Looking back on the last year I don’t quite know how we did it – in truth some days were a complete nightmare but I managed to devise ways to work from home with a baby and stay relatively sane. At least, I think I’m still sane.
There’s no doubt there are pros and cons of being a stay and work at home mum, and Little B’s entrance to nursery has made me reflect on them:
1. It’s so easy to get side-tracked. The empty breakfast bowls you need to clear from the table before you can start work, the beds that haven’t been made yet and the dishwasher that hasn’t been emptied: after a quick whip round to get the house ship shape before you start work you suddenly realise it’s half an hour later and you still haven’t switched on your laptop.
2. You’re at home all the time. With the exception of the school run and exercise, I feel like I’m always at home. Come the weekend all I want to do is be somewhere else. Anywhere. The supermarket, the post office collection centre, the car.
3. Because of being at home all the time the house gets messy in a way it just wouldn’t if everyone was out at work, school and nursery all day. It gets dusty quicker, needs hoovering more often, the bins fill up in the blink of an eye – I could go on and on. When it was just Misery Guts and I and we were out at work all day the place was like a hotel.
4. Because the house gets messy in a way it wouldn’t if everyone was out all day, the messiness distracts you from the task in hand and you’re back to number one, getting side-tracked. You see the cycle that’s emerging here. I’m longing for the day I can shut the back door of the house we don’t yet own and walk down the garden we don’t yet have to the home office I dream about. A shed would do.
5. No paid holiday, sick pay, company pension or Christmas do. If you’re self-employed like me all these benefits go out of the window and you’re on your own. Which is really bad luck if the baby is sick and can’t go to the nursery you have to pay for anyway. But it’s the lack of Christmas party that really hurts, especially when Misery Guts is on his way out of the door for the first instalment of his two-part office and company festive bash. No-one says thank you at the end of the year.
1. No commute. My commute involves going from the bedroom to the bathroom and then to the living room, possibly via the kitchen.
2. You can wear what you want. Unless you’re doing a video call pyjamas, unbrushed hair and bare feet are all fine. Or just pants if there’s a heat wave on.
3. Lunch. Forget a supermarket sandwich or a pasta salad that’s been sweating in your bag all morning – with a fully working kitchen at your disposal the possibilities are endless. And you don’t have to worry about offending anyone with food smells. My favorites are nicoise salad, a salmon salad or anchovies with bread.
4. No office politics and no boss. I don’t miss the ins and outs, the personality clashes and the power struggles that come with being a member of a big office or company at all. The only office politics I’m up against is asserting my authority when the cat wants to sit on the notebook I need, which doesn’t really count.
5. You’re there to breast feed without worrying about how, when and where you can pump and whether anyone will have any objections to breast milk in the office fridge. Plus there’s no need to buy a whole new wardrobe so you can get your boobs out in the loo.
6. You’re there when school or nursery calls because the child is sick and needs collecting asap. You’re there to soothe and cuddle and make hot milk, even though your heart is sinking because you’re going to have to work in the evening and possibly the weekend to make up for it.
7. You’re there to do the nursery and school pick up, even though you’re going to have to sit them in front of CBeebies when you get home and try and zone out of Nina and the bloody Neurons while you reply to that really important email.
8. And you’re there to make the tea, help with homework and hear all about their day before it gets dark. Basically, you’re there.
So all in all I think the pros outweigh the cons, even though the sheer number of things that need to get done each day is often overwhelming and often sends me running for the wine by 7pm, and even though I do sometimes think it would be nice to put on high heels and a bit of lippy, go somewhere without a nappy or crumbs, be able to wee and eat in peace and converse with other adults as opposed to children…
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