Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Working from home in the holidays? What was I thinking?

This whole month can be filed under 'what was I thinking?'. Usually I try to keep work to a minimum in the school holidays. For some reason, I decided the boys were old enough this year to amuse themselves a bit while I got some work done during the day.

They'd watch a DVD or play the Wii or do whatever it is that young boys do to while away the hours quietly, so I was perfectly safe to take on a feature or two.

Or so I thought.

When you have small children at home and people find out you work from home, they think you're nuts. "How do you do it?" they ask, breathlessly. I wrote my first feature when Mr9 was three months old and just sort of got back into the saddle from there.

The truth is, it gets harder as they get older. When they're little, they sleep during the day. And I got very good at squeezing interviews and features into the two hour window of the midday sleep. Sleep time is very, very quiet time.

Now that they're older, they are good at entertaining themselves. They will play Lego, do the DVD thing, play the Wii, read a book, colour in, whatever. But they're never quiet. There's always bickering, they're always hungry, and, frankly, they just want to have a chat sometimes. Two hours is just a dream. I work in 15-minute snatches, and only once we've done some kind of kid-friendly out-of-the-house activity to a) tire them out and b) appease the Mother Guilt that eats me alive no matter how much I try to tame it.

I've always worked at night. But nine years ago I was... younger. I could do a full day with the kids, have a 4pm coffee, and work until midnight. Now I simply don't want to. I have got used to writing in the daytime. I like it. Going back to my nocturnal habits just makes me tired.

I have three deadlines this week. What was I thinking?

Are you working from home this holidays? Did you organise yourself better than I have, or are you wondering what you were thinking as well?


  1. Oh dear, it never ends - but you are at least past the stage of being on a business call and having a small voice screaming MUMMYYYYY, COME AND WIPE MY POOOOO.

    1. There is that Clairey - always good to look on the bright side!

  2. What were you thinking?! Even the title of this post makes me slightly anxious... I reckon they get harder as they get older - babies you can write around nap times ( and you get nap times!) older kids, not so much.
    Wishing you luck with the deadlines, Al - and strong coffee :)

  3. It doesn't help when you have four nephews/nieces camping in your backyard either!

  4. Am I working from home?
    Ha Ha.
    I barely work when I'm at work, just ask my supervisor....
    I have no suggestions for you, apart from free access to the fruit bowl for snacks and an alarm clock which says the boys are not to interrupt you until it goes off. The first sign of bickering has them sent outside. Let them sort out there own fights unless there is blood.

  5. Were you inside my brain today?! Just about every sentence that you have written in this post went through my mind today. I like River's suggestions especially the blood rule. As for making phonecalls while my boys are around, impossible! I do have the blessing that my husband works from home too so we do a bit of tag teaming on the holidays, for that I am thankful. And while I'm handing out the thank you's a big one goes to you. My story was published today in Australian Yoga Journal, the story that you via the Fibro inspired me to pitch. So, thank you! And very best of luck with your deadlines.

  6. It's crazy! But ... My teens reminded me how much they hated vacation care when they were Flynn's age. So I figure this is still the best option. Roll on Bali on Sunday.

  7. I work from home with a 4yr old and 1yr old in tow. 15minute bursts are a regular occurance in my work day routines. The 1yr old is a terrible sleeper and hardly sleeps longer than 30mins...and in that 30mins I'm feeding the 4yr old or attempting some one-on-one time with her. It's exhausting. I wouldn't have it any other way though.
    You inspire me a lot though Allison - to balance motherhood and writing - to just get it done and chase that dream!

  8. Filing away for future reference. My two-year-old still sleeps in the middle of the day. For now...

  9. HI Allison

    I'm enjoying reading about someone else's trials and tribulations - sorry! Yes, I only had one small job to do last week and it took forever to find the time - in fact, I blogged about it here:
    I find I can rely less and less on my 2 year old's nap time and that leaves me trying to do things at night, when I am absolutely exhausted. Very hard to juggle everything, everyone else's needs and your own!



  10. I had babies that didn't sleep during the day so a 2 hour window didn't exist. Most of my writing took place with a baby breastfeeding on my lap. I am finally getting 15 minutes snatches and I'm grateful for them! The 2yo and the 4yo have discovered they can play together WITHOUT interrupting me fo 15 mins! :) In the last few weeks my 2 year old has joined his older sister in 3 days of childcare and I'm in heaven. 23 hours per week of solid ME time. I've spent most of it napping to recover from the last 2 years, but I'll begin writing soon!

  11. Yep. You weren't thinking! Bring on term 1 I say! lol

  12. I am and I'm EXHAUSTED. It's all very well to say "I'll just work at nights", but a very different story when you spend the day racing around with the kids and then hours trying to get them to sleep in the heat and it's atill scorching hot at 9.30pm when you finally have your life to yourself again AND THEN you clock on and do a 5 hour stint... exhausted!


  13. That pretty much describes it! I wishfully think that maybe one day my daughter will do her own thing without needing me for constant, endless feedback - or what feels like it! But then she'll probably be a teenager and wanting to hang out with her friends not her mum!

  14. Al...I am late to this, but all the issues you list above are the reasons I have gone back to work in the office....hence I admire you so much for keeping on! xx


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