My guilty secrets as a work-from-home mum
From the comfort of her bed, Heidi Scrimgeour sits up and offers her top 10 WAHM tips
I am a WAHM -- a work-at-home mother -- and I have a guilty secret. I'm writing this while wearing my pyjamas, snuggled up in bed -- my favourite place to work -- on a chilly Tuesday afternoon.
I've eschewed the rat-race and the horrors of an early morning commute in favour of self-employment and a freelance working life. Instead of bracing myself for a day of office politics after the school run, I head back to bed -- laptop propped jauntily upon my knees -- and ease myself slowly into work mode in my customary fashion, cup of tea in hand, listening to the radio.
Confessing any of this to the average working mother does little to win me friends and my mates with office jobs admit they're green with envy about my work life. Yet a survey conducted by mumsnet.com and energy firm E.ON has just revealed that being a WAHM is not as hassle-free as it appears.
One-third of the 892 women questioned said they struggled to juggle a home-based career with looking after children and 47pc of the respondents admitted that they worried about keeping their working hours under control.
Mumsnet compiled a list of suggestions to help women handle working from home, recommending regular breaks, a strict routine and a working space separate from the rest of the household.
That inspired me to share my own top 10 tips -- tried and tested -- for how to make working at home work for you.
1A dedicated workspace with a door that separates work from family time is a luxury that not every WAHM can afford. I'm writing this from my 'hoffice' (home office), which is basically a cramped corner of the kitchen.
So don't worry if you can't easily separate your work space from your home -- the advantage of squishing them together as I do is that pretty much any time I set foot in the kitchen I can commend myself for my commitment to my workplace.
2Working from home can be lonely and isolating, so virtual friendships are a must for making sure you don't go stir-crazy. Already this morning I have swapped recipes with one such buddy (banoffee pie for white chocolate cheesecake) and compiled a comprehensive list of the pros and cons of marrying Ryan Gosling.
3Sticking to designated working hours can be a challenge for the home-worker, which makes it difficult to avoid interruptions from other family members. So take the batteries out of your front door bell, and invest in headphones.
4Mumsnet recommends making good use of technology, such as smartphones, to increase flexibility. Indeed, thanks to my phone, I can technically still be at work while eating ice cream on the beach with my kids.
5Devise workable, reliable childcare arrangements. It is nigh-on impossible to have a productive day at your hoffice at the same time as looking after children. So keep an emergency stash of sweets and some Scooby Doo DVDs somewhere handy.
6Never waste valuable working hours on non-essential household chores, such as putting away the laundry. Let it pile up until there's enough to justify a mammoth session of sock-sorting while you catch up with your favourite TV. That way, you can enjoy some well-earned down-time from work whilst bemoaning how difficult it is to 'do it all'.
7Hunching over your desk all day isn't healthy, so be sure to make time for exercise. Going for a run is a fantastic way of keeping fit and boosting my productivity, but half-an-hour of trying really hard at Just Dance on the Wii is even better.
8Eat well -- stock up on a wide variety of biscuits for a balanced diet.
9It's important not to give potential clients the impression that we're part-timers who work from our beds. If you do take the afternoon off to jump on the trampoline with your children, always activate your out-of-office notifications and be sure to imply you're busy signing a six-figure book deal.
10Three-quarters of the mums surveyed said working from home meant more washing up and higher energy bills. To combat this I use the same mug all day and eat biscuits from the packet.