Is working from home really better for the family?

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Some days, honestly, I doubt the answer.

As a mom to a bunch of young kids, working from home gives me the benefits of no commute, a flexible schedule, and the ability to work in my pyjamas at the kitchen table.

It also means, however, that I often find myself working a whacko schedule of late nights followed by early mornings and the occasional hour in the afternoon.

Whenever someone is awake, forget about productivity: distractions can propel me into making ridiculous mistakes like using info for Orange County, NC, instead of Orange County, California (true story!).

I’m always there, but I’m also not really “there”, because my eyes are glued to my laptop screen. And when the time comes to close the laptop for the day, I find it hard to disengage.

Here’s a dirty secret: when you work from home, many people consider it not working at all, even if you make pretty good money (Covid and the lockdowns changed this cultural assumption somewhat). As such, family members expect you to be always available for a phone call or a quick errand during the day and don’t understand what you mean by “busy”.

There are days when the lure of walking out of the door for a set number of hours, then coming back home to really BE at home, is almost overwhelming. Then a kid gets sick or I make a trip somewhere and see the traffic, and think that my choice of being a home-based freelance writer makes sense after all.

The ideal solution for me would probably be a designated home office (and a whole lot of help with little ones!). Until that is in the making, I’ll make do with what I have.

Five things you gain when you simplify

Simplifying can mean many different things to different people. For me, it’s paring down your life to get rid of clutter in all areas: closets, schedules, relationships.

Simplicity is the freedom of being able to smile, say “no thanks”, and walk away without being riddled with guilt or feeling you’re missing out on something.

Here are five things I enjoy thanks to simplicity:

  1. More time. Fewer engagements and less stuff mean you don’t have to spend as much time managing the administrative side of life.
  2. More money. Simplifying often means buying less, traveling less, and opting for fewer paid activities. Which allows you to save your money for what matters!
  3. More creativity. Slowing down helps think outside the box. For example, during the strictest covid lockdowns, we discovered lovely spots we’ve never visited before within walking distance.
  4. Deeper engagement. If you put your phone aside and don’t look at the time for a bit, you can really be present in the moment.
  5. Stronger relationships. For me, simplicity means spending time with people you truly care about and elegantly opting out of superficial relationships.

I’m sure I can think of more, but these are the main points. What is simplicity for you?

When your home overwhelms you

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A pile of dishes in the sink. Papers strewn all over the sofa. A messy pile of laundry from last week in the hall. Unrecognizable sticky spots trailing the length of your living room.

Homes can get messy astonishingly fast, especially if you have kids. And sometimes, when you’re not tired, more like exhausted, or even more like totally and utterly depleted and sleep-deprived, it can get overwhelming.

Still, you must start tackling the mess somewhere. Here are my suggestions.

Something easy. There’s nothing like a quick, easy task to give you a sense of accomplishment. Empty the overflowing trash can, shove some paper clutter into the garbage, or water the plants.

Something hard. You’ll feel SO much better after you fold all the laundry from the last two weeks, give the bathtub a good scrub, or do whatever it is you’ve been postponing for a while.

Something inspiring. Homes aren’t just functional places where we eat and sleep. Something new and pretty, like hanging up a piece of art or planting some flowers, will give you motivation to keep working on your surroundings – even if the kitchen sink is still messy.

Something for someone else. Somehow, fluffing up my children’s pillows or sorting out their closet is easier for me to start with than my own room.

Something to eat. As you go into a whirlwind of trying to restore your home to a livable condition, it’s easy to forget you need to eat until lunchtime is long past, you’re faint with hunger, and your kids are complaining. Take the time to fix something simple to eat, even some pancakes or egg sandwiches and salad.

Need more encouragement? Check out these tips on cleaning a super messy house, super fast.

It’s hatching season again

New arrivals

A little belatedly, hatching season opens here again – and this time, with guinea fowl eggs. I have received some as a gift, and apparently a couple were already in the incubation process, because they surprise hatched after only a week.

So far, we lhave these two adorable keets. One looks like the standard coloring and the paler one could be lavender.

This little one had huge trouble getting out of the egg. I ended up performing an assisted hatch and peeling nearly all the shell. I was really apprehensive, but after a couple of hours it was already running around the brooder! So don’t give up on those chicks who are struggling to get out. They may be perfectly fine and just require a bit of assistance to start out in life.

Best friends

By the way, did you know guinea fowl are kosher? I have only discovered this recently. We don’t eat our birds, but I’d love to try some guinea eggs.

Pink Clouds crochet dress

Latest creation

One of the fun things about having girls is the endless possibilities of beautiful crochet projects. Dolls and doll clothes, feminine tops, fancy boleros, whimsical little bags… And, of course, beautiful lacy summer dresses!

For this one, I picked a basic open back raglan for the upper part and a beautiful skirt design by Anastasia Krechetova. Yarn: Summer by Ice Yarns.

Semi-war going on. Missiles falling. Bomb shelters being readied for occupation. But what the heck? Crochet is compact, fits anywhere, and is cheaper than therapy.

We’re safe

Following a deluge of messages from concerned friends, I’m just popping in to let everyone know we’re safe and haven’t been near the rocket attack areas in Israel.

We did, however, experience first-hand some of the violent disruptions by Israeli Arab “citizens” who are showing for the umpteenth time where their loyalties lie (hint: not with the country that feeds, protects, and ensures equal rights for them).

Our hearts are with the Israelis who have suffered from the unprovoked, vicious bombings.

Do you work too hard?

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Not long ago, I told a friend that saying I’m tired is like saying the Titanic experienced a minor snag. True enough, exhaustion has been part of my life as a mom, spiking during periods like new babies, moving house, holidays, and other types of overwhelm.

I’ve been told it’s normal. Normal to want some quiet time. Normal to dream of moving to New Zealand.

Maybe you’ve just had your first baby. Maybe you have children with special needs. Maybe, like me, you are trying to juggle the needs of several different-age kids and your freelance writing business.

Either way, I’m going to share five questions I’ve asked myself to help myself let go of unrealistic expectations (pffft) and put mental health first.

One, do you work too hard? No, wait. That’s not a question. Start over.

Do you iron? Ironing is seriously overrated. A few wrinkles on a shirt haven’t killed anyone yet. Besides, wrinkles straighten up, more or less, while you wear the item.

Do you do too much laundry? Around here, clothes get tossed into the hamper when they are dirty. I separate darks and lights, but otherwise, everything gets shoved in the wash together, including underwear, bedding, and towels.

Do you cook too complicated? It’s best to choose dishes that request not just little prep, but little cleanup as well. Soup is a perennial favorite.

Do you delegate? Do you let people do what they can for themselves? If a toddler can pick up her toys, great. If a tween can clean her room, fantastic. So what if it’s not perfect? It fosters healthy independence and helps lighten your load.

Do you take the time to recharge? Do you remember when you last watched a movie? Read a book just because? Called a friend? When I realized that my answer to these was “I’m not sure”, I acknowledged I was on the verge of burnout. I began making an effort to eat and sleep better and to do more things that refresh and rejuvenate me.