• 7 Things No One Told Me About Working From Home

    "There is no banter in the pantry, or random conversations about yesterday’s teleserye episode."
    by Dedet Reyes Panabi .
  • Tina Fey eating

    I am a work-at-home mom. Full-time job, decent pay, and thanks to Google Hangouts and WhatsApp, I can teleconference with my bosses in my pajamas.  While everyone crawls through EDSA traffic, all I need to get to work is to check my Gmail. 

    Are you jealous yet? Well, hang on. 

    Working from home has its perks, but if you think this is a modern mother’s dream come true--cue stock photo of gorgeous, happy woman typing at laptop in pristine white living room--you’re in for a very rude awakening.

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    1 It will take you three times as long to finish anything
    Cubicles are quiet, and co-workers will politely knock on your door before asking you for anything. My house? Every day is a battle against the background noise of kids arguing and Disney videos, and just when you’ve got your creative mojo going, you have to stop to cook lunch or wash a toddler’s butt. 

    2 Doors and windows are not soundproof
    I take all my telecon calls in my bedroom, and 99 percent of the time the kids leave me alone. I have told them they can only interrupt my meetings if the house is on fire, or they’re on the brink of death. But my boss has heard the taho vendor, the hammering of construction, my recently heartbroken neighbor’s #hugot playlist. On one very long call that extended past lunch hour, he caught my daughter’s wail: “But Mooooooom, I’m staaaaarrrrving! I’m going to dieeeeee!” 

    3 It’s lonely 
    Everyone in my company works remotely, and our communications are very straightforward discussions on deadlines and deliverables. There is no banter in the pantry, or random conversations about yesterday’s teleserye episode or where you got your haircut. You can’t sneak out for coffee with someone for a 10-minute vent about a crazy client--you’ve got friends, but they won’t “get” you the way a co-worker would. 

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    I think that’s why, in the first few months after I started working from home, I turned into that really annoying clingy wife who’d really get hurt when the husband is too tired to talk during dinner. “Another adult in the house! Yes! I want to tell you everything! I want to hear everything! PAY ATTENTION TO ME!!!”  Poor, tired man just wanted to zone out and there I was, saying about how isolating my work was. 

    And that is when my husband got me a dog. 

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    4 People don’t think you have a real job.
    When I told friends and family that I was working from home, they would say, “Oh that’s wonderful! You get to rest.” And since they assumed I had “more time” for my kids, they could not understand why I still got my son a Math tutor or refused to join PTC committees. “But didn’t you quit your job so you could be a hands-on mom?” No, I quit a job to get another job, and while we’re on the topic--could you please stop sending me ads for call centers applications?

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    5 You’ll gain weight
    Or is that just me? I blame it on the fact that the refrigerator is 10 steps away from my desk. I don’t have to wait for break time to get myself a snack, and I’ll usually finish off the leftover breakfast or baon so I can wash the dishes. Besides, when you work in yoga pants and boxers, you don’t notice you’re gaining weight until someone tells you. (Note to self: download Jillian Michaels workout.)

    6 You don’t necessarily spend more time with the kids.
    While I’m physically with the kids the whole day, I spend as much quality time with them as I did when I was at an office. They’re in the living room; I’m at my home desk. I don’t have to go through traffic, but since I don’t have a maid anymore, those four hours saved from the commute are spent cooking, cleaning, and running errands. And you know what’s worse than feeling guilty about working? Feeling guilty that you’re at home and still working any way, even if in both cases, the kids are just fine.  

    7 You’ll actually see how damn good you are.
    Everything I said from # 1 to # 6 is true. And that’s why you’ll discover this. After two years of working from home, I have learned that I have incredible powers of concentration, I can multi-task #likeaboss, and even if I get stressed and don’t have the usual support systems of a friendly office environment, I can churn out some really amazing work – even if I did it while kids were screaming in the background. Every report or article I’ve submitted feels like that slowmo of a crippled Olympic runner hobbling to the finish line. I made it! I did it! Hear the crowd roar!   

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    Tina Fey
    And then a toddler needs to get her butt washed again. Deep sigh.  

    Have your own story to tell? Email us at lei.smartparenting@gmail.com 

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