I’ve been working from home for the last 5 years, and I blame the ceaseless buzzing of disparate thoughts that parade through my head, day and night, in part, to the decision to leave the safety of an office. (That’s my last one in the pictures above and below – The Apartment Creative Agency space in Soho, NY.) There is no compartmentalizing in this work-at-home world. Family life, household management and chores, business-running, work projects, passion projects – it’s all one, one seething and foaming bowl of stuff called my life. As all of you who do it know, it can be incredibly challenging to get things done when you can’t run off to a civilized workplace full of other grown ups, who also would like to get something done that day.
Instead, you try to hone the skills needed to piece together good work in between providing taxi service to/from school and activities, laundry, food shopping, dinner making, questions and accusations directed at Mom (Mom, can you play with me? Mom, when is it my turn to be on the computer? Mom! Zoel looked at me with that face again! Mom, Leeloo bit my arm and I think you should speak to her about it. Now. Mom, I’m hungry. Mom, my toe hurts. Mom…), online distractions, pinging electronic devices, etc, etc.
Sometimes, I’ve had to call in backup. Most often, it’s been my husband, my mom, or babysitters who have come to the rescue. Since we moved to Italy, and far from our support system, Stefan and I have been sharing the house and child care responsibilities more equally, and that has been incredibly helpful in opening up windows of time that wouldn’t exist otherwise. His help makes it possible for me to not only get project work and operational stuff (Hello Tax Season!) done for our businesses, but also to explore what kind of creative work I want to do next. I’m incredibly lucky that he’s willing to pick up half the load and that his very flexible work schedule allows it.
And that brings me to the other side of the coin, and why I love working at home, despite all its challenges and isolation from the “real” world. I feel incredibly fortunate to be as present in my family’s daily life as I am. (That may not always be reciprocated, but that’s another post.) Just today, two friends wrote about having a sick child at home, and having to find last minute childcare before leaving them, woozy and feverish, because there is no other option but to get to work on time. I remember those kinds of moments in our life, and my stomach instantly ties up in knots. The freedom of being untied from a physical place has also made it possible for us to live wherever we want to, even when that’s across the Ocean from the work we’re doing. This lifestyle definitely isn’t for everyone and it’s in no way perfect, but I’m so grateful that it’s an option. And I like to think that when it’s not my first choice any more, there will be other options, no matter how long I’ve stayed away from the traditional 9-to-5. Cue the Dolly Parton music…