Earlier this year I was offered an excellent work-from-home opportunity by a London company. It involved managing social media and their blog. I was able to work from home in my ‘free’ time, earning some extra money and learning some new skills. Perfect, right?
After a few months of working, I found myself becoming frustrated, to say the least. I was managing four Facebook pages, two Twitter accounts, one Instagram account and a blog. This was in addition to my own Facebook page, Twitter account and Instagram account. The apps on my phone were alerting non-stop, and I found that the lines between work and non-work time were totally blurred.
This was accompanied by my two rapidly-developing children, whose needs seem to change on almost a weekly basis.
Each month, my situation at home has seemed to evolve and my life as a parent has become increasingly busy as I prepare Finley for school.
It was a total dream to have the opportunity of employment from home, doing work which was pretty straightforward for me (I’m good at social media and sourcing content).
When I began, it was relatively easy to work for short periods of time during the day. But almost as soon as I agreed to work, that changed. The children became increasingly more frustrated when I so much as glimpsed at my laptop. My online work riled them.
I couldn’t find any part of me that desired to switch the telly on for them while I pissed around on social media. Because to them, that is essentially what I was doing, regardless of how much I dressed it up as ‘work’ to them. They don’t understand, and they shouldn’t be expected to.
It’s funny, when I’m busy doing housework, the kids don’t mind. I let them roam the house and find their own fun. I don’t sit down with them and ‘entertain’ them all day long. I facilitate their play by giving them some direction. They frequently make their own entertainment.
However, when they see me on my phone, or on my laptop, it grates on their nerves. They obviously feel that I’m mentally inaccessible to them when I’m looking at screens.
So instead of working in the day, I tried to work in the evenings. But, that also became troublesome. I was neglecting my relationship with my husband in favour of working on the sofa next to him. There’s nothing worse than having someone sitting next to you, but who isn’t mentally in the room.
Above all, this way of working wasn’t making me happy. Believe me, I want to work. But I do not believe that it is possible to be a present-parent and a working-parent all at the same time. Not in my house, anyway. My kids will not tolerate me engrossing myself in work or creative endeavours that involve the internet while I’m with them. They need a mum, not an Internet zombie who ignores them.
When the children are at school, I will work. While they’re in my care, I will care for them. While I have a husband, I will be with him in the evenings after he has returned from work.
Because if I expect to have incredible relationships with the people in my life, I can only expect to get out as much as I put into those relationships.
I recently accepted a place at the local primary school for Finley. He’ll be beginning school in September – three and a half months from now. From September I’ll go from spending five days a week with him to spending two days per week with him. And this will be our lives (bar school holidays) until he leaves school for work or university, where he’ll continue to work full-time through his adulthood. This is it. Five short years from babyhood, and he’ll be off spending the majority of his time elsewhere.
So for now, I’m not focused on my freelance ventures until he is busy at school and Fraser is at nursery school. I’m going to be enjoying the next few months with the kids and not worrying about anything else.
There’ll be time to pursue the dream in a few months, but right now, I’m present in my reality and nurturing the relationships that mean the world to me.