Working from home: the truth behind the ideals

2011-10-05 00:00

WHEN I started considering having children, I decided that I wanted to have the flexibility that came with working for myself, from home. I am in the fortunate position of having a transportable career, which meant that I could easily adapt to freelancing.

Aside from the obvious advantages of being able to do school lifts, be around when your child is sick and not miss out on those important milestones by being stuck in an office halfway around town, I also envisioned a life of sneaking out to afternoon movies during that dead work time, being able to take myself off shopping when I needed to and going for the occasional lunch with friends that could last more than the regulated hour.

The reality, I’ve found, is a little different. While I’m always cautious about griping about the fact that I am busy and therefore earning, working from home has seen me with even less spare time than I had when I was employed. Here are a few of the concepts I’ve had to come to terms with.

• The household maintenance becomes your responsibility. You’re there, so why should you and your partner take it in turns to take a morning off work to wait for a plumber?

• If you’re not working, you’re not earning, so you work. Those afternoon movies never happen.

• There’s always something you should be doing. You should be marketing yourself, pitching for work and schmoozing clients, even if you’re not on a deadline.

• Friends and family assume you’re not busy because you work from home. You’ll always be the person who has to collect something, drop something off, buy something, research whatever.

• Instead of freeing yourself up from one boss, you’ve given yourself several. You learn to juggle multiple clients with multiple deadlines.

• You take on too much — whether it’s social stuff or work stuff, you drown yourself with too many commitments.

• Admin takes over your life. You’re running your own business: this means you have to pay bills, do the invoicing and generally run the show. This isn’t something that can be done in the last five minutes of every day.

• When you have kids, they know where to find you. You set this whole situation up so that you could be available to them, and suddenly you find that you’re too available. They come knocking at your door to ask you to help with the slightest inconvenience that they are suffering.

Although I’ve learnt that the freelance life is not all roses, I still wouldn’t give up my independence and flexibility for anything.

 

• Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow her at @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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