For the past month I have been trying to tie up every loose end possible, so when I go back to work everything will be in perfect order. Well, there is no such thing as perfect. I have post-it notes all over my office, which is a corner in my bedroom. A notepad full of appointments that need to be made. Figuring out school drop off and pick up has my anxiety through the roof. Thinking of being away from my children all day is giving me the deepest sadness I have ever felt. That may sound dramatic, but you know that saying… you never know what you have until its gone… I’m there.
In the beginning of my working from home venture, I was constantly trying to get on a schedule. Once I got on a schedule, it failed, and another one had to be created. At this point, I seem to just make a schedule in my head and not share it with others so if plans fall through, I’m the only one that knows.
I have overcome so many obstacles just like many of you. I have successfully managed to be home for my children, work and keep up with my home. Multitasking has become such a large part of my day that I don’t seem to know how to just do one thing at a time anymore. My normal day is so different now. This is a roundabout schedule for my day:
7 a.m. – Wake up, hot cup of coffee
7:15 a.m. – Shower and get dressed
8 a.m. – Jump on to check work emails and make my list for the day
8:30 a.m. – Put dinner in a crock pot and get the kids breakfast
9 a.m. – Take kids to summer camp, summer school, or wherever they need to go for the morning.
9:10 a.m. – Take my first conference call of the day
9:45 a.m. – Clean up breakfast, load dishwasher, put in laundry
10 a.m.-11:45 a.m. – Straight design work
12 p.m. – Pick up kids from camp, or school
12:15 p.m. – Get kids lunch, cleanup
12:30 p.m.-5 p.m. – Straight design work
5:05 p.m. – Check in on dinner
5:15 p.m.-6 p.m. – Straight design work
6:30 p.m. – Dinner
7:15 p.m. – Clean up (Sweep floors, laundry, etc.)
7:30 p.m.-8 p.m. – Bathe little kids
8:15 p.m. – Watch TV with the family or read a book with the little kids
9 p.m. – Bedtime routines
9:30 p.m. – I’m out like a baby
Next week I’m going back into the world. My day is going to be so different. I must add in a two-hour drive, that’s to and from Philly total to the schedule above. I will not be able to multitask my drop off and pickups, take care of my home, or my children until after 6:30 p.m. when I arrive home. I truly took everything that I had for granted these past 15 months. I was able to do everything I needed to do under one roof and spend so much time with my children. If I never had the opportunity to see how much goes on in their lives in a day, I wouldn’t know I was missing it.
Part of me is really excited to go back to the office, while the other half of me is battling the worst case of mother guilt possible. I will be able to concentrate with silence, which is something I haven’t had in some time. I can attend meetings instead of participating in glitchy conference calls. I can also reunite with my work family in person. Maybe after a few weeks I will be able to get back on a schedule. I know I will adapt, and I will be fine, but I needed to share with all of you because I feel like I am not going through this alone.
Though my conference calls at home were functional, in person they will not be interrupted by my kids storming in. Though I must admit while completely embarrassed by Keira telling my team she had to poop, and needed help wiping when I wasn’t muted was something I will never forget, or Lily calling a work friend of mine a butt face and sticking her tongue out at my monitor to only learn that it was more than that one colleague on the call she knew. With the embarrassment came the learning portion, for my girls.
All three of my kids got to see what I truly do in a workday. Ava even gave me some credit saying, “Mom, I can’t believe you design a publication every two weeks in season, along with other projects.” When I told my kids that I design roughly 300 projects a year they didn’t believe me. After this year they know because they saw me on my computer at all times of the day to make sure my projects were done on time. If I know anything I can’t let down Eagles fans. Though printed publications may not be popular, e-pubs, mobile articles, social posts, stadium signage and gifts are. The workforce luckily for me kept on churning. I never dropped a project, a child, a meal or a basket of folded laundry.
So next week when I go back to work, I will think of what I say to my children when they can’t have their way. I quote the Rolling Stones and sing to my children, “You can’t always get what you want, you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find... You get what you need.” I indeed know that the opportunity of returning to work may give me the sanity I need to be a better mother, and wife because when I get home, I know I’m going to appreciate my family so much more than I ever did before.
So, if you’re on your venture back to the workforce, I hope you think of this article and know you aren’t alone. I have had more good cries, and coffee that I ever thought I could consume this month. As humans we are built to adapt, we just must get out of our own mindset and know everything will work out. I wish all of you much love and support this week, send me some positive vibes if you can too.
Loraine Griffiths is a fifth-generation Hammontonian, graphic designer, wife and mother of three. She can be reached through email at LifeWithLoraine@gmail.com.