"It’s now nearly 3pm and it’s time to fire off a few emails, update the gas and electricity meter readings, hang out the laundry and head to school. Any thought of doing work once your child is home is soon shattered by demands for food, help with homework or just requests to aid them in building a massive Lego tower or Marble Run."
A milk carton elephant
Mums tend to fall into two camps - the stay at homes and the workers. Yes, I know there are men whose lives are equally affected by the arrival of small people but, let’s be honest. The majority of time it is women who have to readjust their careers after having children.
These days, thanks to advances in technology and forward-thinking bosses, there is a third option. Working from home. It sounds great: no commute. You can be there for school drop offs and pick ups. You can get laundry done. Nip to the gym or the shops. You can watch terrible daytime TV in the background, and have a proper lunch break.
But, the danger is you may not actually get any work done, especially if you have a poorly child or are trying to work while your little one plays/naps (and there are the days they just won’t sleep). Let me run you through a typical 'WFH' day for me.
It all starts with the morning rush: getting the children dressed, fed, teeth brushed and ready for school and nursery. My top tip is to lay out their clothes, and get the bags ready the night before. Not forgetting those last minute items your child has just remembered they need, or you’ve been alerted to thanks to a WhatsApp message from the class rep (how modern?!). Cue a rummage through the recycling to find a milk carton which is to be made into an elephant.
Once school and nursery drop offs have been completed, I pop to my local Virgin Active gym for a Body Attack or Body Combat class. It’s handily located next to a supermarket so I invariably head there next to pick up a few bits and bobs. Instead of the 'in-and-out-fast-and-avoid-the-toy-aisle' approach I use when shopping with the kids, I can actually 'browse'.
Back home, shopping put away, and into the shower. With no kids around, this is actually a pleasurable experience. The morning is nearly over so time to tidy up the house, empty and reload the dishwasher, sort out the laundry and put yet another load on.
After that, it’s a leisurely lunch in front of the telly (remember, the kids aren’t there, so there's no need to set a good example). At this point I will realise there are only a couple of hours left until school pick up and I have achieved nothing work-related. In fact, I haven’t even turned on my laptop.
Not that my laptop guarantees 'work mode'. Social media is far too distracting and going through my emails properly takes time. When I’m in 'mummy-mode', I tend to quickly scan emails, then mark them unread or flag them up so I can go back to them later.
This 'deal with it later' approach can come in handy...
In the run up to 'Brexit', my youngest son’s nursery sent all the parents an email that asked them to “Bring in one article from a newspaper or online about the Euros to be used in a guided discussion”. I read it, thought 'wow, that’s a bit political for 3 year olds', and marked the email unread to deal with later. Ideally, not at all.
Less than 30 minutes later another email arrived, which simply stated “Just to clear up any misunderstandings, we mean the Euro 2016 football”.
Keeping on top of requests from nursery or school can feel like another full-time job. Taking home 'Fluffy' the class monkey (cuddly toy) sounds fun. It’s not. Get Fluffy on a Monday after school and you need to have him back by Wednesday morning. With his diary updated. And Fluffy’s diary requires photos of Fluffy and your child with captions written by your child.
So, Fluffy’s life involves meeting other toys, eating dinner, brushing teeth and going to bed. On his weekend sojourns he gets to go to swimming, ballet, football and even some parties. Pictures taken, it’s time to print them out. Except you have no ink so you have to fit in a trip to the shops in your lunch break to get four photos of your son and a toy monkey.
The final step can be the hardest one. A look through the book and everyone else’s child has written about Fluffy in neat handwriting and even drawn some pictures. Your child cannot be bothered. So you have to coax him to write extremely short sentences for each picture aided by some sticker bribery and the promise of ice cream. But finally it’s all done and the next morning you can hand Fluffy back proud that you didn’t lose him.
But, I digress. It’s now nearly 3pm and it’s time to fire off a few emails, update the gas and electricity meter readings, hang out the laundry and head to school. Any thought of doing work once your child is home is soon shattered by demands for food, help with homework or just requests to aid them in building a massive Lego tower or Marble Run.
Still, there’s always the evening to finish some work. If only I had the energy once the kids are asleep, the house is vaguely back to some semblance of normal and Sofa is calling my name, along with his friends Grown-up TV and Glass of Wine. Ah well, there’s always tomorrow. I’m sure I can get lots done while the kids are at school...
Ethan and 'Fluffy'
Kirsty McCabe writes her weekly column here on www.juniormagazine.co.uk. Follow us on Twitter: @juniormagazine to keep up with the latest news
"And, if you are in need of a little friendly, advice, have a read of some of my other columns..." Kirsty McCabe
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