I keep a file with half started blog posts and today I was searching around for a post to finalize and I opened this one: “Working From Home with Kids” and surprise surprise, it was blank.
I think that says it all.
It is challenging to work from home when your kids are home with you. I keep thinking I should be able to be more productive as my kids generally have nothing to do with me anymore, they go for long stretches doing their own thing, so why do I not have long productive work stretches?
I realize that I’m on constant alert when the kids are with me and I’m the sole caregiver. When I became a mother, biology kicked in and it suddenly seemed as if danger was everywhere. As my kids got older, some dangers disappeared but others surfaced to take their place. The danger these days is that my kids will kill each other when they get into a fight. Logically, I don’t think this will really happen, but my mom biology will just not let me get immersed in my work.
So even though the kids are up in their room, my mind is focussed half on my immediate circumstances and half on being “on guard.” My eyes in the back of my head are in the switched on position. In fact, there is also a touch of anxiety in my stomach that makes me even less productive than normal.
What I have discovered is that I can do low level mental acuity work. I can do things that I’ve done before and could do with my eyes closed. Bookkeeping, bank reconciliations, data entry, yup – can do that.
Talking to a new client about what I do and what they need? I tried that, it was like texting while driving.
Writing a new blog post from scratch? My brain needs more time and space to be creative.
But hey wait a minute. I seem to have just done it.
Where are the kids? It’s awfully quiet in here.
Time to go check on them.
The kids were fine – and I’m finally finishing this post two weeks later when I have time on my own (the kids are back in school). It’s true that I have to have uninterrupted time to do anything new and challenging. Unfortunately, this was driven home to me this past few weeks while the kids were on summer holidays.
So how do I get that uninterrupted time? I could stick them in front of the TV and I could lock them in their respective rooms, but those solutions are less than ideal and seem to lead to increased anxiety in the pit of my stomach. They got a lot of screen time this past week and I still got low level work done.
What I need to do is plan better and adjust my expectations. At the beginning of the summer, I was concerned that I would only have the kids for half a summer because they were spending the other half with their dad. I thought I would have so much time without them to get work done and I wanted to hoard the time I did have with them by not committing to day camps for the kids that would take them away from me. What I do need to realise is that I cannot truly work effectively while the kids are at home with me and if I try do so, it just leads to anxiety for me (and my kids).
The added bonus of my new understanding is that it will now be much easier for me to be grateful when the kids are with their dad. I never thought it would happen, I thought I would be sad forever, but I am slowly adjusting to having the kids with me for half their lives.