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Remembering What’s Important

pumpkins and squash in a basketIn a few days it will be Thanksgiving here in the USA.

It’s a day we’re supposed to give thanks for all the good things we have been blessed with all year long. When my kids were growing up, we used to let each person, including the children, say out loud what they were thankful for during the year.

It was fun for everyone especially us parents because you just never know what a child will say. I can remember very clearly their serious faces telling us they were thankful for their toys or stuff.

Then I remember as they got older that what they were thankful for changed into more intangible items like family, love, even clean air and clean water.

This year, all of our children have left the nest and are all over the USA. We have one in North Carolina, one in Colorado, one in California and one in Kentucky. Some are married, others in college. We have to share them with the world. They are all living their lives and no one gets a very big break for Thanksgiving anymore.

My own husband only gets the day of Thanksgiving off. I, of course, am fortunate that I can arrange my schedule around theirs and work almost when I want to. But, the world isn’t like that for most people. Most people will probably be working the days leading up to, and after Thanksgiving if not on the day itself.

As I walked toward my computer this morning I had a memory of my daughter Alexandria who had a few weeks when she would start crying just as I walked toward my computer, when she was about 18 months old (she’s 21 now). In those days, I had the computer in the family room because that is where the kids spent the majority of their time. It was both the living-room and dining room, so I could work each time they were busy watching a movie, playing with toys, doing homework or eating their breakfast, lunch or snacks. It worked well for us at that time. But those few months where my daughter would cry each time I walked toward my computer were hard. I struggled with guilt.

Working from home as a Virtual Assistant with children around is difficult. But, it’s not impossible. But, there is not going to be any juggling or balancing when it comes to your business and your family. There are times you’ll have to put your family first, and times where your work will be first. For most of my children’s lives I was a single mom of three. I had no choice but to produce income to take care of us. Earning the income in this manner was putting them first, even when I had to ignore their crying about me being on the computer. Hunger made me realize that any mom can start a business from home and become successful if she understands her priorities.

A Virtual Assistant Mom Must Be Committed to Working from Home

That might sound strange but a lot of Moms think they want to work from home because of the high cost of child care, or because they don’t want to miss out on their child’s growing up years, but  the reality hits them that they’ll still miss out on a few things as a work at home mom if they want to be successful.They realize how hard it will be and waiver.

Maybe they really don’t have to because they have a spouse who earns enough money, or they aren’t good at time management and tend to blow things off in favor of playing blocks with their child or cleaning the kitchen.  One mom who told me she wanted to be a VA kept sending out resumes to places and asking me to be a reference. All of this is OK but they won’t be successful if they’re not committed to the idea of working from home as a business that sometimes has to come first. Every last mom who really wanted to be a VA and showed the commitment necessary that I know has been successful. Only the ones who didn’t give it everything they have aren’t successful.

A Virtual Assistant Mom Must Be Able to Prioritize

Sometimes the business will take priority over the family. That’s just a fact that you’ll have to accept if you want to be successful. If you have deadlines — with the exception of someone being gravely ill, or an uncontrollable event happens, the deadlines should be treated as if they were drawn in blood. If you don’t take deadlines seriously, no one is going to take you seriously as a Virtual Assistant.  Remember, you are usually the one who sets or agrees to a deadline, you can work in a cushion to any deadline if you plan correctly.

As a long time VA myself I have outsourced work to various virtual assistants over time and I’ve discovered a horrible thing. So many moms don’t take their work seriously, and cannot seem to prioritize, working efficiently to get the job done in a reasonable amount of time, on a reasonable schedule. It’s partially my fault as I tend to say “get this done when you can” but often it seems they never can. It seems like everything is first, and the business is last. That can’t happen if you want to have a successful Virtual Assistant business.

In short, if you really want to be a Virtual Assistant and work from home you can, even as a Mom.

But, you have to be ready to treat it for what it is, a business, even a job if you want to become successful.  You have to work at it as many hours a day as you can manage on a consistent basis. You have to get down and dirty and do the work. It’s not just going to come to you. That isn’t to say that you can’t also remember what’s important. You can schedule in breaks with your children. You can schedule in Thanksgiving.

Looking back at my daughter crying each time I went toward the computer is bittersweet. But, I did what I had to do at the time. I set the egg timer and told her, Mommy has to work for this long, when the timer goes off I will play with you for five minutes. After a few weeks she stopped crying completely and would set the alarm herself. Then, she grew up more and forgot about it completely.

I wouldn’t change a thing because my dedication got me to today. All my children are successful, happy, healthy and great people with firm work ethics.  As for me, I’m very thankful for where I am today. Oddly, if not for the children I might not have sought out a career as a VA. I probably would have just worked “normal” jobs. I probably wouldn’t now be remarried, inheriting another child, and in the process of building our retirement home.

Thankful seems like such a small word when my life is so blessed.

About Stephanie Watson

Mom | Wife | Virtual Assistant | Content Strategist
Stephanie has been working from home for over 20 years as a virtual assistant, template bender, and content writer. She's currently transitioning to business coach. You can learn more about her at her website http://www.barrypublishing.com.

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