The Truth Behind What I'm Doing When I Work from Home | Working Mother

The Truth Behind What I'm Doing When I Work from Home

Yes, I'm wearing pajama pants. Yes, I'm more productive.

Meredith working from home

Working from home doesn't mean I get time off.

Courtesy of the author

In the past three weeks, I've been to the office one time. I don't state that fact to brag. I actually would like to talk to my coworkers in person instead of staring at my son's toys and husband's clothes strewn about our living room. But a combination of holidays, my preschooler coming down with a virus, snowpocalypses, pregnancy-induced nausea, pregnancy-induced insomnia and pregnancy-induced symphysis pubis dysfunction (which makes taking a step feel like someone is stabbing me in the bikini line) has kept me mostly house-bound. I am extraordinarily lucky to have a job that can be done well from a remote location. I recognize that I'm even more fortunate to have a manager who allows me to work from my house. Despite medical warnings, I am so grateful to hold a sedentary position.

That being said, I know colleagues wonder, "Where's Meredith?" I would guess some, at least at previous jobs, think, "How nice for her not to have to come in while the rest of us are actually doing work." But the truth is I work harder and for longer durations on my work-from-home days.

I wake up around 7:30 a.m. which, admittedly, is a nice reprieve from my 6:00 a.m. alarm time on in-office days. I either take a gloriously long 15-minute shower in my quiet house or, if it hasn't been that long, throw on comfy clothes without hosing myself off. If I have video calls, I make sure that my top is work appropriate. I even put on a bra, albeit a wireless one. The pants are always of the yoga/pajama variety.

I head to my kitchen table for breakfast and start working, even though it's not quite 8:00 a.m. I respond to emails that came in after my embarrassingly early bedtime, look for news stories to cover on and set the lineup of articles and assignments for the morning.

In the good old pre-pregnancy days, when my pelvis was still aligned with my legs, I'd walk to my home office, about 15 feet from my dining room table. These days, though, getting to the couch just five feet away is a struggle. That's where I park my butt and my laptop, along with water and a snack to limit the amount of times I get up.

I check how the previous day's stories performed, schedule a morning Facebook post or two and start approving my team's story ideas as they come in, starting at about 9. I set the rest of the day's article lineup by about 10 a.m.

Today, I'm done editing a piece by 10:15, and move on to editing another, or writing one.

At this point, I might have to use the restroom. I bring this up because the 10 feet to walk there and back takes me about five minutes, round-trip. Anyone who doubts my productivity is right to in this one regard. Then again, the trip to and from my workplace restroom takes easily double this amount of time.

I usually have a call to jump on next. And when I'm off, I finish writing or editing another story (today, this is it).

I pause to prep my lunch, reheating leftovers or making a sandwich because standing to do real cooking is about as appealing as running a marathon in my condition. When my food's ready, I usually have another story to edit—which I do while eating because I don't want to hold up my team. One time during lunch, I watched an episode of Netflix's Atypical (so good, you should see it) because I didn't have anything pressing to address. I almost got to the end when an IM with a link to look over came in.

There are usually two more calls to take. And in between, I edit a magazine story or two. I might approve a magazine layout or some photos as well.

I don't pick up my son's toys. I sure as hell don't address my husband's clothes. The laundry remains undone, my dishes unclean. I do, however, refill my Brita because I drink water like it's my job these days, and I am working, after all. I exchange two emails with my mother and two IMs with my husband. There are many more IMs between me and my colleagues. I retrieve my mail only if I'm expecting a package and it's exciting enough to warrant the grueling seven-foot trip to the front door. I check in on the app that allows me to see what my son is doing at preschool but once. And I return a call about changing my next doctor's appointment. I resist the urge to free my struggling Roomba from some spiderweb-like wires. It shouts, "Error, error," and I keep working. My personal time, including the treacherous bathroom jaunts, amounts to about 30 to 45 minutes. Still, 5:00 rolls around swiftly.

Since I'm home, I don't need to log off yet to make daycare pickup in time. So I'll edit another online story and check our Facebook posts for the upcoming evening and early morning, duties I would do during my train ride home. I answer more emails. I keep doing everything I can until 6:30 p.m. when, if my husband doesn't have to work late, he walks through the door with the little boy who lights up my life and makes me stumble over his playthings.

My work-from-home hours are roughly 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. I'm not straightening up or getting my nails done. But I'm certainly not complaining. I treasure work-from-home days because of the extra hour-and-a-half of sleep, the stairs I don't have to climb during my commute and the proximity to a private toilet. But for anyone who suspects a mom isn't doing much for her job when she works from home, I hope this sets them straight.


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