Diary of a Work-From-Home Mom

My kid is screaming bloody murder and I’m in my office with my headphones in trying to work and suddenly I have this sinking feeling, why did I think this working from home thing was a good idea?

My home office is not minimalist & cool, but I do have a cactus. Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash

He’s three. He’s going to get mad. That’s what three-year-olds do. But I didn’t think I’d be trying to make a new PATCH request work while listening to my child get so upset about I don’t even know what. How can anyone work in these conditions?

The worst part is when I need to leave the office for various things: a bathroom break, food, more coffee. There’s my son looking at me with those big hazel eyes asking, “Mommy, are you all done working?”

Kid, it’s 10am. I have hours of work left. Queue the parental guilt.

I’m lucky I have a husband who makes an excellent Stay At Home Dad, but sometimes I miss the days when he was at work and my kid was in daycare. I had the whole house to myself. I could prop up my laptop on pillows on the sofa or work from the counter while eating lunch.

I remember when I started this job and so many people would ask me, “So does your remote job mean you’ll be taking your son out of daycare?” As if someone could do a full time job and take care of a kid. Maybe some people can do it — their job’s aren’t as involved or their kids don’t demand attention 110% of the time or circumstances require it. I could do it for a day every now and then, but there’s definitely going to be television involved.

Now that it’s warmer and sunnier, I’ve been taking daily walks as part of my lunch break. Back when it was below 20 and there was snow on the ground, I might not leave the house for days at a time. The only in-person adult interaction I’d have would be with my husband. This can’t be good for my mental health.

I miss my commute. I used to listen to audiobooks and podcasts. I enjoyed the time to turn off my work brain and turn on my home brain. The two-second commute up or down the stairs isn’t long enough for me to listen to anything. And as soon as I’m done working my son is so happy. When I can finally answer “yes” to his question he beams. It’s one of the best parts of my day.

Then he wants me to play with him immediately. And after being with him for 8 hours, my husband needs a break. And after 8 hours of work, I need a break. But traversing a staircase isn’t a break. Sometimes I stay in my office for a few extra minutes after I quit VS Code and Slack just to knit a few rows so I have something breaking up my engineering job from my parenting job. I’m tired and my brain hurts. I feel guilty, but I do it anyway.

I looked for a remote job for reasons that still hold true. I see more of my son, spend much less money on gas, and get to pet cats while I work. On magical perfect weather days I work outside. As an introvert I’m not exhausted from constant in-office socialization.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. It works for me, but I know others who’ve tried remote work and then chose to return to the office life. I can understand why.