Tag Archives: Mama Challenges

20 Thoughts on Working At Home (Part Time)

When on earth are two little people in bed at the same time — an hour early.  Let’s start with never.  Wow.  So I’ve been thinking about this post for a while.  First, that work at home myth where you know you have your kid quietly playing in the other room or the sweet pictures saying how wonderful it is to work at home with your baby.  I don’t know what those people are smoking but below is how it works for me.

A year or so ago, I found out we were moving out of our Country to a far away land.  I did the unthinkable — I told my boss as he offered me a promotion.  For me, being upfront and honest is very important.  It’s just me.  Most people advised against telling him.  I just couldn’t look at myself in the mirror if I didn’t.  This is the second time I’ve had to tell my future employer that I will need to work from home in the near future.  Anyhow, a very difficult move later and I’ve been working at home now for a little over six months.  I thought I would share some thoughts. After having Sweetpea I realized that a daily routine is apparently imperative for me.  So this is mine these days:

Schedule
My Goal Every Weekday

Since we’re anywhere from 13-15 hours ahead of “home”, calls at midnight should mean that kids are asleep.  I would be willing to bet that if I have an important call, someone will have a nightmare, fell out of bed, be hungry, have an accident or need a hug.  (Seriously when do you wake up at midnight kid!!!)

Lessons Learned:

  1. The computer will stop working when you need it to work — write down the conference call phone number (obviously read the material before the call).
    1. Oh don’t forget to charge your phone/laptop prior to meetings 🙂
  2. Keep a local day planner (to where you live) and reference your meetings with your coworkers in their time zone (this is confusing)
  3. Map out your meetings at the beginning of the week in your local time zone
  4. Plan, predict, prioritize…everything (that’s not just true of working at home)
  5. Communicate! Communicate! Communicate! (But don’t be a pain in the a$$)
  6. Learn to eat and drink water while working.  I struggling with taking any type of break when I’m working at home.  I’ve actually lost something like 10 pounds because I just don’t eat.
  7. Anticipate problems…that computer upgrade that was announced a week ahead of time…contact your help desk to get it done early.
  8. Actively participate in conference calls…but don’t talk just to hear yourself talk.
  9. Continue to look out for peers and friends as if you were in the office…hey did you see this training that’s coming up? I thought of you.
  10. Find a peer to peer sharing service such as Business Skype/Microsoft Lync to screen share or “talk” with your co-workers (but don’t be a pain!).
  11. Volunteer for things! You can do things even when you’re not physically present in the office.
  12. At some point you will need to print/scan when you’re at home…have that option available.
  13. If you have kids, anticipate problems: START ALL CALLS ON MUTE — For that midnight call you never have — that your kids never wake up for — but do for some reason….it’s fun I promise.
    1. Have a backup plan when they do wake up.  I often have “Daniel Tiger” on pause during my nighttime calls in the off chance Sweetpea wakes up and wants to chat.
  14. Coffee, coffee, coffee.  In all seriousness if you have to wake up at night…avoid the temptation to drink a cup.  Drink water!
  15. If you encounter a problem with your hours during the day (when your boss is sleeping), tell him/her just as if you were in the office.  It’s about building trust.
  16. Avoid the temptation to schedule things during the week that make your work at home schedule impossible.  You’re not a Stay At Home parent so you really can’t meet at 10am on Tuesday unless you re-prioritize your hours (and let your boss know).
  17. Make your work fun!  Get out your white board and think through your thoughts as you would in the office.
    1. Keep a running log of what you do every day! That way if someone wants to know…you can tell them!
  18. Try to sent grammatically correct emails to co-workers, friends and your boss etc.  Your emails represent you now.
  19. Realize that what you thought was obvious via email might be lost in translation.  So if it’s a sensitive topic try to have it via the phone, video conference or some real type method…as if you were walking to someone’s office.
  20. If you/your kids are sick…take a sick day.  No kid wants to remember mom/dad ignoring them when they’re sick.  So if you can…take the sick day.

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Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts

So to say life has been smidgen intense is an understatement.

  1. Moved to another country
  2. Had a second child
  3. Learned how to use the pressure cooker
  4. Found some awesome crock pot and pressure cooker recipes

(I really like the “Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts” concept.  Each paper cut/fun moment isn’t in itself difficult…but a thousand of them…sometimes it can be a bit much.  George mentioned this concept when talking about parenting…I think it fits well)

So until my camera is fixed, I will just write about my fun morning today.

We woke up at 5:45- 6am (or was it really 3am when Sweetpea joined the three of us in our queen sized bed?…I was almost kicked off the bed how many times?).  I know for certain that at around 6am, we all saw George off to work.  George thankfully had taken out today’s trash and walked the dogs.

Because Trash is Easy
Because Trash is Easy:  We have four trash cans.

Any rational person would think getting to preschool by 9 should (SHOULD) be a breeze.

…I really want to encourage curiosity in Sweetpea.  So while we are eating breakfast, she starts to teach me how food is processed in our body.  A very important part of the morning.  So we watched a 3 minute video on the digestive system.  We’ll see what I get taught later today on said video.  Our little sponge likes to teach me.  (Her latest interest is the Solar System and planets — Thank you Magic School Bus!).

You’d think 3 minutes wouldn’t impact the morning but somehow it was 7 and then 7:30 (wait yes I do…I talked to my sister amid seventeen thousand interruptions :)). Shower later, I insist on putting on my makeup (which might only be moisturizer and some eye make up with a side of … one-day-I’ll-look-polished *sigh*) while Sweetpea finishes showering in our non slip shower by herself.

Standing in my robe, I realize that a) Sweetpea is ready to leave, b) <<what is the blog name for baby #2?>> is ready and c) I haven’t made Sweetpea’s lunch for preschool.  I hate feeling disheveled.  I mean being a mom is the most rewarding and amazing thing I have ever done, but for goodness sakes I’m still a person here.  So fine.  It’s 8:45am.  We should be in the car now.  I take a minute to pretend to be put together.  Sweetpea picks out my earrings, bracelet and watch and we go to the kitchen to make lunch.  I REFUSE to spend hours making a cute lunch. I just don’t have hours to make that perfect bento box (and I get shamed for it by Sweetpea’s teacher…).

We get outside, it’s raining (thankfully I checked the weather so we’re good). We get to the car…yup.  I forgot Sweetpea’s lunch.  Back to the house.

Then preschool.  One of the mom’s offers to watch baby 2 while I drop off Sweetpea.  Can you ask any other day???!!! Here I am scrambling to repack Sweetpea’s backpack, it’s raining, Sweetpea just kissed baby 2 who is now screaming bloody murder, and we are staying calm.  It’s really not that big of a deal.  No one has died, nothing major got ruined.  It’s actually quite comical.  So yes baby 2 will be carried and not in the car seat.  So wrapped in her amazing blanket, we walk down the hill (after my friend realizes it’s a lost cause :)).  Oh you know my umbrella topples over, I tell Sweetpea to put her umbrella up…so she lifts her arm with her closed umbrella (touche child I didn’t say open it…the rain coat will do).

The clock at preschool says 9:23am.

I call my Mom to thank her for years of fun mornings.

 

 

 

Any(?) Mom’s H*ll: Dinner

Source
No frills required i.e. I just don’t do 50 ingredients or over complicated these days

I enjoy eating. Sorry but that’s out there. Ever since Sweetpea marched into our life, that thing called ‘free time’ has slightly decreased — imagine that?! In an effort to “have it all” and not eat cheesy fries daily, I made the inevitable decision to give up my 1-2 hours cooking routine (particularly when George works the 12 hour night shift) and find a reasonable solution. I have a few things that limit my day: a 2-3 hr commute (door to door), I make George’s lunches every day, and I value quality time with our lovely little lady.

Drum roll……..AMAZING DISCOVERY: FROZEN CROCKPOT MEALS MADE AT NIGHT!

I am testing several recipes and will share the results but for now here are some of my finds:

1. Crock pot liners: streamline cleaning…just throw out the bag after you remove your dinner
(such as reynolds slow cooker liners but oven bags work fine as well)

2. Cook your dinner at night!
Most days I’m gone for greater than 8 hours. The crock pot we have is programmable with a manual or temperature probe dependent (Hamilton Beach® 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker $49 from Bed Bath and Beyond). The issue with long hours is after the 8 hour cook time the crock pot kicks to warm, which still cooks the food READ: dried out dinner. So I usually am home in the evening for atleast 8 hours (including sleeping) so… a) Cook at night b) refrigerate in containers during the day and c) warm up at night.

3. Make a huge thing of rice for the week or if you get sick of rice use Seeds of Change (http://www.amazon.com/Seeds-Change-Quinoa-Brown-6pack/dp/B00GRT9PZY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1389587597&sr=8-2&keywords=Seeds+Of+Change)

4. Use microwavable veggies or steam fresh veggies in the microwave (http://www.amazon.com/Sistema-1103-Large-Microwave-Steamer/dp/B005D6XZ4O/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1389587700&sr=8-7&keywords=steam+container+microwave)

5. Have everything delivered! But I’ll write about that one another day.

Mama Moment: Walks

Urban Walking
Urban Walking

Walks. Easy right? Walk out of the house, lock the door, go for a walk. Done. HA! Somehow adding Sweetpea brings ridiculous game changing difficulty. Getting out of the house has been one of the most daunting things to do by myself with Sweetpea (add the dog in for fun). I thought I’d share.

Step One: Make the decision and commit to getting out of the house.

Step Two-Ten: Jackets (found) and put on, dog harness put on the dog, stroller prepped, coffee in un-spill-able container (coffee made), blanket that was supposed to be in the stroller spot is missing, find blanket, realize collapsible stroller is in the most awkward position ever, phone charged (enough), headphones in hand.

That’s all before clambering down the steps. The steps for us aren’t 4 nice steps right out of our house. It’s the flight of stairs to get to the front door that’s super challenging. Carrying Sweetpea, the stroller and hoping the dog stays at the bottom of the stairs is super fun to say the least — so slow is the name of the game.

***I make it out of the house!!!***

Front doors locked — check, house alarmed — check, the sense of accomplishment is beyond high. The accomplishment level is somewhere between Olympic gold and an Oscar. In my Super-mom minute, I casually flip the stroller into position and puff out my chest. Right about then is when I realize I’d forgotten my gloves and sunglasses. Going back into the house is simply not an option. I take a minute to connect my headset to my phone, put on my Amazon mp3 player, start my “Map my Run” and step out, dog in tow.

A block later, the phone dies…