July 27, 2009

Working from home — a particularly challenging day

When I quit my job last year to begin my own business, I didn't fully understand the challenges of being a parent and working from home. Then again, my husband was still working, so the kids were attending preschool several days a week. That all changed in September, though, when he lost his job...

Now, I have both kids home with me (luckily my husband is back to work). I actually love having the kids home, and love the opportunity that working from home affords (i.e making my own schedule). Unfortunately though this can create challenges: What do I do with the kids when I need to meet with a client or when I need to work from home during the day?

For the most part, I ship them off to Mom, or in the summer months to the in-laws. On the rarest of occasions, I hire a young neighborhood girl to watch the little monsters while I work. Recently, though, my options were limited. No one was available to watch the kids during a scheduled phone interview with a potential client. So what did I do?

I threatened them with bodily harm. No, no, not really, but I did make sure all their needs were met before the call began (supplying them with food, beverages, etc.) and sat them in front of the telly, the idiot box, the boob tube, a.k.a. the virtual babysitter. I then told them, "Please don't make a lot of noise, mommy has to get on an important phone call."

I suppose I should have been more specific.

I think the phone conversation went very well initially (and actually overall, too). I was able to speak to the potential client's needs, and speak intelligently and coherently about the specifics of my background, and how I could help them. Of course I told the kids I would be on the phone for a bit, but what does time really mean to a 3- and 5-year-old?

The first time I was interrupted, it was my 3-year-old daughter: "Mom, Zachary had diarrhea."


The potential client (laughing): "Working at home with the kids?"

"Yes, typically they're shipped off to mom, but she's sick today."

Then came the second plea by my daughter about my son's "diarrhea" episode. Quite possible too, some complaint on the part of my son that I was taking too long to assist him. I'm not entirely sure what was said by either child, as I dashed as quickly as I could into the den of silence: the bathroom.

Nothing was said on the other end of the phone, and I made no further mention of what had happened. Whew! I escaped relatively unscathed.

The conversation continued, and seemed to be going well, when the munchkins started pounding on the bathroom door. I had to do something. The pounding was so loud. And that's when it happened, my next mistake. I opened it to shush them when...

"Mom, my butt needs to be wiped!"

Darn! I, and most assuredly the potential client, heard the loudly uttered phrase. Luckily for me, the potential client said she had a 4-year-old at home, so she understood. Life is about learning experiences anyway, right? If anything, I learned a lesson on working from home with the kids.

I should have been very specific, and should have told them "Do not interrupt mommy," instead of just telling them not to make a lot of noise.

For those of you that may be wondering - In this case, I DID land the client!

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