Being a Virtual Assistant & busy mum - Guest Blog
Guest Blog Post - by Carrie Wright
Being a busy Virtual Assistant and busy Mum!
Before writing this, I had a look at other blogs about being a Virtual Assistant and ‘work from home’ Mum.
What I found was that a lot of the blogs were about Mums with younger children (of pre-school age) who were fitting in their Virtual Assistant work around nap times and play dates during the day. They could then work further into the evening when their husband/partner came home - supporting them with looking after the children or dividing the responsibilities of housework.
I found these articles interesting, but they didn’t relate to me: my 3 children are older - one has left home and is now working himself, and the other two are at senior school – year 10 and year 7.
I am also a single Mum, having divorced 3 years ago. I do now have a wonderful partner, but we have chosen to live separately (13 miles apart to be precise!), so I don’t have the extra support with household chores.
So how does being a Virtual Assistant work for me?
First of all the most important thing is to know the right balance of quantity and quality time for me and the boys. Yes, they are at an age where they are far more independent than little ones, but that age also comes with very different demands - help with homework, lifts here, there and everywhere and worries over friendships, broken hearts, pressure from social media etc.
I need to ensure that I am there for them as much as I would be for younger children, but equally they need to know that there are times I want them to be a bit quieter and understand that I can’t always be available for lifts if I haven’t finished working. However, help with homework or needing to talk about girlfriend issues or friendship problems are a priority – my work is put on hold and I just go back to it later in the evening (even if it means missing my favourite TV programme!).
It is also vitally important to be incredibly organised and focused – which is essentially what a Virtual Assistant should be in the first place! The fact that the boys have to leave for school at 8.30 every morning helps - as I get up at 6.45am to wake them (even though they both have alarms!). This ensures that I am up and ‘raring to go’ rather than tempted to leave the boys to sort themselves out and lie-in til 9 o’clock. In fact by the time they leave the house, I have often already put some washing on and done about half an hour of housework!
Once they leave for school at 8.30 (hopefully with all the right books, kit, correct uniform) I can then officially start my working day with my brain fully in gear (like a lot of people I work much more efficiently earlier in the day) and with approximately 7 hours to go until they come home. I make sure that this is when I schedule as much paid client time as possible - achieving as many uninterrupted hours as I can whilst the boys are at school.
I make sure I have a lunch break, but with no work colleagues to gossip with about last night’s TV with or swap diet tips, it tends to only be half an hour or so. I also have a couple of shorter breaks to clear my brain so that I’m not sat at my desk for too long – and I often do a bit of housework in these breaks to make sure I’m moving around (and it means there’s less to do later on).
By the time the boys get back from school, I’ve pretty much finished my client work for the day. I then try and schedule in a bit of time for catching up my own admin tasks (both for my business and personal), but I don’t worry too much if I can’t do these until later, or even the next day. And if the boys interrupt me it doesn’t really matter as it isn’t client work.
I am then free for lifts to clubs, taking and picking them up from the local park or friends’ houses, cooking tea, plus a few more jobs around the house.
There are of course days where I haven’t finished everything I had hoped to achieve but there are still plenty of hours in the day left if I have to go back to my desk for an hour or so. And the boys certainly don’t complain about eating the occasional Dominos pizza when I’ve got more work to do and haven’t got time to cook their tea!
It is therefore important that you manage your time as effectively and efficiently as possible, but if you take a bit longer than you planned, or you suddenly have to do something else unexpectedly, don’t beat yourself up about it. It is also important to try and gauge early on as a Virtual Assistant how much client work you can and want to handle within an allotted amount of time that fits in with you and your family – so you’re not tempted to take on too much and end up regularly working more hours than you want to.
Being a Virtual Assistant can be a fantastic choice for anyone - with or without children. It gives a huge degree of flexibility to work the hours that fit in with your own lifestyle and family situation, as well as giving you as much quality time as you want and need. Don’t get me wrong, it is hard work and scary at times but overall my only regret is I didn’t do it sooner!