There’s nothing quite like having children to throw a major spanner in the career works. If you’ve been thinking that you want to become a virtual assistant there are lots of factors to consider.
I don’t know about you, but everything I valued most about my job – status, fancy office, after-work drinks and the shiny high heels – became COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT the moment I met my first bundle of joy. From that moment on the only thing that mattered was how I could provide for my family financially, while also being around as much as possible to watch them grow up.
Everything I valued most about my job became irrelevant the moment I met my first bundle of joy
Whenever I speak to fellow mumpreneurs, their over-riding WHY is often the freedom they have to shape their day around school pick-ups and holidays, which is so hard to achieve in a traditional 9-5.
If you’re a PA, EA or Office Manager about to start the most amazing and challenging job you’ll ever have, you might be dreaming of what you can do to be there for your family once your maternity leave is over. Becoming a Virtual Assistant is a great choice for mums looking for greater flexibility but it also comes with its own challenges.
So let’s explore a few of the Pros and Cons in becoming a Virtual Assistant, if you’re looking for work that fits around your new family.
Pro - You get to set your own hours
Being a Virtual Assistant means that you get to decide which days and times you work for your clients. So you have the freedom to pick the hours that fit around your family commitments.
No more breakfast or after school clubs, if you don’t like the idea of your children spending extra hours at school or nursery.
Con - You might have to work evenings to make up for the hours you've missed during the day
This can be a tough one if you like to spend QUALITY TIME with your hubby or partner after the children have gone to bed. Chances are he’s also had a tough day at work and wants to enjoy a few episodes of the latest Netflix must-watch show with his other half. He might feel a tad put out when you open up your laptop and go back into work mode.
But you might find that the hours between 7pm and 10pm are golden for you to spend valuable time on your business, especially when your children are very little and high maintenance during the day.
Pro - You get to work from home
If you love the idea of working in your slippers and Pjs and not having to waste precious hours of your life STUCK IN TRAFFIC, then being a Virtual Assistant will be ideal for you.
Working from home also means that you can spend your lunch break catching up on other fun jobs like preparing the evening meal or tackling the family laundry mountain.
Plus there are no issues with not being able to get to work on snow days, although school closures might still put a stop to your productivity.
(I didn’t say the Pros were necessarily going to be glam but it’s still a perk of the job!)
Con - Some people can feel isolated working from home
A lot of new parents say that the biggest challenge they faced after they brought home a new baby was adjusting to the ISOLATION of being at home alone all day. I know I found it really tough going from a vibrant office, surrounded by friends and colleagues, to sitting on my own with a mute baby 14 hours a day.
For some people, getting back to their 9-5 is a welcome relief
For some people, getting back to their 9-5 is a welcome relief from the loneliness of being at home. A big part of working is the social side – of being able to chit chat while doing the team tea run. As a Virtual Assistant and a Mum you might find that you don’t enjoy being on your own when you’re in both parenting mode and work mode.
Pro - You can be around more for your children while they're young
Being a Virtual Assistant means that you have all the benefits of being self-employed, so you can wind down smaller projects during periods when you need to be at home more for your children (like school holidays) and you can pick up more work as your children get older and spend more time at school.
When I found out I was pregnant I’d just left a job that I hated and I knew that I could never go back, because I didn’t want the stress of having to arrange after-school childcare or the guilt of putting my children in back-to-back holiday camps during the school break.
As your own boss, you get to decide if it’s financially viable for you to take time off to be there for your family, without the HR department shaking their head and muttering about your lack of commitment.
Con - You'll need to bring your A-Game so you still need childcare
It’s often a common misconception that most Virtual Assistants are tapping away at their keyboard, while bouncing a baby on their knee.
If you’re about the have your first child, I’m going to have to shatter an illusion for you – it’s not possible to work AND care for a small child at the same time. Both demand EXTRAORDINARY LEVELS OF ATTENTION, and you won’t be able to bring your A-Game to your clients, if you have to simultaneously entertain a tiny person.
So although being a Virtual Assistant is a hell of a lot more flexible than being an office employee, you will still need to arrange some form of childcare during your working hours.
For many new mothers, the idea of going back to a 9-5 after maternity leave fills them with dread and a nagging feeling of guilt about the precious moments they’ll be missing.
If that sounds like you, being a Virtual Assistant can give you much more freedom to be there for your family.
You will still need to make some sacrifices in order to make a real go of being your own boss but with the help of an understanding partner and a whole lot of new mama chutzpah it can be the perfect career choice for you.
Make sure you come back for our next blog where I’ll be talking about What Type of Person Makes a Superstar Virtual Assistant.
If you want to learn more about how to build a Virtual Assistant business around your family here are some of my favourite LEARNING RESOURCES!