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A day in the life of a work from home mummy, complete with toddler sneaking in to wish her team on calls, is busy, but never boring!
Today is one of those rare Monday mornings when I do not have pending work to finish. The good thing about working from home is that you do not have to pretend to work when you are free. I remember when I was a fresher and had no work, I would start reading random documents to show how busy I was when the manager was around. I work from home, so basically I am in pyjamas most days which is a good and bad thing. You do miss dressing up at times. I used to love wearing formal shirts and trousers. Now, they are just lying unused somewhere (not that they would fit anyway!)
A lot of people around are extremely curious about my work from home status because it is still somewhat uncommon in India. Many mistake it for freelancing. Many think I must be getting paid lesser than a regular job. I have a regular office job. The only difference is that I do the office work from home in a messy bun and old t-shirt and pyjamas. My team is in the US and I am the only one from India so my manager did not mind offering me a work from home option. He also knew that I had a 11 month old at that time. Frankly, I could not believe my luck when I got this opportunity. I got a good hike and a good job profile and I could be with my son 24*7. What else could I ask for?
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But working from home has a lot of challenges. The first challenge is to allocate enough time to working effectively when you have a toddler running around and several household chores pending. I usually wake up at about 6.30 and rush to the gym after getting freshened up. The days when my son is holding me tight (which is the case most days these days), I just cannot escape and have to keep lying down. As soon as he is up, I take him to the bathroom and my husband helps him brush. I start getting his breakfast ready while my son tries his best to topple everything within his reach in the kitchen. If I am lucky the maid is on time to do the dishes and sweep and mop the house. I somehow manage to feed him and start preparing breakfast for myself and my husband. At this point of time, my son is still unable to eat enough of what we eat so a few of his meals are different from ours. But I pack the same breakfast that I prepare for us in his tiffin box so that he learns to eat slowly. My husband gets him ready for school and drops him at 9.30.
I have 2.5 hours till my son returns and this is the time I try to make the most of. I take a bath and quickly have my breakfast and then it is time for work. I try to work as effectively as possible for the next 2 hours. When my husband goes to pick my son up from school, I start getting lunch ready. Meals are mostly a simple affair in my home – it is just dal, roti, chawal and 1 sabzi most days. Since I started working post maternity, I have become a more efficient multitasker and I finish cooking in an hour. My son returns from school, takes a bath and gets ready for his lunch. I feed him and put him to sleep. By the time he sleeps its mostly 1.30 pm. My husband starts getting ready for office while I go back to work. When he is ready, we eat lunch together and then he leaves for office by 2.30 pm.
I have the next few hours to work quietly till my son is up usually by 4.30. The days I have lesser work, I do enjoy an hour’s nap that I am truly grateful for. There is nothing like sleeping in the afternoon. When he wakes up, I take him to the park whenever it is possible. The days I have too much work, the little one gets a bit bored playing at home. We try to come back by 6 and I feed him his evening snack and try to get back to work by 6.30. The next 2 hours are spent only on working and negotiating with my toddler to not jump on me and encouraging him to play, draw, scribble, dance or sing while he sneaks in and paints the tiles with his favorite crayons when I am deep into my work.
Extra negotiation is required when I have a meeting to attend as he tries his best to greet my manager and other colleagues with a “Good Mani (Good Morning)” and “Ankyou (Thank You)”. He will never exchange pleasantries otherwise. He will also try to show off his talents by singing “Tony Tony Yes Papa” at the same time. This is why I try my best to schedule meetings after 11 whenever it is possible.
I usually start getting dinner ready by 8.30 pm and start feeding him by 9. By 9.30 or 10, dinner is done and my husband has also returned. The most difficult part starts now which is putting a blabbering toddler to sleep. By the time he sleeps, it is usually 11. If I still have pending work I work after 11 but I try to wrap up by midnight and go to sleep. This is my routine on most days. Sometimes it gets so taxing that I get no time to have even a cup of tea peacefully, but I am not complaining. I did not have to make the difficult choice of sending my son to a day care or taking a break to pause my career.
In my next article I will speak about how one can negotiate and get a work from home opportunity out of a regular job and some do’s and don’ts for working from home. Thank you for taking the time to read. May we all rise and shine!
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