The Internet Home Business Magazine for Moms & Dads

Weekend Conversation :: What’s the Worst Part About Working at Home


Last weekend you all ranted and raved about living the good life as work at home moms and dads. Hopefully we inspired one or two people along the way to consider coming over to the dark light side with us. ;)

But as Wendy H pointed out earlier, there tends to be some romanticism about working at home - and I think we all know full well that sometimes running a home business isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, I’ll reiterate that if you can’t balance work and home life well and keep yourself motivated and productive, working at home can put you out of business.

I get questions about challenges people are facing all of the time. Things like having a skeptical or unsupportive spouse, time management challenges, childcare issues (not unique to us entrepreneurs, of course), and many other things.

What’s my biggest challenge while working at home?

Well, there are quite a few challenges I have had in the past. After 7 years of experience in a home office, thankfully they don’t bother me as much as they used to. But today I still wish it was harder to walk away from work - both physically and mentally. Even when I’m off taking down time, my mind is still working on ideas, site optimization, and ten other random strategic business decisions.

I really only get a break when I’m either on our boat with the family or reading Harry Potter. It’s an area I’m constantly working to improve.

So what do you think is the worst part about working at home?

Thanks to 45n5, Randa, Jordan, Stephanie, Windyridge, Melissa, Kelly, Katie, Holli Jo, Aruni, Laura, Steph, Suzie, Mother Earth, Grant, Susan, Mark, Alex, Nathania, Hoto, SpokaneMama, and Miss Lingerie for sharing the best parts of working at home last week!

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    On October 13th, 2007 at 8:20 am, Chris said:

    The solitude. Sometimes this is a good thing, but other times it would be nice to bounce ideas off someone or show someone something you got excited about accomplishing.

    On October 13th, 2007 at 8:57 am, Naomi Dunford said:

    Hi there,

    I just ran a contest in my blog asking what people’s greatest challenges were in running their own business from home. I got some great replies, over forty of them, but it seems like time management is the biggest.

    I know for myself, I thought I was good at multitasking until I started working for from home. Then I realized how little I knew. Having a bunch of clients in a bunch of different stages at the same time as getting new clients and keeping up relationships with people who might be clients one day - wow! And that doesn’t even include anything to do with home, husband or baby. Nothing at an office ever even came close to that much multitasking!

    I’ll be interested to see what other people say are their issues.

    Thanks for the great question!

    On October 13th, 2007 at 9:19 am, Laura said:

    Another good question Wendy!

    For me I think the worst part of working at home is having people assume that you’re not doing anything. I know that it shouldn’t bother me, but it does.

    No matter how many times I explain that I have projects and deadlines, I know that I’m the first one people call when they want someone to run an errand during the day or if the school is looking for a parent volunteer. This never happened when I went to an office everyday.

    It’s difficult, because I do want to help sometimes (especially at the school) so I don’t always want to say “no.” However, if I say “yes” once it seems to reinforce the perception that I have all this free time.

    On October 13th, 2007 at 10:16 am, Kelly said:

    Wow… I am trying very hard to warm up my brain on a Saturday morning to come up with something I don’t like about working at home.

    The best I can think of is that there’s a lot of bookkeeping involved that I don’t care for (hate hate hate) - but that’s about the be dealt with through outsourcing ;)

    On October 13th, 2007 at 10:32 am, Linette said:

    The hardest part about working at home for me is I feel guilty. I feel guilty for working, especially when my son is home. I tend to work late at night or early in the morning, and little chunks of time throughout the day. I always worry he won’t think I spend enough time with him.

    This bugs me even though I know if I worked outside the home he would spend several hours in daycare a day, and I would spend even less time with him.

    On October 13th, 2007 at 11:39 am, Courtney TURTLE said:

    I hear ya Wendy! I work at home in real life (telecommute really), and I have a hard time putting the work down. It is just to easy to think of an idea after supper and head down to the office and lose a couple more hours.

    The worst part is I think the neighbours must think I’m a bum!

    On October 13th, 2007 at 12:21 pm, Jenni Hunt said:

    Finding balance… I love what I do - and although I love my family so much more, I struggle with finding the right balance.


    On October 13th, 2007 at 1:41 pm, Suzie Cheel said:

    That’s the one Wendy BALANCE. Here I am 5 am Sunday AM doing all the last minute things before we head to China tomorrow.I will know for a week what having kids is like with a 4 year old nephew and 15 mths neice. I doubt I’ll be visiting here regularly.
    Lying in bed reading would be a great option or even still asleep!

    Like you, never really being away from it, I sometimes wake up with an idea for a blog post, it does get to dominate my life.

    But I love it, and in the near future see more time for holidays and more fun and what we all seem to be striving for BALANCE

    On October 13th, 2007 at 1:55 pm, Alisha said:

    I started working at home when my son was just 1 1/2. Someone had contacted me asking me if I was able to work and that I would only have to go in to the office at least once a week. That was a dream for me! Or so I thought.

    After about a year, it became harder as my son got older because he was demanding more and more of my attention, because I was right there.

    Whenever I went to the office to work it was easier to concentrate on just work.

    I love my two kids, but it can be hard to get any work done at home with little ones.

    On October 13th, 2007 at 4:31 pm, Gaida said:

    Having to be disciplined that you are ‘working’ from home. I’m sure my neighbours also thought I was living the easy life.

    My biggest obstacle is my teenage son..especially during holidays & sharing the computer. He just laughs at me when I say I need the computer to work. A laptop is definitely on my wishlist. But there are also programs on my main computer that can only be worked on from there.

    And as Courtney said.. When that idea hits & you just have to get to the computer…time gets away. I carry a small notebook in my bag to jot down ideas when I’m out or at home.

    On October 14th, 2007 at 6:49 am, Neena said:

    I am a full time mom and a part time blogger. Squeezing in blogging time is difficult. Since I am just getting started, my family and friends consider it to be a hobby of mine instead of work. Getting people closest to me to take my blogging seriously is the hardest part of working from home.

    On October 14th, 2007 at 9:56 am, Melissa Moog said:

    Great topic! I’ve been working from home for 6 months now and I agree that the toughest thing is being able to draw the boundary b/w work and family life. Unlike commuting to an office everyday and being able to leave your work there……it’s much harder with a home based biz since you’re office is right next to your bedroom! :) But I still wouldn’t trade being my own boss, having a flexible schedule and working from home for the corporate life again. I feel very lucky to be able to work at home and also watch my 15 mo old toddler.

    On October 14th, 2007 at 10:15 am, Melissa Garrett said:


    Even though family can be the best part of working from home, it can also be the worst. I pretty much work when I can (that’s the only way I earn income, right?!) but my family doesn’t always understand this. I’m lucky that my two older kids are in school, but I also have a toddler at home 24/7 who doesn’t always take a nap during the day. And my husband (God love him) is not always supportive about entertaining the kids when I need to work. And if I need to work at night when the kids are asleep, my husband wonders why I am not spending time with him. I love being my own boss, but I would also LOVE to have an office, outside of the house, where I could retreat for about six hours each day.

    On October 14th, 2007 at 10:18 am, Mother Earth said:

    on a personal level it’s some of the habits that have snuck their way in - one that i am determined to change (and it’s now 11 am )is to get out of mydang pajamas — I find i am scrambling into a shower often at 3 and it feels sortof slouchy and skeeezy - very unprofessional feeling

    I agree with the think the leaving the work at home part also — hard to sometimes walk away from it all

    Mother Earth aka Karen Hanrahan

    hey wendy - did you see I am an SOB!!!

    On October 14th, 2007 at 10:42 am, Dmarie said:

    For me the challenge is in setting aside time for myself. As a single parent of a middle schooler all my free time seems to revolve around building my businesses, some of which are in the infant stages. When my son goes to bed there’s nothing to keep me from working from 10pm til all kinds of crazy hours. I try to limit myself and get to bed by midnight, but when I’m on a roll and my brain is fired up, sleeping is the last thing I want to do. If I do the ‘wee hours of the morning’ thing more than 2 days in a row, I pay for it during the day though.

    On October 14th, 2007 at 10:48 am, Char said:

    The worst part is definitely educating my family that I cannot work and do dishes, laundry, entertain, run their errands, be their secretary, etc all at the same time.

    As a result I have had to make it very clear to them that during my work hours I work and when I’m not working I will do all the other stuff (with their help).

    The other thing I don’t really like about working from home/being my own boss is doing the admin stuff that goes along with it.

    On October 14th, 2007 at 1:03 pm, Grant Griffiths said:

    Excellent follow-up post Wendy. In fact, it really got me to think about the same questions so I posted about it too. Great minds think alike. The same benefits of the home office can also become a curse. We have to learn and set rules to establish a work-life balance for both us and our families if a home office is going to work.

    On October 14th, 2007 at 2:04 pm, Holli Jo said:

    Great question! It wouldn’t be fair to only list the positives of working from home.

    The worst part of working from home for me is the unsteady income. For various reasons, I quit my full-time job to try and make it as a freelance writer. So going from a full-time salary to a (for now) smaller and unpredictable income.

    The other things have already been mentioned - working too many hours, not showering before noon (or later!), and the ‘admin’ side of it.

    So though it’s worth it, it’s not always wonderful!

    On October 14th, 2007 at 10:01 pm, Stephanie said:

    I asked questions like this on my forum a while back. They’re fun and they still get answers!

    I think the hardest thing for me is the interruptions. My son especially is at a phase where he wants constant attention. It can be hard on days when he takes a minimal nap then wants to do things with Mommy all day.

    Then combine that with the constant feeling like I should be working even when I really should be taking time off. I’m great for giving myself guilt in both directions. But when I really think about it, I think I have a pretty fair balance going.

    On October 15th, 2007 at 7:14 am, Karen Putz said:

    For me, it is the social isolation. I currently work at home as a writer for a writing company. My previous work from home jobs had me out in the community on a daily basis. I don’t think I’m going to last long writing from home as I’ve already applied for another job that will still allow me to work from home but travel as well. (Oh, and a steady paycheck!)

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