Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Setting limits (with myself) while working from home

Once upon a time, I had a proper home office, with a door that closed and everything.

It turned into a nursery.

My next home office later became my oldest stepdaughter's bedroom. My next one was a nook in the master bedroom, with a desk that could barely hold the massive computer monitor from 1998 (it pre-dated three of our five kids) and where I hated to work at night because it was so far away from the hub of the house.

I started roaming around after that, thanks to my best Mother's Day Present ever, and thanks to the fact that I only worked from home a day or so a week. But now I'm working from home 99.9 percent of the time, and even though it's only been a few months, it's cold and flu season, and my pediatrician tells me that the strain winding its way through our local schools isn't one of the ones covered by the vaccine. Which means that it's only a (short) matter of time until I'm working from home with a sick kid or two in tow. And also: I need to find a way to set a few limits.

Not with work -- the team I'm part of has been wonderful. Not with my husband -- he's been nothing but supportive. Not with the kids -- yet. Turns out, the person I really need to set limits with is... myself.

I'm the only one wondering why dinner isn't on the table at 6. And why the laundry is heaped in the bedroom, in piles taller than my kids. The house hasn't been decorated for Christmas, but that's OK, because I don't decorate. But the dog hasn't been brushed (or, for that matter, fed), the floors haven't been vacuumed, and the fridge has not been stocked. And while everyone else is willing to cut me some slack, I'm stressing over the way I haven't seamlessly transitioned into this chapter of my career.

I know I need to create a proper home office with a door that shuts, but that's easier said than done: Even though two out of three of our big kids are teenagers now and rarely spend weeks at a time with us, I'm reluctant to repurpose their old bedrooms. While I'm struggling with that unique step-parenting issue, though, I know I need to tackle my own expectations for myself. I didn't expect that I'd be able to stay caught up on housework all week long while I was commuting, why do I think I should be able to when my commute has disappeared but my workload has increased?

How do you manage your expectations when you're working from home?


Anonymous said...

Aren't we always the hardest on ourselves?! I've worked from home on and off for years, and I've found that when I am working from home, I'm more productive and log longer hours. I have to prove that I'm actually working and working hard - but only to myself of course! If you do come across any insight on how to manage expectations of ourselves - please share!!!

Erna, Turning Winds said...

It's never easy being a work at home mom, I guess managing your time is really something we should try to master. But despite every struggles that goes along with it, I often think that I am definitely blessed to see my kids grow up and see to it that they're fine and okay.
I'm sure they're glad that we're there for them 24/7 too. Time flies so fast, you can never retrieve back the years that you missed out on your children's lives. I'm glad that I got to be a work at home mom, not everyone gets to experience something like this. You should be proud too.