With more and more companies understanding the importance of flexible schedules and working from home, it's becoming commonplace for families and careers to coexist under one roof. Besides being beneficial to the business, allowing remote work can also be good for maintaining a positive work/life balance.
For the past four years, my husband's work has been entirely remote. For the first couple of years, he was by himself. I left for work hours before he would start his day, and other than minor interruptions from the cat, he worked alone.
Ever since our son was born, his work experience has shifted. As a family, we've decided that I would be a SAHM, which has meant that his once-quiet 1,500-square-foot home and workspace has been inundated by all the commotion that a baby brings. Having lived with this arrangement for a couple of years now, I'm confident that it can be an amazing experience, assuming some concessions are met.
- The working spouse needs an office. With a door. That locks. My workspace is a nook off the kitchen, and though it's lovely and sunny, it would never work for my husband's primary office space. Occasionally he works there, but only when there is the guarantee that I've taken our toddler to a totally different place. More often than not, he's situated in a corner of our basement. Although that sounds like he's my secret gremlin I have stored away, it's the best solution for our small house. By being as removed as possible, it allows our toddler some distance between him and his favorite person, otherwise my husband would get nothing done.
- Noise will still be an issue. If I had one of those toddlers who quietly played with blocks, read his books, and meditated on his pint-size yoga mat, noise wouldn't be an issue. I instead have one of those loud, thumping, occasionally screaming, and couch-jumping toddlers . . . the kind who makes it virtually impossible to take work calls. I do what I can to get our son out of the house as much as I can, and when we're home, I try to keep him to the opposite end of the house. Thankfully, when that doesn't work, noise-canceling headphones seem to do the trick.
- It can be hard not to ask for help. With only one bathroom and one kitchen in our house, it's natural that we're going to run into each other. Mostly, these little meetups are a welcomed respite for all of us. Our son loves seeing his dad throughout the day, and my husband loves it as well. It was hard for me initially to separate work time from family time. He's upstairs; why shouldn't he help me change a diaper or put on some shoes? While this doesn't really impede his work life, I've learned that it's best to let him lead the way as far as how much time he has to hang with us.
- Work comes first. With only one consistent income to pay our bills, it's imperative that his work gets done. Thankfully, being so close to him means we can communicate throughout the day as far as his progress, errands that need to be run, and who is responsible for cooking dinner that night. Although I'm a firm believer that I'm a SAHM and not a housewife, his day is made easier if the kitchen doesn't need to be cleaned — a chore he usually does — as soon as he's done with work. Similarly, he is not responsible for cleaning the house just because he's home. It's best to think of his time between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. as "off" from house duties. Now, if he wants to take a short break and make me some pizza dough, I'm all for it, but it's at his discretion.
- The extra time has helped our family. When I was working as a teacher, I very often left for work before my son was awake, and by the time I got home, I had about two hours to play before the bedtime routine. For my husband, his absence of a commute allows him to have extra time with his son. Mornings are spent making a family breakfast, sipping coffee, and enjoying one another's company. These little moments have created a very unique upbringing for our son, one which we would be very sad to see go.
Working from home isn't the right situation for everyone and every career. However, those who have the potential to work remotely should do so, knowing that their family unit can greatly benefit. Our house is full during the day, but considering our son gets hourly hugs from his dad, the compactness is more than worth it.