But there was a point in my life where I wanted to raise my game, have a bigger business, secure the long term stability of my company and increase my earning potential, this was the point where I became pregnant in 2007. I wasn’t just doing this for me anymore, I was doing it for my family, and that’s when I first discovered the world of WAHM’s. To begin with I wondered what that meant, then I realised it stood for “work at home mum,” and whilst this is a very ‘to the point’ way of describing many virtual assistants in my position, it isn’t the most cosmopolitan or exciting way to describe yourself as a mum who owns a business, which happens to be home based. (I appreciate some WAHM’s don’t own the business, but this is really aimed at those who do.)
Whilst I do have young children, and I do conduct a lot of my work from home, it’s often essential, I don’t ‘just’ work from home, and I think because being a virtual assistant also goes with the territory of being a WAHM, as in, there are lots of virtual assistants who are also WAHM’S, we may feel we have to stay confined to the home in order to get any work done. Okay, yes we do in many cases, but not all the time, day in day out… This is not the most productive solution, but you can be productive at other times without your children around, this is about making the most out of your situation.
No matter how beautiful your home office is, and how well the kids play at home, it’s nice to get out of it into the outside world once in a while, and not just be a WAHM, be a WFAM – a “Work From Anywhere Mum.” Yes! Why not, why can’t we decide to work from anywhere, we have laptops, iPads, mobile devices, 3G, wi-fi, and satellite Internet, surely we can get a little bit more creative than just begin stuck at home… Now if you have 6 kids this could be a little tricky, 1 or 2 is perfectly feasible, 3 or more is getting into difficulty I think, not sure, I’ll let you know when number 3 comes on the scene, as I only have 2 at the moment, but how about you find other WFAM’s and see if you can work from anywhere as a unit? Many hands make light work. I recently did a post on Co-Working spaces, and while this was a lovely idea for people without children, I think it would be a lovely idea for people with children, just done a bit differently….
Some of you may have your children full time, while they are babies still. This is a good place to start the WFAM lifestyle:
- Step 1. Place child in pram
- Step 2. Exit house with laptop
- Step 3. Go to small cafe and sit outside, push pram back and forth with one foot while baby sleeps and you get to do a bit of work for an hour. Multi-tasking! Another great thing is something called a “baby-sling” – and I sat there for many hours with my little ones strapped to me while they were sleeping, and often while they were awake just hanging out with me, it’s like a hands free kit for mums and the single best investment I ever made as a working ‘new’ mum.
What can I really do while out and about?
It doesn’t have to be loads of time away from home, start with 1 hour, even if you just manage to write a blog post or update your FB page and Twitter, take an audio recorder and dictate your “to do” list for the week ahead, dictate an article or podcast, or the tasks you would like to outsource that week, it’s something, it’s a start, let’s get our thinking caps on here mums, and start small just to get going. Perhaps use this time for personal development, catching up on industry related news, put your business related podcasts on your iShuffle and listen to them, read articles, eBooks and whitepapers offline on your mobile device, there lot’s of possibilities if you think outside of the box.
Choose your tasks and place wisely
Whilst it’s nice to think mums can work from anywhere we have to choose our tasks carefully when outside the home. The other day, I decided to schedule in some time to take my kids to the play-park, (see the video in the top right corner of this post) it’s an enclosed area where they can run around, do very little damage and can’t escape without getting past me, perfect! So I went down, sat on a bench with my iPad, and wrote a couple of blog posts for the following week. No Internet required, and it wasn’t sucking up too much of my attention and I could keep one eye on my kids. Never do anything to intense when working from anywhere with kids, your child’s safety obviously comes first, but there are plenty of places to go with little ones which are safe, I have lived in 3 countries with my 3 year old and we’ve managed to find a few gems for WFAM’s, just check out the tourist information, ask at the schools, and your neighbours where there are some nice enclosed yet fun spaces to take little ones.
Ease Your Kids In.
I will always try to play with my kids or do something with them one-on-one before I say that I am going to do some work while they play with eachother, or eat. I like the rewards methods, and if they play nicely for 30 minutes or an hour, they’ll get loads of praise and a reward, such as a treat on the way home, or they get to choose where we go the next time we go out. I make them a part of my work day as opposed to a hindrance. Also, taking paper and crayons where they can sit and draw at the table in the park for example while you work, is also a great thing, and I tell my son that he needs to help me with my work by drawing a special picture, and he seriously loves to help me work! Stop periodically and thank your kids for playing nicely and behaving, give them lots of praise and tell them they are doing really well. Sometimes when I tell my kids I am finishing and it’s time to go, they’ll want to stay and carry on.
Here is the staple list of things you need to take with you as a WFAM:
- If your child is still in nappies, take some spares
- Baby wipes, lots of baby wipes
- Snacks (for the kids)
- Juice or other drinks
- Small toys which they don’t see or play with very often
- For younger children, a pram, pushchair or buggy
- Your laptop/mobile device/iPad/iPod etc… (make sure it’s charged, the smaller and lightweight the better)
Later when your kids get a bit older, take advantage of the time they are at playgroup, nursery or school, you have all this time now to work, so why not do it somewhere a bit more interesting than your home… There are many bars, restaurants, cafes, shopping centres and other places of interest that you can go to, sit down, have a coffee or lunch and work… You could even go into the middle of a national park or forest and set up your office e.g. open your laptop on a picnic bench, even if it’s things like going through your email, catching up with writing or social media, doing a bit of marketing — I am sure you can think of lots of things you could do, after all you are a multi-tasking super woman work from anywhere mum.
If you can manage to do it at home, you can do it outside the home too.
Do Read Your Kids & Don’t Give Up.
Being a WFAM is a skill you need to develop with practise, and you also have to have fairly well-disciplined children in public, otherwise you will get stressed out and it won’t be enjoyable. Don’t take your children out while they are tired, irritable, moody or simply having an ‘off day’ – you need to read them and judge if it’s a good time to try this out.
I am not saying this is easy at all. It’s hard at first if you’re not used to working outside the home, but it’s also fun, and if you can crack it, it will make life more interesting for you and your kids, who may also be at home with you while you are working. There is a woman who I have listened to and followed her advice on certain things since becoming a mum, and that’s Jo Frost also known as Supernanny. I have been using her techniques with my kids for teaching them how to behave in and outside of the home and they work for me providing I always stay consistent and follow through.