My Work from Home Failure

A few years back, I took a job as a virtual trainer for a customer service company.  Day after day, I trained recently-hired home-based telephone agents on the do's and don'ts of the job.  Some days, training sessions were held from 9am to 2pm and other days from 6pm to 10pm for anyone who couldn't make it to the day session. There were about 25 agents in each class and training was held via Skype.  Without fail, about one hour before each class was devoted to helping someone log onto Skype, sorting out microphone issues or waiting on the stragglers.  I've gotta say, it got a bit frustrating after a while.

I was homeschooling the boys during that time and while they worked on their lessons during the day, I would close myself off in my office. Before each training session began, I'd put a big "Do Not Disturb" sign on my office door.  Basically, I was telling my kids to stay away, don't bother Mommy because she has something more important to do.  She doesn't have time for you right now.

Because really, that's what that sign said to my family.  In big, bold letters, I was telling them to go away.  Before I started working from home, I told myself, "I am going to have so much time for my boys.  This will be great!"

But that training job did not give me the flexibility I needed to singlehandedly care for four boys.  It provided a paycheck but little else.  During those long training sessions, I heard my boys making unexplainable noises on the other side of that door but I couldn't do anything about it.  I had become a prisoner in my own office, chained to my desk, helping others live their work from home dream.  But I certainly was not living mine.

One evening, after a particularly taxing training session, I took my headset off, placed it on my desk and opened my office door.  I went down the stairs.  The house was dark and quiet.  Where had my boys gone?  I began to panic.  Making my way through the dark, I stood outside of their bedroom door.  I opened it slowly.

What I saw surprised me.  The boys were asleep.  The older brothers had tucked their younger brother into his bed as well and given him a cup of milk to go to sleep.

I quietly shut the bedroom door and went downstairs to the kitchen.  They had fed themselves the dinner I had prepared earlier and cleaned the kitchen.  Dishes were washed and put away.  The strong smell of bleach let me know they had mopped the floor.  I felt two inches tall.

I plopped down into the living room chair.  This is not how my work from home life was supposed to be.  What had happened?

I thought by taking this decent paying job that I would be doing the best for my household.  What I had done instead was put finances before my family's well-being and neglected my boys' true needs.  I felt like a big failure.

The next morning I spoke to my supervisor and I told her I would not be available for evening training sessions anymore.  The company ended up hiring an evening trainer and I was able to spend my evenings with the boys.  Several months later, the company eliminated its work from home program.  In an instant, we were all out of a job.

Losing my job gave me the opportunity to create the flexible lifestyle my household desperately needed.  What did I learn?  I learned to put my family first.  I learned that I couldn't serve both God and money.  I learned to create a lifestyle that did not include closed doors.

Regina Lewis

Regina's passion is helping a new generation of virtual assistants launch their new business or take their business to the next level.  When she's not working at the local ministry, blogging or tinkering with Squarespace, she enjoys spending time with her family, watching "Downton Abbey" to the point that it irritates her boys and people-watching from her front porch.