Anyone who hasn’t seen the clip that went around the internet of Professor Robert Kelly trying to conduct an interview whilst the kids burst in and his wife frantically tries to remove them has been living under a rock. I’m sure most parents, or at least those that work from home will empathise with him. Despite me making a conscious effort to keep mum life and work life separate, (to ensure both get the attention they deserve rather than pretending the other doesn’t exist), sometimes they collide and we get our very own “Professor Robert Kelly” moments.
I work for an American company so often, because of the time difference, have evening calls with the US. This works for me as I like to be in the office early, leave early, spend a few hours with the boys and then log back on around 9pm for calls. One particular evening I had decided in the name of multitasking to jump in the bath with #SHJM to combine having some quality time with him and washing my hair. I was feeling pretty chuffed that no matter what time the call finished I could have a few minutes extra sleep the next morning, because hair washing was one less job to do. 9pm came and I was ready for the call, sat up in bed in PJs, not wearing a bra, wet hair piled into a ball on the top of my head, face make up free and extra shiny (due to the thorough cleansing and moisturising I had decided to do). 9pm came and I clicked onto the conference bridge only to discover it was a VIDEO CALL!!! I managed to disable the video while it was “initiating” and just decided not to mention it, heart pounding I was prepared to casually say “oh sorry my camera can’t be working”, if anyone asked why they couldn’t see me. Thankfully no one brought it up. You know you work for a great company though, when you recount the story to your boss the next day and they roar with laughter.
While I do my best to avoid them, occasionally a call gets scheduled at #SHJMs bedtime. These are secretly my favourite. I smugly go to the spare room with a glass of red, lock the door and hear the nightly negotiations to get into the bath, get out of the bath, and that there will only be three bedtime stories not ten, going on in the distance. I was very grateful one night for the mute button when #MJM was shouting for assistance when there was a code brown bath incidence and I could giggle in secret. I did once manage to have bad mute timing though, when I got asked a question and came off mute at the exact moment #SHJM (who had escaped the bath), decided to try and batter the door down, whilst screaming “Mummy!” at the top of his lungs, in a manner that suggested someone was trying to kidnap him. Colleagues on the call, sounding very concerned, asked if I need to go, to which I responded “Hell no, the door is locked and I’m staying in here!”
So how do I keep work and parent collisions to a minimum? Firstly I try and keep set hours, work hours and mum hours. My work hours are 8am-5pm and 8pm-10pm. Outside of those hours are for family, no email checking, no calls, and no distractions. My colleagues know my hours, and I am not afraid to push back if work life encroaches on home life. Occasionally depending on the need, I will work later, or outside of those blocks, and then make up the time somewhere else, but it’s very much the exception rather than the norm. Weekends are completely work free. From 5pm on Friday until 7am on Monday when I am back on the bus, I do not look at my work phone or check my work emails. Having two phones really helps be disciplined here. I work from home every Wednesday to help me see the boys a little more. I can feed #ARWM and not have to pump, pick #SHJM up from preschool in my lunch break, and use what would be commuting time for exercising in the morning and fun time with the kids in the afternoon. But even at home my work hours are the same. When #SHJM is home from school I will either, quite literally lock myself away, or go to the local coffee shop to get on with what I need to do. I also send #MJM calendar invites for my work commitments so he knows where I need him to be free and he does the same to me. This ensures one of us are always around every night for some quality time, dinner, bath and bed.
At the start of the previous paragraph I deliberately said “work and parent collisions” and not “work and mum collisions ”. In our house it takes two to tango. #MJM has his own formula that works for him and ensures he has work and family time. It is completely different to mine but just as effective. Because he has his own company he is always on, 7 days a week, but blocks out time for the kids in a different way. He is freer to attend school trips, or spend some time swimming with #SHJM in the afternoon. Flexible working and work life balance looks different for everyone so you need to find a routine that works for you, however once you find the winning formula you shouldn’t face any too many issues.
Mummy Milne xx