Working at Home as a Transcriptionist – During School Holidays

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Gaynor Paynter
Owner: Typewrite Transcription and Typing Services CC. /

Gaynor Paynter is a writer and transcriptionist living in Johannesburg, South Africa.

I have two sons aged 8 and 10, and I work from home as a transcriptionist. It’s now school holidays … so I thought it would be fun to tell you about a day in our lives. I’m hoping to dispel the notion that we work at home moms don’t actually work, and all the other rumours out there that just make me laugh!

Now I don’t know about all of you but when its school holidays I tend to relax routine a little bit for the kids – and since I’m a night owl I find I naturally slip back into my work all night, get up a tad late routine. This also works quite well since I have clients in Australia. Anyway, after working until 11pm last night, at 07:30 am I am still asleep. … not for long.

Two missed calls on my cell phone have me awake. Well with no message left there’s nothing much I can do, but I drearily stumbled out of bed. Immediately, I feel something is wrong. It’s very quiet … why? Where are the kids? I make my way through to the kitchen and find them playing with the dogs, one has his hand in the dog’s water bowl and is trailing water around my kitchen making it look as though snails had been there all night, and the other is gleefully looking on, no doubt relishing the trouble his little brother would get into.

I make them breakfast, stumble through to the office and turn on the computer .. now I’m never at my best in the morning but when a client is trying to explain a complicated computer system to a fuzzy brained me, well – we progress to the point where we realize that it was their client who hadn’t set the system up correctly. This took us two hours, in between interruptions, my son running in yelling “There’s a big yellow van at the door!” and since I’m still in my nightie, I leave my client hanging on Skype, run through and dress faster than I ever have before, while sending my 10 year old out to appease the delivery man … run out there, sign for CDs (the story of their arrival is a whole other one, but suffice to say the lady who has sent them to me is very relieved about their arrival – and people get very angry with you when they are trying to deliver something to you and your doorbell is not working) – to pick up my client on Skype.

Phone rings, it’s my son’s friend.

20 minutes later, bellow at son to get off phone as he’s blocking potential business calls.

10:30 am – a skype from one of our TAVASA ladies asking me if she should start up in medical transcription, general transcription or if it doesn’t matter. I’ve answered the same question from the same lady three times over – and the answer always remains the same, if you want to do MT great, but you have to study for it … and if you want to be a general transcriber you don’t need to study a medical course … (all of these details are available in my book, “Working from Home as a Transcriptionist in South Africa)

Phone rings. It’s Damian – trying to help me set up the system. Client skyping continually – and we decide, okay, we’ll do it the old way for today until we can get their client to sort it out. So I log into the old system. Only to discover that this is going to be ultra confusing as the client is dictating in the NEW way, and I’m transcribing in the OLD way … all the while at the back of my mind is, “I’ve got to start on those CVs, and I’ve got to market my business more … “ (Until a few months ago I was using a free website host and the host took it over, thereby directing all of my traffic to a bunch of garbage … anyway that’s nearly sorted out but in any case marketing is something that should be done on a daily basis in this field).

2pm – file spell checked and uploaded. I’ve promised to take my kids for milkshake and nobody’s had lunch yet –so off we go to KFC about 6 – 7 blocks down the road. (we walk as we only have the one car and Damian uses it for work). This is a thing the boys and I do every school holidays – our tradition and we love it.

3pm, back home to 3 emails and 2 skypes that need answering … so, I settle the kids down to their various activities – Andrew wants to play his new computer game and Brandon is playing with the toy KFC kindly just gave him – and I answer them – actually as the moderator of TAVASA I’m feeling a bit guilty that I can’t always get to the questions as quick as I’d like – but still, we keep on trying and will keep on trying to support others in our field.

The boys begin to fight – I’m always hoping my oldest will find a pastime different to that of making his little brother scream by taking his toys away, and that Brandon will learn to ignore him and not play up to him – so I develop my lung capacity by screaming the full length of the house at them (heaven knows what the tenant must think). All is calm for about five minutes, and then the same again. There comes a time in every school holiday when any siblings even if they are the best of friends have had enough of each other’s company. I go to remove the oldest from the youngest’s room. This only works on dire threat that he will be made to wash the dishes the whole week if he does not desist.

After that, eventually get to make a start on the four CDs I have to transcribe before Wednesday, guess what it’s terrible audio and the kids are being noisy too (but not fighting), and I soldier on and will proofread at the end of it …

Which gets us to 16:30 – Damian’s home, and since we need to eat and have no food in the house, and the kids need meds, I’m off out to buy those things while he starts supper – unfortunately, it’s been raining and it takes me half an hour to travel 3km, and the queue in the chemist is just as long … I don’t particularly like driving in the dark so I’m getting more and more antsy, but eventually I get out of there.

So kids are fed and bathed, and it’s 18:50, and here I am ready to carry on working for another hour or so! And that’s a day in the life of a working general transcriptionist mom, when her kids are on school holiday! And let that dispel any notion anybody may have that
a) Work at home moms get to spend more time with their kids than other moms
b) Work at home moms spend all day going to shops or having their hair done
c) Work at home moms watch TV all day.
d) Work at home moms have it easy.
So then you may ask, why do we keep on doing this? There are many reasons. We like to be in control of our own destiny. We like to provide our clients with quality service. We like that we are own bosses and that the work we put in becomes what we get out. We like the idea that somewhere down the line we will have something to provide our children with. I like to think that for children with an uncertain future in an uncertain political environment, this is something invaluable for them. And yes, although it’s hardly ever possible, I like that I can have an hour off to take my children for lunch, even though it means I must work until the small hours to make up for it sometimes. That small investment in quality time with them is worth more than the things I could give them if I was a highly powered corporate. And as for TAVASA, yes it can be demanding and questions and issues come up at times when we find it hard to answer them timeously. But try we always do, and we always will, because I’d like to feel that for that one moment, that one email, that one second where we are advising somebody or giving assistance where we can, we are making a difference in the life of that one person. And that’s worth more than money can buy.

Gaynor Paynter
Typewrite Transcription and Typing Services CC
Cell: +27834424689
TAVASA Cofounder and Moderator