Do the people you care most about support your work-at-home life?
Do they understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it?
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If not, it might be time to tackle the issue head on, so you can get on with the work you love and so your loved ones understand how important it is to you.
I’ve been a solo business owner on and off for about five years. Before that, I was a telecommuter and freelancer for many years. Working from home has been wonderful, but, if I’m honest, it’s also led to some of the most painful and difficult moments in my relationships. It’s not something that is talked about much in a public forum, but it is a significant issue for many women who work from home.
Last week I asked other work-at-home mums what comments have been thrown their way by well-meaning family, friends and partners. Some were just off-the-cuff remarks that could have been phrased better, but some were downright hurtful.
Many women are lucky and have partners who not only support their ventures but who get involved, but here are a few of the things partners/loved ones have said that can really wreck someone’s day:
“What are you doing all day that you can’t clean the house? You do nothing.”
“You should be watching the kids play in the park, not playing on your iPhone.”
“It’s a good thing I work nine to five, so you can work on your hobby business.”
“You shouldn’t be posting photos of your kids in your products (baby clothing). It’s like you’re using them to promote your business.”
“You’re never going to make any real money doing that!”
“You’re just wasting your time.”
“When are you going to get a real job?”
Sadly, there are many more examples I could cite.
The thing is, as work-at-home mums, we juggle a lot and it can be hard for our partners and family members to understand just what working from home means to us.
For me, I not only work from home but I also home educate three children. I’ve been doing this for the past five years. The main comment I get these days is “How do you work and homeschool?” It’s not a negative comment, but the inference is that I must be neglecting my kids’ education if I am working and running a successful business as well.
When this happens, I use it as an opportunity to educate people about how to leverage your expertise rather than your time. It’s an important lesson for anyone who runs a solo business and one I teach in the micro business mentoring programs I run.
If your loved ones are saying things that leave you feeling bad about your work at home life, it’s time to turn that on its head and start communicating how you feel.
Sometimes hurtful comments come from a place of feeling left out or neglected. Sometimes all it takes is a listening and empathetic ear to break through the words and get to the core issue bothering the other person.
Sometimes, though, the other person may be stuck in a different paradigm where work means doing the daily grind in a nine-to-five job. The thought that work can be fun is foreign to worker bees who think that work has to be hard, long and unenjoyable.
My husband never really took my work seriously until I started making enough money to pay tax. I noticed he stopped complaining when he saw dollar signs, but it didn’t make me feel much better. I still felt misunderstood and undervalued.
However, I realised that I had to stop relying on external validation to feel good about my work. I had to let my husband and anyone else who had flung criticism my way, off the hook.
If you love what you do, and it makes you happy, communicating with those who don’t really get it can make the difference between feeling crappy and feeling understood. Who wants to waste energy on addressing negative Nellies? I sure don’t.
And, if you’re really struggling with the opinions of others about your work-at-home life, it also helps to jump onto forums and social media communities for moral support.
Other people’s issues don’t have to rule your life as a work-at-home mum. When you let them go, you’ll feel so much better.
Has anyone said anything hurtful to you as a work-at-home mum?