Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Self-employed and working at home with kids: A blog mini series - Profile 2: Tania the photographer (Part 2)

This is the second part of my profile on Tania, a wonderful photographer (and great person!) and how she manages her working and home lives.

9. How much do you rely on your partner to pick up household and child-activity tasks when you are busy with work?

My husband is out of the house for 12 hours everyday. We did compromise over 18 months ago for him to work from home once a fortnight on a Friday. It was mainly because I felt that he was too stressed, and needed to at least have a shorter day at home. He really doesn’t have a shorter day at home, but I think not having to be in the traffic for that one day, and working in the home environment has helped.

I don’t overly rely on him to do much for me, to be honest I rely more on my friends. There has been the odd occasion he has taken the children to work with him for the day if they are unwell. Its a small office environment where he is and his boss loves kids and is pretty alright about it. Its the same deal though, its something you only do if you really have no other choice. If I am desperate or starting extra early I have asked him to work from home and go in a little later, but again its probably only been twice in the past year.

I rely greatly on my husband as my IT man. Without his great computer knowledge. I wouldn't have such an efficient system running, and backing up all my work. There have been times that he has really saved my butt.

The other thing is that he does all of my accounts. He is great with all that sort of stuff and without him I don't think that I would have such a effective business running.

So although, I may not rely on him heavily for his hands on with juggling the kids as such, I couldn't work as well without his great skills to help run my business, so I think he more than gives his share of the household in many other ways and that I am grateful for.

10. How does your partner feel about this?

As long as he can fit something in he’s fine. I really organise all of the pick ups, drop offs, activities. It just seems easier and less stressful than having to run everything by him, when it rarely involves him.

11. How much do you rely on family, friends and community for help when work is busy? Are you able to reciprocate this help in other ways?

I rely on friends for a school pick up generally. I am usually no longer than half an hour out from pick up but it can be a real squeeze to get there on time. I ask, and I do reciprocate the offer, particularly in November and December and whereever else in between I can. I like to make sure that it is an even balance. I think we are all of the same opinion, so it works well. I often call them if I am running close to pick up and just ask if they wouldn't mind keeping an eye out for the boys, but generally I get there in time, but it good to atleast have someone there looking out for them.

12. What do you see as the biggest advantages of working at home when you have children?

I have always wanted to pick up my children from school. I want to know how they are feeling and how their day has been and I think you get one of the best looks at that when they see you after school, and you get the big smile, or a question or they tell you something. I think that's a great advantage. My kids get to see me work a lot. So they know that I am a working Mum but I do have plenty of time to listen to them as well. I like that they see all of that. They see the juggle and that they sometimes see the stress. Its all part of teaching them about working in society.

13. What are the biggest disadvantages?

The biggest disadvantage is that no-one actually thinks you work, when you are working from home. I think most parents at school seem to think that because i can drop off and pick up my kids and don't work for a company, just myself that its pretend. I recently volunteered to help type up some books at school the kids were working on. I set aside a Monday morning. When I went in to check on it, the teacher was saying oh yes well I know that this other Mum is taking a day off work to come in and help so I can't change her schedule because its very generous for her to take the day off work. (I knew who she was talking about. A good friend actually who works part-time but has an important job I suppose you could say) It was actually a day off for her, but I was a little frazzled because I can be flexible that its not considered that I've taken time off, its more I just have some pretend work to do that the fairies do. Aaaaaaaghggghghg!

14. How do your children feel about your work? Do they ever express frustration with the limitations it may place on your time?

The children have sometimes been a bit impatient with my work, but that is usually if I have have to drive around with them to drop off work at a couple of different locations, but I always just negotiate if you help me with this then I will help you later. Thats all part of it, and to be honest I don't feel guilty about that. I think its a good thing for them to see and learn.

15. Finally: Top tips for others who might be thinking of going down this road?

When you have young children it is a perfect time to start contemplating a new career and working from home. Becoming a parent gives us a different perspective on life, and opens the door to new ideas, and beliefs in ourselves. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t miss office politics, slow computers, and inefficiency. I feel very rewarded at the end of not all days, but quite a few days in a year when I am astounded at the amount of work I have gotten through in one day.

If you want to work from home allow your business to grow at the same pace your children are, as they get older and less physical demands are placed on you. Naps times are gone, time concentrate without interruption get longer, seize those times to then build up the business where you can. We don’t always have great control over this, but like anything just try to self manage as best you can.

Try to do everything locally so that you aren’t stretching yourself all across the city.

Never feel guilty about working. I have a number of friends who work from home, one day recently I was having a cuppa with one and I commented on how my husband thinks I am better when I am working, she turned around and said so does mine, and I know I am. I think I am a better mother and wife as well as of more sound mind. I’m sure some of you out there would understand that. Its a deep ingrained independence that is in me. And I love working.

Thank you so much Tania for sharing your insights with me. I appreciate the time you took and the wisdom of your answers!

Profile 3 in this blog mini series will be posted next Monday and Tuesday.

This is post 27 in NaBloPoMo. 27 down, 3 to go!


  1. I love Tania's words about not feeling guilty about working. I started blogging to maintain that little bit of independence that she refers to. #IBOT

  2. Great tips for how to combine woRk and family. Thanks :)

  3. Tania sounds incredible! I've been thinking a lot about this lately. My blog is taking up more time, and with trying to publish a book, I feel a lot like a WAHM and people don't have much respect unfortunately.

  4. so great to read how others manage working from home. Loving the series Kathy!