Working from home sounds like the way to go, right?
It is what many people dream of and what many of us already do.
But it is not simple as many would think, especially when you have young kids. And well it simply depends on what you are doing, what you plan to achieve, and working with all the distractions that go along with home life…
Hi there, my name is Alicia and I am the founder of Wee Rascals (http://www.weerascals.co.nz), and here in an insight into my life. Currently sitting here typing one handed as my 6 month old requires a hug, as she has just woken up at a time when I sat down to start and write this, thinking all was quiet, as my 5 and 3 year olds are off biking with Daddy. Right away you can see distraction is always around, but understand this – I have chosen this path and would not exchange it for anything.
So what is it that I do?
Wee Rascals was founded in 2008, when my first child was just over 1 year old. We had come across Baltic amber teething necklaces and decided that they should be more available to NZ parents. We got our one about 6 months earlier and yes it took this long to realise that many people were not familiar with them. It was really at the start of the craze that we jumped into the market, initially selling through Trademe and at weekend markets. We were then approached by a business interested in selling them and from here the rest was history…
Since 2008 we have added more products to our range, mainly those with a homely feel and quality products that I would be happy to use (and have) and would be happy to have in my home. Now with distribution of our products to over 120 businesses in NZ and distributing them throughout Australia, we have grown to a size where in August 2012, Hamish (my hubby) was able to come and work the business also. This was a very exciting milestone for us, as with our registered business, BJ Creative Ltd (http://www.bjcreative.co.nz), we are now focussing on importing great brands into the NZ market. To be launched in 2013, we have already secured exclusive distribution for the beautiful French brands Vilac (renowned for their lacquered wooden toys) and Pabobo (childhood dream lights), and are talking to 2 other businesses at the moment…
What is our daily schedule?
Basically we work around the kid’s schedule – school, kindy, day care, swimming and jazz. This of course includes drop off and pick up’s for all of the above as well. It is not a 9-5 job, and is not only 5 days a week. We work generally 7 days a week, most nights and at some point during most days. This of course in between the kids!
I really enjoyed the first couple of months that Hamish was at home. Coming from the corporate world, one liners like “How did you get anything done?”, “Is it that time again already (to pick up the kids)?”, “Have you had lunch yet?”, “I can’t ring the customer until the kids are gone? (Rather than simply closing the door)”… all somehow validated for me that it was not an easy task, and that he understood now how hard it was to do the most simplest of things when the kids are around you wanting your attention. He also made the comment that he was more tired than he was when working in the corporate world, and this was because he is up later, as he spends much of the day with the kids instead. Again validating all my yawns!
Now that Hamish is at home working, it allows for more interactive communication regarding the business. We have been able to strengthen our foundations, which is important for growth; and focus more readily to get things done. Generally, he will get up with the kids, an early riser – lucky for me, as I am more of a night owl… Make their breakfast and get them ready and off to school and kindy… I will generally rise about 9am with our 7 month old in tow, and head to the computer to start work… yes generally in my pj’s too.
Although 9am sounds luxurious, I am generally up in the night feeding our youngest and working until the wee hours of the morning as more concentrated work can be done once the kids are tucked up in bed and the house is quiet. There is also no distraction of the phone ringing so often work is more focussed. It also works well for our business too due to the time difference as we communicate with overseas businesses a lot. Hamish also does most of the pickup runs, as he loves this, having missed them for the past few years, but after school activities are either for me or we do them together if we can watch. This is really rewarding for us and our kids.
Our tasks to name a few include – sending out orders, updating and developing the websites (we have 5 of them), web surfing to find unique brands and products, keeping up to date with the Wee Rascals Facebook page, marketing and advertising, strategic planning, finance and accounting, communicating with our Agents in NZ and Australia, arranging orders from our suppliers, shipping and freight logistics….
Work is done in broken time frames and unlikely to be on a set schedule. More work is done at night or when littlies are asleep if that is an option… You are no more rested than if you worked off site, as with your business at home, you are always thinking about it… turning off is harder to do, as you want it to work the best it can so you can have those cherished moments with your kids. My desk is a constant mess and I hate that! As it is in our kitchen…. and most of our products are strategically shelved in the master bedroom and lounge, which I also hate as with a growing family there is not much space already… but we make it work!
I think if you asked any parent who worked from home they would generally say the same thing… the time with the kids is awesome and knowing that you can take them to school and pick them up, go and see their performances or watch their afterschool activities, no matter how hectic the rest of the day is, we would not change this for the world. Knowing that you can drop everything (more or less) to be with them during this exciting time in their lives means the world to me too, I could not imagine going back to the corporate world and missing this.
In short, I think being a work from home parent is no easier than working in an office. You still have long hours, workloads and deadlines. The benefits however are that you can plan your own day to suit the needs of your children without the fear or hassle of having to explain this to a boss, but the work load is still there, just as important, if not more important as your work somehow is now the foundation for your way of life…