Once upon a time, I had an actual home office. It had a desk and file cabinets and a door that closed, and I shared the space with my husband, whose stuff took up the far side of the room but left me with plenty of space to spread out.
Then that room became the nursury when my youngest daughter arrived. My husband’s desk moved to the family room, which was fine as he preferred to work on his laptop rather than at his desk, and mine went into the guest room, which was fine, too. Then the guest room became our oldest daughter’s bedroom when our youngest son arrived. And my desk and file cabinets and papers and, well, crap all got stuffed into a niche next to my closet. Where I hated to work because it was away from the rest of the family and, juggling two jobs, I always had some work to do when I’d rather be spending time with the kids.
Fast forward a couple of years. The desk in the niche is covered in dust and dominated by an enourmous computer monitor that I never use; my 2008 Mother’s Day present and I camp out at the dining room table, surrounded by a swath of papers and clippings and products I’m preparing to review. It’s an imperfect system — much clearing out must be done in order for us to sit down to dinner some (most) nights — but if I have to work from home with the little kids around, they’re pretty happy playing fort under the table while I type.
Many work-at-home moms flee to a local coffee shop to work, ponying up $5 for a latte and free Wi-Fi in order to be able to work peacefully for a few hours. Others have dedicated office space (and a tax deduction) in order to separate work and home. But still others are nomads, like me, camping out in family space or wandering the house and neighborhood with laptop in tow.
Which made me wonder: Do you have a home office? How do you keep things organized, and how do you keep your work life and home life separate if you can’t simply close the door between them?