Part 6: Christian working women - working from home
Part 6: Working from home
I have never worked from home so I decided to ask someone who does and find out what it is like to run a business from home (while homeschooling) and what advice would she give others considering it.
Thankyou Clara for your honest answers and I hope it is helpful for anyone considering setting up a home-based business.
How difficult is it to time manage when running a home-based business?
I have heard of some women who keep their work within certain time slots and that works well for them. To this point I haven't been able to do that and still meet the demands of my customers/workload. This means I have often put in 12-14 hour work days (6 days a week) and I've had to run my household from behind my sewing machine. This is something I've found extremely stressful - and the family has suffered for it.
As a result of these difficulties, at the beginning of 2017, my husband and I decided I should try something new - I should try to schedule my life, basically - this would mean I would have time slots for work and I would try to stick to that schedule strictly.
A month into my work this year we realised that even scheduling my time wasn’t going to work. I had a very heavy workload and without making sacrifices again, the work would not be done in time for the deadlines I had to meet. I began having to work those long hours and manage the house from behind my sewing machine again. My husband and I, after much prayer and discussion, decided I would have to close down part of my business to reduce my workload and enable me to be part of the family again. However, we decided I should meet the commitments I had already made (I had already invested in them, having already bought the supplies required), so I am still today working my way through that list of custom sewing jobs and looking forward to the time when that part of the business will be completed. We are very thankful for the work, our loyal customers and the way the work has provided a little extra income - I’m certainly not complaining about the way God has used my home business. However, sometimes making a bit of extra money just isn’t worth the sacrifice to the family and to relationships and to health.
Is it hard to focus on your home and family whilst running a home-based business?
Yes. I feel I have missed out on some aspects of raising my children, and during my sewing break over the summer I thoroughly enjoyed the luxury of being able to cook and bake and eat a meal slowly with my family, rather than eating super fast and rushing back to my sewing machine as I have done for so long when I’m working. Sometimes when deadlines loom I even eat as I work. It is really unhealthy and my health and family suffer greatly.
It is hard to stay focused on life when you work from home in this kind of business as I have to this point - either you can't put your heart into the business or you can't put your heart into your family - as the Scriptures say, no man can serve two masters (whatever or whoever those masters might be). It is very hard to manage both.
Is it easy to have a day off?
No, it is not easy to take time off when you work full-time at home and have deadlines and commitments that you alone must meet - no employer or employees sharing the load. Just yourself and lots of work. In fact, taking time off can make me feel very guilty, like I’m not being faithful or trustworthy, despite knowing that such thoughts are ridiculous!
Warning to others
Don't do it unless your children can take care of themselves. Do set a schedule for work hours and stick to them - I can’t stress that enough!! Homeschooling and working has been stressful and at times it leads to conflict and children can "act out" when they feel they aren't getting what they need. They feel they are second best to the business, which is distressing. I was ready to give up on working at home by the end of last year. I was strongly considered quitting my sewing business altogether.
My husband and I have spent a lot of time talking it over and that's how we've come to some decisions about work hours and cutting back my business so that I will be only doing one line of work that has to meet the demands of the market, while the rest will be when and IF I have time. And the work I will continue with will most definitely have to be scheduled and preferably never have to meet deadlines that become stressful and impact on the whole family as a result!
Do you think others take women who run home-based businesses seriously?
No, many people don't take me seriously as a woman who runs a business from home. This is reflected in the amount people are willing to pay for things, as you know - no woman would go off to work and work for 50c, $1, or even $5 per hour. No one really says anything to me directly, but I always feel like at least some people look at my work and think I should get a real job. I think there are other jobs women do from home that truly are highly successful. For example proof-reading, I.T., web-based design and other such jobs can easily be done from home if one has the training, and would result in a far better income than I achieve. The only reason I stick to my job is because it's where my skill lies, I enjoy sewing (although sometimes the jobs threaten to take away that joy when it gets stressful) - I'm so thankful the Lord has helped me be able to continue loving sewing and get excited about it even after all of 2016 and the start of 2017 being so very stressful.
On the other hand, there are a few people who think it is great that I am able to work from home doing something I love. Those kinds of people are usually the ones who have become my most loyal customers or encouragers (if they are not able to support my business by purchasing my products). Some who take me seriously have shown me great kindness and have been so encouraging - and those kindnesses and generosities never go unnoticed and I sincerely thank God for such blessings
Is a supportive husband important?
Absolutely, having a supportive husband does make all the difference. I am extremely blessed! He astounds me with the way he is so supportive - the Lord is so good to me.
Do you have time to sew for your family?
No, not really. This past summer I intended to spend time sewing for my family - and I ended up making 3 pairs of shorts for my boys and 1 dress, for which I was thankful. The list I wanted to achieve was much longer than that though. But when it came down to it, I wanted to spend time cooking and baking and gardening and taking care of my family rather than sitting behind my sewing machine, so I didn't sew much at all. I ended up doing 2 sewing jobs over my break as well - 1 small one that was urgently needed, and the other I chose to do as a blessing to the customer who was getting desperate. I never got time to sew for myself, and my children need more clothes made as well - the fact that I never seem to get time for it makes me feel very much a failure to the people I love the most - my family.
"I think someone who is employed for a specific amount of hours - such as part time hours - would be MUCH better off than me. Or someone who is able to say 'no' to customers when the workload is too much (that doesn't seem to be my forte!). Mine is only one story, and I'm sure there's a lot of women who successfully work from home to varying degrees and in various ways. I would think it would be much the same as women who work away from home - some manage it really well, while others don't manage it and even go to pieces sometimes! We're all different and our situations are all different."
One again, thankyou for this, I do hope it is useful to others. xx