Makin’ It Work (From Home) 2.0

In February, I wrote a post about what it had been like to work from home for a year. In September, I was interviewed for Charlotte Parent Magazine about the same topic. And now it’s almost November, and in just a couple of months I’ll be tackling the new challenge of making it work (from home) with a 2-year old and newborn. My simple plan of doing it all, has truly never been that simple to execute, but it’s about to become a little hairier.
img_3335Because I’m a voyeur at heart (judging by my litany of favorite TV shows ranging from the Kardashian to the Housewives of Any City Bravo Wants Me to Watch), my favorite blog posts to read are Day in the Life posts, and while I’ve thought often about documenting my own, we don’t have any typical days. As a full-time freelancer, my schedule isn’t traditional, and David’s is far from conventional, so we play whack-a-mole most weeks to find what works best. A rough sketch of our week looks like this (sort of/most of the time/occasionally)
img_3322Monday: Standing client meeting all morning. If David is closing or off, he will stay home with NB. If he’s closing, I have a hard stop at 12 to get home for nap time while he heads to work. If he happens to be opening, I’ll bring NB with me and play toddler containment meets efficient (HA!) working mom and scoot out in time to throw some lunch at her before putting her down for a nap. Nap time consists of knocking out any action items coming out of that meeting or writing a blog post for that client. These days, it really means that I fight off how much I want a nap. Our afternoons are spent either hanging with my mom, running errands, meeting a friend at the park, going to the gym, playing at home or anything else stay-at-home-mom-like. Toddler bedtime is 6:45, so we start dinner at 5:30 followed by bath, jammies, books, rocking, out. Once she goes down (always like a dream), I’ll start grown up dinner and usually spend some time answering emails from the afternoon, wrapping up any loose ends or decompressing.
Tuesday: We have our Nanny Poppins on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:00 – 4:00, and I try to keep all of my meetings on these two days. When I get home from my workday, I wring every second that I can out of NB time before we start our night routine at 5:30. Again, grown up dinner starts after she’s soundly in the crib, and usually involves post-meal work wrap up for a few hours before crashing into bed around 11 with a book. Lately I’ve had Tuesday evening meetings, so I’ll either hand off nightly duties to D (when he’s home on Tuesdays), or my mom will step in and run Nina babysitting.
Wednesday: Nanny Poppins Day Rd. 2. Wednesdays tend to be my hectic meeting days. When I wrap my final meeting of the afternoon, I head to pick up NB. We get home around 4:40 and spend about an hour playing outside (my child would be perfectly happy never having a roof over her head… “NorBeff feel breeze,” she says cheerfully) before night routine starts again. I try not to do work on Wednesday evenings and instead treat them like a typical Friday night and just breathe, catch up on This Is Us, watch Friends for the 37,000th time, or play Skip Bo, if Davey is home.
Thursday: I try, try, try to reserve Thursdays as my no-work day. Lately I’ve had an event or meeting sneak into my Thursday, which I hate, but on an ideal Thursday, we’ll have breakfast, go to the gym, meet friends at the park or just play together until nap. I hit all-the-things mode during nap time, so I don’t feel too crazed or behind, or I’ll hop on a conference call. Thursday afternoons are either for the gym (if we didn’t get there in the morning), park, Nina’s house, at-home playtime, or errands. I have another client blog post due on Fridays, so if I couldn’t get it done during nap time, I’ll whip it out as soon as she goes to sleep or while dinner cooks or after when I’m on the couch.
Friday: I recently started working at a local church childcare on Friday mornings (I’m off-boarding one of my clients and have two more working toward on-boarding, but this seemed ideal in the meantime). Nora Beth can come with me and is in a classroom with toddlers her age, which I’m viewing as a great transition to preschool (we’re planning to start her in the Fall… weep!). We’re here from 9-12 then zip home for nap time. I join in a standing conference call on the way home and keep myself muted while I feed her lunch, rock her and lay her down. Finish the conference call while she naps then hop on another before she wakes up. My Fridays feel particularly hectic right now, but hopefully that will be calming down once off-boarding is complete. Then Friday afternoons are spent outside, with friends, with Nina, errands again, or a special trip somewhere like the Nature Museum, or to visit Daddy at work.
Weekends: Fall Saturdays mean “Go go go” (football) is on all day, so I’m trying to teach Nora Beth that we don’t watch “Barney Goes to Farm” on Saturday. Instead we relish the cheers of college football at its finest, and she likes to watch the men fall down (don’t we all?) and imitate them herself, spinning around saying, “Uh oh! Uh oh! What is a’happening?” before crashing on the floor. We hit the Y on Saturday mornings as well as the farmer’s market and Target pretty much religiously. David is rarely off on a Saturday, so we’ll try and have an adventure before nap. Nap time is when I try to meal plan and order our groceries for the week. Afternoons mean football and playtime. Sundays are church (though NB likes to say “all finished Jesus,” before we even get there). Davey will join us if he’s closing, but otherwise we’ll meet my mom and worship together. We’ll swing by and pick up our groceries on the way home, and Sundays tend to be my standing nap days while watching 20/20 (30 going on 62 over here, folks).
img_3318Um, right, so that “rough sketch” turned out to be a “rough novella,” of mundane details about our day-to-day life, but it’s more or less a look at the constant on-and-0ff switch between professional and mom that every mom surely wrestle with. Nora Beth is spirited, curious, constantly conversing with me or narrating her own life to herself, and while she happily plays by herself, she also is really, REALLY into “helping” me with my “‘puter,” so when she’s awake, I don’t get much work done, and really, I don’t want to. I wanted to work from home in order to BE home and WITH her when I am home.

When she’s asleep, especially when David IS home, I struggle with whether to get work done or add that third switch to be a wife. Obviously that is my priority and the most important, but all too often, I’ll say, “I’m just going to work on this while we watch this show.” I have the hardest time switching to this mode when it comes to us just spending time together, and with a second joining the mix, that will only get harder. Not only am I eternally grateful for clients who understand and support my schedule, I can’t say enough about the support and encouragement David gives me to do what I do. He is so patient with me while I answer flurries of texts or emails or surprise him with a last minute meeting.
img_3398I had expected that, by now, 20 months into managing my own company and juggling multiple clients that I would have this “thing” well-oiled. Instead, each month brings new complications, new schedules, new requests for supplemental childcare from my mom (a SAINT if I ever saw one… this could not work without her. Truly.), new dreams, and, well, new life. I don’t know what a newborn will look like in this whirlwind. Certainly, I won’t be taking a maternity leave, and instead, I plan to tote her with me to meetings as needed in those early weeks and writing delirious emails in between… or heck, Nora Beth can say her ABCs and count to 20, so surely she can write some social media posts for me?

In my original post, I wrote this: “Most of my work takes place in a frenzied blur during nap times and an avalanche of production after 6:45 bedtime and grown up dinner. My clients are ridiculously understanding of my popcorn schedule. It’s messy and chaotic and disorganized, and I love it. I am in my sweet spot as a mother and a professional, and I could not be happier… more organized? Yes. More efficient? Without a doubt. Happier? Nope. Nope. Nope. I am a full-time working mom and a full-time stay at home mom, and it’s the greatest.” It is truer than ever, and I feel like I’m living in a dream. Sometimes more like I’m sleepwalking, but always as though I couldn’t know greater joy or greater chaos.

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