I moved to a new team within my company about 7 months ago. Most of the team is remote, and for awhile I was doing a couple of days in the office per week, and a couple of days at home per week. But that just changed a month and a half ago–I am now officially a home office worker since my office consolidated.
I freakin’ LOVE working at home. I start early and I’m raring to go at 7am. I can get stuff DONE before the kids even leave for school. I have gotten into a pretty good groove where most days I have finished the bulk of my work to-do list by late afternoon and can help the kids with their homework/yell at them from my desk while I reply to emails/wrap things up.
I like the quiet. I get a lot more done at home. Of course, I enjoy office chatting, but it could always be disruptive to my work flow. Now, most of my chatting takes place via Skype and I can reply to a friendly chat in a few minutes after I finish up whatever I’m working on. Which is nice, because not replying for eight minutes to someone who is physically standing at your desk saying, “How was your weekend, Steph?” is just…awkward. But on Skype, it’s all good.
Also because of Skype, which captures my likeness in video from the waist up only, I can wear shorts/jeans/comfy pants every day and still be totally professional. I know there are some who would one-up me and say, “I work from home and I don’t wear ANY pants!” but I have not ventured into that expert-work-from-home-person territory yet. Maybe someday I will be so bold. Today is not that day, and tomorrow is not looking good either. I guess I’m just a pants person, ya know?
Anyway, I also find that since I’m already home and working away on the computer, I might as well just eat my lunch as I continue chugging along on my daily tasks.
Sometimes I admittedly play with Photo Booth during lunchtime.
My point is that working from home is amazingly flexible, which is definitely what I need right now, and helps me get shit done better and manage my life with two kids who need me to drive them to all of their many activities.
It also poses an inherent dilemma. Because I’m home every moment with the unmopped floors and the dirty socks and the dogs (who, I have learned, bark at Every. Little. Thing. All. Day. Long.) Because I’m supposed to be working but there’s laundry and dishes and even though I got the client input on the second round draft and I created a sales training and I kicked off a new poster program and sent about 50 emails of some level of business importance, it still feels like I’m a lazy slob if the house isn’t tidy at the end of the work day. Because I was here all day, after all, and I didn’t even walk the dogs.
And the kids, holy mother of gym socks, the kids.
Wouldn’t it be nice if they came home and just took care of the stuff they know they are supposed to take care of so I could finish my work and we could all have a lovely evening together? Wouldn’t that be lovely? Yes, yes it would.
But does it happen?
I’m not sure why it can’t happen that way. I think it’s because my kids WANT me to drink more wine, but that’s just a guess.
Because really, my kids are old enough to know better. To get that they have responsibilities. They have A List. A List of Things for Which They Are Responsible for Doing After School, Even if Mom Is On A Call When They Get Home.
But they don’t heed the godforsaken (kidforsaken?) list. Why? Why don’t they heed the list? The list is easy. It is just four things:
- Empty your lunchbox and backpack
- Do your homework
- Pack up your homework/folder/lunchbox for tomorrow
- Do your chore from the posted list
Seems simple enough, right? Common sense, even. These are basic responsibilities that my old-enough children should be able to manage without me berating them. Maybe they like to be berated? I can never be sure, but it seems to be the only thing that actually works.
It often goes a lot like this:
Me (to child engrossed in iPod): What are you doing?
Child (with deer-in-headlights look): Playing on my iPod.
Me: Did you do your homework?
Child (honestly not sure): Yes?
Me: All of it?
Child: I think so?
Me: Did you get your lunchbox/backpack/folder cleaned out and ready for tomorrow?
Child: Oh, I forgot.
Me: What’s your chore today?
Child: Oh, I don’t know. I forgot to check.
Me: (dies a thousand deaths, then begins berating)
I just don’t understand it. We have had endless conversations where they repeat back the four simple things on the list. We have had meaningful and productive discourse on how quickly they can complete their responsibilities, and then have scads of free time to do whatever they want. They have each independently learned this lesson in a multitude of different scenarios. For example:
- You were right, Mom. I wish I had started this project much earlier; I wouldn’t have had to give up my entire weekend to do it now. I’ll know better next time. (FALSE.)
- Ugh, I should have listened to you, Mom, and put the clean sheets on my bed right after I stripped the dirty ones off four hours ago (said at 9pm by an exhausted 12 year old who had to make up his bed…but then did the same exact thing next time.)
Don’t they understand that hearing them say these things should be a cause for me to celebrate a parenting win? Don’t they get how hollow it makes my mom victory when they can’t keep the lesson in their head? How I can’t truly enjoy being SO RIGHT when they keep forgetting how right I was the very next day? It’s maddening.
If I was in the office all day instead, they would complete all their homework under teacher supervision at the after school program, and I could pick them up and badger them–I mean, talk about responsibilities with them–at home without having to divide my attention with work.
So, in the end, I learn again that no solution is perfect. I continue to try and focus on being grateful for this nearly-perfect-but-not-without-its-drawbacks solution that I am lucky enough to have, and wait for that glorious day when the lesson finally, blissfully sticks in their heads.
(That day is coming. It must be coming soon. IT HAS TO COME, RIGHT???)