(Not) Working At Home

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Over the holidays, I decided to stay home with the kids as much as possible.  The plan?  I would “work” at home the week after Christmas and avoid the office.

Easier said than done.

The good news?

For the most part, I avoided the office.

The bad news?

I didn’t get much work done.  Even worse, I was downright rude to my children.

It never fails.  The house is quiet.  My kids are playing games, reading, entertaining themselves.  All at once, my cell phone rings.  It’s an important client.  Murphy’s Law takes over, and the girls start fighting.  Nick wants a snack.  The doorbell rings – it’s the neighbor kid looking for a playdate.  My client politely chuckles and says, “Is that a dog in the background?”

I respond reluctantly, “No, it’s my daughter.”

I lock myself in the bathroom.  With my laptop.  After the call, I am blazing mad.  I yell at the kids, “How many times has Mom told you NOT to interrupt me when I’m on a conference call?”

The next day, I’m sitting in my living room trying to edit a document.   Anna keeps interrupting me.  She wants to show me everything she decided to put in her new purse.

“Just give Mom five more minutes, Anna.  I just need to finish some work.”

Twenty minutes later, I’m still in front of my laptop.  And Anna’s moved on to something else.  By the time I’m ready, she doesn’t want to show me any more.  And I’ve lost the moment.

By Friday, I decide I’m just not cut out for this work-at-home thing.  I turn off my laptop and we go to lunch.  We hang out at the mall and Starbucks.  We see Chipwrecked at the movies.  We play Just Dance 3 on the Wii.

Work will be there tomorrow.

 

I'm an author who writes about the working mom's struggle to live out an authentic Christian faith in a complex and fast-paced world. I live in constant need of grace, caffeine, and technology -- usually in that order.
  • http://heathersunseri.com Heather Sunseri

    That’s awesome! And I only say that b/c of how many times I’ve “worked from home.” My best stories are from snow days during tax seasons when I think I can accomplish just as much from home while fitting in a couple of sleigh rides on “breaks.”

    Great outlook, though. Work will always be there tomorrow!!

    • http://www.susandimickele.com Susan DiMickele

      Yes, and “tomorrow” is now looking like today!

  • Catserna94

    I can totally relate!!!

    • http://www.susandimickele.com Susan DiMickele

      So glad I am not alone!

  • http://funkymamabird.com Funky Mama Bird

    I work from home full time, but let me tell you – it takes a long time to get into a good routine! Monday’s always suck, for example, because my kid has to readjust to my working again. I don’t think it’s possible to do it just for a week – I think anyone would go crazy!

    • http://www.susandimickele.com Susan DiMickele

      Hey, I admire you greatly — I could learn lots from a WAHM!

  • http://www.healthyspirituality.org Jean Wise

    I have been working at home since 2006 and though the kids are gone have had to learn to balance and to teach friends and a loving hubby work time too. The hardest thing for me is to quit working as it spread out into all times of the day. Boundaries, I keep telling myself

    • http://www.susandimickele.com Susan DiMickele

      Yes — I forgot to mention my husband. He’s like a kids when I work from home (sorry Dear!)

  • http://twitter.com/AmazingPRMaven Ami Neiberger-Miller

    I work from home at least 2 days a week. And yes, Murphy’s Law definitely kicks in whenever an important call happens – what was quiet and idyllic quickly disintegrates into noisy chaos the second the important person is on the phone. Having another adult home who can corral and comfort an upset toddler when needed is critical. I like to be work at home, but sometimes the emotional tug of war is hard to bear when a child is wailing Mommy and just wants my attention – and work is also demanding my time. I have set a rule that at 6pm Mommy stops working and that is family time for 2-3 hours, then if needed, I go back to the office after our daughter is asleep.

    • http://www.susandimickele.com Susan DiMickele

      Oh, I like that 6pm rule. Boundaries!

  • http://twitter.com/AmazingPRMaven Ami Neiberger-Miller

    I work from home at least 2 days a week. And yes, Murphy’s Law definitely kicks in whenever an important call happens – what was quiet and idyllic quickly disintegrates into noisy chaos the second the important person is on the phone. Having another adult home who can corral and comfort an upset toddler when needed is critical. I like to be work at home, but sometimes the emotional tug of war is hard to bear when a child is wailing Mommy and just wants my attention – and work is also demanding my time. I have set a rule that at 6pm Mommy stops working and that is family time for 2-3 hours, then if needed, I go back to the office after our daughter is asleep.

  • http://www.christimcguire.wordpress.com Christi McGuire

    Sounds like my house! I keep saying it’ll get better when both my kids are in school, but I hate to wish away the years. It’s hard to be creative as a writer when you’re constantly juggling home and work.

    • http://www.susandimickele.com Susan DiMickele

      I can’t imagine writing from home every day with the kids. (I wrote my book when mine were sleeping!) But you’re right, don’t wish these years away. Live for those naps now!

  • http://www.culturesmithconsulting.com cherylsmith

    I can totally relate. The kids don’t go back to school until Thursday and today, I had to referee a fight via text from my cell phone, while at a doctor’s appointment. On the positive side, we’ve played board games and jacks and baked and the fighting shall pass one day, right?

    • http://www.susandimickele.com Susan DiMickele

      I am so up to my eyeballs in board games these days! I know, one day I will be begging them to play games with me….

  • Erin MacPherson

    I try to work from home all the time. It.Never.Works. Don’t know why I have this strange idea that it might, but after screaming at my kids for talking while I’m on a conference call this morning (you know, cause they should know to be quiet when I’m busy, right?), I decided to call the babysitter. *Sigh*

  • http://twitter.com/RachelleGardner Rachelle Gardner

    You were obviously spying on me!

  • Julie Jarnagin

    This is a great post! I’m a work from home mom. I work in the office three days a week and work from home the other two days. I’m also a writer. I’ve learned that 5am when my three-year-old is asleep is my time to write. I’ve learned phone calls are almost impossible unless my son takes a nap. But honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • http://twitter.com/BePositiveMom Be Positive Mom

    I write at 5am like Julie said below, too… unless I’m up late after they are in bed. I would love to work from home but may do it when the kids are in school so I can actually work! :-) Love your honesty in this post!

    • http://www.susandimickele.com Susan DiMickele

      Wow. You ladies impress me. I am sleeping at 5am!

  • Bradley J Moore

    Okay, I was once a work-from-home dad. When my girls were 3 and 6, I did a stint working from home four days a week, managing a consulting practice. I had an office in the basement, and I’ll never forget the times when I agreed to take a shift for a couple hours watching the 3 year old while my wife would go off to her job and before the babysitter arrived. I was like, “sure! no problem to do a little work and watch Grace.” I’ll never forget I decided to take a call with a client because she was napping (or so I thought), and then there she is at my doorstep, asking me questions while I’m trying to shoo her away, and then starting to cry. I actually shut the door in her face while I continued the call, and she starts wailing on the other side of the door. The client asks, “Oh, are you working from home? What’s that sound I hear?” I eventually got off the phone and scooped her up. She was more mad at me than anything else. I didn’t do that again. (and I was otherwise a good dad:)

    • http://www.susandimickele.com Susan DiMickele

      Obviously you scarred her for life.

  • http://www.nebraskagraceful.blogspot.com Michelle DeRusha

    I can relate to this right this very second! I am trying to write a Lent devotional book for my church (due to the editor this month!), and my kids have been playing Super Mario Bros. on the Wii for the last hour — the guilt is killing me. I’m getting off the computer right now!!!

  • BigD

    You are not alone!!!
    Sounds like a couple of my days over Christmas break!
    Then, first week back, my “little” one turned sick, so I went home with a pile of stuff after 2.5 hours at the office. I didn’t get much done, except when she was sleeping. Even on the verge of turning 12, she still likes to pretty-much lay on me for cuddles when she’s sick.
    Work at home just does not work!!

  • Ddkuchler

    Take heart – it gets easier as the kids get older. My husband was the “enforcer” at our house. When the kids were small, he laid down the law that they were not to enter my home office when I was working and that all issues had to be brought to him and not me. Most of the time it worked. As the kids got older, they learned that they could see me more if they allowed me to work effectively at home than if they forced me to go to the office. I can now get MUCH more quality work done at home than I can at work!!!

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