Friday, September 3, 2010

Working at Home

A few months ago, I started working for an amazing company: Atomic Learning*.

This job allows me to work from home, as I'm recording video tutorials and I need quiet. I'm really quite lucky-- interesting work, super cool co-workers, fun techie stuff, still education-related, and I get to wear sweatpants. So, what's the problem?

People do not understand what it means to work at home.

Here are my top three most annoying misconceptions I encounter:

3. "Come on, you can do that whenever. You work from home."

Here's the deal: maybe some people can do stuff whenever, but I do keep office hours. That means two small breaks during the day and a lunch period. I am on at 8 and off at 5. Yes, there is some flexibility if need be, but these are my regular working hours.

That doesn't mean that if Ryan is off and home with Norah, that I will be readily available for feedings and diaper changes (i.e. anything that isn't fun). I love having Norah run to the office and give me a hug during the day, and being able to play with her on breaks. But I can't just up and stop working because someone stuck their hand in the toilet and needs washing.

Also, that doesn't mean I can just go shopping, take a 2-hour lunch, or just take a half-day whenever and work at night. And I don't want to work at night. I want to sleep.

2. "Oh, you 'work from home,' wink, wink."

People automatically think you're watching TV, sleeping, or playing games online all day long. Nope. Actually working. Yes, AL employees do have fun. But these are some majorly hard-working people as well. I am proud to be one of them.

1. "It must be wonderful being home with your daughter and work at the same time!"

Well, it's not. It's impossible. People say this to me all the time, and I think either they don't have kids or they have forgotten what it's like. Which is fine, but it makes me feel guilty and horrible.

Norah is 20 months. I can't even take her grocery shopping anymore. She's the Tasmanian Devil.  She requires constant attention or she'll find something sharp or poisonous or esophogous-sized. I can't look at my computer screen for more than 60 seconds.

So, Norah goes to daycare Tuesdays and Thursdays, Nana's Wednesday, Grammy's Friday, and Ryan has her Mondays sometimes at home, if I'm not recording, and sometimes at a grandmother's or the park or something.

And even though I am fully aware that caring for Norah and working simultaneously is not an option, every time I hear someone say this to me, I feel terribly guilty. A former co-worker whom I didn't really know was gushing over my good fortune right before my last day at the college, and I felt so bad that I actually just smiled and nodded. I felt pathetic.

A lot of the time, though, I do realize that I'm doing what I need to do. Norah is happy. I would feel guilty about something no matter what. I think that's just a mother thing... guilt. And I'm really lucky to actually like my job. Misconceptions about working from home are just another thing that I need to let roll off my back. And that's the life of a parent-- and lots of non-parents, too-- people make judgements about you and you decide whether or not it's going to tick you off. I just need to be a little more resilient.

*Atomic Learning is a company that provides technology training and solutions to schools and universities (and companies, too). Wanna know how to use Word 2010? Go to AL. Photoshop? AL. Blogs and wikis? You know it. And I get to be one of the people who creates the training! Each tutorial we make is one to three minutes and captures just one little task. So you don't need to view a 30-minute seminar just to learn how to do a hanging indent. It's awesome.

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