Working as a freelance writer from a home office has many benefits. My time is run the way I want it, I can squeeze in work around children’s commitments and obviously it’s cheaper than leasing corporate space.
The one big downside is the difficulty in being able to physically remove myself from the household chores.
A dash to the bathroom? Piles of laundry looks at me as if to say,
HELLO, FORGOTTEN ABOUT ME?
Each trip to the kitchen I hear a whisper in my ear,
WHAT’S FOR DINNER. THERE IS NO DINNER.
So here are my top 10 tips for surviving the home office experience as a working parent:
- Breakfast cleanup: do it on the spot, before the school run. Even if it means getting up 20 minutes earlier. Nothing better than coming home to an empty house and a clean kitchen.
- Make a rough meal plan when you do your weekly big shop. Ascribe a meal to each day Monday-Friday, write it down and stick it on the fridge. It will help you remember what you planned, and help the kids feel more comfortable with what’s coming up. (‘Oh you don’t want lasagne? Sorry, it’s in black and white. Talk to the list’).
- Washing: rather than let it pile up to tackle on the weekend, do at least 1 load per day and make the hanging out a break from the computer.
- Morning showers are optional. Who’s gonna care what you’re wearing, and whether you have perfect hair? Make a shower a work break, and tie it in with your exercise routine.
- Speaking of an exercise routine: prioritise it! Keeps you sane, and gets blood pumping.
- If in the morning the house looks like a bomb has hit it, DON’T TIDY WHEN NOBODY IS HOME. You’ll waste precious alone time, then the kids will get home and trash it all again anyway. Let them get home and eat, play, wreak havoc. Then make them help you tidy up before dinner – with dessert as a reward.
- OVERCOOK AND FREEZE MEALS. OVERCOOK AND FREEZE MEALS. OVERCOOK AND FREEZE MEALS. OVERCOOK AND FREEZE MEALS.
- Say yes to coffee mornings at school and other activities which involve people you like and with similar needs and interests. You need social stimulation.
- Make Saturdays and Sundays different from your weekdays. Groundhog Day after Groundhog day will slowly do your head in.
- Make your home office a pleasant room, somewhere you want to go and hang out. Nice lights and flowers can do wonders.
Number 1o is my priority in the next school holidays. Ikea here I come.