I’ve written a few simple rules to help you deal with the reality of working at home with young children. Your day may not go exactly like this, but at times it will probably come pretty close.
1. Start your day by telling the kids you are going to be working. Make sure you have enough time for last-minute demands, such as the urgent need to play “just one” game of Chutes and Ladders.
2. Remind kids of when they can disturb you while you work. “No, wanting a cookie is not an emergency.” “Yes, you can tell me if the cat is on fire.”
3. Remind husband of when he can disturb you while you work. “No, that’s not an emergency either. Give me a back rub after I’m done working and we’ll talk.”
4. Chase cat out of home office.
5. Clean up dishes from around computer. Take to kitchen and remind everyone they are supposed to eat in the kitchen, not the office.
6. Get cat out of office chair and put outside.
7. Get toddler out of office chair and send to Daddy. Close office door.
8. Hear toddler pounding on office door. Find teddy bear tucked behind computer and give to toddler.
9. Start working.
10. Hear kids arguing in hall just outside your office door. Remind them to be quiet for you. Try to get them to stop telling you their side of the story. Send kids to husband for mediation.
11. Take a deep breath. Get back to work.
12. Husband knocks on door to ask when dinner will be ready. With great restraint, remind him that it’s his night to cook.
13. Try to remember what you were doing. Start new project when you can’t figure it out.
14. Toddler comes in covered in paints. Older child follows, saying he didn’t either leave them out. Yell to husband to give toddler a bath.
15. Find paint all over your paperwork. Do your best to clean it.
16. Main phone line rings. Answer because husband is too busy giving toddler a bath. Tell friend no you can’t watch her kids for her tomorrow. Remind her that you do WORK at home.
17. Answer call that beeps through on call waiting. Tell mother-in-law no, you aren’t interested in the outside the home job she just heard about. Yes, you are earning enough working at home. No, it isn’t just a hobby. Explain you are working and can’t talk for long. Hear all the reasons she thinks you need to find a different job.
18. Retreat back to office before kids realize you aren’t in there.
19. Get some work done fast while the getting is good.
20. Soaking wet toddler comes charging in and demands you help dress her. Try to send to Daddy. Calm toddler’s tantrum as she insists she wants MOMMY to do it. Decide dressing her is faster than trying to calm her down other ways. Send clothed toddler back to Daddy.
21. Try to get settled back into working.
22. Hear smoke alarm go off. Dinner must be ready. Take a break and get something to eat with the family.
23. Head back to work. Find out you missed the call you had been expecting. Call them back.
24. Computer crashes. Wait for it to reboot.
25. Realize you hadn’t saved the file you were working on. Autosave didn’t quite get it all. Try to remember what you had been doing.
26. Realize your internet connection isn’t working. Try to get automated tech support to give you a real person.
27. Kids come thundering into the room for bedtime hugs and to ask for a story. Take a break and enjoy.
28. Chase cat back out of office.
29. Find out cat walked all over your keyboard, deleting half your file and inserting random text.
30. Toddler has to go potty and won’t let Daddy help. Once that’s done, help toddler back to bed.
31. Peace and quiet at last. Get some work done before you fall asleep.