I always wanted to be the kind of dad who was around for his kids during the day. I always thought, if it worked out, it would be great to work remotely. For me, one of the hardest things about having a full time job away from home was a feeling of missing out, of not being around, especially in those early years when my kids were toddling around. I’d see my kids briefly in the morning and then for a couple of hours through dinner and bedtime, full of reading, stories, and song. I valued the time I did have with them, but I always wanted more. Then, around the time my son was entering kindergarten, we moved to a different city and I took the opportunity to turn my permanent full time position into a work-from-home gig. This turned out to be fortunate, because my son’s undiagnosed autism led to a difficult transition to kindergarten. As hard as it was, I was able to be there for him and support him at school. I used to joke that I was my family’s chauffeur, given how much I drove everyone around.
The predictability of my work-from-home job gave me a solid platform from which to support my wife and children in the way that they most needed at the time. In the morning, I walked my son to school. In the afternoon, I stopped by after school to help him transition to after care. I worked in the in-between times. Because I worked with a team of writers that was also working remotely, this worked pretty well. I didn’t feel like I was the only one calling in to the office.
My colleagues and I experimented with several different tools to manage workflow (Trello and Asana stand out in my mind), but in the end we settled on a Google Sheet to track the work that needed to be written. I found the flexibility of my work to be quite freeing. I didn’t need to clock in for set hours, because it was more important that the work was done. Even though my work sometimes bled into evenings and weekends, I felt like I achieved a solid balance between work and family obligations. Not only that, it allowed my wife much greater flexibility in her job seeking process.
Unfortunately, about a year later my entire team was laid off following an acquisition. With a strong feeling that my son needed me to be around for him, I decided to pursue freelance work so that I could continue working from home. Little did I anticipate how stressful the hustle for work would be, nor how often freelance work would take me outside the home. But that’s a tale for another time.
My job situation is different now. My children are also older and don’t need my attention quite so fiercely. As stressful as it was at times, I’m grateful that I was able to be there, working from home, during some of their earliest years.
No matter what happens, I’ll always be there to read to them at bedtime.