I have a love/hate
relationship with working from home. I love that I can be there for my boys,
but I hate that, even if I have a sitter, I am still always "on" when I'm home.
What happened to the good old days of going to the gym at lunch, working
in silence instead of a coffee shop and having colleagues to chat with around
the coffee machine? Instead I have a 2-year-old chattering in my ear, a 5-year-old asking for screen time the second I go to check email,
and I work well into the wee hours of the night just to meet deadlines.
days, it feels like it would be easier to be back in an office. But then I'd miss so much.
Benefits and annoyances of working in an office
After my oldest was born, I went back to work after eight weeks.
This was a tough transition, because it meant I had to make a mad dash to do
daycare drop-off and pick-up, plus I was pumping several times a day (never fun).
Sooner than I thought possible, though, I was sliding back into my usual workday
routine. I could walk over to the coffee shop with my colleagues, discussing
projects along the way. During my lunch break, I would head to the gym to work out for an
hour before heading back to my desk to eat. It was quiet. I got to
go to the bathroom all by myself. I could even listen to my own music on the
way to and from work. It was a little slice of heaven, but also a whole lot of
The boys knew I was there and came complaining to me if the sitter didn't give them their way.
I was missing my son's life. I saw him for an hour or two a
day. The rest of the time he was with a nanny or in daycare. I wanted to do
swim classes, but I felt guilty taking any time to do that with him. It was a Catch-22. If I worked at home, I wouldn't have any solid chunks of time to work. But if I stayed in the office, I would miss out on all of those early
annoyances of working from home
Working from home seemed like a dream when I first quit my
job and began taking on freelance work. I signed up for those swim classes. I got the house cleaned. I worked while he napped
and after he went to bed at night. I watched both of my sons walk for the first
time, learn new words and throw food across the dining room. We were able to
bond in different ways than we would have if I had still been in the office.
was also slowly losing my sanity.
As my freelance work picked up, my sons also dropped their
naps. I found it next to impossible to make phone calls without one of them standing next to me whining. I was working into the wee hours of the night
just to keep up. Whenever I had a babysitter come during the day so I could make phone calls and get a few solid hours of work done during daylight
hours, or run to meet a client, I still felt like I was "on."
I tried working
in my tiny home office. The boys knew I was there and came complaining to
me if the sitter didn't give them their way. I tried working in a coffee shop,
but the noises were distracting and I found myself on Facebook more often than
not. I wasn't getting to the gym, because I felt like I always had to work. I
also wasn't going out with my boys to explore or do classes with them anymore, because I was trying to split myself in two—answer urgent emails and build block towers for race cars in the same five-minute span.
Working at the office means I can eat lunch, pee in private, keep my time prioritized and compartmentalized, and go to the gym to get rid of these last few baby pounds.
In many ways I miss working in an office. I knew where my
priorities should lie. I could focus on work and leave work (for the most part)
at the office when I went home to my kids. As a work-at-home mom, though, I knew
I would be frustrated by the constrictions of office life. Our travels would be
restricted by two-weeks of paid vacation. Snow days would be a mad scramble for a
sitter. Any extra money would go to after-hours care. I'd miss that slow progression
of childhood that seems to speed up when you are at work all hours of the day.
There is no perfect solution, I'm realizing.
Working at the
office means I can eat lunch, pee in private, keep my time prioritized and
compartmentalized, and go to the gym to get rid of these last few baby pounds.
Working from home means I get to do more daytime activities with my boys, be
there for them more easily when they are sick or have snow days and blow off work for the
morning to go to the park or a new museum exhibit.
Working at home or in an
office will always have its pros and cons. Now I just need to find the right
balance to make working from home fit my life for the long term or make the
decision to go back to the office full time once both boys are in school.