For the last four years, I’ve been mixing being employed and self-employed while having children at home. It has been crazy at time. No, let me correct that. It’s been crazy most of the time.
But, Monday marked a major change. Firstly, Nathaniel started school full-time. Secondly, Alex has started his 15 hours free childcare. Plus, I’ve reduced my employed hours drastically – to 1 day a fortnight – so I am categorising myself as a work-at-home mum.
Which all meant that this week was the first time that I can remember when I had no children at home and could focus on work for a full five hours. I admit that I had been looking forward to that day for a few months, so I was quite excited for a day of peace, quiet and productivity.
The morning school and nursery drop-offs went without a hitch. I was home and putting the kettle on by 9:15. The thought of a cup of tea that may actually get drunk while hot with a chocolate biscuit was almost enough to have me dancing around the kitchen.
With my piping hot tea and cookie in my hand, I sat down, started to look through the to-do list and turned the laptop on, which is when it went wrong.
A large box filled the screen announcing an update and before I could do anything, my desktop disappeared as the update commenced. It was then that I noticed the update was for Windows 10. For various reasons, I had decided not to download Windows 10 but now that it was, I couldn’t stop it. I realised, with some deep breaths, that my daughter must have hit the ‘Yes to upgrade to Windows 10’ button when she borrowed my laptop the day before.
In total, it took three hours to upgrade. So much for my productivity. I did a little housework, made some notes, wrote some more things onto my to-do list, watched morning television (which wasn’t very inspiring), drunk more tea and ate more biscuits.
But finally, by lunchtime, it had finished and I could do some work before the school run. I replied to the important emails and then began to enter some new events to the Mums in the Know Telford site that I run. Unfortunately, I didn’t get very far due to a message on the screen telling me there was an error sending the emails.
Nearly an hour later, I had input the correct details of my email servers into Outlook more times than I could count, sent several test emails and was generally getting fed up.
But a realisation hit me. I didn’t need to get annoyed, stressed or frustrated because if I didn’t get everything on my to-do list done on that day, it wasn’t a massive problem. I could simply do it another day. Having time in the house alone was no longer a rarity to look forward to for months. It was going to happen two or three times a week. Instantly, I felt the pressure relieve and I remembered why I had decided to be a work-at-home mum – to feel less stressed so that I could be a better mum.
So, instead of getting wound up by technology failing and time passing, I decided to have a treat to celebrate my new work/life balance and had a day time shower without needing to rush in case the children were destroying the downstairs. It was total bliss.
My first day as a work-at-home mum and I did no work. The day may not have gone as planned but maybe it was what I needed. I had uninterrupted cups of tea, biscuits, daytime television and a shower, but most importantly, I learnt that the only pressure that I feel is the pressure I put on myself. And for that reason, I think I succeeded at something as a work-at-home mum (even if it wasn’t work).
(Just in case anyone is interested, the emails wouldn’t send due to the Windows 10 update, so the laptop was out of action for a further hour as it reverted back to Windows 8.)