By August 24, 2015 Read More →

How to be a home working mum…

when the odds are stacked against you.

How to be a home working mum - Lisa Barber, Roots and WingsI always enjoy sharing the experiences of home workers here on the blog, and they are often our most popular posts.

I recommend today’s heartfelt guest post by Lisa Barber, who recalls her struggles to become a home working mum. I’m sure lots of you will relate to her story:

Working from home had not been part of the plan.

I’d had two children within the space of 13 months, recently moved house and lost my last remaining parent. I was post-natal, climbing the walls at home and had completely underestimated just how much of my identity had been tied up in going to work.

The promise of a return to an office was the light at the end of the tunnel in many ways. But the reality was quite different. So I set about carving out a different type of existence for myself. One that would help me to feel alive again and allow me to do meaningful work, on my own terms, from the comfort of my own kitchen!

I poured heart, soul and savings into setting up my sales and marketing Kitchen Table Workshops for self-employed people in helping professions. And there were so many moments I didn’t think I’d make it.

How could I be working this hard, for this long, and still not covering my costs? How will I actually function, organize myself, keep the place relatively clean and tidy – never mind keep this venture on track?

I often wondered if the odds were stacked against me, if I was cut out for the home working option after all. Can you relate? But with hindsight, these three core foundations were quietly moving things into position so everything could unfold exactly as it was meant to.

1. Complete clarity
The juggle for a home working mum is hard — being woken up at 2am to soothe a little one back to sleep, getting a couple of hours of work in before sunrise, feeling guilty for dishing up macaroni for the third night in a row, watching the laundry pile reach teetering heights, the frantic moments before the workshop participants arrive.

Without a point to all this, I’d have thrown in the towel long ago. But clarity about my purpose beyond profit has helped me stay motivated when I’m blubbing into the leftover fish fingers before mustering the energy for the bedtime routine.

I’m doing this work because I want small business owners doing work that helps or heals to connect their care with the people who are searching for it.

And I also want to show up as the kind of mum I want to be. Yes, I could choose a less full life. But by being devoted to work that invigorates me, I hope it will inspire my children to do the same. If I’m unfulfilled, unhappy or distracted, I’m doing the family a disservice. I’m a calmer parent, more playful, more positive if I’m honouring my instincts.

How to be a home working mum - Lisa Barber, Roots and Wings Kitchen Table Workshops2. Laser focus and discipline
I worked tirelessly for months with no return and no clients, paying for childcare for two pre-school children so I could carve out time to get the new idea off the ground.

I self-financed courses to pick up where I’d left off pre-maternity leave and I retrained as a coach and mentor. I took big risks financially. I took big risks professionally.

But when I was working, I was working. That’s not to say I don’t allow myself downtime, I do. But it has no reflection on the number of clients I’m helping. Just because I’m not working for someone or with someone, doesn’t mean I’m not reading, thinking, creating, connecting, speaking, writing or working.

I show up each day at the kitchen table to give my business the focus and attention it deserves. But to make that possible, some stuff has had to shift. Steadfast boundaries are something I’m working on but I’m getting better at saying no to obligation to allow space for things I’m energised by. To allow space to honour what feels right.

3. The smartest ways of spending my time
And the rest has been self-taught. I’ve discovered how to design a kitchen table business that loves me back, that fits in around my household chores and family schedule.

I’ve learned how to attract more clients in ways that are aligned with my values. I’ve found my way, my style. Tested to see what fits, what resonates. I’ve discovered the smartest ways of spending my time.

I’ve found my true home, at home.

work from home secrets

As a marketing teacher and business mentor, Lisa Barber helps self-employed people in helping professions to get the sales and marketing bit squared away. To discover how to help more people and bump up revenue in guilt-free ways, check out her programme of Kitchen Table Workshops and join her Roots and Wings community.

4 Comments on "How to be a home working mum…"

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  1. Such an insightful post Lisa, much of which resonates with my own experience of setting up a business from home. I’ve gone through all the guilt trips of working during school holidays, being very distracted and thinking about my latest blog post or a client’s business when I should be attentively listening to one of my children, or being oblivious to the fact that the TV has been on all day and I’ve only just noticed. But,I always maintain that a fulfilled, inspired and motivated ME, makes a much happier and better mum to my children.

    • Thank you Karen for taking the time to share your own story here. And it’s helpful to hear that your own experience of being a home working Mum has left you inspired and fulfilled. I’m discovering increasingly that if we honour our own instincts then it’s not only good for business, but it’s also the best possible outcome for the family unit too. Wishing you well as this journey continues.

  2. Jo Parker says:

    A fabulous post Lisa. I can so resonate with the ‘fish finger’ and ‘macaroni’ scene. I have been very guilty of serving up what I call ‘easy pleasers’ just so I can swiftly crack on with a answering emails and writing up flower quotes. I try so hard to sound interested in the level they have achieved on their computer game (another guilt trip on its own) but really I’m thinking about how many stems of roses I’ll need for a design! But like you and Karen, I do believe that a happy and fulfilled me will make a happier household all round. Only today I was asking for my boy’s opinions with a new logo design. They were genuinely interested and very helpful!
    I have learnt to say ‘no’ to taking on too much in the holidays so I can be around, and I know they really appreciate it. This part of being self employed I totally love and cherish.
    Thank you for your story Lisa (and Karen) and for taking some of the guilty feelings away!

    • Hi Jo. Thanks for being so open about your own ‘easy pleasers’ (I’m going to use that expression from now on by the way!) I love that your boys get involved with and take an interest in Driftwood and Daisies. It’s rewarding for us as Mums and business owners but great learning material for them too. Great to see you here. Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment.