When I had my first child, I decided to start my own graphic design business so that I could stay at home with him. I had worked at a graphic design company for years and was confident about going out on my own. I felt very fortunate that I could work from home and contribute to the household income. However, it didn’t take me long to realize that working from home had some downsides.
I think some of my friends who worked in the corporate world envied me. They probably imagined me moving effortlessly between doing household chores, having time with my baby and designing logos. More often than not, I would be changing dirty nappies, doing laundry and making food with a phone to my ear talking to a client. A crying baby in the background does nothing to reassure a client that you’ll be able to meet a deadline. I soon realized that I would need to separate my work life and home life.
Setting up a home office
One of the ways in which I managed to create distinct boundaries was to set up a proper home office so I could close the door and focus on my work.
I decided to use a virtual phone system so I could manage my business calls from my smartphone. TalkRoute offered me the power of an enterprise-level phone system but I didn’t need to buy or maintain any special equipment. I just had to download their apps to begin making and receiving business calls.
Keeping up to date with the latest technology is helpful as much of it can make working from home much easier, save you time and help you to stay organized.
Get the help you need
I soon realized that I couldn’t do housework, look after my son and run my business, even though my husband was very supportive and helped a great deal when he was available.
I decided to hire a nanny to look after my son in the mornings, told her only to interrupt me in an emergency and focused on my work for the whole morning. This meant I could still spend time with my son in the afternoons and work while he slept. Of course, it wasn’t long before his afternoon nap was a thing of the past and that was a whole new challenge.
House cleaning may take a back seat
Cleaning my house was usually my last concern and only happened when I couldn’t face the mess anymore. I decided that when my business was more established, I could afford a house cleaning service. In the interim, I had to learn to turn a blind eye to some of the mess.
I still felt guilty
When I walked into my office in the morning and closed that door, I couldn’t help feeling guilty. I hate to think about how guilty I would have felt if I had to work in an office the whole day. It took a while for me to get rid of that guilt and realize I was making the best choices for me and my family.
The good parts
The best part about working from home is that you are the master of your own schedule. If my son was ill, I could focus on him and do some work in the evening after my husband came home. There were very few occasions on which I had to miss out on activities involving my child over the years. Looking back, I realize that I made the right decision to work from home, even if it wasn’t always easy.