Homeworker Michelle Martin isn’t called superwoman for nothing. Not only is she a personal travel consultant working full-time from home, she is also team leader of 26 homeworkers in the northwest.
And on top of that, she has four children to look after, ranging in age from 18 months to 12 years.
Having a strict routine is key to juggling work and family life, says Michelle. But the 32-year-old admits: “You don’t know when customers will call or when there will be a failure. When XL Leisure went under the whole routine went out the window!”
Her hours rotate around childcare arrangements and school, which means working mornings and evenings so she can look after her children – Matilda, 18 months, Maizy, three, George, 10, and Charley, 12 – in the afternoons and they can have tea together.
She says: “Compared to working on the high street, working from home was a breath of fresh air. But I have had to be committed, really self-motivated and disciplined.”
During a 10-year stint at Going Places in Chester, where she worked her way up from the counter to managing several branches, Michelle says it became difficult to maintain a balance. “It got to the point where I didn’t have a day off and I didn’t know what the children liked for dinner so I decided to take the plunge and become a homeworker.”
The move to work from home seven years ago appears to have paid off. Within two years she stopped relying on Hays Travel for sales leads and generated her own calls, pushing her commission up from 30% to 60%.
She also successfully applied to become a team leader, which involves motivating other homeworkers and setting monthly targets for them. “Half of my time is now spent being a team leader, but it’s worth it because I have a profitable team,” she says.
Even having her two youngest children has not fazed Michelle despite putting extra pressure on her and husband Barry to juggle hours.
She says: “I cope because I am organised and the children know what is happening every day of the week.”
The balancing act
- Set a routine around childcare arrangements and your busiest days
- Think ahead so you have arrangements in place for the school holidays, for example
- Make sure that once you are in your office you stay there and don’t flit in and out of the house doing other chores
- Be disclipined and self-motivated
- Give yourself targets on what you need to earn to pay the bills; work out what you need to earn on a daily basis
- Make sure the children understand your place of work; my children know I’m at work when the office door is shut
- Be positive about dealing with problems. If the children get chicken pox, I have to take time off – you can’t do anything about it and just have to deal with it as it happens
- 1993: joined an independent travel agency as a school-leaver
- 1994-2004: travel adviser at Going Places in Chester; promoted to assistant manager and then manager; went on to manage several larger branches
- 2004-06: became a homeworker for Hays Travel, reliant on sales leads
- 2006-11: became a Hays Travel personal travel consultant; became team leader for the northwest region
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