I’m calling BS on the amount of advice I’m seeing in my social media feed about ‘working from home’ and how to arrange my workspace so the ‘feng shui’ is awesome and I get as much natural light as possible in order to get my creative juices flowing.
I am also tipping my hat to those who are nailing home schooling, baking with endless amounts of flour and exercising enough for the both of us - you are an inspiration to me.
A realisation has dawned on me over this time of the LOCKDOWN. Having said I ‘worked from home’ for the last two years, I believe I have unwittingly fooled those who bothered to listen to me harp on, as that’s not really what I was doing. It’s not actually working from home that I do, I work remotely. There is a HUGE difference. I have been able to have the choice to work from my home, cafes, client’s offices, a laundromat, outside my daughter’s dance classes on a hard wooden seat, on an airplane, waiting for an airplane, on my phone whilst waiting at school pick up … I have come to the realisation that I was spending more time working ‘remotely’ than working ‘from home’.
I will never say “I work from home” again.
I have assured my friends, who are now able to work from home for the first time, to go easy on themselves and to brace themselves for some unexpected side effects. They’re armed with their two large monitors, office chairs, hard copy files in boxes and boxes around them, fancy head sets and Bic biros from the office … that it is literally going to be impossible for them to work from home as they would during a normal office day. I’ve told them to accept this, and do what they can ... and to wear pants.
They won't be able to pop into the work kitchen and grab a FREE coffee 5 times a day (yes that’s right they will have to order it in), there will be NO morning tea shouts unless they bake it themselves (don’t get me started on the flour and yeast debacle).
To add into the mix, if they’re parents they will have the amplified experience of the office chatterbox cloned into 100 chatterboxes, right beside them with questions ranging from ‘can I’ to ‘so and so pretended to punch me’ to ‘what's that smell on my hand’ or stories about stuff totally off topic that need to be told then, and there. No choice. We’re also concerned about our incomes, and what will be the result of this terrible Pandemic for our families, jobs and businesses. On a day-to-day basis I have reminded myself that all I can control is what I have on my plate each day (not just lockdown loaf and cinnamon rolls).
Please don’t misunderstand my rant as regret. I had kids to see ‘mini me’s’ running around and looking dashing in their cute little outfits and being super talented at … everything … they … try:) I get all of that, and more, between 7.30-8.50 (mainly yelling and rushing) and 3pm - 9pm (let’s be honest 10pm) weekdays and ALL WEEKENDS. It’s awesome and very rewarding being a parent to our 8 & 10 year old daughters. I could go on about it for hours but I’m writing this blog while they’re spending their last 10 minutes on Roblox doing goodness knows what in whatever strange land they’re in with their schoolmates. Time is precious right now and my tea is getting cold.
“Working from home with a family, or even a clingy pet, is climbing a dangerous rocky mountain, in plastic jelly shoes, whilst balancing an egg on a spoon in one hand and someone constantly running their nails down a chalkboard sitting on your shoulders. ”
— FRAN, FOUNDER VIRTUAL MARKETERS
The mountain is a metaphor for PARENT GUILT mixed with WORK GUILT. It’s a recipe for disaster, so, like me, I recommend grabbing it with both hands and OWNING IT. Accept you can’t be superhuman. Be honest with your manager, if you have one, if it’s not working the way it could for you. They’re often likely to be either feeling the same way, or dodging the bullet by hiding in their cupboard working with no-one in their bubble realising they never left for work as per normal … 4 weeks ago.
I know there are always deliverables for work, and I absolutely have many of those myself. No doubt your workplace has provided tools and tricks on how to stay focussed and ensure you're working in a safe space. But what they may not have done, is ‘let you off the hook’. I recommend scheduling your day with your partner, if you have one, to share the home schooling. My hubby and I are kind of winging it, but I know some friends are having mornings or afternoons (especially with preschoolers as they’re little balls of energy). OR if your single parenting, OR simply like my husband and I, plop the kids in front of their iPads or TV from 2pm each day and call them for dinner when it’s ready. The only outcome we’re focussed on for our kids is, to be the world's ultimate Roblox players (they should be with the amount of time they’ve spent playing that), a bit more tech savvy through their schooling stuff, still connected to their friends through the FREE app WhatsApp. BUT above all else … we’re hoping they forget McDonalds ever existed. That’s it.
This means, we can get our work done to the best of our abilities, have the time we need to have a walk or eat a block of chocolate the kids don’t know about and keep connected to our friends also on WhatsApp and social media.
Sure we’ll roll out of the house post lockdown, big bellies, big beard (hubby only hopefully), glued to our devices … but we’re hoping we’ll still be friends with each other in our bubble, remember our extended family’s names and most of all resolve to not going back to all of our old habits of rushing and trying to keep up.
Good luck, you’ve got this. In whatever way is going to work for you and your family.