Friday, May 15, 2009

Dispelling some fallacies.

I was chatting to an office worker friend of mine yesterday and it started coming across that she was actually quite sorely jealous of me both as a happily married woman (she is going through a divorce) and as a work at home mom. She seemed to think that I spend all day playing with my children. Now one of the reasons this attitude irritates me highly is that I know I spend more time working now than I ever did at any office.

Marriage aside, I know many if not all work at home moms have come across this attitude during their work at home careers. Nonetheless, I was quite bemused by my friend's attitude. Now I have a number of unpleasant, stressful issues at the moment myself that I am trying to resolve, but it would never ever cross my mind to say to someone "my problems are greater than yours". I believe that all problems are relative and everybody has different things to cope with. Nobody can judge another's problems until they've walked a mile inthat person's shoes.

But after this friend had almost trivialised what I was saying, the age old "you're so lucky, you get to spend time with your children", came up.

Undeniably there are advantages to working from home, and it's a choice that I made after due consideration. But I have yet to have one successful work at home mom tell me that she is regularly able to spend more time or even quality time with her children. I'm also yet to encounter the successful work at homer who sleeps until 11 am, gets out of bed at 12 and may put in a few hours of work in the afternoon. If you work from home and are successful at it, you're pulling 12 and 13 hour days regularly, and 18 hour days when the need arises. And weekends and public holidays - what are those? I work in South Africa for international clients. They don't have the same public holidays as us and don't care if we are having a public holiday. Two weeks leave? What's that? If I want time off I have to arrange it weeks in advance and then it's not always possible as my clients actually need me to work - they don't have stopgap people who can pick up the fall. And there's no such thing as paid leave. We get burnout, we get repetitive stress injuries and frozen shoulders - and we can't take time off to recover. I'm not denying that office work is also very hard or that there are some undeniable advantages in what we do - we don't commute or pay for childcare. But there are advantages in office work too. You have a regular salary and you have a knock off time. I'm not complaining about it - those of us who choose to work from home know all this before we begin. But weigh up the pros and cons of what you want to do - and give us work at homers our dues.

Office workers, if you want to work from home because you want to spend more time with your kids or think that it's going to give you more freedom, then in my opinion transcription and virtual assistance are not the fields for you - and neither, probably, is any work from home job. If however, you want to work from home because you are entrepreneurial, like to type and are customer driven, and are prepared to put in the hours, then yes I'd recommend it.


Trish said...

How very true Gaynor.
I don't know many Office workers who often work until midnight, and just about every weekend. Quality time with the children is great, but we always have in the back of our mind the work that still needs to be done.

Damaria Senne said...

Your friend made me think of a passage I recently read in a novel. The main character is talking to her stepmother about her dead mother and what she learnt from her.
"Mother once told me that happiness is a choice. If you choose to mope and be glum, you shall be; but if you wish to be happy and determine to enjoy what life has to offer, then you can have that as well. She said that nothing is all good or all bad, that life offers everyone a mix of both—though sometimes it does not seem so, and bad is all we can see in our lives, while in the lives of others we see only good and
feel envy. She said we must enjoy the good despite the bad, else life can beat us down and leave us
hopeless, and that is no way to live." - Love is Blind, by Lyndsey Sands

I hope one day your friend learns the wisdom of these words.

Marion said...

Hello Gaynor from a fellow SBF member.
I'm a work at home mum, although my kids are grown up now. I felt very lucky to be able to make a living and yet be around for them when they needed me.
I think it was the best solution for all concerned, not least because my kids actually saw how hard I worked, and it taught them two things - a good work ethic and an appreciation that money didn't come easily so they weren't demanding children.
The difference now that they've left home is that we (husband is business partner) both put in even longer hours working!