Can mums really be successful working from home?

Guest post by Cynthia Marinakos.

Juggling your own business with motherhood can be challenging but well worth it for the flexibility and lifestyle it provides..

Goodbye desk job

You’re a mum, so I imagine that you know how long it can take to get out of the house with kids in tow. Getting dressed, brushing teeth and having breakfast has never been so complicated. Add peak hour traffic to that and we’ve got to wake up at 5.30am to get the kids ready and off to care so we can head off to work. In the hustle and bustle of morning madness traffic.

We don’t like starting the day off like that, do we?

Many of us mums started enjoying a lifestyle with the luxury to cook, schedule playdates, go to the park, visit the shops and drive to the zoo in time for the 11am kids safari bus. We love the idea of flexibility, freedom and a slower pace than we may ever have had before.

How awesome is it to have the family spend less time hurrying and stressing, and instead breathe, laugh and play with our little ones at our leisure..

Going mental as a stay at home mum

Ok I said it. Please don’t get offended. I was going mental as a stay at home mum! But didn’t I want to be a stay at home mum? At first, yes. But then, I wasn’t sure.

As much as I treasured spending so many days and nights with our munchkin for 1.5 years, I finally understood why parents go to work ‘for a break’. And impressive though it was, I wanted to achieve something more than the 6 loads of washing while making muffins and dinner while carrying bub in one arm most of the day.

Note: I have the utmost respect and admiration for full time stay at home parents. There is no tougher job in the world! Try writing a position description for ‘Stay at home mum/dad’ and putting it up on SEEK. I bet no one would apply 😉

What I really needed was a better work/kid/chores balance that still kept the freedom and flexibility I loved. So what is the alternative for a stay-home mum who doesn’t actually ‘go’ to work?

To work from home.

 Working from home. Really?!

People may wonder how much a mum can actually achieve by working from home. Enough for the Collins English Dictionary to add the term ‘mumpreneur‘ in 2011.

Enough for the number of females running a business to increase by 3.7% while the number of men running a business has fallen by 9.3% (Bank West Business Trends Reports Jun 2014)

And research has found that women in highly flexible roles are twice as productive as the rest of the population. (Untapped opportunity: The role of women in unlocking Australia’s productivity potential)

What could be more flexible and more productive than working from home?! Of course there are challenges too… here are the top 6 ways I successfully started and built my business from home.

 Top 6 ways to successfully work from home

1. Have a regular income stream

The bank and electricity company doesn’t care what you’re doing at home. As long as the bills and mortgage are paid. I am very grateful for a husband who supports me in many amazing ways, including going to his full-time job each day so we can pay the bills.

Without that income, I would join the many parents who both need to work a regular full time job.

Mums, you are incredibly creative, extraordinarily dedicated and unbelievably resourceful in so many ways.

The sky’s the limit to the amazing ideas you will come up with so you can work well from home. Get that regular income stream to back you up. It will take a load off your shoulders so you can concentrate on your business.

2. Set goals and a to-do list (and stick to it!)

The phone rings, groceries need to be bought, laundry and dishes are piling up, the toy tsunami regularly devastates the house… and then there are emails to read and reply to, comments to make on Facebook, Tweets to share…

If you’re anything like me, I get distracted easily and barely get any work done with all the other to-dos going on – unless I’ve set my goals and write a to-do list to achieve those goals – every time.

“Schedule it in or it won’t happen”, a wise boss instilled in me years ago. And it is true.

  1. Design website for business ABC. Tick.
  2. Yoga for sanity. Tick.
  3. Date night. Tick.
  4. Call Jim about creating that online newsletter. In progress.

And the list goes on. I am a bit old school and still keep a Collins diary to do this. There’s nothing more satisfying than physically crossing off a ‘To Do’ off the list. With a pen.

Tick!

3. Be present

This is work in progress, but one of my biggest priorities. When I’m with my daughter, my husband or with a client. I want to be all there – mind, body and spirit. 110%. For work, it’s the only way I can be productive in the limited time I have available.

And for my family and friends – they deserve nothing less than my complete attention.

Yet being a mum, you may, like me, find it difficult to be present when the phone is ringing off the hook, your rugrat is painting with his tomato sauce, and you’re cleaning, feeding and eating. All at once. Sound familiar? It can be pretty difficult to stop your mind racing through plans for the next meal, the next load of laundry to wash or the next client to call.

Today, tomorrow, and next week. Like I said, it’s work in progress.

4. Schedule me time

Work, cook, change nappies, feed, clean up mess x 10, wash, shop, put down for nap…The day is over before I know it. And then another. And another. Every day starts to roll into one if you don’t take time out for yourself. Your passion may be cycling, movies, music, running, or just sitting in peace at night over a glass of red.

For me, it takes a regular yoga practice to get me out of the routine, out of my head to bring awareness, relief, and much needed breathing into my day. Gym, runs, catch-ups with friends (minus toddler) give me the perfect dose of sanity to realize how amazing my life is as a ‘mumpreneur’.

You are more than a mum. I’m guessing that you had an amazing life without kids (travel, sleep ins, money – what’s not to love!?) But of course you also have a pretty special life with kids and don’t regret having them (most of the time 😉 Your kids are happy and loved because of you.

What better way to take care of them than to look after the source of the their happiness and love. You.

Schedule in your me time!

5. Accept help and ask for help

Do you ever feel guilty if you put on the TV or iPhone in the morning so you can get more of a sleep in? Or feel bad about going out in the evening for dinner with friends – without kids or even your partner? Our Position Description is beyond belief. Would anyone really apply for our role? Watch this video to find out..

  • Do we have to fulfil this PD?  As mums, we can’t help but feel that this is what we are supposed to be and do – all, if not, most of the time. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
  • Surround yourself with the right people  An extraordinary support network has been my lifeline. From day 1, I felt no shame in accepting food, babysitting and second-hand clothes from the many generous and willing people in our lives. I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of childcare, but a great option was council-run family day care – so my daughter happily enjoys the comfort of another home for 2 days a week which means I can work without interruption.
  • You can – and deserve – a life outside kids  Accepting help means you can have date nights, get out of the house for a breather, and can reduce the stress of living on one regular income. There will be some who would make you feel like you need to fit that job description. But you don’t. You could try, but do you really want to? Day and night. 24/7. Ask for help. It gets easier the more you practice. Try it and you’ll see.

6. Talk to people

“I want to sit on your yeg mum..”  “I yove you mummy. Peppa?”

I’m guessing that you, like I, can’t get enough of your kids chatting away with such enthusiasm. Especially when they first learnt to talk. So adorable. But as much as you may adore chatting to your kids, there comes a time where we don’t mind any conversation that doesn’t involve the words ‘poo’ and ‘wee’, or the phrases ‘please eat’, or ‘time for bed.

Yes please. I can almost see you nodding in agreement. But when they’re not around to talk to, it can get a bit lonely. Especially working from home.

Why not try something a bit old school but has been known to work – call and meet up with people. Without the kids.

If you’re running a business, meeting up with new clients and new contacts is great for business, as well as your sanity. Regularly calling or meeting up with clients helps me to feel more connected to the ‘outside world’ and keeps the right balance in my life (so I don’t get cabin fever!).

The added bonus is that connecting the old school way has grown the business in ways I have never imagined. Yes it’s old school and seems pretty obvious. But give it as shot and see what happens…

So there are my 6 ways to make it from home. But don’t just take my word for it. Here are a few words of wisdom from a few mumpreneurs that I have worked with and have inspired me.

Monica Tovar  Mum of 2, Fashion Designer & Director 

  • Your inspiration to go it on your own? “My family. Having a flexible time allows me not to work less but to work around their needs and their free timetable of activities.”
  • Your biggest challenge? “The biggest challenge is being able to focus on every different task especially when I have to switch amongst all the roles I need to play in a single day and still deliver the best of myself.  The best tool I have found to cope with this particular situation is meticulous planning and organisation. Plan the year, plan the week and plan your day every day and you will meet your goals!

Marilei McDonald  Mum of 1, Designer & Director

  • Your inspiration to go it on your own? “I always envisaged myself being my own boss.”
  • Your biggest challenge? “The most challenging aspects of running a business from home while raising a child, is having to share your time and energy in between everything and everyone while keeping up the positive vibe and willingness to always do better the next time but keeping yourself sane at the same time :)”

Mums, you are everything an employer could ever hope for – and more! Imagine how much you could actually do working at home for your own business, while being there for your family.

In summary;

  • Set up a regular income stream
  • Set goals and a to-do list
  • Schedule me time
  • Accept help and ask for it
  • Talk to people

I hope this has given you some ideas, confidence, and inspiration to make working from home a reality. You can do it! I would say good luck, but you don’t need it. You make great things happen. Everyday.

Cheers, Cynthia

Cynthia Marinakos is mum of 1 cheeky monkey, wife, domestic goddess (not!) and Digital Marketing Consultant at Akkos Digital Her perfect idea of me-time includes some form of yoga, food, books, and a glass or red wine (or so) with soulful people. She’s been in digital for 8 years, and is honoured and grateful for the opportunity to help small businesses get noticed online through websites, social media, content creation, email marketing, and SEO.
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