I’ve been working from home since long before my daughter was born, but for the last five years, I’ve been trying to strike a balance between parenting and working during the day without completely losing my mind.
It’s never perfect and she watches more television than I’d like some days when deadlines are standing over me, casting an ominous shadow; other days are more kid-centered and we have play dates, make muffins together, go to the library or the beach. That does feel perfect, because honestly, what parent doesn’t want to have days like that every day? Alas, work calls, and if we want to ever have any fun at all, I have to answer.
I’ve learned a few things along the way:
Realize not all days are going to be perfect. Some days you may have to turn down the 6th rematch of Candyland. Other days, your work load won’t be too daunting and you’ll know you can finish whatever needs to be done after the kids go to bed.
Have a list of things to do in your area handyâ€”free, inexpensive, and splurgesâ€”and choose a few. Wear yourselves out (you may need a pot of coffee later). Take lots of pictures.
Tackle very involved projects before your kids’ normal wake-up time or after bedtime, depending on when you’re most alert (I’m a total night owl). You won’t have to cram it all in during a 30-minute nap or get frustrated when you’re interrupted a dozen times, one of which is because the kid “accidentally” let the dog out the front door, you had to chase him down, and he came back covered in mud. Quick projects can be taken care of during an episode of Olivia or even a movie you borrowed from the library. Read a book together later to make up for it.
If your gym offers child care, use it. Sometimes my daughter doesn’t care if she spends time with me or not; she just wants to play. Go to the gym, drop off your kid for a play date you don’t have to supervise, get on the treadmill and zone out or read. Exercise will clear your mind and you’ll be more efficient while working later. Plus you can start working your way through that stack of magazines you subscribed to and never took a chance to read.
As time goes on, it’s easier to strike a balance. Kids learn the boundaries. They entertain themselves more and don’t need constant supervision. They can even pour their own juice (we’re still working on that one).
Photo credit: man’s pic