This post started out being about living and traveling as a work-from-home dad. After writing it, I realized that I had ended up with a post which was more about just trying to work in the same environment with a miniature human. A sometimes psychotic, endlessly needy, occasionally bitey, frequently adorable, and often very very VERY loud tiny human.
You gotta love him. Because you want to, and also because there’s a biological imperative and you can’t help it. No matter how much you might want to trade him in for a new camera. Or maybe even a churro. Honestly, I’m not picky and churros are delicious.
In any case, you’re stuck with him (and his mom in my case . . . er, I mean I love her so so much! I, um, I swear.), and so you have to find a way to work around them. No, literally. You have to WORK and it has to be around their presence. So here are some things I’ve figured out:
Work time is for Work. Except when it’s not. – Listen, I don’t want to make it sound like I’m a great big slacker at my job. Because I’d like to think that I get things done. Except for, you know, right now as I write a blog post about working. Whoa. Meta. But sometimes I’ll be working away and the Captain will come toddling up to me with a toy and say “dada, YEAH, dadadada!!” Which no matter how much it is certainly babbling, is still a request for attention.
That ticket can always wait 15 minutes.
Buttons are the funnest things EVER. – I know logically that the technology which allows you to set a password to get back into your computer after the screensaver has been enabled is a security feature to prevent against data leakage; however after having left my computer for IsweartoallthatIholddear less than 20 seconds on the outside and returning to find that “I” had sent several pages of nonsense to several of my coworkers via instant messenger . . . I understood that there was a completely different true reason for that thing. And it was holy.
Lock your computers. Prankster coworkers and malicious hackers have nothing on kids who love the click of buttons.
FOMO. Big Time. – FOMO stands for “Fear of Missing Out” and is something which exists all over the place. You run in to it at places like ComiCons, where people run themselves ragged trying to see and do everything. It can apply to work as well, especially when you work from home and your laptop or mobile phone (which is ever-so-handily connected to the webbynets and the company intranet) is always just within reach. You’re always tempted to log in at random times to check just one more email or post. To do one more ticket. To make sure that you’re not missing anything. It can end up with you checking messages when you should be eating dinner together, cuddling your kid, even while you’re trying to fall asleep.
And here’s the problem with traveling: You’re in a whole different time zone. In my case, I’m varyingly 8 or 9 hours ahead of my normal online time, so all of the people who I usually communicate with and all of the things that I usually get to do happen when I’m now either logging off or getting ready for bed. It makes it super easy to want to be online at all times . . . which, you know, probably isn’t so much a good thing.
Set hours. Keep them. You don’t have to actually BE an adult (I recommend against it, in fact), but act like it every once in a while.
Isolation Headphones. – That is all. Actually, no. That’s not all. Isolation headphones and Coffitivity. Just isolation headphones alone are great to cut down a whole bunch of ambient noise, but when you add in white noise like Coffitivity, you’ll find that you won’t hear a single strain of “Let it Go” or a single demented giggle from Elmo. It’s exactly what the doctor ordered when it really IS time to get work done.
Why not noise canceling headphones like Bose or the like? I’m glad you asked. The reason is because they work exactly like they sound: they sample the ambient noise around you and reverse the waveform and play it back in to your ear. Literally canceling the things that you should be able to hear. I personally would much rather spend my money on headphones which are designed to just keep noise out.
Just because your kid wants to listen to the same song literally 35 times every day, doesn’t mean you have to.
Take a damn break. – This applies to every job everywhere. Some of y’all may not know, but I have the ‘beetus (Type II adult onset, non-insulin dependent diabetes). After long discussions with a variety of doctors and specialists, we’ve more or less narrowed down the source of my ‘beetus to how poorly I took care of myself at my previous job. I would show up early (having skipped breakfast), work all day with few if any breaks, rarely take a lunch, work late, and then come home and gorge on dinner because I was starved. I would then collapse into bed and do the same thing over again the next day.
This? This makes you sick. Eat at least three times a day. Take breaks at least every 2 hours, if for no other reason than just to stand up and stretch. Your heart will thank you. And go talk to other humans. Being quiet all the time is bad for your brain.
You’ve gotta work to live, don’t live to work. Don’t let anything take that from you.
And now? Now it’s time for dinner. I’m going to follow my own advice and say good bye.
At least until I get another email alert on my phone. 😉