What It's Really Like To Work From Home With Kids
I sometimes work from the floor of my one-year-old son's bedroom, my back up against the crib he never sleeps in, my laptop balanced on my thighs, quietly tapping the keys so as not to wake him from his nap. If he stirs, I can shush or coo or reach over the single mattress on the floor he actually sleeps on and put my hand on his chest, hopefully extending his nap so I can squeeze in a few more minutes of work. Because once he's up, he's awkwardly walking and expertly crawling through the house, up the stairs and inside cupboards at an alarming pace.
And that's when my older son is out of the house. When they're both home, I'll let my almost-four-year-old watch Paw Patrol while I work, sprinting up the stairs when I hear the little one cry over the monitor. If I'm lucky, I get there fast enough to get him back to sleep. Trying to work while they're both awake, without Sesame Street? Forget about it. Thirty seconds and one or both of them are whining, crying or banging their fists against my keyboard. Also? You try writing an article while simultaneously playing referee over toy cars, duplo blocks and drums. Plus, Sesame Street is reserved for when I'm making dinner.
Speaking of dinner, all parents know that getting anything done, whether it's cooking, cleaning or doing laundry, is about one million times harder with little kids around and getting work done is no different. And, of course, the cooking and cleaning and chores don't really get done as often or as well when the quiet time is used for work. But, we survive.
The chaos of working with—or maybe I should say "around"—toddlers isn't surprising. Frustrating, maybe, but not surprising. Am I surprised when my son smears yogurt on my silk top two minutes before I'm supposed to leave for an event? Nope, but I am quietly furious. Is it virtually impossible to make a phone call with two kids around? Of course. As hilarious author "and butt wiper" Bunmi Latidan says of when she gets a phone call: "The background noise alone will sound like I live on a farm of hyperactive barnyard animals who live exclusively on Red Bull and cocaine-laced Hawaiian Punch." Perfectly put.
What has surprised me though, is how accepting and encouraging of my situation the people I work with and meet have been. I'm a freelance lifestyle writer and the editor of wellness blog SoFreshMag and when my second was a tiny baby and slept most of the time anyway, I brought him to two different press events: one for a major beauty retailer, the other for a fashion retailer and while eyelids were definitely batted, reactions were more of awe and "awww" than "ew." I recently had an international conference call with a major beauty brand and explained that they may hear my little one in the background. The brand's skincare expert revealed that she was in the same boat not so many years ago. And I'm one of two remote/work-from-home moms one of my clients employs because, I guess, she remembers what it's like to have a little one and want to spend as much time with them as you can.
Is this support of my mompreneurship because I work mainly with women? Because I don't work in a suit-and-tie industry? I'm not sure, but it's nice to know that things don't have to be perfect to get respect in the working world because for me, the chaos, the yogurt smears, the hyperactive barnyard animals and sprinting through the house to my napping baby are all worth it. As crazy as it may sound, this is just the way I want it.
Vanessa Grant is a work-at-home mom of 2, freelance lifestyle writer and editor of SoFreshMag.