Yes, it’s been a while… So to those regular readers who wondered if I had fallen out of the blogosphere and landed on my head, rendering me in an unconscious blogging coma for 3 months, I am back. And to those new readers who have wandered into my little puddle of the blogosphere, welcome!
As it happens, there was nothing dramatic about my departure, it just seemed to spiral, and every time I envisaged sitting down and updating my blog, life just happened, and then a bit like the impending gloom of writing ones Thank You cards, or To Do list, or tackling the pile of ironing that remonstrates with you in angry fabric conditioned punches as you open the cupboard – it was simply easier to delay doing it to another day.
As many of the blog followers know, I have for the 16 years in which babies have been in my life, worked from home. This has a lot of benefits when you are a mum of young kids. You can dictate your own hours, your boss doesn’t frown if you turn up to work in a shabby faded dressing gown smelling suspiciously of nappies, you can attend those interminable baby hand-clapping gym-bouncing rhyme-singing mornings that all young mummies feel that they ought to, until they realise that they are doing more of the above than their babies who are soundly asleep in their buggies.
And it means that despite the teething sleep deprived hours , the worry of childhood diseases, the endless unsought advice on said diseases, the tantrums in the supermarket, the eviction from the house of biting, fighting, scratching mums (and their toddlers), you can wearily hobble in to a client meeting, baby sick unnoticed on your shoulder, and sit down for a conversation that is only slightly elevated from the ‘Me want’ stage…
But as the kids get older and start developing personalities of their own, this working from home lark can get trickier. Again, it has its advantages – I can simply inform my boss in a slightly schizophrenic way that I am taking the afternoon off to watch my son play a football match. And if one of the kids is sick, I can keep an eye on them whilst on a phone call to a client. But when it hits holiday time, this can be a little bit of a problem.
The older two respect my wishes to be left alone on the days that I have set out to work. They can cook themselves basic meals without setting light to the kitchen. They are perfectly capable of loading the dishwasher and making their beds. They can tidy up after themselves. They can do all of these things… Whether they do, as teenagers, is a different matter. Their hours are not mine. I learned long ago not to wait for them all to emerge for breakfast. During the holidays this can stretch from 7.00am to 11.30am. But by the same token I have learned that expecting them to make a lunch (yes, the timing is a little tricky) means that the fridge is constantly raided throughout the day, and this simply won’t do. And so I set a lunch time. In between phone calls and document writing.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not having a moan, just simply stating it as it is. I absolutely wouldn't have it any other way. I get to see my kids whenever I want and wherever I want, and to carry on doing a job that I love. I get to have my cake and eat it.
But that doesn't detract from the fact that working from home with kids can get a little tricky. For a start, working mums in offices who need someone to maybe have their kids for a few hours, forget that you too, work. Sometimes having an extra child around as a kiddie distraction does actually work for me too. Sometimes it doesn’t. It can be a little tricky if you are on the phone and someone rings the bell and the dog hurls himself in an enthusiastic ball of fury at the door. It can be a bit off putting when you are copy editing a technical document online, and your child comes in to tell you he has nits or that he has forgotten that he has extra sports training 20 miles away starting in ten minutes.
I had a conversation with Little Man this morning who was sitting companionably beside me as I worked. He was doing some homework for a test.
‘Imagine,’ I said, to establish the boundaries, ‘That I am sitting in an office like all the other working mummies. You need to think about what you need to ask me.’
He looked at me. ‘But you are sitting beside me’.
‘Yes, I know, but imagine that you aren’t.’
There was a little silence as he turned back to his book, and I to my computer.
Suddenly he began to make a really annoying loud noise.
‘Ring Ring, Ring Ring.’
‘What are you doing?’
He continued the noise.
‘Stop It!’ I said sharply.
He stopped and looked at me admonishingly. ‘Answer the phone then!’
I rolled my eyes and put my hand to my ear.
‘Hello?’ I enquired wearily.
‘Hello Mummy! What time’s lunch?’ said my son cheerfully.
I’m going to have a stern word with my boss about working conditions…