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.

Author: Anna

An Orthodox Jewish wife and mother enjoying a simple life with her family and chickens, somewhere in the hills, in Israel.

4 thoughts on “Is working from home really better for the family?”

  1. Is there a way to set up an office corner? It might help you disengage from work if you could set up a desk in your bedroom or somewhere you could close a door. Establishing designated work hours instead of squeezing it in whenever possible could help with that too.

    Are your older kids old enough to mind the little ones yet? I don’t mean all day, but perhaps an hour or two? Or maybe a childcare swap with a neighbor- you watch all the kids one day in exchange for her watching them all the next?

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    1. Yes, we’re working on setting up an extra room upstairs and my older kids are indeed a great help, but there’s only so much I can ask from them. I do hope my schedule will be less chaotic in time.

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  2. Oh Anna, I can relate! May I share a memory from the 90’s… During my mothering years I have also been a sahm and also worked full time and having children in municipal daycare (we also had an au-pair for a year). Then, at one point, the criteria of calculating daycare fees changed drastically, and we found ourselves in a situation we couldnt afford the daycare. So I decided to join in in the crew of municipal daycare providers at home. At that time our children were 7,6 and 5 so the oldest was entering school that fall, and the second one went to pre-school for afternoons. According to the system I could have 3 children to provide daycare for (4,5 children were the norm that was considered safe) So I got a 5 mo old, her brother that was a year older, and a 4 year old. Ok, that was good. The 4 year old became bored and wanted to go to kindergarten. No problem! Then I got a 3 years old, but she couldn’t do anything for herself because her mother has told her she is too small to eat by herself etc. She knew she was ”three fingers old” so I showed her how there are now 2 even smaller than she. Her mother was in awe: her daughter learned to use a spoon on the first day!! (she learned to button up her cardigan during the first week 🙂 ) That all was nice and normal. But every provider is also substitute to 2 other providers in case they fall ill or something, so there were a time there was 1, 2, 3, 4, 2×5 years old when we escorted my 6 year old to preschool by foot. One car even stopped and asked if they were all mine… Most times it was hectic from 7 am to 7 pm, sometimes it was total chaos. But nobody got hurt, everyone got eaten 3 times a day, and almost all napped as they were supposed to. I must confess there were not very much age appropriate crafts done, but we were out alot if that counts. During that year I learned how to be organized so I KNOW how if I choose to 😉

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