What Working At Home Really Means (And What It DOESN’T)

by Tammy Taylor~

When RancherMan & I bought this little piece of paradise several years ago, we were still commuting to Dallas every weekday for our corporate jobs.  I was finally able to convince my boss to allow me to telecommute three times each week. Sweet!  Hearing the radio drone on & on about the horrific traffic jams that were always present in my typical route, I’d simply grab a cup of coffee & ‘log in’ on my computer.

Commute Time: 2 minutes!  🙂

But I was always super sensitive about the perception to my in-office cohorts regarding my working from home.  I went out of my way to make sure my all my work efforts were very clearly visible. Plus I was always instantly available by office video chat. And I purposely worked many more hours than I was being paid for ‘just to be fair’. Oftentimes I worked well into the night and on weekends too. Still I felt there was a false perception by my coworkers regarding the time I put in for my employer.

Working At Home often gives others the false perception that you have lots of free time. Whether self employed, homeschooler or stay-at-home parent, it's hard work! #TexasHomesteader

But soon the call to be a Homesteader 100% of the time called to RancherMan and me.  We crunched the numbers and found that although it would be very tight trying to make ends meet without a corporate paycheck, we’d set ourselves up here with little to no debt. And we weren’t frivolous spenders anyway.  If we were mindful, we could do it!

With much anticipation we finally pulled the plug on our corporate employment.  We’re working from home every day now.  Not for some big corporate fat cat, but for ourselves!

False Perceptions of Being At Home Each Day

But we found that working from home still carries that same false perception by those in the outside world.  Just like the flawed perception of my co-workers so many years ago, the population in general often makes assumptions when you work from home that just aren’t true.

If you’re a stay-at-home parent, homeschooler, telecommuter or are self employed – you already KNOW what I mean!

Now don’t get me wrong – I love this life!  Being able to watch that gorgeous Texas sunrise every morning as I look across this land that speaks to my heart?  Well that’s worth any monetary sacrifice we may have to make.   It’s just right for us!

Working At Home often gives others the false perception that you have lots of free time. Whether self employed, homeschooler or stay-at-home parent, it's hard work! #TexasHomesteader

Flexibility For Family When Needed

And it allows a small amount of flexibility when needed too.  For instance, if a family member falls ill and needs our help – we’re there!

When my grandmother was in her final days, we were with her at her bedside the whole time. Mom didn’t have to bear it alone – we were there to support her too.

And when dad lost his wife suddenly, RancherMan & I were there. There for him during the challenging medical decisions, there when she passed, and even there to help with final arrangements. It was important for us to support dad through this difficult journey. Yes it took several weeks of being away from the homestead, but we were there with him!

Since we’re self employed there was no need to beg for time off work or to be told no. There was no demands of a corporate boss about a project too important to allow our time away or that our absence was too long. We’re able to prioritize where our time goes. And our family comes first! 

Community Commitments

Also, it’s important to RancherMan & me to be involved in our small community.  We volunteer for several causes that are important to us. So we dedicate time each week doing our fair share for the common good of our community.

But when something pops up, others almost always turn to us to pick up that volunteer slack.  I mean, we’re working at HOME, so we have the time, right??  It’s not like we’re really working.

I feel that old familiar wave of guilt each time I must tell other volunteers that we just don’t have the spare time for more.

Flexibility… and Rigidity Of Homesteading

But the truth is, when you’re self employed you’re working many more hours – typically at much less pay – than when you collected a corporate paycheck.  No standard hours of 8-5 or quittin’ time here!  No cushy bonus check at the end of the year. And no time off for holidays. If we don’t do the work we don’t reap the financial reward.  (And unfortunately due to drought or circumstances beyond our control, sometimes even when we DO the work the financial reward isn’t there!)

Hard work and financial uncertainty is just part of the equation when you’re self employed.

And while it’s true we often have some flexibility in our work schedules, being a homesteader means there’s also some pretty rigid schedules as well.  The calves must be worked when the time or weather is right, as do the bees and garden.  So much of our day-to-day revolves heavily around timing.

Bad Weather Days NOT A Day Off!

Rain, while a blessing, means we won’t be working on our outside chores that day.  Instead we may be inside doing some of our many household chores. Being self employed means I’m making our food from scratch instead of buying it premade. So I’m often in the kitchen planning meals or making Yogurt or sandwich bread. Or maybe writing & formatting a new blog post.  RancherMan may be in the shop making repairs or doing some online research for an upcoming purchase. Not even a bad weather day gives us the day off!  LOL

But weather isn’t the only hinging factor.  If a heifer is due to calve, we can’t go running off for a fun weekend.  We really need to be here in case she runs into difficulties. It’s rare, but we’ve had to assist in birthing calves on a few occasions.  I shudder to think what could have happened had we not been here to assist. We’ll not allow that heifer to suffer because there was a beach party going on that weekend.

Our Pay Is Often By Way Of Expenses NOT Incurred!

Just as my previous corporate experience, working from home means we’re constantly working way more hours than we’re ‘paid for‘.

Especially since our pay is often by way of expenses NOT incurred.

That means repairing instead of replacing things that break.  It means working hard preserving our garden abundance to lower our grocery costs. And of course it means thoroughly researching a purchase for quality, or cooking meals from scratch.  But those things together all require huge chunks of our time. Time we spend willingly to be able to live this life we love.

If you’re self employed or a stay-at-home worker, do you find those around you just don’t get it?  Are you constantly dealing with the false perception that you’re just sitting at home in front of the tv watching soap opras and eating bonbons??  Yeah, us too…

~TxH~

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8 thoughts on “What Working At Home Really Means (And What It DOESN’T)

  1. Evelyn Edgett

    I used to just about lose my mind when I would tell people that I am a stay at home wife and mother, and I would hear, “Oh, so you don’t work.” It took everything I had not to smack the person upside the head, because, yes, you idiot, I DO work, and I work very HARD at what I do, and I am very GOOD at it. Finally the Redneck told me to let it go, because as far as he could tell, the majority of people who say that are miserable having to go to a job every day and be away from their kids and home. So I needed to take pity on them. I took his advice, and now I just smile, nod my head and look spiritual. The people who know me and my family know just how hard I work to make the paychecks stretch, create a home where we all want to be, and give time to the community where we live.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Yes Evelyn! The perception of those who don’t work from home is baffling to me. But to be honest I guess I never thought about it much when I was in the corporate world. I’d like to think I’d be more insightful than that, but I just don’t know. Nothing like walking a mile in someone’s shoes to really know what they go through. Here’s to all the hard-workin’ folks out there – wherever you call your ‘office’! ~TxH~

      Reply
  2. Greg Hill

    Well my friend Tammy Taylor, I’m glad to hear you aren’t working for some one else. It’s one of the reasons I read your blog about you and Ranchermans life in the Great State of Texas. The American Dream of working for your self is not what it is all cracked up to be. The very few become well to do if that’s what a person is looking for. Not for me. I’ve worked everyday for myself since 1980. For me It’s about relying on God and being successful at what I do, and surviving the US Governments punishment of the American People through their politics and taxes. There’s great pleasure in making it buy yourself with Gods help. It’s never easy but it builds character and allows you to say when you are going home for the day and what time you will start the next day. Not being controlled by someones schedule is a Great feeling. I’m sure you know this by now. You and Rancher mans journey together is making memories that will last for ever and be looked upon by others as courageous , something others would like to do but don’t have fear and scared to try. You have great partners with you in your endeavors , as you know it takes 3 to make a marriage and as a friend I am happy to know you know this, and for this reason we can make our dreams come true. Be blessed Tammy, Happy Sunday, Greg

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Trying to be self sufficient really is a challenge Greg, one that RancherMan & I freely accept. But I find myself continually feeling guilty when I push back against giving even more of our time. Yes other organizations are worthy and rely on volunteers too. They may be an organization I know, trust & support. But if there’s no more time for us to be able to take up another cause, I find myself feeling guilty. Perhaps this is something I need to work on for myself… I know there’s only so many hours in a day. I know I’m giving all the time I can away from our homestead. I know there are many worthy causes out there. But the guilt of not being able to do more is harsh sometimes. I’ll work on my own feelings about this. Enjoy your Sunday too, Greg! ~TxH~

      Reply
  3. candace Ford

    When I retired from full time teaching and the Bird Man retired from his quasi govt job we couldn’t wait to get to the “ranch” and away from the city. We were both financially able to be retired, but when we were fully moved it became obvious to me that I was NOT ready to be 24/7 with the “bird man” so I took a part time social work job in a nearby town. It was only part time but it was a great segue into full time retirement. Our “ranch” is not a working earning ranch as such. The neighbor does rent our pasture for his motley crew of horses, mules and a nasty little pony. All of which I’m currently feeding now while they are away in cold country hunting. That’s a great amount of ranch work for me. Everybody is glad to see me in the morning. I wish everyone could come to Oregon and see our barn. Nice to be able to have some of our vehicles out of the weather.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’ve heard plenty of times when retirement happens that couples weren’t really prepared for how MUCH time they’d be spending together. It’s common for one or both to take on part-time jobs or pick up a new hobby just to have some time apart. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones, I love being around my RancherMan and am most happy when we’re together. But, I guess, with so much to do there’s really plenty of time we’re together but not right next to each other so perhaps that makes a difference? In any event, I’m glad you found your compromise. Stay warm, dear friend – winter’s on its way soon! ~TxH~

      Reply
  4. Patti

    Eating all those bonbons have made you really fit! 🙂 We’re trading in all the 2-3 hr drive times to and from work in 6 months and I can’t wait! Just Friday it took my husband almost 3 hrs to get home from the city ( Chicago) I sold my business a few months ago and I’m working on all the last minute touch-ups on our home to sell. Change is good especially in these times. Give me the country any day of the week, I’m going home……… Hugs girl, Patti

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Sounds like wonderful times to come for y’all Patti – I know you’re so excited. Your future plans sound awesome and I know y’all will finally be able to exhale when it’s all finally done. ~TxH~

      Reply

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