Allison, from Life In a Pink Fibro, has graciously agreed to guest post for me today. Allison's blog, and indeed her writing, constantly inspire me. She is generous with her time and her advice. She is Qui-Gon Jinn, Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi all rolled into one. (In mentor abilities - she is much more gorgeous to look at than all three!)
When I tell people I’m a work at home mum, I generally get one response: “Lucky you!”. I am lucky. I’ve worked around my boys since Mr6 was three months old, when I wrote my first post-birth story – about the birth. Prior to starting preschool at three, neither of them went to childcare. I am available to drop them at 9am, and pick them up at 3pm, without having to explain to anyone why I’m leaving early or run the gauntlet of disapproving looks.
But every once in a while, I have to share one simple fact: it’s not easy. I have juggled essentially two jobs for seven years. My days have begun at 7am (or earlier), with the boys, and rarely end before midnight, with the work. Even when the boys were waking all night, the work needed to be done.
Not going to an office is both a blessing and a curse. It’s true that I do not need to juggle getting myself ready to face the professional world with getting the boys out the door to school. I throw on what’s handy, do the run, and then escape home to my coffee machine.
There were many days, however – particularly when they were younger – where I longed for the peace and quiet of an office. Of set business hours. Of not having to squeeze in interviews when I thought ‘the baby’ (whichever one it happened to be) would be asleep. There are times when that clear division between work and home is all I long for.
One thing that has surprised me about working around my kids is how incredibly accommodating the world can be. I have conducted interviews with a two-year-old on my lap, crunching on Wiggles biscuits, having to ask for things explained twice or more – and people always tell me they understand. There has been many an occasion that I’ve had to reschedule interviews at the last minute due to a ‘non-sleeping’ child, and it’s never been a problem. People genuinely do seem willing to entertain flexibility – which is a fantastic sign, given the new flexible hours legislation (the Right to Request) that was introduced in January 2010.
I have always tried to be with the boys when it was their time. To focus on them. I would work when they were asleep. That was always my mantra. As Mr3 gets older, however, this gets harder. He doesn’t sleep during the day anymore. There are times when the only thing that gets me through is a Toy Story DVD. I don’t feel good about it.
Now that I have two clear days at home to myself, things are easier. But there’s still never enough time. I still work until midnight most nights (with random breaks to converse on Twitter) and spend my life with that ‘I have homework’ feeling that you might remember from school or university.
If there’s been one major benefit of my constant juggle, it’s my ability to focus. When you have two hours in the middle of the day to write a story while a child sleeps, you get it done. No procrastinating. No mucking around.
I got the hang of that very early on. I’m lucky.