Today is a popular day to call in sick. It’s the day after St. Patrick’s Day. It’s day two of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. It’s a Friday. And here in the Northeast it’s spring-like, which might not seem like a big deal to you, since it’s March, but if it doesn’t you clearly don’t live in the Northeast.
Not everyone is so bold as to bail on work on such an obvious day. But if you’re lucky enough to have a job where you are able to work from home, you don’t have to bail.
But if you have young kids, you’re probably not that lucky either.
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.
When I first realized my job allowed for the occasional work-from-home day, I was thrilled. And my wife 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 “work” part that came with me “working from home.”
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 some 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; benefits still remain. 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 (so long as he keeps his whiny mouth shut when I’m on the phone, or else it’s back to Mommy!), etc.
Unfortunately, the entire time I’m working, my wife feels like I’m spitting in her face.
After all, I’m finally 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 a 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.
Because I’m working. And I’m on a conference call. And I’m dealing with a crisis. And I have to hit a deadline. I’m right upstairs but might as well be at the office. And it drives her crazy! By noon, she’s actually hoping I’ll go into the office rather than continue to taunt her with my proximity without actually lending 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.
So my wife gets no reprieve. But she does get angry. So by the end of the day we BOTH wish I’d gone into the office.
We’re only six months in, so we’re still figuring all of this out. As I said, despite my wife’s frustration, there definitely remain benefits to working from home. And they should eventually increase – once I finally master the art of carrying the baby with one arm and editing a PowerPoint with the other.