COLUMN: I really love working from home — most of the time anyway

Tara Jeffrey

There is a hilarious video that went viral last year of a professor being interrupted by his small children during a Skype interview with the BBC.

A frazzled Robert Kelly can be seen trying to ‘shoo’ his little ones out of his office while trying to keep a straight face and talk about South Korean politics, until his wife comes to the rescue and scurries them out the door.

It was a relatable and light-hearted glimpse into the reality of work-life juggling and it struck a chord with millions of viewers, myself included.

Since deciding to work from home as a Journal reporter, I have struggled with finding the right balance. With a few exceptions, I rarely attend events and on-site assignments, leaving me with phone-only-interviews, arranged around naptime schedules, which are constantly changing as my almost-two-year-old graduates into toddlerhood.

If I’m lucky, half an episode of The Wiggles will keep him occupied for a few minutes, but after that, all hell usually breaks loose.

If he’s not tugging at my pyjamas (which I am probably still wearing at noon), he’s pulling on the phone cord for my attention, with “mamma” on repeat.

I think I’ve memorized my apology; “So sorry… I work from home… my little guy isn’t napping today… can we start over?”

It’s a far cry from the professional setting of an office, and often leaves me feeling a little embarrassed. I’m so grateful that I get to do what I love while staying at home, but it’s not always easy. I miss that newsroom life.

Last Friday was particularly challenging, when a PD day left me with all three at home, and two stories to finish by noon.

I needed to call a city councillor for some clarification, so I let the older two watch my little guy while I hid in my bedroom with the phone.

Sure enough, chaos ensued, and all three came charging in halfway through the interview.

“I can hear your little ones,” she noted, as my body built up with frustration; tears welling in my eyes.

It was just one of those days.

“I love it,” she continued. “I know you can’t see it now, but these days get better. They’ll be gone before you know it, so enjoy them.

“You’re doing a great job.”

It was everything I needed to hear.

I took a deep breath and thanked her, from one mom to another.

The stories got written, the deadlines were met, and we spent the rest of the day at the Animal Farm.

I always say that we are at our best when we’re lifting each other up; supporting others in work, parenthood and everywhere in between.

And sometimes, when things feel out of control, a few words of encouragement can make all the difference.