Tips from a Semi-Successful Work at Home Mom

Aww, working from home. I used to think of it as an unattainable dream. Here's the thing; it's absolutely attainable, but not always a dream. It's work, and actually harder work than any 9-5 job I've ever had. But it has amazing benefits, like being home with my kids and being my own boss.  Do you have aspirations to work from home?  Here are some of my tips to make it work for you!

Define Success.

Okay, if you're rolling your eyes, stop.  Seriously, success doesn't always have anything to do with money.  Finances are usually the top reason for women to work from home, but not always.  And financial success has different meanings to different people, too.  So think about it for a minute.  What is your goal in becoming a work at home mom?  Paying half the mortgage?  Being the sole provider?  Or is it smaller (but no less important), like taking a great family vacation every year?

Maybe your goals have nothing to do with money.  When I started working from home, money was not top on my list of why's.  The money is nice, but it wasn't my goal.  My goals were about independence.  After being a stay at home mom,  talking to other grown-ups and using my brain and skills were two of my big reasons.

If you spend some time figuring out why you're choosing to work from home, it makes every day smoother.  You know where you're going and you know what you need to do to get there. So that's my first tip.  Make a list of why's.  Make a big board of why's.  Hang it up in your house and read it every time you walk by.

Make sure your family is supportive.

This is a big, huge, important step.  If you don't have the support of your family, it's going to be a lot harder to be a work at home mom.  When I first started, my husband didn't understand (at all) that working from home was a really, truly job.  He treated it more like a hobby, which didn't work for me.  We had several talks, a few arguments, and came to terms and it's all been so much easier since then.  I highly recommend having that talk before you start your business instead of the backwards way I handled it.

Do your research.

About everything.  If you're looking to start in direct sales, find out everything about the company and the sponsor you're signing under.  If you're looking to freelance at something, talk to other freelancers about their experiences with companies.  Find out how you get paid, how often, and if there are fees for you.  Talk to your accountant about tax ramifications!  Find out how your taxes work when you're self-employed and make sure you don't have any nasty surprises come April.

Set a schedule.

This is, hands down, my worst subject to give advice on.  I still haven't figured it out, but it's one of my New Year's resolutions.  You have to find a balance between being a mom, a wife, taking care of your house and your kids, and taking care of your job.  For me, that balance usually comes out negative in the sleep category, but I hope you're all better at this than I am. Here's what I'm going to try this year.  Set a limit on how many hours you work on your business in a week.  Give yourself a chore schedule, so that you know when you have to stop working and clean.  Be sure to schedule free time, kid time, husband time, etc.  If you're anything like me, you'll wind up missing out on some of the very reasons you're working from home, so start scheduling from the beginning.

Expect the unexpected.

It's great, being your own boss.  But it also means no calling in sick when your kids are sick.  No vacation pay.  No Christmas bonus.  So, pretend you were a boy scout (or at least a den mother), and prepare, prepare, prepare.  Save some of your income for taxes, to cover vacations and bonuses.  Have a back up plan in place if you have a sick kid on a day when you're meeting with clients, working at a home party, or have a deadline. This is another of those tips I wish someone had given me.  I currently have a fractured right ankle and am unable to work part of my business.  I don't know how I could have planned to break something, but I would have been much better off if I had made a plan to distribute leads I couldn't follow and have my downline cover events.  I have a plan now, but again, learn from my mistakes and make your plans before it happens.  And cross your fingers, that always helps, too.

Enjoy the perks.

If you're in direct sales and your company has prizes, trips, cars, etc., work toward them!  Just like any job, items that show appreciation will increase your job satisfaction.  If you're freelance writing, feel the pride and satisfaction of seeing your name in print.  If you don't want to work holidays, don't.  If you want to arrange your schedule to have the same days off as your husband, do it!  You don't have to ask for time off to attend Christmas programs or watch sporting events.  The biggest perk of all is that you're in charge.  So be sure to see it that way and make your schedule fit your life, not the other way around.

Learn from your mistakes.

And, if you're reading this, some of mine.  You will make mistakes, no doubt.  But just like in life, figure out how to do it better next time and it was worth the oops.

Take the time to redefine.

Okay, remember how I had you define success?  Don't forget that goal, but be open to constantly redefining it.  I started out wanting to be more independent and I've absolutely achieved that.   But that doesn't mean I'm done.  I have new goals everyday and I'm working toward them.  And that, to me, is success.