Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My home is my castle.... and also my office...

Since I made the decision back in February not to go back to my community agency job, and instead to work from home part time, I have felt that it is both the best decision, and not such a great decision, depending on the day, the week, the work, etc.

Working at home has a lot of upsides, and in many ways an equal number of downsides. Generally these are the inverse of one another. For instance; not having to get dressed - awesome for the wardrobe budget, not super great when it's three p.m. and I haven't showered and I'm wearing a nightie tucked into sweat pants.

Here's a list of what's great about making my home my office, and what's not so great:

The Good

  1. I love being able to visit with/nurse/comfort Ollie anytime I feel like it during the day. I love being able to hear him having fun, feeling happy and enjoying his day.
  2. I love the flexibility. Some days I work 9-5 all the way through, other days I start the day with a run before getting down to business or treat myself to a proper lunch break out running errands or meeting up with friends.
  3. No coworker/meeting/political distractions from projects. The non-profit world, where I come from, in particular is somewhat obsessed with lengthy, over-share-y meetings that reduce actual working time to a fraction of what it should be. Working at home means that I may have the occasional phone call or meeting out, but most often if I can keep myself focused, I've got nothing but hours of time stretched out in front of me to get down to business. 

The Bad: 

  1. Sometimes I feel like a ghost in my own house. When Ollie's in a phase where separation anxiety is an issue (which is pretty much any time he's recently been sick or hasn't been sleeping well), the only way to keep him from having meltdowns over me leaving him is to stay 100% out of sight. On these days, I find myself hiding in the bedroom, un-showered, having eaten nothing and desperate to pee. If I hear the boys make a move to a different level of the house, I'll peak out and sneak around trying to remain unspotted. I'm actually considering a bar fridge and packed lunches for up in my room.
  2. The flexibility is easy to take for granted. I, as well as many others in my life are guilty of taking an attitude that since my work is flexible, I've got loads of time to get non-work stuff done too. Cleaning, cooking, errand running, etc. can all vie for time in my day, and it is hard to put my foot down and set boundaries (with myself and others) when I haven't got a boss breathing down my neck, or a hard deadline. Especially because..
  3. I'm nocturnal by nature. Well, a nocturnal computer user. And since that's what I'm meant to be doing, thats a problem. In the daytime I have so much energy for playing, sewing, biking, cleaning, gardening, etc., and I am totally capable of working into the wee hours of the morning on actual work projects, which means that some days I'll push all the work out of mind until Ollie's in bed. Of course, this doesn't have to be a problem, but if you're paying a Nanny so that you can bake muffins while yawning over only having slept three hours, you're probably doing something wrong. 
  4. Half the time, my workspace looks like this:                    Sure, it seems cosy to work in bed. But the piles of dishes and aching back are a bit of a downer. Not to mention that it grosses my husband out. I do have a proper workspace but it is stuffed into the darkest, dreariest corner of my house, and Ollie is aware of its location (see Item 1), so it isn't ideal. Creating a proper space for myself is one of my many summer to-do's. 
  5. It can be lonely. In between sneaking around the house and the occasional lunch with friends, it can be super isolating to sit in my bedroom all day long, staring at the computer. It is lucky that I'm a slightly anti social person by nature or there's no way this arrangement could last. But I do find myself sometimes begging my brother to take a work at home day at one of our local coffee shops, so we can pretend we're in an office together. 
Although on paper, I've got more "Bads" than "Goods" for the situation, the weight of the goods is greater than the bads for sure. Just being able to continue to nurse Ollie without considering the logistics of pumping is enough to make the decision for me. Not to mention the peace of mind that comes with being able to literally hear whether or not he's OK. 

Because of my arrangement (and my general nosy-ness), pouring over the blogs of other work at home mothers (and writers) has become a serious pass time for me. I'm always looking for tips and ideas on how to make the experience at once more professional and more comfortable. My browser history is pretty much the dorkiest collection of lifehacks and DIY projects anyone has ever put together.  

I've got a few good ideas I'm hoping to implement over the next couple of months, as well as a major change in our daycare/nanny situation coming up soon, so my "bad list" may change pretty dramatically shortly.

In the meantime, any wisdom from other WAHMs, or questions from WAHMs-to-be would be very welcome.

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