I’ve always been pretty careful not to use absolutes in my life — as in I’ll never eat another Chips Ahoy cookie again, or that is the worst thing I’ve ever heard. I even caution my kids against using absolutes, although that is the nature of being a kid: “You never take me anywhere! I’ll never understand how to do this math problem! You always say that.”
There are, however, two things I’ve said I’d never do: put my work email on my smart phone, and drink chai at Starbucks. I’ll explain the latter some other time. I’ve telecommuted in my job(s) for 11 years – pretty much since my first child was born, and I realize how lucky I am to be able to do that. One six-month stint in an office setting last year made me realize how important it was for me, with my family’s situation, to work from home — at least a majority of the time, and at least for now (I’d sure love to work out of the home, in a proper workplace, at some point.)
So you can imagine that I’m pretty good at balancing work and home, scheduling meetings (for the most part) while the kids are in school, finishing up on deadlines while they do their homework, and keeping up with emails and other things inbetween picking and dropping off the kiddos, wiping noses, putting out fires, and most importantly, keeping my eldest son, who has autism, on task with his therapies, special needs, special diets, and everything else.
It’s a juggling act, to say the least, and most often I feel like I’m neither 100 percent doing my office work or 100 percent doing my “home” work. There’s never really a time where I feel like I turn the office off, because my laptop is always there. I’ve been able to hold off putting work email on my phone for three years now, because I felt that when I left the house, I shouldn’t be expected to respond to emails, nor should I feel tempted to check emails.
But last night I finally programmed my work email into my smart phone. There was no huge impetus for doing so. I just realized that as my three kids get bigger, I am finding myself popping in and out of the house more, waiting in carlines more, hanging out at activities more waiting for them to finish up – and I have to find a way to keep up.
So I gave in. I said I’d never do it, but I did. Just taught myself my own lesson – never say never. Work-life balance is one of those things I’m always trying to achieve, and not so very well. I may have just shot myself in the foot this time. (But then again, my husband also checks his email on his phone, and I’m used to it.)