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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Let's Just Work From Work...

I love people who talk about working from home like it's the best thing that ever happened to them.  They say things like, "I just get soooo much more done without all of the other people around!" and "I can really just put my head down and concentrate when I'm at home. I'm so productive!" Yeah, well, good for you.  Personally, I've never liked working from home, even when it was actually easy to do. I'm a magnet for all kinds of distractions - cleaning, trying new recipes, DIY home projects, driving expeditions, soap operas...  Suddenly it's 5pm and I've sent one email.  Yep, career limiting.

What I've realized now, three plus years and a child later, is that the genius that created this whole "work from home" phenomena CLEARLY did not have small children.  And if he/she (probably he, sorry guys) did have small children, I'm pretty damn sure there was a live-in nanny or non-working partner at his constant disposal. You know, someone to make meals, be a playmate and generally make sure your child doesn't launch himself off the couch into a pile of LEGO bricks and break his face. Because, to the average corporation, it all seems very simple, right?  Give people laptops and phones, and they can work sick, snowed in, traveling or from hospital rooms around the globe. Haha...I'm kidding! Mostly.  

But let's suppose you're me. Woman with full-time job, 2.75 year old child and 70 pound goofball dog.  And the icing is that your husband works from 10:30pm-7am on some cracked out, rolling schedule for which there is no comfortable rhythm to be achieved. This week he's off Tuesday and Wednesday night.  Next week it's Monday and Tuesday night. I wish he'd stop believing that I'm ever going to remember what days he's off every week, because then I could stop pretending that I do.  Add in a blizzard and now I'm living the disaster that some band of idiots decided to dress up as the term "snow day", which means that there is zero chance of me getting any meaningful work done between the time Dallas gets up and this other glorious time of day called "nap time". Unless you're referring to the random one-line email response or thirty second phone call taken somewhere between racing Wilson, Brewster and Koko around the track and cutting pancakes into small squares. 

To be clear, I'm not just complaining for the hell of it.  We have had THREE Monday snow days in a row, all of which involved joining conference calls, returning emails and preparing various documents while the tiny version of me runs around the house playing loudly and generally wanting all sorts of things. Thank goodness for door locks and baby gates...and the mute buttons that make the sobs and screams coming from the other side of them magically disappear.

So here is what people who think you can work from home with a toddler but don't actually have a toddler need to know (but we have never shared fully because we are too busy pretending to be super capable):
1) Two minutes is the average amount of time we get to concentrate and/or perform a work related task before we are interrupted. Sometimes we can get three and a half minutes and sometimes it's significantly less than a whole minute. My work BFF and all-around mommy partner in crime Meg contends that it's more like the "What can I get done in 47 seconds" game. Isn't that sweet how she makes it sound fun? 

2) We can only join conference calls where we can mute ourselves for everything except the part at the beginning where we say, "Hi, [insert a name] is here." And we may not get that out without the other participants hearing a short clip of our crying small person begging for Cheerios or a cookie. We will not be turning on our video because do you really think we had time to comb our hair or put on clean clothes? Oh, you did! That's sweet. I'll stop speaking for all of us right here, but since I usually look like the crackhead from last night's episode of SVU, I prefer to keep my camera in the off position. Oh and we will not be saying goodbye at the end because by the time this eternally long call finally ends, our small person is most likely melting down and we just need to go. 

3) Our child doesn't really understand what our work means or why it's important and, therefore, still expects us to play with them.  Those urgent emails and high-profile projects that are making or breaking our entire careers mean diddly squat to the little bean(s) in our lives. A successful "snow day" strikes the perfect balance of shooting off half-intelligent messages then running to rescue a falling DUPLO tower. Speeding through your urgent business call so we can get back to cheering loudly every time he draws a perfect number "8". And yes, letting your child feed you a plastic piece of pizza from his playroom kitchen while you listen intently on your weekly conference call. 

No matter what we do, "snow days" make us feel guilty.  Guilty for not doing as much work as we had planned and guilty for not paying enough attention to our children. For the record, it's not the first or last thing we will have to feel guilty about throughout this crazy parenting journey, so I'm willing to let this one go if you guys can. I've heard this rumor that this thing called Spring is supposedly right around the corner.  

Stay sane and get back to work...at the office!


  1. I totally agree with you Regan. I stayed home with my son on the first Monday snow day and got zero done. Zero work, means I have to take a PTO day. The next Monday Jack left with his dad and was dropped off at daycare. I got to work all day that day, which was nice because I didn't have to use a PTO day. But you are 100% correct about the guilt. I am guilty about taking time off, I am guilty about not being able to play with my son and sending him off to daycare, and I am guilty about a million other parenting things I may not be doing exactly the way I had planned.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Angela!! It's all so hard to balance, right? All we can do is keep trying to be as good as we can at both and hope it all works out! Good luck!

  3. Working from home can be difficult I agree with you there is so many distractions and room for procrastinating.

  4. The Golden Rule Kids - Exactly! For me, it's mostly the soap operas, LOL!!

  5. It's so hard. I work from home fulltime and I have two toddlers on top of me full time too. It's the hardest thing I have ever accomplished ever. I think going to an office job would be way easier than what I try to accomplish because I have to break away from work to feed and nap and dress them and play with them of course too and then dishes and laundry. By 7pm when they go to bed it gives me only a few more hours to make up for that work I really didn't get done during their naps. It's not easy and who says working from home is that I would love to know how they think that I am the same if they weren't with me I have other distractions and no boss looking over at me forcing me to do something at home. lol Great post. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

  6. Hi Jenny! Sorry for the late response! I can't even imagine trying to work from home with toddlers on a regular basis. We are all rooting for you, LOL! Love linking up to Share With Me... Thanks for hosting it! :)

  7. Hi Jenny! Sorry for the late response! I can't even imagine trying to work from home with toddlers on a regular basis. We are all rooting for you, LOL! Love linking up to Share With Me... Thanks for hosting it! :)