I’ve been working at home for myself for three and a half years and I have to say I love it. I love being able to take the kids (well, just one kid now) to school and pick them (him) up again. I love that I can go to sports days or assemblies if I need to. I love that I can sometimes even take a sneaky day off.
By comparison, work in an office was pretty full-on. I had to be out of the house earlier, I worked all day, then I came home to grumpy kids, tea to make, washing to do and a bit of mum taxi. It was a tricky balancing act and I’m not sure I ever got it quite right. I was always tired, always rushing and always felt I was failing. I hated the school holidays because I wanted to be off with my kids, but of course I had to work a lot of the time – because annual leave doesn’t give you 13 weeks a year like school holidays.
But when I worked in an office, I worked three days a week. The other days were completely clear of work. So I had time for the housework without worrying that I should be earning some money – or leaving it until the weekend, which is a particular dislike of mine. And I loved the camaraderie of the office – we had a good laugh. I’ve never known people quite like my colleagues and I know I never will again.
Now I work at home, I’m slightly stressed a lot of the time – too much work, not enough work, a bill hasn’t been paid… I often wake up early worrying about something or other.
I’m a technophobe and I panic if anything goes wrong with my computer. My shredder stopped working months ago and there are piles of paper on the floor waiting to be shredded. You don’t have that in an office, where the furniture is fit for purpose and you have an IT department to sort out computer niggles. At home I divide my time between the breakfast bar and a small desk in my dark spare room which wasn’t really designed for someone’s workplace.
But the school holidays are better, right? Actually, not so much. They’re another thing that makes me feel guilty. In an ideal world, my work would magically disappear for the duration of the holidays and come back to keep me nice and busy (with invoices paid quickly of course!) once the kids go back to school. But of course it doesn’t work like that. I have to work, then I feel guilty for ignoring the kids. I feel guilty that their holidays are boring. But I’m not getting paid holidays like I did in the old days, so I have no choice but to work.
So you see working at home isn’t 100% better than working in an office. Neither scenario is perfect for a parent.
But all things considered, despite the downsides, I am much happier working at home. My family needs that flexibility right now.