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Working From Home and "Being Home"

So, evidently, today is take your child to work day. Neither my husband or I realized this until the late afternoon. I joked with him about how slighted our three year old felt that he didn't get to tag along with Dad, and my husband replied that I should take him to work with me. Here Brody! Let's go to Mommy's work. Let's walk into the living room. Ta-da! We're here! Isn't it magical?

That's the reality of working from home. The lines are a little blurred between where home ends and work begins. My computer - which is where I spend 70% of my job - is right next to the family room. It's also the family computer and is usually surrounded by cups, dried bowls of oatmeal from my daughter's breakfast (...the previous morning) and crumbs covering my chair from a toddler who never seems to fill up on popcorn. 

Chance Hammock

I'll admit that mommy guilt and a lack of boundaries is one of the few draw backs towards working from home. When you make your own schedule, it's easy to throw any sort of time organization out the window when your office never truly closes. There's no lights off, door closing and clocking out like a 9-5 where you can physically leave the office and your to-do list behind. When you never shut off work, literally or figuratively, it's easy to feel obligated to answer an email or devote "home" time to clients. I can't tell you how many moms struggle to find a balance between being home and running an at-home business. The questions are always, "How do you do it? How do you find balance?" 

Over the years, it's become easier for me to draw the lines and create work hours in my home office using the thoughts below. 

Having Devoted Office Hours


During the day, I will only occasionally answer an email or put together a quick social media post. My office hours are in the evening, after my kids are in bed. Sometimes that means late nights, but the trade off is I am not obligated to clock in at any time (early in the morning) and there's no commute to and from work. I find I am much more productive when I can sit down and continuously answer emails, post blogs and edit than trying to sneak a minute here or a half hour there during the day. My kids notice when they're being ignored so "mommy can answer this message" and it's important for me to be present when it's their time.

Valuing My Work Time


Friends and family don't always understand what it is like running a business. When you are your own boss, there's no one to pass the blame to when you need to stay in and work. Friends may roll their eyes when you decline an invitation somewhere, because you're the boss. Surely you can't be THAT busy. You should never feel guilty or like you need to blow off work just because you can. I value my work and the time that is needed to devote to it. It's a real job and a real business. No one will take you seriously if you don't. 

Having Devoted Nights Off


There's a difference between blowing off work and making time for yourself. When you make your own hours and schedule, it's important to include days off. Unfortunately in this kind of work-from-home environment, clients don't always understand that. It's easy to think - "Why is she at the movies? My gallery still hasn't been delivered!" Just because one has the ability to work 80 hours a week, doesn't mean they should. Taking nights off to empty out my DVR or wander aimlessly at Ikea looking at ALL THE THINGS actually helps me deliver images faster. Breaking up the monotony of editing makes the work more enjoyable and makes me feel less chained to my desk. 

Managing Client Expectations


Making your own hours, designing your own policies and procedures, building up the frame work of how you want to run your business - this is both a blessing and a curse to being your own boss and often times a one-person show. There's no template for how many sessions to take on each month, how many files you will deliver, and most importantly how quickly you will deliver those images. 

The motto for any good business is "under promise and over deliver". At the end of every session or event, I set client expectations. I deliver portrait galleries in 2-3 weeks. Could I deliver them in 48 hours like another photographer does? Sure. I'd just never have any time to myself, be chained to a computer, begging my kids to leave me alone and ultimately setting myself up for failure. I am a better mom, better wife and better business woman because I don't turn around your images in record time. 

Chance Hammock

Working from home has it's draw backs, but ultimately I could not ask for a better way to be present in my kid's day to day lives than what my business has blessed me with. I volunteer at my daughter's school as often as I can. My son and I get pizza at Costco for lunch (we literally cannot leave until pizza is paid for and in hand...). While it may not always be easy to be an awesome boss lady and a rock star mom, it's certainly worth reaching for day after day! 


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