When I started dreaming of working at home—and at that point, it was definitely still in the dream stages—I imagined a lot of things.
I pictured baking cookies and cupcakes for my precious children to enjoy after school.
I imagined random trips to the park, the splash pad and the beach.
I envisioned a life where I worked while they were in school and, during the summer, while they played quietly together.
Clearly, I was delusional.
My first few months working at home were during the summer. Perfect! I was finally going to spend time with my boys. They were going to watch less TV and play outside more, and maybe we’d do some crafts together. (Oh, the fantasies I wove in my head.)
It’s not surprising to anyone that the reality was much different. I have never been so grateful for a school year to begin, and in early August, I was already making plans for the following summer. We would not have a repeat of what I affectionately call “The Summer of Fiery Blazing Hell.”
In case you’re wondering, no, I don’t feel guilty for spending the day at home working in peace while they spend the day at our local Boys and Girls Club, in the company of other adults paid to enrich their lives and expand their horizons. Here’s why:
Freedom From Requests for Food
Last summer, I spent my every waking hour thinking about, talking about and planning meals. Three hot meals, two snacks and dessert. By the end of the day, I was so tired of food, I didn’t even want to eat. This year? Cereal for breakfast and whatever won’t heat up my kitchen for dinner are my only real responsibilities.
Absence Really Does Make the Heart Grow Fonder
By the end of every day last year, I could barely tolerate the sound of their voices. If I had to hear about Mario Kart or Minecraft one more time, I was going to scream. This summer? I hear all the stories about dodge ball, field trips and who wouldn’t share at snack time, plus the story of my youngest hitting his big brother with carrots.
Craft Time, Sports and Field Trips Should Be Left to the Professionals
I’m not the most maternal person on the planet, and my idea of a good time is a hot cup of tea and a book. My kids know this about me and had no problem delaying every attempt I made at craft time last summer. Encouraging children to make stuff is not the job for me, so I’ll leave that to people who know what they’re doing.
Their Screen Time Is Much Less
I tried so hard to come up with a schedule to minimize the amount of time the boys spent in front of a tablet, phone or TV last summer. Two weeks in, I gave up. They didn’t want to paint, color, make paper airplanes or read books. And they quickly figured out that the amount of times they asked for a snack or a drink was directly proportionate to the speed with which I would let them play video games just to get some work done. Smart kids. This year, tablets are limited to two hours after dinner and the weekends. Mom guilt averted.
Special Moments Have More Meaning
Last summer, no one liked anyone. The boys fought all the time. I yelled all the time. By the end of the day, we needed John to come home from work to give us someone new to talk to. This year, when we play hooky from the normal routine, it’s fun. My mom visited for a few days, and we whisked the kids away to buy toys and see the local tourist sites. For a birthday treat, we all took a day off and went to a local amusement park. I promise you, it never could have happened last year. Never.
Very little is as I thought it would be now that I work from home, but I shouldn’t be surprised. With kids, almost nothing goes according to plan. I’m happy to leave the horizon expansion and mind enrichment to people who know what they’re doing. Maybe while they’re gone for the day, I’ll finally bake those damn cookies I’ve been dreaming about.