Wednesday, 17 November 2010

'Working' from home

Sometimes I work from home.

When one of the kids are sick, I 'work' from home.

There us a certain amount of time, depending on which child is home with me and how effective the Calpol is, that can be bought with some Thomas on the TV, Baby TV, or the Cars DVD. I have an additional amount of bonus time to work when the ill child in question is having a lunchtime sleep. It's funny how the rules on both TV and sleep change when it's a 'work' day. Usually TV is limited and I say to the children it's a treat, and not something we do all the time, just sometimes. On work days that is out the window and they are sat in the family room almost immediately, remote control at the ready and a big bowl of cheerios piled high; Lightning McQueen in action. Sleep time on normal home days starts at 12:30 and for my younger one and lasts 2 hours, no more, and my older one I wake after 40 minutes. On work days you betcha the sleep begins ASAP after lunch, and lasts as looooong as it lasts. I figure any nighttime shenanigans that results I will deal with later (in the night), or the nursery will deal with the next day - if allowed back, curse them.

That is a killer rule, the no-return-the-next-day-after-a-fever. Even if the kids are absolutely A-OK fine the next day, they are not allowed back! That makes not only one 'working' from home day, but two. CURSES! Not great for my efficiency. So there is a real gamble some days, and strategy...if I thought one of the kids was borderline, back in my maternity leave days, I might give them some Calpol and Ibuprofen and send them along their merry happily dosed way. If I got the call after the medicine wore off at 2:30 pm, I'd go and rescue said child from nursery and that would be that. Not a big deal to not be allowed back. Now though, there is a price to pay with the morning Calpol gamble. I have to think, OK, borderline ill...are they possibly going to deteriorate? If they do that will cost me double. Two whole days, including one day of unprofessional phone calls for in-office meeting cancellations. Or worse, a second day of embarrassing attempted conference calls for meetings I am supposed to be at. It makes me cringe, having to tell a group over the phone in your business meeting that, Oh, sorry, I have to go now to make lunch for my son - can I call back in after he has his nap? Ugh, it must seem SOOOOO unprofessional to anyone in the meeting that doesn't have kids. Or to anyone in the meeting that has kids, and sufficiently adequate child care.

My strategy now is to withhold the questionably ill child, drug them and keep them at home on that first day for maintenance assessments - then there is a better chance of being able to get to work the next day after that. I am booked to work from home Mondays anyway, so I can attempt to smuggle in a working day (with child in tow) without anyone even knowing they are there! Um, theoretically. Of course when I did this last Monday, my manager called, and my little feverish one during the first half of the call saw some funny characters on the TV and starting doing some crazy excited grunting and pointing and laughing. I tried to cover the phone up to muffle his noises, and I even thought 'Maybe he'll [my manager] think it's my cat making all that racket?'. Just when I thought I was getting away with it, my little feverish one fell over a toy and started crying full on. Definitely not my cat. Manager says "So you've got a little one there today?"..."Yes! Oh I am so sorry, he's got a fever and if I send him to nursery they'll send him home and then I'll have two days...and...and" and I get into my whole strategy logical explanation. He is fine with it anyway. I've been told that's all fine, and I actually don't technically need to smuggle my kids at home when they are sick, but...I still feel like I have to. In a trying to appear professional way. In a trying to appear as if I am not a floundering struggling working mother sort of way. It never seems to work though!

And every week it seems, somebody is sick. If it's not one, it's the other. Tag team fevers. There has been two weeks since I started work end of August that I have been without illness incident and child- home-work smuggling. God, then there was that day the little one was sick, and there was a meeting in London I HAD to be at. In the morning I was frantically calling my friends who I knew didn't work, to see if somebody, anybody could watch him for the day. No one could. I ended up, by scrolling down my list of phone numbers of anyone I have even known, finding the number of this cleaning lady who had worked for me previously, like, over a year at 8 am I am phoning her - "Um, hello, it's Heather, you know I live across from the park, you cleaned for me a while back? Sorry for the really early random call...uh...are you available today? uh, ya, all day? I remember running into you in the park in the summer and you said you were thinking of a childminding course, so I thought you might be you want to watch my feverish sick one year old from 8:30 until 6:30 pm? Oh, you've got your daughter's [school age] friends coming over for tea after school? Um, yes, that's OK, they can come to the house also...yes, I really have to go to this meeting... can you pick up my older son from nursery at 5 also? Yes. Really? Oh my god, thank you soooo much, yes, can you come right now? Oh you have to take your daughter to school in half an hour...uhhh I need to catch the train to London right now...why not bring her to my house now also and you can all walk together? Ok great, see you in a minute."

So as it happened, the random mum from across the way that I sort of knew but didn't really know but knew enough (and she has a kid also, she lives across from me in the village, and she works sometimes in the village coffee shop - she's not like some total random crazy lady I was leaving my kids with!) came over really early and last minute in the morning, 8 year old daughter in tow. I took my older son to nursery with me in the car on the way to the train station. Then I was told she [random mum] would need a password to pick up from nursery, which I hadn't told her....I just hadn't thought of that in the frenzy(!) so I drove back to the school to fight the crowds, I parked illegally, put the hazards on and dashed out to find her amongst the drop-off mums to give the password and get her mobile number. I was getting stressed now because I still had to drive 15 minutes to the train station, get my parking ticket, buy my train ticket, and get on the train! I did make it to the meeting in London, phew.

Meanwhile, after school, Random Mum had taken my little one to pick up her daughter and two school friends, and brought them all back to my house to give them dinner and play here (so weird! all sorts of random kids in my house!) and then, Random Mum had to take the whole gang for a long walk up to the nursery at 5 o'clock to pick up my other son as well! What a crew! I finally made it home at 6:15, after having to skulk out of the London meeting early at 4:30 to make the train home. Random Mum, Strange Kids, her daughter and my two kids were all playing in the family room, all fine. What a day. I gave her 60 quid for the 9 and a bit hours she was here, and said thanks very much. What an expensive day. I asked her if she would be interested in doing that again, if I needed to, and she said yes, certainly. What an expensive day I hope not to have to repeat. It is nice though to know someone local, who, in an emergency scenario can come to cover. That was really cool of her. Thank you again, Random Mum.

Man, working single mumhood is stressful. I hope my little folk become resistant to the various creatures that can be found at nursery, and stop all this illness business, it stresses me out. I even thought my older son had worms (EEEEEEE YIKES!) as he kept complaining of an itchy bum, and just then I read in a  toddler magazine that the main symptom of worms (EEEEEEE YIKES!) is an itchy bum. So today after nursery he said he needed a poo and was going to the toilet and I said "Wait, no can you do it in the potty please so I can have a look at your poo?" [Ahhhh the classy moments of mumhood] and I was prepared to see the gross little thready squigglers (EEEEEEE YIKES!). Mercifully no poo movement. The only lesson I learned there, though, is that unsubmerged poo REEKS. There's a reason toilets have water in them. The unsubmerged reek is left to wander at a speed of at least two rooms per minute. A hasty flushing is required with any potty use. And thank goodness no worms, that might have put me over the egde.

The kids are sweet when we work from home. I say 'we', as my older one brings his toys downstairs into the office, and plays most of the day, here at my feet. After we get something to eat or whatever we do out of the room, I tell him it's alright if he wants to go play in the family room, he doesn't need to stay in the office all day. Then he says "No, mummy, I'm working in the office today, come on now, let's go do some work!". My sweet little personal assistant.

Well, 6 more months to go. :)

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