I have been “working from home” all week because my kids have been out of school for April vacation. I am managing to get some things done, but the hardest part is not having complete control over my day. You just can’t plan for and schedule around temper tantrums, unexplained crying jags, whining and clinginess. And the kids make it tough as well.
I jest, but for real, it’s best to table really important projects during an extended period at home with small ones underfoot.
If you are prone to distraction even without child grunts and yells in the background, then you are better off simply acknowledging the harsh reality that even basic life tasks must be left unfulfilled for the time being. That is not hyperbole. You can hold it while your three-year-old insists on jumping up and down on your full bladder as you try in vain to remove her long enough to race to the bathroom. I strongly recommend keeping a box of Depends on hand when a day of no school is anticipated.
You might try going to the park, to let the kids run around and release some energy so they will sleep soundly later that night. You might think you can bring along some work to do while they are preoccupied on the playscape. Sadly, the playscape will hold their interest just long enough for you to settle down on the park bench and arrange your papers and things so the wind will not blow them away and the sun won’t be in your eyes as you try to read whatever device you’re carrying. At that point, your kids will insist on heading to the swingset. Which is fine, except that you must not only help your kids get on the swings, but stand right behind them and push them every ten seconds. Any work you need to get done is happening from your phone, only. And you are really just reading Buzzfeed at this point, because that’s all you can process amidst the incessant interruptions. My older child likes to be pushed really hard so that she swings super fast and high, and then scream for me to slow her back down, only to ask to go faster and higher again like three seconds later. So at some point my phone just goes back in my pocket. At least the scenery at the park is beautiful.
I have been wanting to tackle somewhat larger cleaning projects … hell, any cleaning projects … and for whatever reason, I deluded myself into thinking I might actually get one of those started (only started, even!) during my week at home with the kids. I just haven’t learned, even after five and a half years of this. At one point I asked my mother how she got any work work done, let alone house work, when she was raising small children. She just shrugged and reminded me that she wasn’t doing any work work when we were small. Oh, right.
The satisfaction I get from taking care of these small and amazing mini-mes is immense. There can never be any doubt about that. But the sheer exhaustion and exasperation that results during the process is somehow always a surprise, however familiar and reliable the feeling. Nothing about this fact is new or profound, but it’s a reminder we can all use from time to time.
[images in this post are property of the author]