I’m writing a series of posts about working from home. Here’s # 1 – The Backgrounder on how I got here.
Working from home is not an easy option. As much as I would like to report that I sit in my jammies all day and sip tea at my leisure and have all the time in the world to get things done, (seriously I would LOVE to report I do that) I would be lying. Working from home takes some serious motivation – you need to be able to focus despite toddler and husband distractions, you need to be able to set goals and reach them in a timely way, and you really need to learn to stay the hell off Facebook and Twitter when it’s crunch time. It can be a mental challenge in more ways than one.
So, for me, there needed to be good reason to choose to discipline myself and hustle to find enough work.
Reason # 1:
Ultimately, Kale is the reason I do this – the hustling, the being tired, the never seeing my husband, the having to book socializing time… Kale is the reason I work that much harder to juggle. There is comfort in a 9 to 5 er, a stability, and a sense of repetition. But that wouldn’t work for us.
I need to start with a disclaimer here. I don’t have anything against parents who work. Each family has to find their own groove. So, nothing said here is a reflection on your ability to parent or your personal beliefs, or a judgement of how your family works. Please don’t email me a strongly worded letter about how I’m being Judgey McJudgerson. (But do go ahead and disagree with me in a polite and pleasant way if you’re so inclined). This isn’t about you, okay?
Working from home is essential in our house because while Ross isn’t making minimum wage, he’s also not raking in the dough to the point of us being able to live off of one income. We flat out need two incomes to make our lifestyle work. We aren’t really spendy people and live frugally. We’ve made some cost cutting choices: we only own one car for example, and we don’t go out to eat as frequently as we did as a child free couple. Without two incomes essentials like food and the mortgage could not work. If you put all my hours from all my jobs together, I work about one full time job – but working a few part time, from-home jobs allows for me to not have to pay for childcare and allows for our family to spend more time enjoying each other’s company as we aren’t spending our non-working time only doing chores and errands – a common complaint I hear from my working parent friends.
I truly believe that Kale and I will benefit most from having me at home. I enjoy hanging out with him and finding us fun things to do and learn about. I think he is a secure child, a chatty, social boy who knows I’m here for him. I enjoy seeing him learn and explore, and I think he enjoys learning with me. When we go out, I trust that Kale is confident in where I am. And when I do leave a few nights a week to go to work, I generally always get a cheery “Goodbye, Mommy!” and a hug and kiss as I head out the door.
I enjoy teaching Kale about the world – the good and the bad. Being at home has reawakened a sense in me that the world is fabulously interesting and that it is filled with interesting people, as well. Kale generally always accompanies me on outings and events, and participates in boring mundane tasks such as grocery shopping. I sometimes wonder if always being entertained with a lovely assortment of toys and friends in a childcare setting doesn’t give him a sense of reality. The fact is that life is often filled with boring things – but non-boring things don’t have to be events. Just watch him choose oranges for me, for example. (Apparently, it’s really awesome). I’m able to insert the boring and mundane things like laundry into our daily routine because I’m at home, freeing up weekend and evening time to do other more enjoyable things.
I’m not sure I trust all child care providers. There’s irony in this statement, given that for over a year I was a childcare provider to one of Kale’s good friends. And I know that most of the truly bad stories I hear and read about in the media are isolated, terrible, statistically one-in-a-million incidences. And I realize that people don’t generally get into childcare if they don’t care about kids. But. I sometimes wonder about daycare settings and how they ever-so-slightly alter the type of care a child experiences because first and foremost, daycare / childcare is a business. If all eyes watch childcare workers for signs of inappropriate behaviour, will the daycare workers be obligated to censor their physical signs of affection for my child? Will they have to limit hugs, kisses, and cuddles because of possible repercussions? Will they let my child eat dirt in that age-old preschooler experiment called “How Does It Taste?” or does an employee have an obligation to stop a child from ingesting weird things because WHAT IF something happened? Because of the limitations of what they can and can’t do, I am not convinced that it’s possible to find someone to provide care that meets my own abilities.
Finally, I have discovered that working from home allows me to work when, how, and why I want. That traditional 9 to 5er I had pre-Kale was exactly that – Monday to Friday, 8-4:30. Everything else in my life was dictated by my working schedule. Now, my life dictates my working schedule. Obviously, certain tasks need doing to make certain deadlines, but working from home lets me be flexible about how I make that deadline. If a particularly interesting documentary or movie catches my eye on TV or if some special activity is advertised that I think Kale will enjoy, I can probably juggle a few things so I can make it happen. I can’t always, but just having the flexibility when it counts is reassuring.
Next up: The Reality of Working from Home