the company of anyone else. That’s why I was so surprised by how lonely I feel working from home.
Granted, it took several months for me to really feel lonely. Like, a good 6 months or so. Then it hit me hard.
Sure, it’s nice and quiet at home. But I seriously miss adult interaction. I miss my co-workers and their funny stories. They were always good for some laughs.
I seriously find myself looking into co-working spaces just so I can have the feeling of having co-workers again! It’s almost too quiet at home for me to concentrate.
It Gets Easy to Become Distracted
When you work from home, you work in your comfort zone. That’s awesome.
But, there are also a lot of distractions that come with that. There’s the TV. Social media. The fridge. The sunny outdoors that are calling your name. And, the endless pile of e-mails that suck you in when you should be working.
It really is tough to separate home life from work life. It’s a lot to get used to. I’ve finally found a pretty good balance, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t tough to keep my tush planted in my work chair when I’d rather be taking a walk and enjoying the nice weather with my kids.
If You Have Kids at Home, Difficulty is Multiplied
My 5-year-old son is at home with me while I work. This fall, he’ll head to kindergarten. I love him to death, but I hope I can be much more productive at work once he’s in school full-time.
Working at home with kids is no joke. It’s hard for them to understand that you’re working. They see you on the phone or computer and don’t see it as being any different than your personal time.
But, it’s much different. Try explaining that to a 5-year-old, though.
I’ve learned to break my work days into chunks so I can spend some time playing with him, teaching him, fixing him breakfast and lunch, etc. I take a longer mid-day break and take him to the park or spend some time reading books with him while we eat lunch.
Still, there are some days when he wants all of my undivided attention, making it incredibly tough to get a lick of work done. Those are the weeks I end up spending a good portion of my “days off” playing catch-up.
You Don’t Really Have Days Off
See what I did in that last section? The “days off” in quotations? Yea, I meant to do that.
That’s because when you work at home, days off are almost non-existent. It’s so much harder than I thought to separate the lines of personal and work time. You always hear people who work from home talking about it, but you probably shrug it off just like I did.
“Oh, I won’t do that. I’ll have clear work and play time.” Mm, hmm.
I’ve fallen in the trap. I’ll tell myself I’m taking the day off and then remember those e-mails I had to respond to. And that I had to make a few tweaks to my website. Oh, and I forgot about setting up an appointment with that client. It seems that my “days off” turn into catch-up days because I was so busy on my actual work days to get everything done.
But, Then Again…
I know I’m totally lucky. Really, anyone who works from home is.
I’m in no way writing this to complain because I seriously love my job as a freelance writer. But, I feel that it’s important to be real with you about some of the difficult realities you might face as a work at home mom. I’ve noticed that most people who work from home are all “La De Da, my job is amazing, my life rules, and everything MY job has is so much better than yours!”.
It’s not true, sister. Working from home has its flaws, too.
But, I do believe wholeheartedly that its flaws are worth it. Most of these issues are ones that you can conquer over time, just as I have (for the most part). If you have passion for what you do, everything will fall into place.
If you don’t yet work from home, what are you most afraid of? If you do work from home, what has been your biggest struggle so far? Let me know in a comment [or shoot me an e-mail at email@example.com] and we’ll try to work it out together!