Ages ago, my mother emailed me this quote:
“American children are busier than ever. No one is speaking up for busy children who, though they may boast a room full of sports trophies or a flawless rendition of Beethoven’s Fur Elise are being robbed of their only true modern birthright—childhood….We who lament the general loss of innocence blame the media—television, movies, the culture. But parents are equally to blame, as we’ve come to view childhood as an inconvenience to our adult-driven, dual-career world. Let’s face it: childhood is slow, dull, time- consuming and unproductive, monetarily speaking. Children get the message everyday that childhood is something to outgrow as soon as possible.” Kathleen Parker
Yep. We have careers to maintain, baby. What is more important – making money or playing with play-dough? Geesh. When will you grow up and stop demanding? Why can’t you learn independence just a little faster? Do I seriously have to wipe your butt every stinkin time you poop? Seriously, my boob is not your pacifier – give me time to WORK. Okay, I speak in half jest. My kids are my number one priority. Seriously. I love and adore them. And I want to focus on them. But I have a problem. Okay, according to Dad, I have an “opportunity for a solution.” This is it. I work from home. Ahh, yes, that paradise where I can be with my children and also bring in an income. It’s perfect, right? I couldn’t ask for anything better – I can have my cake and eat it, too! Riiiiiight.
Let me tell you something. Working from home is over-rated. Making my own hours is awesome. Working while in PJs and sipping my coffee is awesome. Being able to love on a little kid anytime I want is awesome. But let me tell you what isn’t. You’re right in the middle of a project, you have a web emergency and a deadline all to meet and your 3-year-old needs her butt wiped across the house, you’re tripping over toys, the baby is screaming because she’s figured out how to stand up but doesn’t know yet what to do after that, your 6-year-old has taken over the kitchen and there is honey everywhere and the dog just shredded half a tree on your living room rug. It sucks. Instead of leaving home at home and work at work, you are in the midst of chaos – think of the daycare center in the center of your workspace: constant interruptions and distractions.
Let me tell you my solution. When you have young kids and you think working from home is the answer, here is your reality check. It is hard. It is not for the undisciplined. And please oh please, don’t try it alone. Childhood, when viewed in comparison to the pressing deadlines, can be slow, unproductive, and definitely time-consuming. But it’s precious. It’s incredible. It’s the foundation for which dreams are made. It’s worth every minute. I don’t want to be the mother who feels her kids are a burden or an inconvenience. I don’t want to scream at them every time they come in the office and climb on my chair. But geez louise how in the heck can I get anything DONE with them around?
Cue the babysitter. That wonderful creature. The amazing, incredible, instant entertainment, attention focused, immensely cool in your childrens’ eyes babysitter. Back to that quote above, my time spent with them is not in chauffeuring them from one event to the next. It’s flat – out down time. It’s reading book time, playing on the trampoline time, doing arts and crafts time, baking time, imagination time. Back-to-back activities is another blog rant. There are a gazillion and one awesome things for my kids to do – and I’m thankful that a lot of them are in the comfort of our own home created out of their own heads. But I don’t want anyone else to raise my children! I’m the mama, I should be there! Let me tell you something. Being physically present doesn’t mean squat if you aren’t emotionally present. If your mind is on that marketing strategy and that deadline, you aren’t truly there. Don’t try to juggle all things. Be focused.
When you need to work, work. Spending three hours working hard so you can spend 5 hours playing and focusing on your family is much better than trying to hop on and off all day. Take it from me. Lesson learned the hard way. You can get ideas and inspiration for work when you play - taking true breaks from work and letting go of the to-do list is good for your soul and your productivity. Working from home has its perks, but I want to give a reality check to those with young children. In order to be a present parent, enlist help during work hours. Focus in, prioritize your day, and determine what needs to get done. Then get the help you need to complete it uninterrupted. I promise you it’ll make for better and more focused parenting.