I thought less time commuting would translate to more time
with my family, and everything would be perfect. I spent four years
wanting it and in February the wait ended. I achieved the corporate
dream of telecommuting!
Then summer hit and everything changed. School ended for
my son and my wife. My office tripled in population! My dream
turned into interruptions broken only by the dim light of the
bathroom linen closet: My only remaining safe and quiet
My phone chimes a text from her: "Do you want to go get
coffee?" No, I'm working.
My son calls: "Want to watch a cartoon with me?" No, I
can't, I'm working, remember?
She remarks with implied question: "It's so nice. Perfect
weather for a walk!"
The arrangement needed tending.
Apparently, if someone is home, they're home. So if I'm
home, I'm not working. That presented a challenge. But I wasn't
about to dream something for four years only to scrap everything.
So I started training my family to understand what it means to
telecommute, while training myself on the art of
I struck a deal with her: I'll come out of the office from
time to time. I'll break for lunch. But until I'm done for the day,
And a separate arrangement with him: "How about you just
act like I'm not home? Act like mom is the only one here unless you
want me to give you a hug. Deal?"
"Deal!" he shouted before heading back downstairs, only to
return in less than five minutes with a question.
So the deal didn't exactly work. I had to give up my spot
in the kitchen, a concession that saved my waistline and my work,
but I gained a door. Half master bedroom, half office, the space
became mine from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The door shut, I could work in
what sort of resembled peace.
It is a work in progress. The guidelines are somewhat more
back-of-the-mind than I'd like, but they're there. Don't scare me
while I'm working, don't walk in without knocking, and if you see
the phone to my ear you can assume I'm talking to
I can't play, walk, watch, discuss, run, or partake in any
verb other than work.
I maintain my part by breaking for lunch and opening the
door from time to time because it reduces interruptions. Or, that's
But nothing is foolproof - not with a family.
John Bray is a St. Charles dad.
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