Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Trials of Working from Home

Posted by Mandy at 6:17 AM
When I started my venture of working from home a year ago, I imagined it would be pretty easy. I'd call clients when Samuel was asleep, I'd keep books after phone calls, and I'd go to do home training sessions when the husband was home to keep the kids. It would be perfect!

At first, it was just this way. I had very few clients to start and it made it really easy to keep everyone straight, visit everyone when they requested, and board their dogs every couple of months. No big deal!

Now, the bitter comes with the sweet! The sweet is that my business is rapidly expanding! It feels like I just woke up one morning and the phone was ringing constantly and my email was blowing up. Praise God! Dog boarding is in high demand and since I also do training, a lot of people love sending their "problem dogs" to my house when they're going out of town for a while in hopes that the dog will be better when they pick him up than when they left. (this leaves me realizing exactly why Cesar Millan always says, "I train people, not dogs..")

I'm having a blast traveling around southeast Arkansas doing in-home training sessions and getting to meet all kinds of people with all kinds of dogs. Being the social butterfly that I am, this is so perfect for me! I've gotten to train huge dogs and their owners and micro mini dogs and their owners... what job could be more fun?!

Then, there's the bitter. Working from home isn't as easy as I thought it would be. Especially with the big kids being home from school this summer. It never fails that a client calls me right in the middle of a fight between the two big kids, or a screaming fit from the toddler. Many of them I know well enough by now that I can answer and explain to them that I can definitely still listen to them while locked in the bathroom while the 2 year old screams outside of the door. Others, I just let it ring and call them back in a few minutes! (can I say how much I love email for this reason?)

Juggling everything at home can be really challenging, too. I feel like the second I put my schedule book or something of importance down on the desk, I go to grab it and it's been moved. This is my husband.. not my children. He is the king of moving things and not remembering where he put them. Lovely when someone calls and wants to know what days I'm available to come train their dogs...

I actually have had to take a break from dog walking over the past month and a half. Partly due to an injury I had from over-exerting myself, partly because you really cannot take 3 children to walk dogs for 2 hours straight.. or longer. I will revisit this part of my business in a week when school begins again.

So, I'm learning. I'm learning that I cannot do everything I'd like to do with my business and still be the mom I want to be. Something always has to give, and for me it's just going to have to be work. For now I can fit in training sessions when Clayton is home with the kids and dog boarding I can pretty much do anytime.

I'm learning how to be more organized with a business schedule. I've never really had to plan ahead my days quite as far as I'm doing right now. I need to know on Monday if we're going to plan to do anything that Saturday or the Saturday after in case someone wants weekend training or boarding. If you know my family, we are fairly spontaneous. We tend to decide to go just when the mood strikes. Now, we're having to become.. planners.

The hardest "at-home" job I have, however, is the job from church. I plan the lessons for the children to do during Sunday School each week. It takes several hours a week to put together two classes worth of work for the big kids and the preschool class.. and that's the hardest time to fit in. I like to dig into a project and stay there until it's finished. I just can't do this in this case. I'm having to learn to focus, un-focus, and then re-focus later. ACK! My poor brain is having to make connections it never dreamed possible...

I definitely would never trade working from home for working away. I love that I can drop everything to get kids from school, have an impromptu walk or bike ride, or fix snacks for the kids. I really feel like I've got the best of both worlds!

Do you have any work-at-home tips? Share them!


Maury on Wednesday, 12 August, 2009 said...

I don't think I really have any tips...when I got overwhelmed working from home, I sent my husband an e-mail (He was in bed, while I was still up working, so this was for him to get the next morning at work) that either we quit the business from home, or he come home and help me...which ended up being the decision we made, and he was home for almost 3 years.

Working from home with kids is very hard....and I ended up being driven to give ours up b/c I got to where I couldn't do what I needed to do for our kids b/c of it.

Just keep in mind that is it is always o.k. to tell someone no, or set your rules, or call back that you can still put your kids 1st. Sounds like you are doing that already, but it is hard when you are excited about your new business, and don't want to turn anyone away. And make sure you are charging enough for your time too!! It is easier to have the higher prices to begin with, than to try to raise them later when you already have a client/referral base.

I remember once I got a call about a wedding, and had been in the middle of bath-time, but had taken the kids out before taking the call. They got to fighting and screaming something aweful, and Rachel was about 1 1/2 and she started screaming...(I had locked myself in my bedroom at this point), but I finally had to just apologize and tell her I would call back later. I came out, and Rachel had climbed back into the tub, all clothes on, and was covered in was WILD~

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