Today is a home working day. It’s all a bit manic, and the flexibility feels pressuring rather than empowering.
Home working days are a juggle. I work around Small Boy and his naps. If I’m lucky my mother might come around for an hour in the afternoon after she’s finished work. On one of the days, Small Boy’s dad is home late morning as he compresses his hours so that helps. But it’s still a juggling act. A traffic jam can and a delayed arrival can throw my whole schedule out of whack.
I’m up at 5am again. I’m sat at the dining table, logged into my work laptop and going through my emails. I used to have a home office but it’s full of packing boxes from another aborted attempt to move house.
Small Boy is eating his usual wake up snack – a wafer biscuit and a cup of milk. He takes after me and doesn’t like his proper breakfast straight away. He’s explaining something very important to his Dad about Peppa Pig. He used to be a dedicated follower of CBeebies but has recently discovered “Pep-pep”.
I’m on my third cup of tea and Dad is on his second espresso. We’re both already showered – yes we were up before dawn. I’ve also already had a minor melt down over how I will be able to work from home at all in the afternoon when Small Boy drops his currently lengthy nap. How will I manage to work full time and do all the school runs? It’s a problem that’s three years into the future, but when you’re exhausted and always juggling, you can’t help but think about how more difficult things will become.
It’s now 7.30am and Dad is leaving for work. Small Boy and I eat breakfast together, and we potter about the house, drawing on the chalk board or doing puzzles. This is how stress free life should be I tell myself.
Today one of my ante-natal class friends is coming over for a playdate. She arrives mid-morning, calling in on the way from a play group. I tell myself I should find one that I can attend on a homeworking day that’s local. I should make more effort to do more with Small Boy I tell myself and get out of the house. The washing can wait. Who needs pants anyway?
My friend’s daughter is only a month older than Small Boy. I love watching them play together while my friend and I catch up on life and the challenges of fitting it all in.I make cheesy breakfast egg cups and lay out a living room picnic with the savoury goodies, along with blueberries and soft cheese sandwiches.
They leave around 12.30 and Small Boy is ready for his nap. He curls up in his cot and I tip toe back to my laptop, making a detour to the kitchen to throw some stuff into the slow cooker for tea.
Small Boy loves his daytime sleep (if only he loved the night as well!) so he’ll sleep for around two hours. Lately he’s been poorly and going through a growth spurt so he sometimes goes to three hours!
This is when work proper starts. I’m highly caffeinated by now and my brain is working properly. I only need to do a few hours and I try and do them in the evening but it seems like a don’t waste of nap time to postpone it. Fortunately, I don’t have any meetings to dial into today – on Fridays I can have two hours back to back with my mobile phone burning my ear off.
Before I know it it’s 3pm and small Boy is awake. He’s been sleeping longer recently as he’s had a spate of illnesses. I have been able to use the time to conquer a spreadsheet and set up a Trello board though. I’ve managed several cups of hot tea which is a win.
He’s a bit dopey when he’s woken up so we have a couple of hours of just chilling with books and watching CBeebies. He’s in a good mood as he enjoyed playing with his girlfriend earlier. He has a snack and some milk while I wonder how long it would take for my blog to make enough money that I can reduce my hours. The funk begins to descend but I brush it aside as it’s now incredibly important that we do a Peppa Pig jigsaw.
By 6pm, Dad his home and I serve up tea from the slow cooker. Small Boy is currently refusing to sit in a high chair or on a booster but can’t reach the dining table, so we sit on the floor around a low table – Japanese style – and tell each other how yummy it is.
Dad does the bath while I clear up and quickly check my work phone to see how many emails I need to action – forewarned is forearmed. Thankfully there’s not much so I quickly reply to the essentials.
CBeebies is finishing and despite his protests, Small Boy is wiped out. I take him up to his room at 7.30 pm and we sit in the chair and I sing him a song. He has a selection of night time lullabies – some of them are old standards which he loves (yep, no kids songs for him), while others are ones I’ve made up. Tonight it’s his favourite – “Your Belong to Me” – the Patsy Cline arrangement. He’s beginning to wind down now so I put him in his cot bed, with his trusted rabbit blanky and he rolls on to his side.
I tip toe down the stairs and collapse on the sofa. My husband has a cup of tea ready for me. I take half an hour to write this blog post and Dad has a shower to wash the day away. By 9pm we are in bed ourselves – after all we’ll both be “on” again by 5am.
A version of this post first appeared on www.babyandtheboardroom.com in December 2017.