Teena Antony is one of our senior writers and she shares her experience as a work-from-home writer cum mother.
I enjoy working from home. Yet…There is this graphic art that floats around in Facebook about a woman and what various people think about what she does with her time. I would like to hug the artist. Why? Read on…
A day in the life of a work-from-home content writer
It’s 7 in the morning. Suddenly amidst the pots and pan making a din all by themselves in the kitchen while making breakfast for the family, A: “Can you pay the electricity and water bills today?” B is up and brushing her/his teeth: “I have ordered for something from Flipkart. Will you be here to take the delivery?” From the bathroom C shouts: “Where did you put the clean towels?” And from somewhere inside the cupboard D pipes up: “I am late, and I don’t like chapathis”. After the volley of questions, complaints and requests there is absolute silence for 30 minutes. Then, “trrrr!” rings the phone. “Madam, would you be interested in a short-term loan plan from ….” Sigh! And E trills: “What should I feed the baby now?” The mobile phone rings and there is a message from F, “You need to re-write the last section of the article.” And then, the door bell rings, “Madam, we have absolutely beautiful saris that can be worn in any weather”. Me: “Really, will they make me invisible, deaf and mute?”
The challenges a work-from-home writer faces
And that was just till 10 o’clock. Maybe what I just described might not be what happens in every home, but it does happen at my place. So, would I want to take a plane and fly all the way to Timbuktu? Some days the idea is really, really tempting. But then again, sadly I do not have the bank balance to do so.
Now to come to the point – the challenges I face as a work-at-home-mom/wife/sister/daughter/boss/web content writer:
1) Time: People think I have all the time in the world. And yes, I do have all the time in the world, just like the rest of the world. I just spend it making sure that the house runs, may be not perfectly and may be not as spick and span as Good Housekeeping would have me do it. The point to remember is that the house functions and people are alive.
2) Ok, so once in a while (or probably always) when A comes into the house, I am on Facebook playing Dragoncity. What, A, B, C or for that matter D, does not realize is that while playing Dragoncity, I also have a word document open simultaneously in a different window. That brings me to the second point. You need to be efficient at multitasking if you want to work from home. Sometimes, I am composing an article when I am hanging up clothes on the line. And sometimes I am writing memos to myself while grocery shopping. You need to have a place marked out for yourself at home, and make sure that you work at designated times, or housework, social calls, doctors visits and what-nots will pile up and push over your official work from the bottom of your to-do-list (one would think it would be easier to push off something from the top of the list. Believe me, it is things at the bottom that fall off.)
3) The third, you have come down in the world from a professional, efficient executive/researcher to being a (I hate to use this term) Housewife. No matter how much I try to dress it up or object, the rest of the family thinks of me as an over-educated, lazy, unemployed, badly-dressed woman. The most difficult aspect of working from home is dealing with the puzzled and disbelieving looks given to you by the other “working” women and men in the family. Unless you are extremely enterprising and working like a zombie 24/7, you do not make the same kind of money made by the business women and professional men in the family and your friends. You are constantly fobbing of suggestions to join a real work place and earn some real money.
4) The fourth challenge, nobody to talk to. Having a spat of messages flying between you and F does not count as conversation, nor does baby talking to your child(ren) count. You end up sitting in the room designated as your work area, often on your bed with a laptop table and do not move unless there is a dire emergency like a pressure cooker telling you that food is getting to the stage of being over-cooked. Calling up a friend to have coffee does not work, because most of them have 9-to-5 jobs and cannot meet you during the week, and at weekends they have to catch up with their families and children.
5) The fifth challenge is that of letting go of one’s body image, dressing styles and so on unconsciously. You do not see very many people and you go to a wedding and realize that you are wearing a salwar-kameez from last year’s catalogue while the rest of the people have moved on to new clothes and make-up.
6) And, the final drawback of working from home: I am all dressed up and ready to take the town (or the village) by fire on the weekend, and A, B, and C are dead tired after their hectic week and wants to stay at home and watch TV. BOOHOO! My extremely out-fashioned make-up is all runny and my lips are pouting in an extremely unbecoming manner at my disappointment. Then, A decides to take pity on me and take me to (sigh) Auchan for grocery shopping.
Now, these are some of the most obvious difficulties of being a Work-from-home-woman. I use the term woman, because I chose to work from home not just because of being a mother, but for various other reasons. While the difficulties may not appear to be much, they are!
At the end of the litany of complaints, will I continue to work from home? The jury is still out on that one! 😛