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Working from Home: Answering FAQs About the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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{Photo: Her Creative Studio)

If you follow me on Instastories, you may have noticed I posted a story last week of me sitting in my dining room with my laptop, iPad, and notes working away after being forced out of my home office in annoyance. In fact, I know you noticed because I receive so many DMs about it. Rather than try and answer all of them individually (especially since so many of them were the same questions) I thought I’d rearrange my blog schedule and add a little work from home FAQ in here today.

I hope you’re all enjoying your last day of a long three-day weekend! Our weekend was gorgeous. Lots of quality time at home on Saturday before date night Saturday night, and we spent yesterday with the kids at Disney. They had a blast, the weather was cool and gorgeous, and it was a pretty sweet day.

Today, we’re back in our office working hard while the kids run rampant around the house like animals. Actually, they mostly play quietly together aside from the “Can I have a snack?” break they take every 30 seconds or so. I’ll cut my day short in my office this morning around 10, which gives me a solid four hours or so to work and the rest of the day to keep the kids happy. I have some errands to run, we have dinner with friends tonight, and prep for the kids to go back to school tomorrow to handle, so short day for mama.

And now that I’m completely off topic, you’re bored. It’s cool. No one thinks the mundane life of Publix runs and gym time and kid stuff is as interesting as the actual person handling it – and honestly, I’m not super entertained by it myself right now. So back to the work-from-home stuff. You have questions, I have answers.

  1. What do you do and what does your husband do?

I’ll start with me, since I’m the writer and, well, ladies first. I’m a writer. No, not a book author. I have the blog, but what I do is web content creation. I’ve been doing it almost 10 years now, and I’ve been building a client list that’s extensive over the course of that time.

I write a little of everything. There were a few years I wrote parenting articles for What to Expect. There were a few years I worked with the NFL traveling to NYC to their offices every few months to work with a panel of other creators on the Heads Up Program. However, most of my clients are either website owners looking for me to create their content.

Most of my clients are automobile dealers, insurance companies, law firms, dental offices, rehab facilities, limo companies, television spoilers, plumbing and HVAC companies, and even a few landscape design companies. They’re located all over the country. I write their landing pages, their blog posts, and anything else they contract me to write. My blog is my creative outlet, and I really enjoy my clients.

What does my husband do? That is a good question. I honestly don’t have a damn clue. His official title is Senior Systems Engineer. He works for a company based out of Tampa, and he sits quietly at his desk all day long working away doing God-knows-what and talking on the phone using language I don’t understand. I understand so very little of what he actually does I can say, “Sounds like a rough day,” and he’ll be like, “What? No, it’s been a great day. So productive,” and I’m over here thinking if his day was my day, I’d have scratched my eyes out by now. But he loves it, he’s super smart, and he’s a total geek.

He’s been doing this since 2016. Before that, he was IT for a bank for 16 years. He’s loyal. He works hard, and he’s smart. He’s also never been happier than he has been working from home, interrupting me constantly with his loud phone calls, and occasionally glaring at me when the doorbell rings again because another package has been delivered.

If you asked me what’s hard about him being home working with me, it’s that. He is unimpressed our UPS and Fed Ex guys know my name, and how many times a week they’re here. But, he doesn’t ask questions. And I’m totally off topic again.

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  1. How do you work together in the same office all day?

Most days we work really well together and there’s no problem. Occasionally, however, I find myself kicking myself out of our office (um, sometimes I like to point out that I’m self-exiling myself from MY home office that he crashed considering I’ve been working from home almost ten years and he’s been here like 2, but only when I’m really annoyed and potentially a little petty) to work elsewhere.

Sometimes it’s just because I’m a creative person, and a change of scene is good for me. I might work on the front porch, on the lanai, in bed, in the family room, the dining room, the back deck. I might even take my computer and go work out of the house if I’m really feeling distracted or in a rut. Other times I just have to get out of the office because there are a few clients my husband speaks to on the phone that must speak very loudly, because suddenly his indoor voice disappears and his conversations are loud. I can shoot him the same, “Shhh,” warning look I use on the kids, and it works just as well; sheepishly quiet for a second and then back to decibels that make my ears bleed. He can’t help it, though.

He feeds off whomever it is he’s speaking to. If he’s speaking to his dad on the weekends or at night, he develops his dad’s North Carolina accent. If he’s speaking to a client with a naturally loud and boisterous voice, he’s also loud and boisterous. And sometimes that drives me nuts, but most of the time I’m cool with it.

To get back to actually providing a useful answer to the question; we work well together. He works for someone else, I work for myself, so we don’t do the same thing. I work. He works. We are both workaholics, and we both focus hard on our work.

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{Photo: Her Creative Studio}

  1. Don’t you get sick of one another being together all day every day?

Nope. It’s kind of hard to get sick of someone you don’t actually speak to all day long. Again, we do different things. I need to concentrate because I’m writing, and my train of thought is going at a rapid pace. He’s on the phone, he’s on the computer, on conference calls, whatever. Believe it or not, we communicate less now that our desks are in the same room only 10 feet apart than we did when he worked at the bank 45 minutes away from our home.

In those days, he’d text me throughout the day to tell me he loved me, to see how my day is going, to check in, whatever. I’d respond. We’d chat. Now we can see how one another’s day is going, we’re 10 feet apart all day long, and we don’t text throughout the day anymore. We keep strict schedules and we both love what we do, so we’re working.

“I love you, be safe,” “I love you back,” “Do you need anything from Publix?” “Can I get you another cup of coffee while I’m up?” “Oh, look, Fedex/UPS is here. Again,”

Those are kind of the only words we speak to one another throughout the day. We do try to make time to take a walk and have lunch together most days for a little fresh air and quality time, and we’re good about it most days. It’s nice, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the day.

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{Photo: Her Creative Studio}

  1. Do you work the same hours?

Kind of and not really. We do, but we don’t. Again, he does not work for himself, so he technically works certain hours throughout the day from 8 to 5 where I work when my creative juices are flowing most freely. I’m exceptionally motivated and most creative in the morning. I’m a morning person, so I’m up at five working while he and the kids sleep. My husband is amazing handling the lunch packing, school-readying, and the kids in the mornings so I can work uninterrupted until it’s time to leave the house at 8 to get all four of them to school.

One of my biggest complaints as a work-from-home mom for the 8 years I did this before he started working from home was missing out on my most creative work time to get everyone fed and dressed and take to school. When he began working from home, he offered to take that over so I could have that time to work in the mornings. It’s been amazing, and he so appreciates everything I’ve ever done handling that part of the day on his own. Mornings with four kids are exhausting. More accurately, they’re a bitch.

While he works all day, I’m in and out. I handle anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 words per day, though I try not to schedule myself more than 15,000 words per day most days. I only need five to six hours a day to work to meet my deadlines, get my life in order, and answer emails, and update my checklists and calendars. So my day looks a little different.

I leave at 8:15ish to take the kids to school. Three days a week I’m home around 10 because I go to the YMCA to work out in the gym after dropping them off at their respective schools and I work the rest of the day. Two days a week I’m home by 9:10, back at my desk until 10:50 and then I leave for yoga. I’m back by 12:10, and we have lunch, I’m back to my desk by 1, and I work nonstop until it’s time to leave at 3:20 to pick the kids up. He’s at his desk all day unless we take lunch together and walk. I’m in and out.

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{Photo: Her Creative Studio}

  1. Do you really work all day or do you find yourself doing other things because I’d never get anything done if I worked from home?

Let me be clear; working from home is not for everyone. You must be disciplined. Craig works for someone else, so he has hours he needs to work – and he does not leave his desk unless he needs another cup of coffee or he is getting something to eat or we are taking lunch together. I work for myself, so my schedule is definitely flexible, but I also have a rigid schedule working around the kids and working out. We aren’t distracted.

We are surprisingly good at not allowing things to distract us. We’re in our office, so we can’t see the rest of the house to be distracted. We have no television in our office. We are tidy people, so there’s nothing that needs our attention throughout the house. We keep the laundry done every day, dishes are washed as they’re used or put in the dishwasher, the kids pick up their things before they go to school. Everything is always clean, so there’s nothing to distract us.

I don’t have to be in my office all day long, but I have contracts with my clients. I’m paid not only by word, but also by the quality of my content as well as my ability to meet all my deadlines. If I take time off during the day, I’m making it up that night. I don’t love that, so I don’t do that often. I don’t get vacation or sick days. We love to travel and do so often, but I’m working double, nights, weekends, skipping my workouts, and even cancelling other plans to get work done so we can travel, and I don’t have to take my computer with.

Running a business is a 24/7 job, but I love it. I’m disciplined like you would not believe, and so is Craig. It takes serious work ethic to get up at 5 am every morning and get into your office even when you don’t ‘have’ to. I try so hard not to work at night or on the weekends so I can spend that time with my family and keep a healthy work/life balance, but it’s almost always impossible. I love what I do, so it’s hard for me to put it down.

  1. What’s the worst thing about working from home?

Um…I want to eat all day. That’s a struggle. The biggest struggle is other people. I think it’s hard for some people to understand that our jobs are no different than theirs other than we’re doing it from home rather than from someone else’s office, so we are not free all day long. We can’t just stop what we are doing to answer the door for people and let them kill an hour because they’re between appointments and have nothing else to do, or help them with their errands, or whatever. I get it, but it’s an interruption of our workday. We both have calls, we both have deadlines, we both have things we need to have done at a certain time during the day; and we can’t just stop. It’s hard to explain that to people (and I’m sitting here waiting on a call from my mom asking me if it’s her…it is).

The other problem is days off of school. When the kids don’t have school on a day like today and they’re all home – struggle. It’s hard when it’s two kids, but it’s impossible when it’s all four. I usually have to find a creative way to get things done all day while they’re home, and it’s a problem. Love them, but omg.

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  1. Why do you get dressed every day if you don’t have to?

All right – so, yes, I do get dressed every day. Craig – nope. He’s gone from suit and tie for 16 years to basically wearing nothing but basketball shorts and tees all day long unless we’re going somewhere and he puts on real clothes. I get dressed every morning. Even on mornings I work out right after dropping the kids off, I still put on real clothes when I go pick the kids up. I just don’t feel comfortable leaving the house without dressing. I love fashion, I love to look nice, and I never leave the house without hair and makeup. I don’t love the way I feel when my hair and makeup are not done, and I find it puts me in a bad mood if I feel sloppy or lazy.

But in the interest of being transparent, I don’t leave my clothes on all day. If you see me on Instagram in the morning with a pair of five-inch Manolos on my feet, it’s because that’s what I’m wearing that day. I’m not dishonest about my OOTD posts, but I’m not in it all day. I’m literally naked about three seconds after I walk in the door until I can get to the bathroom to get my robe. I’m in my robe all day long working. Clothes on the leave the house, robe the rest of the day. It’s my jam, and I’m not ashamed of that.

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  1. Are you totally crazy in the house all the time?

No! Are you kidding me? I would literally never leave my house if I didn’t have to leave my house. I’m a total recluse. The real struggle for me is making myself leave. I get to so comfortable at home, and I never want to leave. I love our home so much, and I just want to stay home and enjoy it. But…I force myself to leave the house so we can keep a healthy balance for the kids and for ourselves.

  1. Does your marriage struggle because you work together, you live together, you spend all your time together?

Not at all! Do you know how hard it is to be unhappy when you both love what you do and when your husband is so happy? He loves his job so much, and he is so happy not missing out on all the things he missed out on before. He spent 15 years driving an hour to work, an hour home from work, not seeing the kids before he left in the morning and seeing them for less than an hour at night when he got home.

We passed one another in the night three or four nights a week because of the kids and their practice schedules, and date nights weren’t so frequent because while we loved them, Craig had so little time with the kids and it was so hard for me to expect him to spend more time away from them. He was stressed about it, I was stressed about it; that’s gone now. No commute means signing off at 5 pm and getting to go outside with the kids and ride bikes, talk the golf cart out, play in the yard, and just spend time together. It’s so much better living this life without those stresses. He’s happier, I’m happier, the kids LOVE it. It’s good.

There you have it. For us, it’s what’s good. It’s not something that will work for everyone, and that’s what makes us all so cool. We can do what works for us and live the lives we want. Working from home is a challenge, but I can’t imagine living any other way.

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