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The reality of working from home with kids.

It’s more nightmare than it is dream.

For many mums, the opportunity to work from home is a dream come true. And in many ways, it is. You’re able to earn an income and still be there for the special moments. It’s a position I do not take for granted, not for one second. I am so privileged to be able to be with my children while they are young, and while I have special circumstances that contribute to my situation, the realities of working from home with your kids is not always as easy as it seems.

Here’s the typical day as a working (from home) mum for those considering it.

Wake up. Like most parents this is usually to someone crawling on my face or hitting me with something. Rub your eyes enough to focus and stumble your way to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. Try and remain focused as your toddler changes their menu preference 75 times and finally decides on toast with butter. Promise yourself to make them some chia/kale/goiji something later. Ignore the cries when you butter the ‘wrong’ side of the toast. Be sure to get clear direction on how exactly the toast is to be cut. Hell hath no fury like a four year old who wanted triangles but got squares.

Ah toddlers, you unreasonable little humans. Image: ecards

Clean up.

While the kids are shovelling food into their faces, run to your room and get dressed. You work from home so no one cares what you look like but on the off chance that someone comes to the door, pants are probably advisable.

Dress the children. On some days I'll admit we don't get to this step. My kids call this pajama day. One day they will realise this is not a special treat but more so my way of avoiding the washing pile tipping over and smothering one of them.

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In a lot of ways dressing a baby is not dissimilar to wrestling an octopus into a string bag; arms and legs everywhere. Chase the other child around the house to encourage them to put clothes on and give in to cheap bribery; you start work soon and shit needs doing. Check the time and realise that you have approximately 10 minutes to inhale your cold cup of tea and get set up for the day.

Log in to your work system to let them know that you're alive. Part of working from home is the feeling that you constantly need to prove to your work mates that you are committed and involved. You're in a privileged position and with it comes a sense of emphasising your work ethic. Often this means logging on before people are in the office and shutting down long after. If, like me, you love your job this doesn't bother you. It just goes with the feeling of trying to do the best by everyone, which every single mum (working or not) will appreciate.

It's especially fun on a clingy day. Image: Supplied

Get your thoughts in order for the day while at the same time setting up activities to keep the kids amused for approximately seven minutes. Look out the window and wonder why your son is naked. Grab him next time he runs past and put his clothes back on.

Once you've worked out your daily tasks, mix in some referee business between siblings, cleaning up of spills and requests for food. Advise your children not to ride the dog while trying to type a sentence. Re read your work and realise that you've just crossed paths and told your boss not to ride their dog too. Re do email.

Allow yourself to slip into work mode for a few minutes and become an expert at blocking out squeals and screams as your children hit each other with broom sticks and try and affix clothes pegs to your hair. Attend to approximately a hundred "Muuuuummmmmmm... Muuuuuuuummmmm... Muuuuuummmmyyyyyyyy's" while at the same time responding to workmates.

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Schedule all work calls at a time you hope the children will be asleep so you can pretend you're surrounded by other like minded professionals (this never happens. There is always a child in the background). Concede defeat and take all work related phone calls from the car that you've had to lock yourself in (or possibly the bathroom, although the acoustics often give away your location)

Soldier on with work related tasks and let your nose adapt to the smell of fresh turd that is awaiting your attention in your kids nappy. Convince yourself that he won't die if you leave it for five minutes.

Swat your kids away while they pester you to watch T.V, instead suggesting more wholesome activities to keep them amused. Feel the familiar pangs of guilt as you give in and switch it on for five minutes of peace and quiet. After ten minutes, allow yourself to be interrupted by mummy guilt at the realisation that your kids could probably write plot lines for paw patrol. Turn the T.V. off and block out the resulting tantrums. It was only ten minutes, right?

See that someone has posted an article on Facebook calling parents that use T.V. lazy. Feel pretty shit about that.

Set up more educational activities for your children. This is considered your lunch break. Try and engage with them and involve yourself as much as possible. Don't be the stressed mummy, be the fun mummy. This will help down play any guilt you feel about not giving them enough attention.

Try and sneak away to resume work that you're aware is due imminently. Watch the kids partake in said educational activities for 4 minutes before walking away too and coming to locate you. They'll probably sit right next to your keyboard and start randomly hitting buttons. Or spilling stuff on you.

Realise as you look in the other room that craft was a bad idea. See the dog wander past with feathers glued to it's tail. Promise yourself to buy the dog a treat as a reward for the 30 seconds of entertainment she provided the children.

I promise mum, we have no idea how this happened.

Prepare lunch and explain calmly to your children that as disappointing as it may be, sandwiches are the only thing on offer. Ignore the four year old hunger strike and eat the left over vegemite sandwich.

Spend the afternoon flitting between work and mummy, work and mummy. Encourage outdoor play and run outside every five minutes to make sure no one is dying from a spider bite. Feel guilty when, for the fifteenth time you've said "I'm sorry darling, I can't" to your child when they ask if you can come and play.

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Thank the heavens that for once, miraculously, both your children have decided to nap. At the same time. Unheard of. Get back to work and allow yourself to be reminded of how much you love what you do. For a few minutes enjoy your own thoughts. Delight in using your brain and cram in as much work as possible before the kids wake.

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Jacqui with one of her kids. Image: supplied

Sneak in some snuggle time and stories when they wake up and enjoy the sleepy hugs. Appreciate how lucky you are to be able to enjoy them here in this moment. Breathe in the smell of your babies' heads as they rejoin the world and suggest countless games they could play together while you finish work.

Avoid promising them trips to the park in case you have to let them down but secretly hope that you'll be able to squeeze on in before the bath, bed madness begins.

Realise its now 5:30pm and the kids are making hungry eyes at you. Relocate your laptop to the kitchen and continue working while boiling a pot of pasta. Wipe sauce from your keyboard and serve dinner.

Once the kids are in bed, finish off any work that needs doing and pour a giant glass of wine as you clean up the bomb site they have created. Get ready to do it all again tomorrow and appreciate that as hard as it can be, you are truly lucky to love both your jobs wholeheartedly and be able to do them at the same time.

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