When I first realized my job allowed for the occasional work-from-home day, I was thrilled. And Mom and Buried was through the roof.
After all, we had a baby due soon, and when that little guy landed, my wife was going to need all the help she could get, especially during the first few weeks and months of dealing with a newborn. So having me at home once in a while was going to be great.
What she didn’t count on was the “working” part that comes with me “working from home.”
I haven’t had many jobs that were flexible like that, but I am lucky enough to have such a job right now. Unfortunately, I also have a baby, and a wife who is at home with that baby all week long. So on those days that I do pull the trigger and utilize my home office, it never ends up being as amazing as it sounds.
Working from home with kids is not easy.
My job is very busy. I am very important and I have a lot to do! Those responsibilities don’t disappear when I decide to stay in my pajamas for the day and turn all my meetings into conference calls. In fact, it seems every time I work from home, my responsibilities increase. Inevitably, those days I stay home are the days where the shit hits the fan and I am crushed with tons of things I have to get done and get done right away.
All this while my wife is dealing with our son, and the shit is literally hitting the fan. And the crib. And, occasionally, my wife.
Unlike my salesmen friends, who “work” from home every day, when I work from home I actually have to work. Which is fine; there are still some perks. It’s more convenient; I get to avoid the commute and thus save a good 90 minutes of my day; I can hang out with my son a lot more than I get to when I am at the office, etc.
Unfortunately, the entire time I’m working, my wife feels like I’m spitting in her face.
After all, I’m home! She finally has some help! She finally has an opportunity to take a shower that lasts more than three minutes; to wear something besides her pajamas; to step outside for half an hour; to hand the baby off to someone else; to actually read more than half a page at a time in her new book.
Except she doesn’t.
By noon, she’s actually hoping I’ll just go into the office rather than continue to taunt her with my proximity without actually being able to lend a hand. Don’t get me wrong, I do what I can; but it’s hard to lead a conference call with a crying baby on your knee. Or a screeching toddler demanding to be picked up. Or a grabby toddler swatting at your laptop keys and accidentally emailing your boss a bunch of gibberish.
When I’m working from home, I am faced with either doing little actual work, or not really being there. Not enough to help. ASo when work is necessary, my wife gets no reprieve. What she does get is angry. And by the end of the day we both wish I’d gone into the office.
We’re still figuring all of this out. As I said, despite my wife’s frustration, there definitely remain benefits to working from home. Happy hour is a lot cheaper, for one. And it starts early! Those benefits should eventually increase – once the kid gets older, or I finally master the art of carrying the baby with one arm and editing a PowerPoint with the other.