Dear Father Hood: is it possible to work from home with a baby?
It depends what you mean by work. If you mean, sign on in the morning, intermittently check your emails, take one or two calls and generally do just about enough to bag a pay cheque without being disciplined, then answer is yes. If, however, you mean put in a hard day’s work while in the same abode as your little cherub, then the answer is no. And here’s why.
YOU WILL GET DRAGGED IN TO HELP
A quick nappy change here, some distraction techniques there, the odd hold while your partner goes to the toilet, photo sessions, ordering the replacement nappy bin cartridges, the 15 minutes of pre-nap wailing, ESCAPEE POOP ALERT – FULL CHANGE REQUIRED!… in isolation none of these items are too disruptive. But when you add them all together they create a tsunami of distraction that makes concentrating for a prolonged period of time impossible.
THERE WILL BE TEARS
As parents who have gone through the psychological torture of sleep training will testify, not going to your child when they’re crying is one of the hardest things you will ever do in life. So the chance of anyone being able to focus on an important pitch, crucial document, vital sales call or million dollar idea while their little one is bawling his or her eyes out is somewhere between zero and none.
YOU WILL FEEL LEFT OUT
Why are they laughing? What’s he having for lunch? Did he drink his milk? Is he asleep yet? Is he getting the cookies in the jar? Was it wee or poo? Should any of these questions take priority over a fast-approaching deadline, drastically behind schedule presentation or well overdue Monday blog post? Of course they shouldn’t. But he’s my son and… …gotta go, he’s making a noise I’ve never heard before*.
Okay, I’m back – what were we talking about again? Oh, I remember. I was explaining why working in the same place as your baby is essentially impossible. So what can someone in this situation do? Slowly go bankrupt seems to the path I’ve chosen, but if you work in an industry that’s slightly more future-proofed than the media you have two options. You can ensure that the baby is out of the house when you have to work from home (note: this means attending a playgroup, at a nursery or with the grandparents rather than sitting in the driveway). Or you can hire a desk at a shared office space. This may seem like an expensive option but, judging by the extra work my mates have been able to get through, it’ll soon pay for itself.
*It turned out he had the hiccups.