Friday, 3 August 2012


The Great Work / Life Balance Challenge

Please accept these pictures as a counterpoint to the words that follow. In them, you will see Maia sauntering around Boston like a boss. Because she is the boss, of all of us...
summer forest dress

Ladies and gentlemen, please tell me how it's possible to work with the children at home. Obviously, I was well-aware that I would need to shut up shop while we were physically away but expected that I'd be up and running (albeit at a slower pace) now that we have returned. Sporadic blog silence and my semi-closed shop suggest I'm finding it harder than I imagined.

summer forest dress 1

Topically, this post on Design*Sponge popped up in my feed this week about how to work with / around your kids over the summer holidays.  Through a wily combination of bribes and clearly separating work and play the author purports it's possible to get stuff done.

summer forest dress 5

This has loosely been my tactic: a fun non-work activity outside the house every day to buy me some good will and time for work inside the house.  Which should work in terms of bribery, but also in teaching the lesson that in order to do fun things I need to be able to pay for them by, you know, working.

summer forest dress 2

So far, this is working beautifully on paper and in my own mind but unfortunately not in actual practise. Constant interruptions mean that everything is taking me at least double the amount of time to complete; one particularly bad day this week saw an order* that would normally take me two hours to complete take five.  Mostly because someone required half a dozen time outs**.

water fountain
Pictured: someone

One of my children is from the school of thought that any attention is better than no attention.  If I'm working, she's constantly bothering her brother.  He in turn is constantly complaining to me.  The only way to end the cycle is to get out of the house, which was the ultimate plan anyway but I've accomplished nothing other than angina.  Normally I'd work in the wee small hours but I've had to do incredibly sexy things like tax credit renewals / income tax submissions / VAT returns at night as they're impossible to complete with constant interruptions.  And also without constant interruptions.

summer forest dress 3
Dancing to the beat of her own drum. A vengeful drum.

So fellow work-at-homers, how do you manage it? Any tips to share? Commiserations? Also- twelve sleeps til school!

*Although my shop is technically closed to clothing orders I am accepting orders via email.  Makes me happier when I can confirm that an extra day or two longer than normal is okay with the customer.

** Time outs are only administered for extreeeeeemely bad behaviour.  And don't make an iota of difference.


  1. I work for a couple of hours early morning while Mr Kat entertains them then I get maybe half a day at the weekend. I do virtually no evening work as they exhaust me! (nice pictures)

  2. I do what every self respecting slattern does; rely on Cbeebies and bribe liberally with chocolate. By the time they go back to school in September their mouths will look like something from a Dicken's story.

  3. I can't really construct a sentence since I'm so exhausted with my children's constant winding one another up, but I totally agree.

  4. I'm no longer a WAHM, but I totally feel your pain. I've been trying to sort out our upstairs and am constantly having to stop and break up arguments, put Anara in timeout, help Anara on the toilet (even though she can do it herself) and get down toys they can't reach even though there are a million and one toys WITHIN their reach!

  5. I go for the lazy approach first thing in the morning and sit him in front of the TV for a couple hours whilst I work with the promise that once I'd done I'll take him out somewhere for the day. Then by the time we get back I'm too knackered to do anything in the evening :-(

  6. I have had 1 day off wiyh them so far and I am ready to kill!

  7. I love that dress. I hope the pattern will be available soon!

  8. Ugh. Tell me about it. Bribery, the kindness of friends, my mother and lots of very late nights. So jealous of Scottish school terms right now. This is a sanitised version of our days:

  9. My name is not really blog. No idea what happened there.

  10. Item is seven and a half, and on the few occasions we've tried to have her alone at home while I finish the *last hour* of the working day, she's proved it's impossible. You are not alone.

  11. Are there no playschemes near you that you can pack them off to? Although I guess that's more money being spent in order to earn money in the first place.

  12. I know it seems a bit pedantic for some, but one piece of language I’m trying to reform is the use of the term “work/life balance.” If language shapes our reality even just a little bit, then “work/life balance” – although its meant to be have positive connotations – must be reinforcing some negative views of life for all of us. Work and life are not somehow distinct “realities” that we can balance. “Work” is surely not meant to be devoid of “life.” Equally, considered, engaged and relational work can surely be part of a highly connected, health-ful life (even potentially a very big part of it). I know the term is coined to try to get us to live in a more “balanced” way but I suspect it simply allows those who see “work” and “life” as mechanically disconnected realities, to continue with that problematic viewpoint – and to continue tinkering with work to make it a “bit more friendly” rather than reforming the notion of work and its part in a whole life..

  13. I have no answers or advice. I just wanted to say that I love the dress your cute little "boss" is wearing!

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