I worked from home today in the way that I know many parents do regularly. I had preschool hours, potentially nap time, and what I could squeeze in. It wasn’t a bad day, but it reminded me why I don’t attempt this more regularly.
Our nanny is on vacation this week. My parents had been here to cover while my husband and I were both traveling, but then they left. The older boys go to camp from 9-3:30, and this week my 2-year-old daughter has her camp at the preschool she’ll be attending this fall. She goes from 9:30 to noon (she totally loves it, which is reassuring).
This isn’t zero coverage, so I thought I’d experiment (rather than trying to find a back-up sitter for a few hours; hubby is traveling again). I had the hours of 9:30 to noon, and then my daughter naps about 75 percent of the time. The kids are old enough to play semi-independently for 15-20 minutes here and there. It seems like this should all be possible.
And some of it worked OK. I planned the day out as well as I could. I did the work I needed to focus on during the morning shift. I planned something for the afternoon…but then my daughter elected not to nap. She wanted to, but she couldn’t settle down and so she was crabby about the whole thing. I got her interested in a few TV shows, but she won’t sit still for a 90 minute movie. I was hopping up every 20 minutes to change shows, and usually more frequently than that as she demanded water, snacks, etc.
From a personal perspective, it was a good day. My 7-year-old got up early and I played a Pokemon-influenced game he invented with him. We found a giant jalapeno growing in my garden, and with the cilantro and tomatoes growing nearby, we had most of the ingredients for homemade guacamole. The 4-year-old, the 2-year-old, and I made banana bread. There was tree climbing. If I’d managed to get all my work done earlier this week it would have been lovely. I would have gone for a run or something during the morning day camp shift.
But I hadn’t made that happen. So there was a lot of trying to write emails in snatches of time between requests. I barely wanted to get up from my desk to use the bathroom during the morning shift, since I knew I couldn’t guarantee any other focused time.
I am sure other people do better with this set up. I know the reasons WFH parents try. Childcare is expensive, and it seems like this should work. If you get 3 hours of preschool, 2 hours of nap or enforced quiet time, do 30 minutes here and there while dealing with the kids, and maybe 90 minutes after bedtime, that’s 7 hours a day. That’s basically full time.
But this time is fragmented and it’s hard to concentrate. Perhaps this is why some feel that working from home is the worst of all worlds. I think it’s great — but if you work you probably need childcare, and where you do your work probably doesn’t matter as much as many think it does.
Photo: The pepper, tomatoes and cilantro came from the backyard. Onion and avocado, not so much.