I'm Leah, and in a lucky twist of fate, I've landed my three dream jobs:
book editor, writer, and mother. Since having my son in December 2008, my
work-life has been in constant flux - full-time? part-time? freelance?
working at home or in the office? It depends on the day and which way the
wind is blowing - and figuring out how to keep it all going is a constant
challenge. Heck, I'm still getting used to the idea of being someone's
Check out my profile on Work It, Mom! and my personal blog, A Girl and a Boy.
Remember that post in which I speculated about what my home office would look like after the baby was born? Well, now that he’s here, I’m living proof that no matter how much you try to plan out and prepare for your post-baby life, you never know what challenges will arise.
As concerns my home office, the first surprise was that I’d be needing it so soon. Being on maternity leave, I didn’t expect to be on the computer each day any longer than it would take me to check my email and knock out a quick blog post (which I assumed would be quite simple considering I’d have loads of new material). In reality, not only did I underestimate how long even those few tasks would take (and that I’d be doing them in chunks over the course of several hours or days), but I also forgot about all the other things I would need to do online: monitor spam, moderate comments, order birth announcements, upload baby pictures for insatiable grandparents, scan the news, keep up with blog friends, balance my checking account, and not just read email but actually answer it, a process especially important if I not only hope to remain connected to the outside world but also retain my ability to engage in adult conversation about subjects other than the bodily functions of a person still measured in length rather than height.
So, thinking I wouldn’t require a home office until I was actually back to work? WRONG. And thinking that the baby would nap in stretches long enough that I could actually get something accomplished, and also nap somewhere besides against my chest? Also wrong. I actually just put him down after letting him sleep in my arms for half an hour (while I tried to type this with one hand), and although he was far away in the backwoods of Dreamland when I walked out of the room, I can already hear him making his happy, wide-awake squeals and squeaks not two minutes later. Must be time for another milk break.
Still, I’m doing better than I was last week, when I could barely find the time to brush my teeth let alone get on the computer and tackle even one of the items on my growing to-do list. This week I at least know my limits–”never underestimate the power of lowered expectations,” I say now with only a hint of sarcasm–and I also have a better idea of what kind of home office will support my new working environment:
–a space that isn’t isolated from but central to the rest of the house
–a desk near a wall with enough electrical outlets to accommodate a computer, a desk lamp (for those late-night/early-morning pockets of free time), a baby monitor, a battery charger (for my poor overworked camera), a space heater (even in California!), and an electric teakettle (meet my new coworker, Caffeinated T. Beverage)
–room for a bouncer, swing, playmat, or whatever other holding apparatus the child isn’t currently shunning
–a calendar that will fool me into thinking it’s four days later that it actually is, which will help me get things done on time; why, just today I learned that what’s due at 6 a.m. on a Wednesday should actually be started no later than the previous Saturday if I have any hope of meeting my deadlines
It’s certainly not what I’d planned (or hoped) for, but the learning curve is steep and I’m figuring it all out a little more each day. I guess that’s to be expected whenever you start a new position for a new employer, right? Best of all, my boss here is a generous and forgiving boss (and he has the softest, chubbiest cheeks!), and now that he’s one month old and starting to really smile, I have even more incentive to make this a success.
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