I don’t want to sound disrespectful or say all this in a babying tone, but work at home jobs do involve work. I can’t tell you the number of times that people will say, “oh, but you can get so much housework done when you’re working from home.” Or people will expect me to be able to look after their kids because I’m fortunate to work at home and be there when my kids have a sick day or a day off.
That’s not the way it works. The clue is in the name “work” at home. I’m literally sitting at my desk typing this as we speak.
Yes, I have a desk. My computer, my diaries (I have multiple for different projects and needs) and everything I need are on my desk. It’s all set up to make my life as easy as possible, to remain focused on work.
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But you can do housework
I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I do some housework during the day. However, I do it as a break from the computer. If I was in the office, I’d likely step away to make drinks for the team or just to stretch my legs. At home, I step away from the computer to give my eyes and hands a break and get some of the washing up done from breakfast (and sometimes from the night before because we’ve all been lazy).
However, I don’t spend hours getting those chores done. I look for tasks that will literally take five minutes to do. Sometimes I run the sink and get the odd cup washed while that happens. Then I leave the hot water to cool down and the odd item to soak before going back to it 30 minutes later to get the rest of the washing up finished.
Or sometimes I put on a load of laundry to get that out of the way. Or I’ll quickly pick up the mess that the dog has left from throwing his toys around or just get him out for a quick walk before his longer one at lunchtime.
Everything is a quick job and then I’m straight back to work. I have timers set to make sure I don’t procrastinate!
But you can look after the children
During the summer or on sick days, I do look after my own children. But I plan for that. When I work at home, I’m working. That means I can’t look after the children at the same time.
I’m fortunate that I have two fairly mellow children. They know how to entertain themselves, and they will play together. Unless I’ve arranged to take the day off and everything has been organized in advance, I’m not looking after anyone else’s children. Most of my friends understand this, but there’s always someone who thinks they can get free childcare at some point in the summer holidays.
Quite honestly, children get in the way of work. I have a lot of interviews during the week and I need quiet. If my children happen to be at home, they know to be quiet during that time—and yes, I’ve been known to give them the iPad for a short period of time so they can watch Netflix and not disturb me. If I’m disturbed it can make it impossible to get interviews and do my job in the future, and I’m not risking my job for others.
But you get to watch TV
Okay, for me, technically this is true. Because of my job writing about TV shows and movies, I do tend to watch a lot. During my day, I tend to have screeners on or a Netflix show running in the background. Usually something that I’m writing about. On an evening, I will sit on the couch with my “comfy setup” so I can watch and write at the same time.
However, I’m more of an exception. And there are times that I’ll need complete silence to work. There are some clients that have nothing to do with the Entertainment niche, which means I won’t be watching anything while doing their work.
Most of the time, when you work at home, you’re not going to be sitting in your PJs watching trashing daytime TV. That’s just not the done thing. People who work at home get it. They know the TV is off while they’re doing whatever their job is.
Getting support when you work at home
It’s important to have some people in your corner who understand your job and that you need to work. Recently, someone asked me if it’s possible to make enough money to support a family doing what I do. Of course it is, but it does require diligence and commitment. And you know what she said? “Well, it’s work. Of course, it does!” This is someone who gets it.
There will be people in your corner. Some of your friends will stick up for you when you say you can’t watch the kids because of work. A good spouse will understand that you’re not doing the housework because you’re working.
Sometimes, you may not find people in your physical life that understand. This is when online groups are really important. I hired a freelance writing mentor after a few years of going alone, and it was the best thing I did. I’m now in a couple of business groups on Facebook and I have an accountability partner. These help me get focused and to just rant when someone in my life doesn’t understand that “work at home” means I’m working!
Do you work at home and struggling with the working part? Do you struggle with others not understanding that you’re working? Share your thoughts in the comments below.