This morning started with a sick child, broken heating, an injured duck, shifting deadlines and a full inbox. In the 3 and a half years of working for myself from home, I'd like to say that I'd found some sort of life hack that means I can be productive, have well adjusted children, a clean house and meet every single deadline with sanity in tact. In reality, its all exactly as chaotic as it sounds and most days we are lucky if any one of the above is met.
On paper, it all sounds ideal doesn't it - working from home, in my PJs, knitting and crocheting all day in front of the fire. On the good days, it is exactly as dreamy as that, but the bad days can be pretty bad. Often my drive to create is greater than my drive to parent or run the house. This usually coincides with the days where I have to drop what I am doing to deal with a child- or house- related crisis. And, being the one who is at home means that I am called on more than Kevin to be the one who drops things and who has to be there...for the kids, for the heating engineer, the animals or any other of the eleventy million things that it takes to live a life.
Its frustrating and, in the early days of my business was a huge source of internal and external conflict that boiled down to "whose turn is it to work". I do think that we are getting better at it. We have learned that the really important things all get done and flexibility, good ale and a sense of humour will get us through most everything else. Oh and that good quality, reliable childcare is worth its weight in gold (which is also roughly what we pay for it). On practical terms, Kevin and I work on a shift system - I take the daytimes when things need done or we don't have day care for the little two, he takes the night shift so I can work (or sleep so I can get up before the children). Where possible we try and take turns when kids are off sick or on school holidays and I work one day at the weekend, on top of my 3 days a week with child care.
One area where I still struggle is working when the kids are around (even when supervised by someone else). The default parenting position doesn't stop just because there may be someone else in the room. The children will often walk past their father to ask me for something, even when I am working. This weekend's move from the cold studio to the warm house made it that much easier for little visitors to come up with a host of reasons to interrupt me. Yesterday's included:
- bringing me a chicken to be inspected on my desk
- asking if they could give the ducks a bath
- showing me how they can all balance apples on their arms
- asking if they could have a drink (while their father was in the kitchen...making them drinks)
- singing me the new song they made up
- telling me about so and so hitting/yelling/not sharing/not listening
and so on. I have learned that when they are home, I can't do anything that involves concentration and my work is planned accordingly. The constant interruptions were only to 25cm of stockinette for a deadline, much easier to cope with than say grading a jumper.
And so I am off, to knit like the wind before a sickie wakes up, to call the heating engineer to see if someone can breathe life back into the ancient Aga, to check on that duck and to see if maybe I can find the floor in the laundry room. Oh and to drink lots of coffee on the way.