How to set Values as a Self-Employed Parent by Kirsty Russell at Positive Special Needs Parenting.
The thought of being self-employed and having the luxury of working from home sounds like heaven to most working parents. Who wouldn’t want to trade in the stressful commute for a more relaxed pace at home? Why keep losing in the work/life balance stakes when you can stack the odds in your favour by working at home?
Unfortunately, the reality of being a self-employed parent isn’t quite as rosy as the dream. The reality is, you trade in one set of stresses and strains, for another. You may no longer need to undertake a long commute to work, but now you can’t escape it, as it’s all around you at home.
You may be relieved to no longer have to call in sick when your child catches the latest bug going at day care. However, that means you now need to meet that deadline with an unhappy child latched onto your side at home.
When you begin working from home, it’s easy to become a little too flexible in how you operate. It seems you have so much more time at your disposal, yet that time can easily get eaten away by sick kids, housework, appointments and school commitments.
Suddenly, you get to the end of the week and you have not even made close to a dent in your to-do list.
So, how can you take control of your life as a self-employed, work at home parent?
How to set Values as a Self-Employed Parent
It’s crucial to develop your own values document and boundaries to govern your work. Think of it as a cross between a mission statement, an employment agreement and a code of conduct document.
If I had my time again (I’ve been working from home for nearly four years now) this is the first thing I would have done as soon as I left my previous paid employment. Developing a values document is a useful exercise for several reasons:
- It encourages you to think of your new working arrangements in more formal terms
- It will give you a framework for accountability
- It helps you think strategically from the start and concentrate on the things that are truly important
- It assists in setting working boundaries, so you are not tempted to work at all hours of the day and night
- It will help ensure you begin your self-employed, work at home career, with a healthy work/life balance
A values document doesn’t have to be corporate or overly detailed – it also doesn’t need to be in a glossy format! In all honesty, just setting aside time to get your thoughts together and develop some broad dot point principles, is all you need to get started.
The point of this exercise is to help you avoid overwhelm, become more focused and productive and set boundaries so you have a better chance to achieve the elusive holy grail of work/life balance.
To give you a practical example, my (very belated!) values document, looks a little like this:
- My core working hours are between 9am and 2.45pm weekdays
- I will not open the laptop after dinner, so I can spend time with my family
- I prioritise paid opportunities over unpaid or contra work
- Where possible, I will try to plan appointments and social commitments outside my core working hours
- I will set daily to-do lists each day to keep on track with my tasks
- Once a week I will check in with my accountability buddy to examine my progress
These are just examples of what you could include in your own values statement. Just ensure it reflects your values and is something you can achieve. There is no point setting yourself up to fail, not when you’re already dealing with a fundamental shift in your personal and professional life.
Believe me, setting aside time to develop your values and boundaries as a self-employed, work at home parent, will go a long way to helping you define yourself in this new world of flexible employment.
How do you set values as a work from home parent?
About the Author
Kirsty Russell is a mother of three, wife of a big kid, writer, speaker and carer. She always has way too much on her plate but she’s learning to juggle with the best of them! A positive special needs parent, Kirsty is dedicated to helping fellow parents find positivity and empowerment, even in the most difficult of moments. At Positive Special Needs Parenting, she share her experiences, creates practical resources and partners with others to provide information, support and advice. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
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