I get pretty predictable reactions when I say I work from home.
Mostly people make vague, general comments just to say something—comments like, “You’re sick? Good thing you work at home.” Or just the generic, “That must be nice.” That one comes up a lot! I also get the occasional, “I could never do that.”
How is it really?
I’m not going to lie—I like it. I like being available when my family needs me, I like working in mom clothes, I like the fact that I worked when my kids were little without needing to find daycare. I like doing laundry and answering emails at the same time. I like my dog on my feet while I work. I like the fact that, when I finish, I’m done. I have no timecard to punch. I even like the work I do—a lot!
I’m a very lucky girl.
Or course, there are challenges. I’ve yet to be without kids for more than three hours a day, so there is a lot of prioritizing and multi-tasking. When I do sit down—exhausted—after bedtime, it’s so I can get to work. And usually sleep gets prioritized right off the bottom of my to-do list.
Don’t even get me started on phone calls! I mostly work online, but, on the rare occasions when I need to talk to someone during business hours, I have to make sure the kids are not home, are unconscious, or are tied up. So, basically, not home.
Editing requires concentration and attention to detail. I can do a lot of the reading, note-taking, commenting, and outlining in my one to three hour chunks on weekdays. However, the final making of the edits, the part when I need to keep every thread of the story and all my suggestions in my head, requires sustained concentration. That part, I do on weekends when Big A. can do all the parenting.
So, every three to four weeks I disappear for about three days. And by that, I mean that I work from about eight in the morning (I have breakfast with the family) until about two in the morning. Sometimes I have dinner with the family, sometimes I can even do bedtime, too. Some longer books take two weekends in a row.
I have to say that my family handles those weekends beautifully! They have their different-yet-awesome Team Dad vibe without me and I love catching glimpses of it when I come up for coffee.
And that brings me to the geography of the whole situation…. My “office” is one of those nifty armoires with storage and work surfaces that pop out, then fold up so that it looks like normal furniture. It’s in the great room—the only non-bedroom space in our house, the kitchen/ family room/ living room/ dining room space—and it’s directly next to the tv.
Remember the whole “requires sustained concentration” thing? On working weekends, I move my “office” to a bed tray. In our bedroom. On our bed. Of course, I have to move back out if Big A.’s ready to sleep before I finish for the day, but it works well enough. The only hitch is that I’m getting too old to sit crisscross applesauce for 18 hours at a stretch!
Our big, beautiful bedroom windows open onto the pool. We are so blessed to have a pool and Big A. and the kids take full advantage of it on their weekends, nine months out of the year. And, as I watch them out the window whenever I look up from my laptop, all my feelings about working at home—pro and con—bubble up.
I love hearing their laughter as background for my work, seeing glimpses of their happy faces going by, and knowing they are having a blast with their daddy. I love that he gets this “alone” time with them and that I get it during the week. I am so grateful that I can earn money for our family doing work that I love while they play with their dad.
But sometimes…sometimes giving up one or two weekends of whole-family time every month gets hard. Time is precious. Sometimes I want to act like the dog does when we go off on our bikes; I want to press my nose to the window and whine. Sometimes I want to just watch tv after the kids go to bed, sometimes I think longingly of ergonomic desk chairs, sometimes I wish I could get coffee without being accosted by children who share long, wandering stories that completely distract me—but, really, I’m grateful that I can work at home.
So that’s what working at home is like for me: it IS nice.