Thursday, March 07, 2013

Home-work

Almost 2 years now, working from home. And for all those who went "wow, you are so lucky!", I have something to confess. It has not been easy. Especially for someone who for over 13 years, had been working 10-12 hours at most times, 6 days a week, sometimes on Sundays too, without missing a day at work unless something really important or serious came in the way, it was hard to imagine that I'd opt for 'work from home'. My sis asked me if I was sure I wanted to do that. At that point of time, I saw better work (as it was more to do with my line of work), better opportunity (considering it was from 'Mumbai' the most happening city for 'advertising'), and above all, the idea of being home when my kids got back from school....Lo and behold, I grabbed the opportunity that came knocking at my door, at a time when I really needed it!

The first day was dreadful, the first week was worse, the first month was maddening.  I had a full time maid then, to take care of the household chores, cooking and taking care of the kids. My little one was in playschool and she would get back home by 12.30 pm. And look who she found at home, her mom who was fiddling away at the computer! She would come straight to my room, jump onto my lap, and tap away on the keyboard, and when I would try desperately to get her off, she would smile, cry, bawl (in that order) but refuse to get off. She wouldn't go to the maid (why would she, when her mom was at home). My maid was having a good time with plenty of time to kill, gossiping with the neighbours and all. Not that I envied her (not the gossiping kind, not me!), but she wasn't making it easy for me. I was stuck with looking after the little one, giving her food to eat, making sure she was engaged, coaxing her for an afternoon nap.......all in the middle of having to finish off jobs within the deadline, which was almost always "yesterday". I had more work coming in with every passing day, and more home duties piling on top of my head. And it only seemed to get worse.

And with the elder one landing home by around 3.30 pm, it was madness at its heights. The kids would be at each others throats, screaming, running and what have you. And then the hubby calling to say "that" person would come to fix "this", keep "this" or "that" ready and what not. Then there would be doorbells to answer...phew! What's worse, just when I would be ready to call it a day, there would be a rush of jobs, with the dreadful fine print  "take your time, send it first thing tomorrow morning". There went my night and my sweet dreams!

While I was used to the late nights and weekend work, I wasn't really ready for managing the home-bit as well. My kids couldn't see I was "working from home", they wanted me to devote my time to them when they were back. I wasn't able to make quality time for them, for I was sitting glued to my desk from dawn to dusk, namesake "at home" mom, who was almost always "at work". It was getting tough for me, and perhaps tougher for the family. What's worse, I had this pent up anger (or frustration) and no vent to let it out. And I could feel my head bloating up into a balloon ready to burst at the slightest prick.

When we moved into our new apartment, I made sure I had "office" space marked out. I got rid of the full time maid who turned into full time "jobless" because of me working from home, and instead hired a part-time maid to cook food and cleanup. I dressed up for work and tried to maintain a time schedule.The kids now understand "mama's home office" a no-hang-around zone, so no entering or fiddling with things during "office hours". Though occasionally (read "everyday"), they do kick up a racket, more so when I'm on an important call with a client or at a briefing session that can so tick me off, they're better behaved now (at least better than when I started out!), letting me finish my work. Just that the 9-5 work is not possible in my kind of work.

Sometimes, work even creeps into the weekends and during vacations, when it gets really annoying, but I oblige because there isn't an option, is there?! The duties are definitely more than the work at office arrangement, where you just had to take care of office work. Now work, home, family, maid, guests.....are all part of my work-at-home arrangement. And at the end of the day, what really gets to me is when the "friendly" neighbours comment "oh, you're so lucky you can work from home, and be there for the kids" or "we thought you're the only one free around here" or "you sit at home all day and you don't even have to cook!", so on and so forth.

Lucky like hell. I would have been better off going to office every day (I know the difference, because I've been there, done that!). At least when I got back home I had some peace and some quality time with family. Now the line between work and home has become so thin that I'm beginning to feel like some super-mom juggling between both roles! Oh no, it's not easy. Especially when you have no one to brainstorm with, talk to or go out with, slogging my buts-off  morning-noon-night with the whatsit glued to the chair, cut off from the rest of the world, and everybody else taking me for granted!

Now, my world has indeed become smaller, I'm afraid if my thinking would become narrower too! I'm thinking of getting a board fixed to the door: BEWARE OF LIVE BOMB...READY TO TICK-OFF ANY MOMENT! (DON'T ANGRY ME!!). The 'once upon a time' cool, patient, composed and ever-smiling gal is no more.

I'm tempted to learn and practise some yoga. Maybe that would help. I don't want my family to bear the brunt. And of course, I hate to see myself losing my cool, and losing my identity. If only I could draw the line between home and work. Make some quality time for myself and my family. Take those well-deserved breaks more frequently...

So take a break guys. Thanks for the patient hearing (reading). I already feel much better now. Just one of those lows, I guess. And I'm glad I'm out of it :)

19 comments:

Shilpa Garg said...

I can so understand your state! You are on the right track... by having a separate office... I guess, time management and keeping some time for self and family is a must too! So go on and enjoy the best of both the worlds! :)

Smita said...

You know I always say that Working from Home is no mean job and I salute each & every person who does that! I for sure know that I won't be able to manage that!!!

In fact when I was reading the post I was about to suggest about a separate space thing...good that u have one now!!!

We women have so much to handle no? *hugs*

KParthasarathi said...

May be the new CEO of Yahoo was one like you and decided no more work from home facility for all!!I have heard people say that employees tend to work longer from home even allowing the inevitable breaks but productivity is more at office.
I enjoyed reading your post laced with humour and hyperboles!!

walk2write said...

Blogging is like having a shoulder to cry on or getting a virtual shoulder rub. It's good to get it all out. I'm glad you're feeling somewhat better about things.

I worked from home for quite a few years too, but it was when the kids were older and knew better (most of the time) than to disturb mom. Now I kind of miss them being around to bug me. The fledglings do leave the nest.

Rajlakshmi said...

woww compared to you I am a lazy slob .. I have to give it you for being such hardworker and not giving up on any of the things :) yeah put aside some time for yourself :)

Rachna said...

Oh so with you on all these. I work from home too. But I work only till the time both of them come back from school. So I freelance and it is relatively very peaceful except on holidays. Yes the constant juggling is very difficult. And do try Yoga. I always brisk walk for an hour in the evening. It really perks me up and clears my head. Finally hugs! Is there any way possible to reduce your workload?

BK Chowla, said...

This is my first visit here.
Very interesting.....I will post comments after reading some more blogs.

RGB said...

@Shilpa Garg, Thanks indeed for the encouraging words.

@Smita, I guess I would have never understood the pressure of work-from-home if I wasn't in the situation myself. It sure is tough. And it takes a lot of willpower to keep going! I'm just praying I have enough strength to see me through. And thanks for the warm hug, just what I needed :)

@KParthasarathi,
Don't know what exactly the Yahoo CEO was thinking about when she decided to take off the work from home option. But I can vouch for this, work from home is perhaps more productive when it just involves individuals, but where teamwork is required, office facilitates the team spirit, brainstorming sessions, better coordination and perhaps above all of these, the satisfaction of seeing your work through, from beginning to end, and being recognised for it. This 'work from home' option is turning out to be a thankless job, where you slog & slog, but neither the company nor your family/friends (yes, including those friendly neighbours) seem to realize what really goes in!

@walk2write,
You're right. I did feel a lot better when I could get it all out here on my blog. And yes, as much as I may crib about Kids causing all the havoc, I'm sure gonna miss all of it when they grow up, when just the fond memories remain!

@Rajlakshmi,
I guess beggars can't be choosers. I am here, because I have to. Give me a choice, and I would be lying on my bed, lazily reading a book.

@Rachna,
Now is my turn to say "oh, you're so lucky!", because invariably, in my case, there's a spate of jobs towards EOD that needs to get done ASAP, I feel so cut-off from the family and the rest of the world. I must try the "Yoga" sooner, before I drown myself any further :) And I don't see a means to reduce my workload, unless of course we could afford to hire another person. Thanks for your warm comments.

@BK Chowla,
Thanks for dropping by and hope to see you around more often. I've read quite a few blogs of yours. I may not be too regular on my blogs, the same reason that has formed grist for this particular blog-post!



Tara said...

Tough real tough !! But Keep going
:-)

Insignia said...

Ah RGB, I salute you for taking this path. I can't dedicate and be disciplined and work from home for a day even though my organization provides this option. I am indisciplined; even without having no one around to disturb me.

You have done a great job so far. And I think having carved out the office space is a good go! You set the boundaries for office and family time

Destiny's child... said...

The office space idea sounds smart. I have seen you running around the office and so I do find it difficult to imagine you sitting at one place and typing away (insert your funny hand gesture there ;)). It's just a phase and you will be out of it before you know it. Take care, RGB. We got to meet sometime soon. :)

RGB said...

@ Tara,
Thanks. And thanks also for dropping by :)

@ Insignia,
Oh yeah, 'Discipline' is the key to keep working at-home. I'm getting better by the day. But sometimes I feel frustrated that I don't get enough time off-work!

@ Destiny's Child,
Yeah...just getting it out on my blog felt better. I just hope I can draw the line after work and find some quality time for myself, and my family :) And yep...we should meet sometime soon!

The Holy Lama said...

Hats off to you for being to deliver long distance for over two years now. Your dedication has always been an inspiration. And when you have those MAD moments, give a call:D

RGB said...

@ The Holy Lama,
Yeah, I'm surprised myself! Didn't know I would be able to pull it off! There have been times when it was really tough, and I wasn't able to find the "balance". I just felt life was being unfair, having to do too many things at a time. But sitting back, I realize that in spite of all those odds, I should be grateful with what I have! It's a choice I made. And I should be happy doing what I'm doing :) Glad I have friends like you, just a call away. Next time, get ready for my ranting (well, you asked for it, didn't you!)!!

R. Ramesh said...

hi rgb dropped in to say hi lest u forget us..hehe..sure all well buddy..best wishes always:)

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Reflections said...

Wow...seriously impressed. I totally understand it's no joking matter...what with 2 kids at the age they are now, and u've been doing it for 2 yrs now....kudos.

Destination Infinity said...

I like working from home, especially because I determine my own schedules and jobs. I don't have to waste time traveling and thinking about stupid colleagues. But I can understand that in your situation, it might be a little difficult. But it can also be a blessing in disguise. Don't be afraid of the chaos - embrace it :)

Destination Infinity

skirtsanddupattas said...

I came here through Smmita's blog. I work from home, i chose this option after having my baby who is 1.5 years now. Seriously, every word of what you have mentioned is so true!! I do have a separate room where I work, but i am still struggling to find that balance where i can put a clear demarcation between working hours and family time. And yes the maid management...:(..this post does help...i guess most people working from home have to face these challenges..