|Ten Tips for Combating WAHM Isolation |
Today's WAHMs (Work at Home Moms) are extremely busy. Between caring for the family and building/growing/running their businesses there is basically no time left for anything else. WAHMs also comprise one of the most isolated groups of the population. Transitioning from working outside of the home to working in the home can be quite overwhelming. While most workers think they'd enjoy the perks, such as working in pajamas or being home when a child is, they forget about the lack of adult conversation, or the office jokes/camaraderie that most people take for granted as just a regular part of their day.
WAHMs need not endure this isolation. There are ways to incorporate others into a busy work day. Here are a few tips:
- While both professional and household productivity is key to the WAHM, consider joining an online group of professional peers. Not only will you have the advantage of company throughout the day -- many groups network via email loops, ftp sites, Facebook, Twitter and instant message -- but you'll also be able to network, ask seasoned work from home vets questions, and establish yourself as a contributor in your field.
- If you're craving time away from the home, consider joining a local business group. Most towns offer a variety of groups and some are specific to women entrepreneurs, SOHO businesses and the chosen field of expertise, like real estate agents, lawyers, etc. It's a great way to network and many WAHMs find that getting out of the house can spark creativity for increased productivity upon one's return.
- It very hard to remember that it's not all about work and family when you're working from home. A busy WAHM needs time to socialize as well. If you want to pull double-duty, enroll in an exercise or yoga class. Note--exercise classes are preferable to a gym where you can turn on your iPod/MP3 player and tune out everyone else. In exercise classes there is typically interaction between the instructor and students before, during and after class. A change of scenery and a healthy dose of oxygen will do both the brain and body good.
- Is there another WAHM in the neighborhood? If there is, invite her to lunch and make it a point to schedule a lunch date at least once a month with others who share your WAHM status. There is already a common bond, and strong friendships could evolve. While working parents and stay at home parents can appreciate some of the daily challenges WAHMs face, no one will truly understand like a fellow WAHM.
- The local Chamber of Commerce is a great source for regular meetings, committees and ventures. Not only can WAHMs network with other local business owners, but they provide members the opportunity to get as involved as they want/feel comfortable with. (Truly a perk for the business mom entrepreneur.)
- It's very easy to get caught up in building a business, but don't forget about friends and former co-workers. Try to connect with a phone buddy or IM buddy on the days that are too hectic to even think of leaving the house. Whether it's a best friend call when sitting at the desk eating lunch, or a quick IM when feeling the crunch, just knowing someone is there to communicate with can be quite helpful.
- It's easy to get too comfortable when working from home. In order to stay on top of industry developments, as time and budget dictates, take seminars. Seminars are no longer only available in person, but most are available via internet and telephone too, offering ease, the ability to learn something constructive for business building, and the opportunity to meet others.
- Being a WAHM is great, but just because the business office is located at home, does not mean the owner can't get out and about sometimes. Depending on the type of business, make it a point to meet and try to secure local clients. It's a great idea to have a diverse business - not all clients online, out of town or local, and a fantastic way to stave off isolation.
- Build some "me time" into your schedule. Do something unrelated to your business or children that gets you out of the house, even if it's just once a week or once a month. Unplug from your electronics and get some fresh air (even if it's just a walk around the block).
- You may be a busy WAHM, but a volunteer activity or two will get you and talking with people. For example, volunteer at your child(ren)'s school on a weekly or monthly basis. You'll be helping the teachers, your kids will love it, you'll get away from your office and be able to talk with other moms.
WAHMs need not succumb to the depression that is often the result of isolation from others for lengthy periods. There are a number of fun, inventive and lucrative ways to be successful at business, parenting and self-care. It just may take a bit of practice.
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