Monday, August 27, 2012

Work From Home Debacles

It was a day like any other.  The sunshine was streaming through my office window, the breeze blowing the curtains to and fro, and the birds chirping outside on a warm sunny day.

Okay, it was more like the sun was casting a glare on my computer screen, the wind was blowing through my window, making all my papers fly all over the office, and the birds were so noisy that they were making me lose my concentration.

Alas, I decided to take a break from teaching to be with Little One in her formative years.  I wanted to relish each and every moment of her young life with her before we sent her off to the big, bright world...also known as Junior Kindergarten!

I've been fortunate enough to be granted the opportunity to work from home and still be able to spend time with my Little One.  One thing I can tell you though, is that it isn't always easy.  People think, "Oh! You work from home, huh? You must have all the time in the world!" or "Wow. Must be nice to get paid to stay home and get free stuff!"


I don't get "free stuff".  I work for everything I have.  I do a lot of research and it takes time to test and write genuine reviews. In actuality, reviews take up only a small portion of what I do.  Not everything I do online is  directly related to the blog. One of the jobs I love the most is being the friendly face behind the tweets for PTPA. Shameless plug for a company I absolutely adore: Check them out at :) Apart from that, I have steady clients for whom I do editing, translation, and writing for.  I also help small businesses with promotions and social media. Needless to say, it can get pretty busy!

Sometimes I wonder if working from home defeats the purpose of staying home with my child.  Lately, she's been telling me things like, "Mommy! Don't work!" or "Don't go to your office! I don't like you working!"

We still do fun things like make polymer and learn about the process of oxidation. She may be only 3.5 years old, but I make sure our play time is fun and educational! We bake goodies for Dad and spend time in the garden. We go to the beach and have play dates with her friends. We do all of this, all the while with my BlackBerry glued to my right hand.  Thankfully, I can do all of my social media work from my BlackBerry for the most part!

The only down part of working from home is that I'm not able to give Little One my complete attention all the time. The other day, I was in a few conference calls and let Little One watch not one, but two Disney DVDs...back to back!  #TotalMomFail for me. That is not something I have ever done before, and it made me sad.

Then there was the time last week when I was really busy with work and deadlines, and my computer decided to go all wonky on me.  It kept freezing and not responding.  I sat in front of the computer monitor and almost cried.  I muttered, "Oh my gosh! My files are gone! ALL my files are GONE! My boss is going to kill me!" By boss, I meant one of my clients. I have no idea why I said boss.

Little One overheard me and ran to my office.  She was so concerned, and said, "Oh. My. Gosh! That's so scary! Your boss is going to kill you? Your boss is going to come to our house and kill you, Mommy? That's so scary!" 

In hindsight, perhaps I should be more careful of my words.  Little ears pick everything up and take things literally! I can laugh at it now. It was kind of funny to see the expression on her face.

I can tell you this for sure though:  Having a computer that freezes and acts up when your job is social media related is not fun!  My work computer has been acting up for about a week and a bit. Prior to that, we had no issues.  I have a laptop, but it's kind of sketchy now since the battery blew up.  Yes, I heard correctly. The battery blew up!

To find balance between home, child, family, life, and working from home, I've devised a plan that seems to work for us:
  • Get up earlier than Little One and do some work while she's still sleeping
  • Have Hubby and Little One eat their breakfast together and enjoy some Daddy/Daughter time
  • Take a break and do things with Little One - go swimming, play outside, check the animals, do some science experiments or arts and crafts
  • Have a meals figured out ahead of time and do prepping ahead of time as well
  • Stay on top of things as much as possible
  • Try to avoid frenzied last minute work additions (these seriously drive me crazy)
  • Have a schedule/routine and try to follow it as much as possible
  • Bring Little One to play dates so she can have fun with friends if workload isn't too heavy
  • If need be, let Little One visit her grandparents (she loves hanging out with them and they love spending time with her) 
Those are just some of the things that have worked for us so far.  For work from home Moms and Dads, what do you do to find balance between work and family?
 Oh, and it looks like we're in serious need of in the market for a new computer.  Do you have any recommendations?  We'd love to hear which computers you think are the best.


Brandi Yee said...

You are one busy, but devoted mama! You work so hard to be home with the little one, and that's awesome. I love being able to be home as well, but like you said, it's still a lot of work and it isn't always easy! Things aren't "free"...there's work to be done for those things. You seem to have a great plan that works for your family :) I try to get up earlier too so that I can get some stuff done before the kids get up! You're doing awesome Christine!!

Christianna said...

I think working from home would be far more difficult then heading to the office everyday. At work I focus on work and at home it's about my kids and grandkids. I admire your ability to juggle all the activities and keep a balanced life; giving Little One the time she needs and yourself the time you need.

J at said...

The only thing, and I mean ONLY THING that works for us is to have our daughter in school. Well, she's 16 now, so that's a lie. But when she was L.O.'s age, that's the only way we could get anything done.

That you've been able to do as well as you are up to this point is AMAZING. Once she starts Jr. Kindergarten, it will get long as you're not spending too much time on the road driving to and fro.

When Maya started school, it was from 9 - 12, but they could stay until 3 for extra money. It was worth it to us to pay the extra and have her eat lunch, have her nap (which became MUCH more regular with peer pressure) and play a little there. 6 hours to work = much less guilt, and a parent who can enjoy time with their kid without having your mind on work all of the time. :) Hang in there.

Jennifer Hunt said...

A great post for all of us work at home mommas out there!

Julia said...

Finding a balance is so difficult. I have been having trouble here too, especially with all the kids home for the summer. It's easier once they are back in school, but with little ones underfoot still not easy. Hope the new routine works for you.

Julia said...

Oh and I have a Dell and love it, but I have heard great things about the Toshiba computers.

Multi-Testing Mommy said...

It definitely is a challenge, but I think you're doing an amazing job at it hon!

Insane Mamacita said...

You were a teacher before staying home with your little one? I learn something new everyday about my blogger friends!

I am having trouble with work/life balance. Sometimes I think it would be easier to work outside of the home. hehe! If you find out the secret of how to balance it all, let me know!

And our desktop PC just got the blue screen of death once again (have been getting it a few times in the last year). I think it's time for a replacement.

Nicole said...

I truly admire this post. I certainly can appreciate it too, as I once was a work-at-home Mom and owner of momstown Whitby-Ajax. Some days were so hard to find balance. Balance was always underlying somewhere even when it felt like I was in way over my head. I always tried to set a time aside each day for my family, whether it was a nightly walk, lunch date, etc.

You're doing an amazing job and I admire all the hard work you do! You're truly a dedicated Momma, wife, friend, blogger and business woman. :)

Nolie said...

A balance is so hard to find. I sneak in time when my husband is home and when kids are in bed.

Christine McN said...

Thank you so much? :) It really is a struggle at times. LOL

Canadian Dad said...

First of all, your daughter is beautiful! Second, you are great at your job with the PTPA! I love reading your tweets.

Frankly, I have no idea how you manage all of that on top of visiting other blogs and leaving amazing comments ;D

You're doing a great job and I am of the mindset that even if you get to spend only 3 hours during the day with your little one, it's 3 hours more than if you were at a FT office job.

I am no good at picking computers so can't help you there, sorry!

Karen MEG said...

Hi C - I haven't visited in a long while and I am stunned at how far your blog has come! And your little one - she's absolutey GORJ - so big, and JK? How did that happen?
So I agree that working from home with a toddler is a major challenge - 100x over! There is certain flexibility but your really have NO free time. I remember trying to have telecons and keeping the glass door shut after settling G in front of Dora - which she could watch all day as long as I wasn't behind the door. Then of course as soon as the client comes on she's knocking and having to go pee. Grrr...

Survival meant putting her in half day play programs/daycare, having Grandparents pick her up to spend the rest of the day with her (precious time, looking back now that Dad's gone)... and then eventually full day alternates to get ready for JK. So although JK will be an adjustment for you both (*sob* on day 1), it will be great eventually, especially routine wise. Sanity!

I agree with the others that working at the office full time is easier in that my office time is work, and I'm not torn between that and being a Mom which is harder when you're in the same place. I even find that when I work from home occasionally, the tug doesn't go away. The biggest adjustment for me is the travel (which I am leaving again tonight)... and it helps to have a great nanny. That's another story.

Hope the transition goes well with school. Oh, and the other thing that helps is that my kidlets are going into Grades 3 and 7 next week!!!! OMG!!!

Big hugs for you C - you're doing an amazing job as supermom!!!

Christine McN said...

Thanks so much for your comment and for popping by my blog :) I agree with you. I found it much easier to work in the classroom as opposed to from the home. At least work was in the classroom and not at home with all the distractions. It's a balancing act - trying to keep all aspects of life happy intertwined. LOL! I know years from now I'll look back and be thankful to have been able to spend as much time with Little One as I am right now. I know even when things get crazy, I will survive. LOL!

Christine McN said...

You are so right. You know, I keep all your comments in a file so I can look back on them when I need them? You are so awesome. I luv you!

P.S. So happy you got to meet up with Heidi! Isn't she awesome? I miss her so much. She used to come up and visit me on the Island every year before she moved to Hong Kong!

Christine McN said...

:) Thanks so much!

Whispered Inspirations said...

It seems that my schedule has been so hectic lately. I put too much on my plate. But, when my kids want to play, I STOP. I stop what I'm doing and I do what they want to do. They are only this small for so long. It's a catch 22, you want to do this ALL to benefit them yet, we don't want to be gone too long that we miss special moments. Ah, to find a perfect balance.

denise said...

Did you buy a new computer? I like the iMac. By the way, your website is not iPad friendly the logos over lap text on my iPad. Your website looks better on my iMac.

Christine McN said...

Oh my goodness! It's been SO long! Miss our regular chats! Next time I'm in your 'hood, we need to get together. Have you hung out with Dani & Dee lately?

Christine McN said...

Whispered Inspirations:
You are SO right! It's all for them, but we don't want to miss out on time with them. I have to follow your lead and learn to STOP more and play more.

Christine McN said...

Yeah, I know :( It does that too with my Tablet. :(

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City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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