I'm grateful for the freelance writing jobs I've been able to pick up in the past few years. I love writing. It's a job that enables me to work from home. But, as the years have gone on, I find that aspect, while it looks good on paper, actually skates somewhere between a blessing and a curse.
Sure, there are perks to working from home. I can drop what I'm doing to pick a sick child up from school. I can make dinner during the day. I can run errands if I want. My schedule is mine to organize.
The hard part, though, is trying to juggle parenting while working from home. My youngest isn't in full-time school yet. Sometimes, I have to work on the weekends. It can be really, really hard to sit down and focus when the kids are fighting or otherwise just being kids. Sometimes, I get going on a train of thought, only have to get up and get a snack, find a toy or find the band-aides. On days when I have a lot to do, I rely too much on TV for entertainment.
It can be a race against the clock. How much can I get done before I need to make dinner?
It can be a tightrope act. How much TV can I let them watch before I need to take a break and get them outside?
It can be an exercise in frustration. How much of a mess am I going to have to deal with tomorrow if I press on and finish my work today?
Sometimes, I envy the moms and dads who go to work in an office. They can work uninterrupted for hours without getting called down to the bathroom to wipe someone's hiney. They don't have to clean up the floor when milk gets spilled. They don't have to let the dog out when they're in the middle of answering e-mail.
For those of us that work from home, there's no definitive line between work and home. It's all there. All the time.
Ultimately, I'm glad I have the ability to work from home. I know this is the right solution for our family right now. I don't have to drive in rush hour traffic, which I couldn't imagine doing after making sure the kids get on the bus and doing the preschool run.
Whenever I see on-line debates about who's right and who's wrong in the stay-at-home mom vs. work-out-of-the-home mom game, I have to laugh. The idea of working at home is often presented as an idyllic dream. While I'm usually happy with where I am for work right now, I'm often frustrated with having to deal with the ins and outs of parenting WHILE working. There are days, like today, when it's not easy.
Today, I wished I could pack up my laptop and head to the library. It's quiet there. However, this, of course, isn't an option when my husband is working out of the house, like he was today. But, I could have really used some quiet time.
Any time management advice I've read doesn't really seem to have the answers for how to make working from home with children a smoother task. These articles have to be written by people who've never actually done it! Ridiculous solutions are offered, like working late at night after the kids are asleep. That might work for some, but not everyone's a night owl. Likewise, those of us that are morning people often have kids that are morning people, too, so morning productivity is out. I try to squeeze work in between breakfast and activities, between lunch and after school time, between dinner and bedtime. Sometimes it works. And, sometimes it's a colossal failure.
Right now, I don't have to work everyday. That's the thing that keeps my life chugging along in a manageable way. But, an absence of work also means an absence of income. You can't have one without the other.
Today, was one of those days where it mostly worked. The only downside - the house is trashed. It's always a trade off. It can never be perfect. We do the best we can. And, hey, on the bright side, my work is done. I'll clean up the mess tomorrow.
Please check out my writing at Holidays Central. They've been good to me and I want to be good to them by sending them readers!