Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Best of Both Worlds

A lot of people (and by a lot of people, I mean - those who have never done it) think that working from home is easy. And why wouldn't they think that? I mean, when you work from home, you can stay in your pajamas all day. There's no sitting next to annoying people on the train who talk loudly on their cell phones to their boyfriends, calling them Schmoopsie-poo and refusing to hang up until they do. You don't have to battle rush-hour traffic. When you work from home, you don't have to make small talk with coworkers and kiss your boss's butt. You can take a break and watch Oprah if you want. You can get up and grab a snack from your fridge whenever you want. You can play your old 80s CDs and turn the volume as high as it'll go while dancing around in your underwear and no one will hand you a brochure on psychiatrists covered by your company's HMO.

Yes, it's true that working from home has many advantages. However, if you're a parent, working from home takes on a whole new meaning. On the one hand, it means you don't have to pay for daycare. You don't have to worry about your kids picking up every germ known to man while at daycare. You don't have to dread the call from the daycare that your child bit another child and is a menace to society and will probably end up on a clock tower some day.

But it’s not all sunshine and roses. When I worked at an office I almost never had to stop what I was doing to wipe a coworker's butt. I didn’t have to break up fights between coworkers about which is better, Wonder Pets or Little Einsteins, very often. Fellow employees didn't generally run through my cubicle, screaming. When I used to work in an office, no one ever threw a paper airplane at me, no one ever came to me with a Barbie shoe stuck up his nose, no one ever poured a cup of chocolate milk on my desk, and no one ever screamed for attention when the phone rang.

Now that I work from home, I’ve experienced all of the above and then some. It’s hard to keep your train of thought on track when you have little people who are constantly derailing it. Still, I get to spend time with my children while working. I get to make a living while watching my kids grow up. I can sit down and write and a minute later, get up and play a game with the kids.
True, working from home offers the worst of both worlds. But it also offers the best. It just depends on how you look at it. :) I try to look at it as the best of both worlds. If I wasn't able to work from home, I'd have missed out on this...

This morning, Brooklyn came to me and said, "I think my tummy is hungry."

She'd just eaten 3 cheesesticks so I answered her, "I think your tummy is full of cheese!"

She lifted her shirt up, looked at her stomach, threw her hands up in the air and said, "I don't see any cheese in my tummy!"

Then, a little later, Clay walked into the laundry room wearing this...


Yep, that's great. My little Ariel. I'm so proud.

After we dropped Clay at school (thankfully he'd changed), Brooklyn made a creation out of Legos for me. "Here you go, Mama. I made this toy for you. I Santa."

"You're Santa Claus, huh? Well, thank you for my toy. Should we comb your hair and make it pretty now, Brooklyn?"

She looked me like I was insane. With hands on hips, she spoke down to me. "Mama, I Santa Claus. Santa doesn't like piggytails."

I stand corrected.

Head on over to my review blog to see my latest giveaway from a work-at-home family.

45 comments:

Tracy said...

Oh Dawn I cannot beleive you picked today of all days to post this! I work part time from home, I also have a 23 month old. And a hubby home until 12. Both of which are huge distractions. Today I actually had a customer ask me about the screaming in the background (my hubby was doing such a fabulous job of watching our son).

Anonymous said...

I worked full time for a company for 9 out of 12 years there. The last three I worked part time, a big chunk at home to be with the kids. We couldn't afford day care, I had three kids 4 and under, and one needed medical attention the first year. I still had a pretty big position with meetings on the phone, deadlines, and had to interact during normal business hours. Three years I did it until I couldn't handle hearing myself scream at my kids to be quiet because mom was working. People thought I had it made and I was nuts for quitting. Out of 400+ employees I was the only one "allowed" to work at home and people were jealous of that. It was a good set-up but not easy. My kids just wanted to play with me...they didn't get deadlines and meetings. If you can make it work more power to you but I for one know it's not easy. It was a blessing while it lasted and boy I wish I still had the paycheck. If I could work from home now on my OWN TERMS I would jump at it. My husband works so hard and I would love to relieve that a little.

I love your glass is half full attitude. You seem to always see the positive in things whereas I just stress out. You always make me think, which is a good thing.

Kirsten said...

Kudos to you for ever getting anything done. I don't think I could work much from home, my kids would give me too many distractions! I actually work 15/hrs a week, so I am home and when I am about to go insane I get to go to work, sit at my computer, drink my coffee. . . . . speak to adults . . . now THAT is the best of both worlds! :-)

MaBunny said...

Dawn I am astonished that you didn't know that Santa Claus doesn't do piggytails!!!
I do not work from home - I work at my daughters school which also has its advantages and disadvantages!

ImakehairROCK4u2 said...

The Wonder Pets definatly rule!

Your house sounds as amusing as mine!

Nicole M, Delaware said...

Do I see a baby holder in the background? Is there something you need share? You could always go for 'eight is enough'! haha

GrammaMack said...

I work from home, and I love it, for the reasons you mention and others, like not having to get up early and go out in the cold Canadian winter. (I'm a night owl--like you, right?) The one negative you don't mention is that you can never go home and leave your work at work. It's always there, calling your name...

Dawn said...

Nicole, that's just Brooklyn's highchair !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ted and/or Laura said...

"When I worked at an office I almost never had to stop what I was doing to wipe a coworker's butt. I didn’t have to break up fights between coworkers about which is better, Wonder Pets or Little Einsteins, very often. Fellow employees didn't generally run through my cubicle, screaming. When I used to work in an office, no one ever threw a paper airplane at me, no one ever came to me with a Barbie shoe stuck up his nose, no one ever poured a cup of chocolate milk on my desk, and no one ever screamed for attention when the phone rang."

Oddly enough, when I worked at an office, NONE of the above would have shocked me. My boss would often gallop down the hallway making odd animal noises and have completely nonsensical arguments with himself and employees. So in my world, there is not much difference between working at THAT office and being at home (now, in school full time). But most people don't work for toddlers disguised as 60 year old men...

Bec said...

When I was pregnant with my son my bosses tried to get me to work from home. I'm so glad I didn't take them up on that, even if I could use the money! I can't even get housework done and I only have ONE kid (so far)!

Feisty Irish Wench said...

I work from home, or try to anyway. I would rather win the lottery and sit on the computer eating reeses peanut butter cups all day. And for some reason I have a certain song playing in my head now.....and i'm craving Reese's ... and the lines at WalMart at this hour are just NOT worth the craving.

Angie said...

I am so glad that you didn't have to wipe your co-workers butts very often when you worked in an office! I love it when you make me laugh out loud! Thanks Dawn.

Julie said...

I admire people who can get any work done in the same zip code with friends.

We don't have kids, so I thought I had it all figured out when I'd let my BFF's kids come over here after school while she was gone. I'd give them a game and tell them that they had to fool the people on the phone into thinking this was an office, so no noise, OK? You get a treat if they don't guess.

This worked for years until the day I was interviewing a psychiatrist and the kids got into a huge hairy fight over Connect Four that ended up with one of them throwing it against the wall and running into my office screaming, "She made me do it!"

I explained to my source I was babysitting. "Yah, that's what all the mothers say," he shot back.

Jillena said...

I worked from home for awhile (and hopefully will soon again). For me it's worth it because I want more than anything to be a stay-at-home mom, but right now I'm the only income while my husband goes to school. It's true, I get most (strike that, all) my work done while my son is sleeping. It was easier when he was younger, but now that he can crawl and stand, he sees the computer as something taking me away from playing with him, and is jealous of it. I am hoping to get a job soon (this week, cross my fingers) that will again allow me to work from home, but I plan on getting someone to watch him a few hours a day. That combined with his naps, and I should be able to get my work done! And I agree with the Canadian mother--I love not having to go out in the weather . . . or having to get dressed. I just wish I'd been able to work from home before I had kids. That would have been sweet. Does that make me anti-social? (I think the answer is YES!) Oh, and I love not dealing with the commute. But hopefully we'll be able to live on my husband's elementary school salary, and I can be at home as just a mother (and work, but only on the side and on my terms). Here's hoping!

Tammy said...

For what it's worth, Classical Baby trumps both Little Einsteins and Wonder Pets. I'm just sayin'.

At work I got breaks, talked with people about things more pressing than sock seams that aren't lined up comfortably and paid days off, called vacations. I don't have those (or an office door I can close and lock) anymore, but I do get paid in kisses and specially drawn artwork filled with hearts. I'd say it's a fair trade.

Jennifer said...

And that is exactly why I started working from home, and why I am now back to working in the office (I'm a programmer). I miss my 2 terribly, but I found it impossible to get anything done. Followed by the guilt of not doing either (parenting or working) well. Gotta hand it to you, you inspire me every day =)

Mom Taxi Julie said...

I thought being a SAHM was hard (notice I didn't say WAHM) until I got a job. Yeah then I got to go to work for 6 hours a day, then come home and do everything I did before in the few hours that was left AFTER work.

Anonymous said...

That whole wiping-a-coworker's-butt paragraph--Hilarious!!

Anonymous said...

Love the Okay sign from Brooklyn!!! Did she think Clay looked really "okay" with the dress?! lol, way cute!

Corrina

Jodi said...

I work from home too Dawn. I have a balloon delivery business and a wedding decoration business and also an avid scrapper!!!
BUT!! My husband also works from home!! So theres no 80s music on full volumn, no Ophra!!! No grabbing a snack without hearing "is that low fat"!!!
But it does have lots more advantages than disadvatnges and the best part is that we can raise our kids ourselves! We can yell and rant and rave and they cant tell a sole!! LOL... Nah, mine are teenagers now, so if i yell, they just walk out!!! No, we negiotiate h....

Jennifer W said...

I can totally relate to this as I work at home with a 2.5 year old here all day long. He might not go to daycare, but I sure make a great jungle gym. The trampoline stopped being fun weeks ago! I just chuckle when people gush about how lucky and wonderful it must be. But I really am thankful for many of the things you list because as a single mom it's almost unheard of that we get to be WAHMs. I just have a feeling I'm going to need a new sitter soon to keep me from cabin fever insanity with this crazy Chicago weather.

Goat Creek Grandma said...

I have always wanted to work from home but never lucky enough to find a job that would allow me too. I can understand your distractions but just think, you were never entertained as well at an office job! *laughing* I imagine if I did work from home my biggest distraction would be my 44 year old child! :)

Take Care,
Debbie

noexcuses said...

I love hearing about your everyday adventures! I miss those days!

I have exactly one hour to myself from the time I get off work until the drama queens come home from high school! That's when my adventure starts!

Love the picture of Clay! When my #2 son was three, he would sing along while watching "Little Mermaid." We have a picture of him in a pink tutu that he just had to have for Halloween one year. We now use it as a bargaining tool...

Thank you so much for sharing your adventures!

Betsy said...

Clearly, Dawn - you've never worked on a trading desk or on a stock exchange floor! There are frightening similarities to being a work-at-home mom. Lots of screaming and yelling (probably more obscenities), phones ringing constantly, and lots of people vying for your attention. During my career, I've been hit by numerous paper airplanes, doused in confetti, had paper spurs attached to the back of my patent leather pumps (I was standing at a trading post with my back to the exchange floor), and have had coffee spilled on me, by both me and others. The worst was on an equity trading desk - we were doing a debt offering for Hasbro, and they kindly sent over whistling Nerf footballs - I got beaned in the back of the head a bunch of times, before I finally lost it with the guys who were throwing wide. Someone once described Wall Street as having a river at one end, a graveyard at the other, and a kindergarten in between - it's so true!

On the plus side, I've never had to wipe a coworker's butt ...

Jeni said...

I am sure you have heard this before but I consider you to be the Erma Bombeck of our generation. Your blogs are so hilarious and yet still very touching. Your love for your children definitely shows through the humor. I relate to you and I enjoy reading your blog everyday. I look forward to your book(s)!

Brenda said...

Which is meaner, alligators or crocodiles?

Elleah said...

That picture is hilarious!

Anonymous said...

I know that if I worked from home I would never get anything done. And, truthfully, some days I am soooo glad to have an office to come to so that I can get away from home. But then when I'm here I'm wishing I was home. I guess you always want what you can't have. Anyhow, I greatly admire anyone who can work at home with children and be productive!

Anonymous said...

In many cases, in order to be approved to telework from home, you must document that you have space/equipment (phone lines, etc.) to do the work and childcare in place to show that you're not taking advantage.

Candi said...

I worked my own commercial art business for 20+ years out of my home. My most irksome problem was not my kids' interruptions or the last minute changes of my great group of professional architects, small business owners, etc. that were my mainstay clients.
My biggest problem was people who thought that because I worked from my home I had plenty of time to sit and chat or do volunteer work for the school class, and the number of friends who just knew I could do a little gratis work for their favorite charity, etc. When it really got on my last nerve is when it was a wife of one of the 5-6 "work out of the home" dads I knew (2 were clients), who would no more dream of asking hubbie for freebies, but didn't bat an eyelash at calling me. Go figger.%)

Funky Kim said...

I'm commenting to you from my office computer. My children are grown and mostly gone now and I worked all their lives. And I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I could never work from home. I just don't have the self-discipline to do it. I would goof off most of the time and miss deadlines and stuff and be unemployed in no time. I need the office to help keep me on track.

That said, I'm so very grateful that you have the option and opportunity to work from home and that it works for you.

Lisa said...

Hey Dawn -- Just FYI, I linked to you today... nytimes.com/parenting. I loved the butt wiping paragraph too (although they made me take out the word butt in the New York Times...) Hang in there. Lisa Belkin

Cheryl said...

I don't "work" from home, I blog and I write, but I don't get paid for either so technically I can't say I work from hom :) But I homeschool and run the house (and everything that entails) so YES I WORK from HOME LOL!

Robyn said...

I think it is so funny that you wrote "I almost never had to stop what I was doing to wipe a coworker's butt."
Almost??
I sure hope things have changed at that office ;) LOL
I love your blog, by the way!

Rebecca Egolf said...

So true, so true. I work from home, and my kids are at school part of the day so I expect those hours to be high-output time when I get as much done as I can. My family doesn't always understand why the dishes and laundry didn't get done when Mom was home all day...

But working from home is lonely - there's no coworkers to chat with, and I may go for many hours without speaking to anyone else, and there's no tech department down the hall to fix my computer when it breaks or store room full of office supplies to raid. I miss the social side of working in an office.

...The Obnoxious SAHM said...

My 3 year old has that same dress! She did the bippity boppity boop boutique at the Magic Kingdom and this spoiled child is doing again this weekend for her birthday when she turns 4.

Ridiculous! I never got to do cool stuff like that when I was her age! LOL I am sure I'll be blogging about that.

Crissie said...

You give new meaning to the word multitasking. You amaze me that you get so much done :)

Angel said...

I gotta say I love Brooklyn's reaction in the picture. That is priceless!!!

Pattie said...

I had the honor of working from my home for a year. The position came with a specific requirement that I be able to prove that I had childcare for my kids. It was the best "gig" I ever had. I had someone who cared for my 2 young children (and cooked and cleaned), while I worked in my office downstairs(and sometimes also did some laundry). I knew what my kids were doing each day, how our caregiver worked with them and how she disciplined. I could hear all of the laughter and tears from upstairs. I miss it sooooo much!!!!!

Lori said...

Finally, I have some useful advice to offer to you. The dreaded Easter grass is a thing of the past in my house. I buy pastel colored tissue paper and line the baskets with it. When I am particularly creative and not putting candy in the baskets at 4 in the morning...I might even buy some grosgrain ribbon to curl and tie on the handles.

Halle said...

I haven't laughed so hard at something I read in a very long time! The wiping butts comment has me giggling over and over. It's even worse when its the little neighbor girl who always seems to come over at her "special time" of day...ah, come on...really...again.

Wifey Dessert said...

oh my!! i would love to work from home.. but i dont have kids yet hahaha... maybe someday i can experience the fun you explained here :P

Martha said...

I have worked from home for a major corporation, not self employed for almost 15 years. Working at home has many advantages, and it has eased some of the stress of being a single mom since my child was only 8 mos old, but it also has it's disadvantages. I never feel like I get away from housework and I don't feel like I have the "decompression time" that a commute can give you. I go from one minute being an employee to the next minute being a mom. If I have a spare minute, (my lunch breaks are usually spent in car line), I feel I need to put in a load of laundry, do the dishes, walk the dogs or start preparing dinner. I rarely just take the time to sit and read (or blog). I find that I don't have a morning routine, because I can do it later, and some days I find myself at 5pm STILL needing that shower. I do multi task though. Right now while typing this, I have a report running on my company laptop, and I am listening to this week's episode of Life on www.hulu.com with the headphones.

It has saved on car expenses, wardrobe expenses, but at the cost of not having face to face interaction with other grown ups for days at a time!

I'm retiring from this job in 4 weeks, as they are taking the "privelege" of working from home away from us... I know I will have to work again, and most likely in an office... but I need a change after 29 years!

Michelle said...

Oh I knew I was in for a good one when I saw this. I'm working from home but ummm... my life ain't quite so simple.

The wee ones CAN NOT be home when I'm working. They're either in preschool or daycare, which means I'm paying for that, or my parents are watching them. I can't do whatever I want whenever I want, as my job is defined by meetings, so I very frequently am on the phone and trying to do that change of laundry quickly before the next call starts.

But ... I don't have a one hour commute each way. I don't have to rush out the door and not see the wee ones at all during the week (like I used to not). I can make dinner so we aren't relying on sandwiches or takeout constantly. It isn't perfect, but it's better than the alternative!

And I'm SO glad to see Clay dressed as Ariel. Mister Man was determined to be Ariel for Halloween this year until my husband finally talked him out of it. :)

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El) said...

I'd love to work from home, but with 24 fifth graders, I just don't have enough chairs!

I like the idea of a change of scenery, but I like being home too. Perhaps in my next career...

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