Working from Home- Does your Househelp Understand?

I started working from home in May last year, nearly a year ago. I fixed up my home office a lot earlier, and when it was ready, I began looking for reasons to quit my job. You know when you search for something, in earnest, you’ll find it. I found fault at work; tons of it. From the way we handled customers, to the way we were treated. Any payment delay was taken negatively, and every criticism hurt. And boy! Weren’t they many! My dad’s death sealed my decision to quit, and in May, I walked my talk.

Was I a trapped freelancer?

Back home, I sat at my office every day, but every time my youngest daughter, Ella, woke up, that would be the end of productivity. She would want to sit on my desk or on my laptop so that I only had eyes for her. I’d send her back to the nanny and call out some instructions to keep her busy. Then 5 minutes later, she’d be back.

I tried closing the door, but Ella is bright. She would lay down by the doorway and peek. When she saw my feet, she’d start banging the door and calling out to me. Once, I walked her out and found my DM seated outside basking in the sun with the neighbour’s DM. “I’m trying to work,” I protested. “Please stay with her”. She took her, but with an offended look.

I began working for my DM

A couple of days later, I saw her struggle to put Ella to sleep and like any concerned mum, I offered to help. “No, it’s fine,” she said. “We go through this every day”. I thought I could take less time to put her down, so I insisted and took the baby. It took nearly thirty minutes to put her down!  Oh crap! I had lost time! I was completely disoriented and had to work extra time to meet my deadline. When I told this to hubby later that day, he warned that I should work as I did when I was still employed. That I, too, was availing myself for house chores when I need to meet my own targets.

It took a long while to figure that out. MY DM seemingly assumed I was available and began sneaking out just when it was nap time, and again when she wanted to go to the shops alone. She urged the baby to come to me when she was washing clothes, and most times, I found myself working for my DM.

My work was affected, and my productivity came close to a halt.

Working away…but would it work?

So I, too, started sneaking out and putting up at my mum’s school’s office. But while there, I could not just sit and do my work. Not when there was much more to do and extra hands available, no.

I  needed a new plan, So, I began planning my time better and was able to cover a substantial amount of work. I, however, had to prioritize school work, and this meant I would have to carry some work home (oh no!)…

or on the train when I travelled, or on the road 

After work.

I needed to balance time playing and bonding with all three kids and still catch up with work. I resolved to wake up earlier, work for at least an hour, and then leave for school. In the evenings, I rested for about 30 minutes and asked the kids to keep Ella busy after their homework was done. I managed to do more. This was really working!

I found the problem!

And one day, during a public holiday, I woke up at 5 am and started planning social media content for my clients. Once done, I wrote my weekly article for the paper, and in 3 hours, I was working on my first company profile for the day. Yes, I do quite a lot! At that time, Gracie, my DM, opened the bathroom taps and began soaking clothes. I checked the time on my laptop. 

It was at 8 am. Ella would be up in an hour. 

I noted this and continued working. 9:30, and Ella walked straight into my study. I greeted her and considered leaving my work to attend to her. But then I remembered the caution my husband gave. So I decided to interrupt Gracie.

“What do you usually do when the baby wakes up, and you aren’t done with chores?” I asked, genuinely concerned. She took me through her program, and when she got to the point where she locks herself in the bathroom while Ella watches TV, I cut her off. “Did you know that if you woke up at 5 to wash clothes, you’d be hanging them out before anyone gets up? No one will interrupt your cleaning with the need to use the bathroom, and Ella certainly won’t need to sit alone when she’s not fighting to join you!”

Finally, a working solution

She seemed to get it, so I did not stop. I reminded her that I was no longer employed, but that didn’t mean that I had a hidden stash to cater to our needs. I have to work harder now to earn your salary and get more for the house. Every time you leave the baby with me, I lose cash, and eventually, when your payment is due, and I can’t afford you, I’ll have to let you go.” Two eyes opened wide in awe. They were not mine. “I need you to work with me. Work as though I’m not here and allow me to stabilize my income. If I can save my transport cost, I’ll be sure to increase your pay by January, just as I promised.” I didn’t need to say more. She complied! How has your experience been?

4 thoughts on “Working from Home- Does your Househelp Understand?”

  1. I am yet to hack this.
    For the 100th time,I want to be you when I grow up.
    Hold my hand please😍😍😍
    Lakini with Ellas sweetness I bet you still cave in …😂😂👏

  2. Totally relatable. This week has been hell for my freelance account. I am so behind on my targets and I feel like crying on a day to day basis.

  3. This is so point on; it covers the challenges of working at home and as a bonus how you pulled through.

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