Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Stereotypes WAHM’s Deal with

If you are a WAHM or considering becoming one then one of the hardest issues to contend with is the perception of others that you aren’t working. So many people think or believe that working at home isn’t working at all, and that you have all of the free time in the world! Women who have spent any time working at home know that there is a lot of time and energy that goes into effectively working at home as well as your “Mum” duties. Friends who call in the middle of the day for a cuppa, spouses who expect you to be doing more while home as well as family members who make those annoying offhand comments, can create a negative impact on your ability to work.

Not all stay at home moms work (i.e. a paid job or business), and this can create misunderstandings if you have friends who don’t and they cannot understand that your days aren’t free. Answering their calls during your working time, invitations to lunch and uninvited guests can cause havoc to your work schedule. Make your working schedule clear to your friends so that they respect your time.

If you want to be taken seriously then you will need a clear work schedule, so take the time to make one for yourself. Set office hours for yourself, this will help you make it clear to everyone around you that you are serious about your work. By setting office hours, it will also help set boundaries for your time. Inform your friends that you will be unavailable between this hour and that hour e.g. 9am-4 pm, but you’d enjoy catching up outside of those times. As a WFHM, you may even go so far as to turn off your personal phone. If a friend phones you on your work phone and they want to chat, let them know that you are working but can speak after a certain time. Because you are working from home you could also schedule things like lunches, or coffee for one day per week. This can be one way to reduce the drop-ins and spontaneous invitations.

Spouses/Partners can sometimes have difficulty understanding why, if you are home all day, the housework isn’t done by the time they get home. This problem can best by solved by familiarizing him with what you actually do in your business. Share with him exactly what you do each day, the time it takes to complete each task, and what you are earning from the business.

Communication is essential in your marriage relationship so ask him to help you come up with solutions for working at home and maintaining the household. Together make a list of things that need to be done each week, and assign household chores to you, him and the children (if they are old enough). This way taking care of the house becomes a family concern and something that you all share responsibility in. Remember communication is necessary especially to notify your spouse and/or children of any special projects by keeping a work calendar on the wall. This way the family can see what is going on with your work schedule, and why you have ordered takeaway (or popped a pre-prepared frozen meal in the oven) for dinner three times in the last week!

WAHM’s can be hurt over offhand comments about working at home when family or friends say things like “Well you have the time, because you are at home.” In these situations you have a choice. You can get upset and offer an angry defence or you can take their comments with a grain of salt and offer a calm response. Depending on the situation you can say something like “Well, let me check my work schedule. I know I am not available on these days” or “That would be great on __________morning/afternoon, which is when I leave time in my work diary for other activities.”

Working at home is new territory for many women and their families, although the number of WAHM’s is growing. Remember, it may take some time for the family and even yourself, to understand the commitment and scheduling that it takes to effectively work from home. No matter what you do, you may never convince some people that you are actually working while at home. It is important however that you establish respect for your work time and for your personal time.

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