For as long as I can remember I wanted to help people. Thinking back, for years I wanted to be a nurse and one day, visiting a grandparent in hospital, a nurse had to give an elderly lady an injection and made her cry. My dream came crashing down and that was the end of my nursing career. If I remember I was probably 8 years old at the time. I still wanted to help people but I didn’t want to hurt them in the process.
Just before I turned 21 I found a job at an incredible organisation who looked after terminally ill patients and stayed for 14 years. I had found my niche, I could help people without physically helping them. From then I aspired to help as many people as I could, but, as it does, life got in the way. It’s been a brilliant eight years. Getting married to the most supportive man; becoming a stepmother of a beautiful daughter; being pregnant twice and being blessed with the most compassionate boys. I started working at a High School where I learnt so much in a short space of time from people who still inspire me today, and, with their support, deciding to start up on my own and aim to achieve what I have dreamed of for so long.
Now, I get to be a stay at home, working mom. It looks lovely on paper; but let me tell you: it’s harder than you could ever imagine. I know that many of you also work from home and I would love to hear how you balance your work and home life.
I start my day preparing lunches for two of the kids. They eat different things, so this is no easy task. One doesn’t eat tomatoes so that rules out salad, one doesn’t eat bread, so that rules out sandwiches. So each child (and my husband) receive a different lunch box every morning. Then its feed the kids breakfast (not really, but I do supervise how they make their cereal), get myself dressed and drop two of the three kids at school. That moment when I know that they are safe in school, is absolute bliss – quiet and alone in my bubble. The traffic is rough getting back but it gives me a chance to just breathe, listen to something other than the latest music or nursery rhymes and be able to think without my thoughts being interrupted.
Into my office and the next four and a half hours are full steam ahead. I am blessed to have a fantastic domestic worker/nanny, who, without being asked has brought me breakfast and tea at my desk since I started working from home. I also get a cup of tea/coffee/Milo brought to me every hour. It’s an absolute pleasure – all phone calls are done during these four hours and any budgets that I really need all my concentration to work on – the internet in the morning is also fantastic – I get through most of my work without any interruptions.
And then, its go go go. Rush out of the house (I am always five minutes late for these guys) to fetch boys from school. Home to eat lunch with them and then rush rush rush to fetch my stepdaughter from her school. After the lunch rush, I am back at my desk, breathing deeply and, up until recently, being continually interrupted. I was at a complete loss; I had no idea what to do. I mentioned earlier that I have an amazing nanny and my mother-in-law has become my pillar of strength and helps an enormous amount, but it seems that when I am home, we have to share our time dependent on who the kids feel like nagging that day. It had to stop, and fast!
The plan was in action: I held a family meeting – asked them what they did when I was at a real office. I got a lot of protest that I am never going back to an office; to which I was able to justify my argument (thanks kids)! I told them that if they did not stop interrupting I would have to go back to an office. PROTEST – you would have thought that I had a mini riot going on in my dining room. I got the likes of “you are never going back” ; “no mommy no” and “please don’t go”. So I made a deal with them. If they don’t interrupt me, unless they are sick or dying, I will not go back to work, but if they do, I will have to go to another work”.
It worked, the next day, I wasn’t interrupted at all; and thought that I had the problem nipped in the bud. FAIL. The very next day, as if the “meeting” never happened. One crying, the other playing on his tablet and asking me what to do every five seconds (“if you can’t play that game, play something else”; “if you want to cry, I will give you something to cry about”). I would have to rethink my strategy AGAIN. Another family meeting prevailed, and this time, I had got it right! They can play while I am working but if the phone rings or the computer makes a telephone noise (Skype in layman’s terms) they must go out. So far, it’s working. I am now enjoying having them “around” and quiet and getting through all my work on time without the million interruptions; which means I also get a little bit of “me” time in the evenings, when my son actually sleeps.
My computer is switched off at 5:30 pm and then its real family time. We play, we eat dinner together and talk about our day, and we read and sing just before bed. Weekends have remained the same – we spend family time together and then try to separate the kids to have special mommy or daddy time alone. That has always worked and we don’t plan to change any of it.
Now I should get some sleep though – does anyone have suggestions on how to get a seven-year-old insomniac sleep?
I would love to hear how you have managed to find the balance working from home. Drop me a mail firstname.lastname@example.org