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  • Writer's pictureRebel Jones

There Are Rules When Working From Home

I work from home. That means that, whilst I love nothing more than slumping into my big old office chair on a Tuesday afternoon, I know that the chances of me getting more than 17 minutes of uninterrupted work done are... bleak.


It's quite honestly hopeless. Doomed. And yet, I continue to try, in some 'Today will be the day' comedy act.


For parents-in-the-know, I sense your smirk of familiarity. For us, the tight rope between work and wishful thinking is a shaky one. And falling off is inevitable, no matter how balanced we pretend to be.


Believe me - I've tried.


I will wake up and 'whoosah' with the best of them. I will calmly hum my way through the background noise. And try to ignore the occasional 'oops' from downstairs.


I will even put my foot down when the mood takes me. Just today, whilst desperately trying to write this post, I reasserted my 'Ah!' and 'No!' authority to the small child who approached my desk. He was certain I needed to hear his random fact of the hour. And believe me, with this child, they are random!


There Are Rules When Working from Home

In truth, I have never known a child (or adult to be honest) deliver such a diverse collection of 'Did you know' and 'Here's a fun fact' one-liners. Depending on the topic, they're somewhere between fascinating and unnerving. And rarely fail to stop me in my tracks.


But my children know that Mummy has to work. They know that whilst I may appear to be 'just typing stuff', my office is a place to make money.


Not in a fraudulent kind of way I will add, although that might be considerably less stressful. And hey, if I got caught, there could be a cosy 2-10 year 'holiday' waiting for me, with 3 meals a day that I don't have to cook, clean bedding that I don't have to wash, a chance to study in peace...


Anyway, I suggested to said child that he should set a 7pm alarm on the Alexa (which was approximately 6 minutes away), at which point he could unleash his wisdom. And thankfully, this was met with a satisfied nod of agreement.


Now, that might seem kind of pointless and even counterproductive. I know that realistically, I'm not going to achieve anything in 6 measly minutes. And it would undoubtedly be easier to just let my bundle of noise blurt out his miscellaneous monologue before he spontaneously combusts with excitement.


But there are rules when working from home, such as 'one should set boundaries and avoid all unnecessary disruptions'. I read up on them all.


And I can honestly say, we stick to none of them.


Sure, I might make the odd grand gesture of shushing my kids and even threatening them with extra chores (which my youngest actually enjoys and so, sees no punishment in). But otherwise, I work through the chaos.


I am at one with the chaos. I am zen-ing with the chaos. And I am (on at least one noteworthy occasion) sending the chaos to my clients in a hastily written email before downing a barely still warm cup of coffee.


That unsettling rabbit hole of mistakes, sent without so much as a cheap spell check, included words from the SpongeBob SquarePants theme tune. And had the client not seen the funny side, it could have damaged my already, at times, questionable credibility as a content and blog writer.


Big oops! And considerably more funny now, than at that moment of unstoppable realisation. It's a humiliating feeling. And one that (I can only assume) is on par with getting caught in the act by your mother-in-law with barely a pillow to cover your b'low!


Anyway, let's not dodge the duck here. Working from home is, quite frankly, like playing Battleships, with my mental and emotional stability on the verge of being sunk. I'm nervously sat waiting for my opponent, aka the small people who inhabit my home, my sanity and my heart, to make their move. And pray that they don't lure me into a trap that wrecks havoc across all nations.


It sounds dramatic. But for anyone who's ever worked from home with kids (which I know a lot of you were during lockdown), I dare you to say otherwise.


I dare you to defend your barefoot toilet run across shards of Lego. And your high pitched 'It's OK darling, I'm OK' squeals as you lacerate the skin between your toes.


There Are Rules When Working from Home

I dare you to smile sweetly at the chocolate (or at least that's what you hope it is) hand prints on the freshly washed towels that mysteriously appeared during your conference call.


And I dare you to swear on your Grandma's best China that you did not stay up until gone 1am in a desperate bid to finish the project. Maybe it was even 2am.


Because let's face it - the endless interjections of chitter chatter, so-called emergencies, non-emergencies and even cute moments create a less than ideal working environment. It's almost impossible to focus for any great length of time (which is painfully apparent given that I am on day three of trying to write this blog post).


And so, from one barely sane parent to whoever has stumbled across this tangent, here's my 'Been there and done that guide' to working from home with kids:


  1. Allow yourself an unquantifiable amount of coffee. And if you don't like coffee, power through until you do.

  2. Remind yourself that you are the master of your world. And that includes your bladder - minimise the risk of running the Lego gauntlet by crossing your legs.

  3. Consider bribery - paying your children to be angels (or at least quiet) whilst you work is OK. Use money, chocolate and 18+ movies as and when you feel it's appropriate.

  4. Put together clear working boundaries. Print (preferably with cheesy clipart graphics) and stick them somewhere visible. No one, including you, will stick to them. But you'll know you tried.

  5. And most importantly, learn to pick your battles. You don't need to be a hero with a re-enactment of Mary Poppins. Just get through the day without having to go on the run and you're winning.


 

“A two-year old is kind of like having a blender, but you don't have a top for it.”

Jerry Seinfeld


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