What it’s Like to Work from Home… with Kids

When you have kids, it can be tough to juggle life. Especially when both you and your spouse work outside the home and daycare (aka school) is closed. Today was one of those days. One of those long, long days.

I just started a new job. I’m on week 4. So I’m still trying to gain trust and establish myself. It used to be so easy. I was focused. I was ambitious. I wanted to learn and do my best and shine like a star powered by the strong glow of fluorescent office lighting. Climb that corporate ladder like the yodeler character in that Price is Right game.

That all changed when I had my son. Now a mom of 2, all corporate ambition vanished. I realized that with 2 kids, “Outstanding” performance reviews are a thing of the past. Work no longer came first. Or even second. It couldn’t.  For some reason, I was able to manage the juggle better with one kid. Probably because I’m not one of those Super Woman Moms. I’m a real person. Some might say it’s more specifically because I’m not “organized” and I don’t “plan ahead”. But at least I’m pretty, right? That’s a positive that can get me ahead in the “juggling work and family and friends and dreams and working out and meal prep and not forgetting my prepped meals and selecting the correct number of tax deductions on my pre-employment forms” game for sure. Did I just let $200 worth of veggies go bad? Yes. But my smokey eye is on point today so that totally makes up for it.

Anyway, today was not a productive work day. Today was a day that consisted of just trying to keep up with emails and not much else. My daughter is great at letting me do my thing. If she has a tv, she’s good to go. Unless she sees me on my personal computer.  Then she wants to use said computer to “check her status”, which means she wants to take the quiz to see if she’s still in House of Slitherin.  #Priorities.  My son, on the other hand, would totally crawl back into my uterus and live happily ever after if it were at all possible. He wants me with him AT ALL TIMES. If he can’t see me, he finds me. If he can’t find me, he yells for me. That’s very problematic when I need to get things done for work.

For example, today he decided to be a member of the band Ratt. Remember them? He just met their music thanks to Sirius XM’s hairband station. And he loves them. So he wanted me to find their music videos on YouTube. That way, he could sing and play guitar with them. While dressed in his Brock Lesnar costume. Meanwhile, my daughter watched 4 episodes of Scooby Doo and 9 episodes of Monk. So when the doctor asks how much screen time she gets at her next appointment, please know I will lie. I will straight up lie. She gets 30 minutes of screen time and that’s all the doc needs to know. And all the moms who actually REMEMBER to cook the asparagus BEFORE it liquifies in the fridge can judge all they want. I welcome it. Cuz I judge them while peering from the top of my wine glass at the next PTA meeting.

At some point today the kids asked if they could go to Toys R Us and spend the $30 my grandmother gave them for Christmas. Seemed like a great way to get them out of the house for a bit. The visit was a success. Both walked out with goodies and stayed within budget so #blessed.

The trip to the grocery store, however, not so great. I only needed items for dinner (b.t.dubs, I made an AMAZING steak salad tonight. It was so good). Anyway, the kids were going crazy. Running all over the place. Bella putting Roman up to shenanigans. Shenanigans all over Fresh Market. And, yes, I yelled. And threatened to leave them. A few times. All the while, I was not getting any work done. I left with flank steak, avocados, tomatoes, cilantro-lime dressing, and the 2 kids I walked in with so… yay!

When I got home I did some work. And then it was time to cook dinner.

Ever feel like life is flying by and you’re holding on, white-knuckled, barely buckled in, and you know that if it would just slow down a little bit you could see what’s passing you. And maybe not fall off the roller coaster? Ugh.

Also, since we’re on a slight tangent, at what age do you start to gain weight by NOT eating? When did this start? I used to be able to skip a meal and lose 5 pounds! Now I skip a meal and gain 15. Son of a bitch. And don’t tell me it happens to everyone. If it did, I wouldn’t have skinny friends. Beautiful, skinny friends who “bounced back” 3 weeks after baby #4.  At least I’m pretty.  Starving, with 10 pounds to lose, but pretty.

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Taken Chances

A while ago my family and I were in Starbucks.  Nothing unusual there.  We would live there if we could.  My son, also as per usual, had his little guitar with him.  After all, he thinks he is Slash.  Upon seeing my Roman walking around with his guitar, a man turned around, pulled out his wallet, and gave Roman his guitar pick that he carries around.

Seems innocuous, right?  Just a man giving a little boy a guitar pick.  But to Roman it made his day.  To my husband and me it told us that someone cared.

This man saw a moment where he could add value and he stepped in.

We all live and go about our day and feel blessed when we make it home at the end.  But I’m finding that simply “living” isn’t enough.

{Ugh, I’m so demanding!}

Finding moments where we can add value and taking the step to insert ourselves into those moments takes courage.  Some of us have it naturally.  Some don’t.  I don’t but I want to.

Sometimes I see people who walk into a room and command it.  Sometimes I meet a person and it’s obvious they know a “secret” to life that I don’t know.  They are intriguing, enchanting even.  Poised but funny.  Intelligent but not obnoxious.

Recently I decided to become one of them.  After all, we live in ‘Merica.  The land of opportunity.  I’m going to create my own opportunities and lasso them.  Make ‘em ma biatch.

But how?

I was miserable at work.  I felt stagnated.  I came to work every day to a bankrupt company with a subversive boss who valued no one but herself.  I have talents.  I have ambition and drive.  But each day I was losing a little bit of it.

I could stay and complain every day.  And every day watch potential opportunities for growth and development fly from my grasp.  Every day I felt like I had so many ideas to help foster positive change but when I voiced them it was as if I were shouting into empty space.

My daughter is seven.  She is old enough to understand that I went to college.  She is old enough to understand that I believe I am just as capable as anyone else to add value to whatever I chose to participate in.  She is old enough to see my frustration every day.

She is also old enough to watch me change my situation.

I started interviewing.

I had a few bites but I was selective.  I finally was offered a position at a large company here in Atlanta.  The monetary offer was life altering for me and my family.  The title and responsibility were not.  Nor was the commute.  In Atlanta, the commute is EVERYTHING.  And, in speaking with friends who worked at the company offering me the new job, the grass wasn’t greener regarding employee morale.  Or processes.

Growing up I was counseled at school and around me to accept what job offer comes and be grateful.   Negotiating is bad form and turning down more money is foolish.  Also, don’t ask for more than you deserve.  Essentially, “you get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit!”

Well, frankly, that’s bullshit.  Who decides what I ‘deserve’?

I thought about the offer.  A lot.  I broke out into hives from the stress of making the wrong decision for my family and for my career.  Hives for 3 weeks.  No Bueno.

The horrible boss I had at my current employer had resigned.  I was a 10 minute drive from my front door to my office.  I was starting to establish credibility among the leadership team.  (Well, what was left of the team.)

What I was missing at my current employer was pay according to the market (I do this for a living so I know what the market value of my job is and it isn’t what I was making but I took the job to get out of a worse situation and that’s beside the point so I’ll leave this tangent now) and the ability to create a better environment for the company.  Aside from that, it was finally good.

So, I had an offer in hand and was about to resign.

Was this an opportunity to take a chance on the strategic direction of my career?

You betcha.

Was this an opportunity to take a risk?

You betcha.

Could this horribly backfire and blow up in ma face?

Definitely.

Here’s what I did:

I decided that if my current company countered I would consider the counter.  I actually wanted a counter.  I wanted to stay.  I wanted to know that I mattered.  I wanted to know that my co-workers valued me enough to fight for me.

If they didn’t, I would know that I was making the right move by leaving.

The counter offer was less money than the outside offer.  But I took it.

The following week a new leader started.  A smart, credentialed leader with a track record for making things happen.  So… I took another chance.

She (my new boss) scheduled a meeting with me last week to discuss my role in the company and the function that I manage.  I came to the meeting with a PowerPoint of all of my issues.  All of the things that led me to seek a job change.  All of the things that, if I were in charge, I would do differently.

And (and listen up, this is important) I brought solutions.

I felt out the company in the room.  If I thought she would be receptive I would give it to her.  If not, I still had my priority list that I was already determined to check off without permission if it came to that.

At the end of our meeting she said, “I’d love to know what you’d like to change”.

I could have said, “Ok, I’ll get that to you”.  I could have said, “Oh, no, everything is great.”

Nope.  I shoved that mild, weak, self-conscious girl back under the table and I whipped out my 17 slide presentation that I printed out.

She loved it so much that she made the other two HR leaders do the same thing.

Here is what I’m learning:

As a woman I have had to train myself to feel competent enough to speak up.

As a natural observer, I have had to learn how and when to give my input.

As a woman I have had to learn the hard way that boobs take way more courage to carry than balls.

forums.oneplus.net
forums.oneplus.net

And as long as I bring ethics and research and solutions to the table I’ll be ok.

As a human being, I’d rather be fired for creating positive change than getting a paycheck by keeping my mouth shut and not sticking up for what is right.

At just one week in, I can say I’m glad I stayed.  In six months I may have a different take.  But now I can at least give my resume more stability by lengthening my tenure at the company.  And maybe I can learn a thing or two from a strong woman in leadership who sits at the big boy table.

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