Updated: Jul 12
Relatability and Hope for the Worn-Out WFH Mom
If you’ve worked in an office in the past, specifically in a prototypical 9-to-5 office setting (as I have), you will be used to viewing the 9 to 5 standard North American workday as “the accepted norm” (as I have).
So it follows that when you’re starting your own online business, you'll probably feel it’s expected of you to be sitting at a desk - or otherwise readily available to work on your business - during that time window.
But being a true entrepreneur is not all daiquiris by the pool, like they make you think. Here’s what you might not expect:
Your productivity or “output” might be way lower than before (but, eventually you can do more in less time)
Your flashes of brilliance and insight don’t give a damn what time it is and will show up at random (often inconvenient) times
When you lose external accountability to some other entity (a boss, a company, a deadline, a structure) your inclination to work might take a serious hit
Your time spent “sitting at a desk” might not, in fact, be as fruitful as you’d like. (More like wasting time with online distractions aka “research” and calling it “work”)
Global pandemics change everything
Trying to focus on work when your kids are physically present is super difficult (unless you’re a major fan of screentime - no judgment - you’ll need a plan to keep them out of your hair)
It can be really challenging to focus when there are a zillion to-do’s around your home (your self-discipline will never have worked so hard!)
You might feel frustrated or resentful when non-work things pop up and demand your attention during work time (boundary work is not only useful but suddenly crucial)
You might feel guilty, delinquent, or ashamed for any daytime hours that you don’t spend physically sitting at your desk (you’re a mom! You have so many jobs! You are not delinquent!)
Your mind might feed you a lot of unhelpful, garbage thoughts that can take the wind out of your sails and slow you down (“I’m not doing enough”, “I’ll never get there”, “who do I think I am, anyway?” or my personal favorite: “I’m so far behind!!” -- haha, what does that even mean?!)
Even if you tack on extra work sessions in the early morning, or late-night after the kids go to bed, or try to do catch-ups on the weekend, you might still not shake this 9-5 guilty feeling... unless you’re consciously aware that it’s there
And all of this is totally normal. If you’ve gone through any of the above, you’re not alone.
The reality of blending working life at home with parenting is that you will encounter several obstacles to advancing your own business. Some are external, some are internal. And that’s OK. You build resilience. You keep going.
In fact, I’m here to tell you what I wish someone had told me ten years ago, when I started working for myself from home: you should expect your workday to look nothing like what you were used to in a more formal setting. (If I’d just known that earlier on it would have saved me a ton of anxiety and heartache!)
I’m also here to tell you that there are some solutions, so read on! Also, bookmark this blog, and check out my Instagram, as I continue to share more solutions and insights to these exact mom-problems.
What is the point of 9-5 anyway?
Why is it important to talk about this? Why do we assume we need to be available to others during these times? Why do we act as if we need to be accessible to anyone who wants something from us at any given moment? This thinking has led to a lot of poor boundaries and self-defeating people-pleasing behaviors for too long.
First things first: let’s remember that the 9-5 working model originated at the Ford Motor Company in the 1920s to prevent factory workers from being exploited, and then became law in the 1930s.
Here’s another interesting tidbit I learned: in the 1950’s the idea of trading time-for-dollars originated in the legal profession when lawyers began charging billable hours for every minute they worked on a client’s case rather than charging a fixed fee for a service.
Law firms quickly realized they could make a lot more money by making their lawyers work longer, so they set monthly quotas (which have continued to increase over time, hence making late nights another “norm”). Meanwhile, the concept of setting a minimum number of hours being spent in the office spread to many other fields. (source)
"The Right Reasons"
But, most salaried people don’t make extra for staying later -- it’s become part of our culture to arrive early or stay late just to show bosses how devoted we are (or to borrow a phrase from The Bachelor -- “we’re there for the right reasons” :-) We hope it will be recognized and rewarded later, but we don’t make any extra money.
The point is that as an entrepreneur, you are not clocking and clocking out to meet some archaic or inapplicable quota. In contrast to our work culture, where most people are paid based on the custom of spending a full day in the office as opposed to the actual amount of work they produce in that time, as an entrepreneur, that just won’t cut it.
The hours you put in are simply not as important as the results you produce. Not to your financial bottom line, nor to your sense of accomplishment.
Luckily, it may not take you a full day to produce your desired results, especially if you’ve been doing something for a long time and have amassed a lot of skills.
Note that when you get paid for a result, not an amount of time, it can feel a bit counterintuitive or even a bit weird at first. This can come up when it comes time to charge for something that feels “quick and easy” to you.
Think of it this way: if it takes you 30 minutes to do something advanced that would take a beginner 10 hours to do, does that make the end result any less valuable? No. People are paying you for the expertise and knowledge you’ve amassed, which culminates in some kind of result, depending on what you do.