Thursday, February 25, 2016

Going all the way (when you work at home)

I've been experimenting with a new work-at-home style lately and I suppose it's inspired from a spicy character in a movie ...

"All The Way" Mae from A League of Their Own

My job has nothing to do with baseball or, uh, "going all the way." But in my 5+ years as a work-at-home mom, I feel like I've been trying to do everything AT ONCE. Read emails while cooking dinner. Write while having a conversation. Play with the kids with one eye on my social media activity.

(If you think you spend too much time on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, just wait until you're self-employed and need to promote yourself through those channels. Endless wormhole of "work.")

And then ... then! ... I'd be frustrated and disappointed with myself when I snapped at the kids! I'd feel like neither my projects nor my children were getting the attention they deserved, and that feeling SUCKS.

I'm not saying I found a cure for that feeling, of course, but it's been ... better this week? Ready for my new work-at-home style?

GO ALL THE WAY.

This week I've been going all the way, like Mae! (Kinda) When I'm working, I'm working. I might be sitting at the dining room table (or is it the kitchen table? Damn open concept houses with no real "rooms") typing away on my Chromebook, but if the kids ask me to play, I tell them "I'm sorry, I'm working right now." I don't make snacks. I don't play LEGO. I don't do ANYTHING BUT WORK.

Of course, the other side of "going all the way" is that I get to go all the way and really BE WITH THEM when I'm not working. 100 per cent. No phone, no computer, no TV, just my complete undivided attention.

Normally our afternoon "quiet time" goes until it's time for bus-stop pick-up, but the other day I stopped working 30 minutes early and marched upstairs to find C (she was playing happily, alone, and it kind of killed me to interrupt her). I told her we could play for a while and her reaction was a bit of a stab in my chest.

"You're done your work?!" she asked, lighting up excitedly.

"I'm done for now," I told her. "We can play anything you want."

"You're gonna play wif me?!"

Ouch. I felt like a workaholic corporate dad that practically lives in their fancy office tower and barely makes it home to see his kid on their birthday.

So we spent half an hour playing "play home" -- her favourite game. I was the little girl and she was the mom. My name was Sofia and her name was Amber, but I called her "Mom" of course. I crawled around on the floor and pretended to eat my very nutritious plastic lunch of cupcakes, a doughnut and an ice cream cone. She tucked me in on the chaise lounge for naps (that was the best part) and we continued the game all the way down to the bus stop. She even got a piece of gum since she was the mom (!!!) which made it the best afternoon ever, of course.

D didn't want to play "play home" after our snack. He was actually quite disturbed every time I called C "Mom" and kept asking us to stop, so we did. Instead we built LEGO creations together and it was nice. I haven't played LEGO in ages but I really do love it. C built with us for a while and then her play sort of veered into Shopkins territory. We talked about ways to organize his pieces differently and I told him about my childhood friend who had a separate clear bin for each colour. He's totally on board (YAY!) so now we just need to get the right bins.

After about 30 minutes, I told them I'd had a great time playing but I had to get back to work. D was disappointed and wanted me to keep building -- and C wanted more "play home" -- but I said I really needed to finish my work. I sat down at the dining room table and focused on my work. They played upstairs and downstairs and I let them play Mario a bit towards the end, and then it was time for dinner.

In the end, I'd accomplished the same amount I'd accomplish during a normal afternoon where I was running in and out of my office -- making snacks, spelling words, lifting boxes off a high shelf, playing for five minutes here and there ... oh, and trying to work, too. But I'd also spent actual quality time with the kids doing exactly what they wanted to do. (Bonus: it wasn't boring, like doing a puzzle, ugh!)

By going "all the way" with my time, I felt saner, my work was finished, and -- most importantly -- my kids were happier.

Thanks, Mae -- I'm going to go all the way more often.

xo

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