Making it work ~ Telecommuting with a Spouse

Couple Working Together at Home Just before 2012 went out in style (and escaped the dreaded Mayan end of the world apocolypse) my husband took a new job. We were both very happy with this move. It was very rewarding professional, looked like a great fit both travel wise and financially, and it was a home based position when we wasn’t on the road.
When I began to mention to people that he would be working from home alongside me now I received a lot of split reviews. There were the “Oh no” group who gasped wondering how we were going to get anything done for our respective positions. There was the “that’s awesome, now he can take the kids to school” group who, like me, immediately saw how our parenting workload might shift. And there was the “I’d never get anything done” group, who probably aren’t cut out to be telecommuters anyway.
From the start it’s been great, but there were definitely a few things that were key to our success in both working from home.

1. We new we would each need our own space. Several months back we remade our dining room over into my office (in a way that still allowed the room to serve its purpose during entertaining events). Check out the design and before and after pictures! Since my space was located downstairs we quickly determined that his “office” was going to have to fit into either the upstairs family room or our bedroom. Since my husband travels a good deal I wanted his office to be able to dissappear when he was on the road.

A few quick Pinterest searches later and I was on the hunt for one of these Armoire Style desks. I would be able to shut the doors and it would by bye bye office, hello bedroom every day at 5.

Isn't this awesome?

Isn’t this awesome?

I happened to be in our super nice Salvation Army about three days later and couldn’t believe it when there one sat!  It was in good shape, even had an L-table drop down for extra office space. I was good and waited semi-patiently until Hubs returned from that weeks travel and then promptly drug him to the store. Bada bing, bada bam…Hubs had a new office. Now I’ll be the first to admit my spacious spread and his awesome armoire are not equal but it works. We each have our own space, own office supplies, own phone lines, own printers, etc.

2. Office hours are a must. I learned this one the hard way years ago when I first became a telecommuter. I needed to shut the computer, switch off the work cellphone and walk away from work just as I had in physcially leaving an office. It is way to easy to walk by a computer, see mail sitting in your inbox and lose an hour on something that would have just as easily been tackled the next morning.  I’m a minority in my company since I still haven’t synced up my phone with the email servers and don’t work on weekends and vacations, but it helps me keep the balance between work and life.  This is something that Hubs, who is new to telecommuting is working on. I’ll occasionally search the house for him and find him hiding in his armoire checking email.

3. Find a routine that works for you. I work early in the morning, take a break to get the kids ready and off to school and then finish up by the time to pick them up. Fitting in daily exercise is something I need to work hard on this year but my routine allows me to focus on where I truly want to be, when I want to be there, in my case available for my kids after school hours. With Hubs joining me in telecommuting we’ve been able to improve on our routine, splitting up who takes and picks up each kid to allow both of us to spend some one on one time with each kid each day.

4. keepcalmandgotostarbucksA coffee frother, the gym, and Pandora…yeah I know these don’t make a lick of sense in the same sentence, but they are all vital to making telecommuting work for me. I’m a coffee fanatic and a loyal Starbucks customer through and through. Only problem is now it would mean a special trip out of the house, just for coffee to get my morning fix. I stumbled on a coffee frother at Bed Bath and Beyond one day and haven’t looked back! Each morning I mix up my own latte at home and Starbucks has become more of a treat than a daily vice.  The gym is Hubs escape. At the end of a day working from home, eating at home and not leaving other than to pick up the kids, he escapes to the neighborhood gym for a workout and some socialization.  Last but not lease, Pandora = Productivity for me. A good jamming playlist, a quiet house and a long to do list that gets knocked out quickly is a daily ritual for me.

5. Calendar blocks are also essential. When I have tasks to do that are not meetings with others or travel, I schedule them as meetings on my calendar. For instance if I need to do expense reports, work on my to do list, send a block of emails or draft a powerpoint, I make a point to put a block of time on my calendar, marked as busy to work on those objectives. The hardest part for my peers when I moved to working from home was not having the visual that I was busy. I ended up with a lot of random, last minute requests that kept me from completing my tasks. Scheduling my tasks on my calendar gave them back that visual and kept me from being overloaded with last minute piddly items.

I could go on and on but these are some of the key items that made telecommuting work for me and that I’ve shared to help Hubs be successful in his new endeavor.

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Working from home with a sick kid

Is there anything tougher than knowing work won’t wait when your child is sick?  As a telecommuting, work from home mom, I can honestly say no.  When I was in an office and stayed home sick I was out of sight out of mind, but now my co-workers see no difference on the days when I’m out either caring for a sick kid or home sick myself.  What ends up happening is we pull double duty trying to please everyone.  How many of you have ended up more exhausted than your sick kid by running back and forth between caring for your kid and checking email.

All I can say is Thank Goodness for the mute button! I’ve had a sick, cranky kid home all week. Between teething and the horrible allergies she is overtired, wants nothing more than an around the clock supply of juice and Wonder Pets (side note: I want to know how to call that can phone so they come rescue me from this tiny tyrant ;)). I’ve held two live webinars and more than 7 conference calls this week and although they all went well there were some nerve wracking moments. 

My advice if you are home with a sick kid- don’t even open the computer, but if you don’t have a choice, plan ahead. I hold off on the WonderPets until right before a meeting, we eat lunch early and get in a good nap so I can power through some pressing work and I work early or late so I can take time when she needs me to just sit and cuddle on the couch.

Organizing a Kindergarten Room

A few parents and I got together and decided to organize our kindergarten teacher’s class room. Check out the bookshelves that we picked up for a great price to get the project started. I’m thinking about a peg board in the middle section to organize supplies, and then finishing up the 17 foot long wall with rain gutter bookshelves inspired by Pinterest.

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Fisher Price Little Tykes Car DIY Makeover

I hinted at the “upgrade” I was giving Livi’s Little Tykes Fisher Price car a few days ago in this post.  My little diva lives in pink and needed a cute ride for her trips up and down the sidewalk.  The hand me down car from big brother was looking a bit faded and worse for the wear and the spray paint for plastic was calling my name.

Here’s my quick tutorial, a few fun pictures and my advice if you’re going to tackle something like this!


  1. Be sure to get painters tape, plenty of newspaper, spray paint intended specifically for plastics (Krylon Fusion for Plastics, Rustoleum and a few specialty brands at Michaels and Hobby Lobby all note clearly that they can be used on plastics).
  2. Use the newspaper to tape off and cover the top portion of the car. Also tape off any accent pieces you want to stand out later. I taped off the “grill” the gas cap, the license plate, the tail lights and the bolts on the front.  I also taped the steering wheel and used plastic bags to cover the tires.
  3. Turn the car over and spray the “under carriage”. I used a silver for this.
  4.  Turn the car back right side up and spray the body of the car. Use light even coats and just keep building up for even coverage. I did three light coats to get a solid robin’s egg blue for my car.
  5. I then lightly covered all but the interior seat area, and sprayed that silver for a little “leather look.”  My girl’s got style! 🙂
  6. Once everything was dry, really, really dry…I took off key pieces of tape and switched the paper from covering up to covering down. If it’s easier just yank the paper and recover the body of the car.  Spray the top and four sides of the top with your top color.
  7. Once everything was dry and all the paper was off I could see yellow and red in the cracks. I used a fine paint brush and some craft paint to cover that.
  8. Finally I pulled out some great sterling silver craft paint and painted “rims” inside the black tires, painted the front boltcovers, painted the gas cap and tail lights.  I used black craft paint to paint the front grill.
  9. Last I did two light coats of Clear UV glossy protectant for plastics (Krylon) to seal it and make sure my hard work lasts!

It was a fun project and just looking at the car and my little girl having so much fun makes me smile.

Now for the pictures!

DIY Kid Car Makeover

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My advice: 
Get in there and get your hands dirty! There is nothing like making something for your kids to make you feel like super mom! I turned an old TV stand into a play kitchen (tutorial coming soon), upgraded this car, who knows what’s next! Be sure to buy real blue painters tape to be sure you don’t pull your paint right off. Also try to tape paper to paper when wrapping your car!

Cost: $15

We had the car—$0

4 cans of spray paint (3 from Hobby Lobby on clearance, 1 regular price from Walmart) – $15

Crafty Goodness

At the end of the day, when the dust has settled, the house is quiet and I have a beverage of choice in hand, my mind generally turns to some crafty project or other that I have been contemplating. Tonight is no exception, but I thought long and hard about starting anything after the crazy day I had.

Most days I roll with the chaos. I think any parent worth their cheerios knows schedules are pipe dreams and that once the alarm buzzes anything goes. Today the alarm didn’t buzz, kids wore the wrong clothes to the school with a uniform policy, other kids made it out of the house shoeless prompting a quick walmart run, I spent a gazillion dollars in tolls before 8am and went home twice before I got everyone dropped off. Of course after a morning like that I should have been rewarded with a random email from my boss telling me I’m so great I should take the day off, hit the spa and come back refreshed tomorrow, but instead the phone rang. As I was walking out of my Doctors appointment I got a call that my baby had spiked a fever and was being booted from daycare for 24 hours or more. And off we go again.  I won’t beat a dead horse…the whole day went like that, you get the point.

Suffice it to say that by the time we left the pediatricians and waited through the carpool line, I was determined to rescue this day with something fun. So we hit Michaels and Hobby Lobby, grabbed some spray paint specially made for plastics (which happend to be on clearance…cha ching!) and headed home.  That was at 4pm. I didn’t get the house settled down and get ready to paint until 9, but who’s counting.

So project pictures coming tomorrow, but let me just say I’m taking the Fisher Price Little Tykes car to a whole new place for my little girl. I always feel bad when she gets a tired, faded hand me down that her big brother has outgrown. I don’t want to be wasteful and really hate having two of something so spray paint and a crafty momma to the rescue.

I was inspired by a mini cooper and an awesome robin’s egg blue color! Come back tomorrow, you won’t want to miss this transformation.

My inspiration!

 

Exhaustion, Fatigue, Sleep Deprived…

There at some words that don’t do a feeling justice. My daughter has night terrors…every night. However due to the crazy OCD genes she inherited from her father she is rather prompt about it, and I can usually count on the shrieking beginning  at either 10, 12, or 2. It has only been a month of regular episodes, but I have already forgotten what being rested feels like. Even coffee is not doing the trick, and being smack in the middle of an HCG round isn’t helping either. Well its not helping my exhaustion, but it is doing super sweet things to my waistline!

Night terrors are truly evil from my point of view since it’s not something I can make better. The tiny tyrant isn’t coherent and not only isn’t aware of me, but trying to hold or comfort her just escalates things, so I’m left sitting by watching a heart wrenching, ear splitting fit where the best I can do is try to stop her from hurting herself. It is truly awful to withhold comfort whether it helps or not.  So each night we pray for peaceful sleep, tuck the kids in bed and wait…

Keeping Out of the Public Eye

Oh boy have we ever reached the home bound point. My kids were embarrassingly bad in the stores this morning. Running, shouting, flinging toys, you name it…ughhhh.  Am I the only mom out there ready to order everything online until I can whip my kids into shape?

Oh well at least it was a mildly successful trip since hubbub and I both agree on my new decor ideas!  Check out my inspiration courtesy of world market.

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And for my future office table

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And finally the colors for the living room refresh

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I can’t wait to get started!

Leave it to Beaver Lied

Not at my house!

Does anyone else wonder what happened to the quiet, calm peace of the 1950’s Dinner table?  Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing wrong when I glance longingly at the wine bottle wondering if I should have it with dinner or enjoy a glass as a reward once the kids are in bed. Dinner at my house could qualify for armed forces training. There is flying plates to dodge when Tiny Tyrant spots something she would rather have than her designated dinner, search and destroy missions by Moody Tyrant when he flees the evil poison hidden in his food (anything red or green is immediately under suspicion) and negotiating worthy of the United Nations as I try to keep Mr. Tyrant from loosing his temper with all the drama and chaos.

Meal planning helps to some extent (www.savingdinner.com thank you so much!) but for the most part any given night can be a surprise raid that can turn my world upside down. I constantly walk a very fine line between trying to cook dinners that will suffice for my kids (or have components that I can quickly change up to something they enjoy (such as making Pad Thai but leaving noodles and chicken out and plain), and creating an atmosphere that doesn’t completely cater to the tiny tyrants in my house.

I wonder sometimes how much of this is the changing society that our children grow up in.  Are they so demanding of our time because they have so little of it anymore?  Did kids use to enjoy playing outside or by themselves more because they were home with mom all day? Or have we created a generation of children that need to be entertained constantly since they are so very used to the instant gratification of television, toys and constant companions at childcare centers. Moving into the holidays I’m attempting to keep digital interruptions out of our evenings by keeping the computer, iPad and my phone off or ignored until the kids are in bed.   It’s my own little social experiment and at the very least I’ll spend sometime proving to myself that Pinterest doesn’t run my life! 🙂