“The Dad’s Guide to a Working Summer Vacation”
Working from home has its perks. Loads of them. Balancing your kids’ lazy days of summer with your own 8-hour workday is not one of them. Here is what summer vacation looks like from my home office.
Back when I worked at an office, I detested the rush-hour commute and tolerated the business-casual attire. I lamented that it sometimes took me all day to complete a couple hours of work because of constant interruptions and meetings. I fantasized about the notion of working from home.
And now that I work from home? I’ll be honest, it’s better than I ever imagined. The freedom to take my lunch break when I want, to not answer the phone if I’m concentrating, to log in and out when it makes the most sense for my productivity — it’s all so liberating. The only hiccup typically occurred in the 3-3:30 pm time frame, when my kids got home from school. But we all settled on a good after-school routine; I logged out for a half hour to get them situated with snacks and homework, then I logged back in to finish the day. I mean, I have NOTHING to complain about.
Except I got this job last August, so this is my first summer working from home. And it’s been an adjustment for us all. The kids wake up, see me at home in shorts and a t-shirt, and assume something fun is planned for the day. I sympathize with their disappointment as I tell them I’m logged in and won’t be done until dinner.
That sympathy, however, is quickly dashed when they start pestering and interrupting me. With four kids, three of whom have diagnosed attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD), someone is always bored, hungry, and messing with a sibling. I might step away for a few minutes to prep a meal or pull a box of toys from the attic, but I can only do that so many times in a day before I start getting emails asking why I’m not responding to emails.
Even on a good day, the kids can drive me up the wall. The other day, it’s not even 8am and I’m on a call with a customer on the East Coast, but I’m distracted by my oldest, who’s breakdancing in the next room. A few hours later, I’m on another call, but one of my middle kids keeps poking his head in at me trying to get attention. When I finally end my call, I ask him what’s up, and he asks if I can come watch a show with him. I start to romanticize my past office days. But that ends quickly. I’m still in shorts and a t-shirt. I haven’t gassed up my Jeep in weeks. And I have four kids who can’t wait to spend time with me.
So around 2pm, I say the heck with it. I log out – I can make up my hours tomorrow. Then I tell the kids to pull up a show. The house erupts with a giant “Yay!!!” Then my youngest asks, “Do you have to log in tomorrow?”
“Yes, I do.”
And she huffs and scowls at me in disapproval.
“But maybe I can get off early again like today.”
She throws her hands in the air and shouts, “YES!!!”
Because with the kids, it’s all about the perception. I can still get my eight hours per day in. Maybe I’ll log in early tomorrow. Or later tonight. It won’t matter as long as I get the work done. And I always seem to get the work done somehow.