Who Does What When One Of You Works From Home?

My experience, and some tips to help you manage.

Good afternoon lovelies,

Yesterday, I hit a bit of a dilemma with housework and blogging. I love blogging and I have hopes, dreams and ambitions of turning my blogging into a career path, but there was just one problem – while I was blogging, the housework wasn’t getting done. If I was cleaning, I couldn’t also be blogging. There were two jobs I needed to do, and only one of me. I couldn’t be blogging and cleaning, I had to decide.

One of the things that has annoyed me for some time is the fact that many of the people around me don’t take my blog as seriously as I do. My neighbour knocks on my door and chats about quite frankly nothing at all, my father-in-law calls me up over matters which are, technically, home life matters. My biological family see blogging as a hobby not a potential career path and for a long time I’ve felt like my husband expected me to clean because hey, I’m basically always at home.

Even little Hugo stands in the doorway and refuses to move. If I’ve been to the loo, he wants to use the doggy loo (the garden, of course) too. It can be very hard to stay on task when you have every reason to believe that you aren’t being taken seriously and when you’re being distracted by your home life. It does frustrate me. Of course I don’t get paid for what I do currently, but if I get good enough at what I do, then there is every reason that I could do, and that’s what I’m aiming for. Owing to my good grades and determination, I was offered help to go self-employed all of those years ago and in the end I got no help at all. Now, I’m coursing my path, all on my own.

Yesterday, before I posted, I wrote a journal entry which I shared with Matt. In it, I penned out how I feel like he doesn’t respect what I do and he treats it like a hobby. He can’t be my “number one fan” and not be supporting what I do, that just doesn’t make any sense. I also pointed out that written text on the internet isn’t magical. For those words to appear in the order that they do, some poor soul needs to have sat down and written it for you to read.

On this blog, that poor soul is me.

I made a mental note that today, after my mandatory two posts, I would clean the kitchen. Imagine my shock then that when I went out to the kitchen last night, it had already been cleaned.

“Wow! The housework fairy has been!” I teased.

I hate nagging, I really do. We’re the kind of couple that seldom argue, it’s just not our style. Things get a little bit heated, we take some time apart to cool down and reflect. I grew up in a particularly hostile environment (my neighbours more so than my parents, although a few of their arguments have scarred me, too) so I’m quite conflict-avoidant, but something had to be done.

Because of what I do, I make friends quite regularly with a lot of people who work from home, and quite often we have a good laugh at some of the banialities and annoyances that come from our home/office life. Everything, from people not respecting your working time to being distracted by home life and having a cat walk across your keyboard or working with the dog led by your feet.

Everything.

One of the common occurences that comes up, is housework, particularly for people who are married, in relationships or people with roommates. We’re at home all day everyday, right?

Well yes, but no.

One of the biggest (and smallest) things I did last night was to separate my lights out on Google Home. When I tell Google to turn the office light on, the bedroom main light comes on. When I tell Google to turn the bedroom lights on, the lamp on my desk/dressing table comes on. I also put my laptop away after blogging and only use my mobile phone for social media, and it’s a crime for me to sleep with my laptop on my dresser/desk.

Work, and sleep. They may be in the same room, but I have some hard and fast rules that I make myself adhere to.

But that needs to apply to all things.

We may be ‘at home’, we may work ‘from home’, but we aren’t ‘at home’ in the same way that you’re used to, or thinking. For me, when I enter Work Mode, I am working. I refuse to have anything to do with anything that needs to be done around the home, and even Hugo only gets to outside when I make my mid-morning coffee, or when I stop for lunch. I clean after ‘work’, in Home time.

The same way as my husband should be.

I know that right now I’m not earning, but I firmly believe that the “you don’t get paid, so you should be doing the cleaning” mentality is wrong. When you start a job on a minimum wage, nobody expects you to do more housework and do less as you get promoted. Even if I’m not currently earning anything, I’m still giving something back to society for the benefits that I am receiving. There are plenty of people in the British society who are on the same rates of benefits that I’m on and are capable enough that they could do something with their time, but aren’t doing anything to give back to the community.

In an ideal world, I could give up my Employment & Support Allowance and turn self-employment (ahem, blogging) into a sustainable living. Sadly, we aren’t there yet, so that isn’t a possibility.

With that in mind, here are 5 tips to help you avoid a nasty argument, following on from our own experiences.

  1. Communicate, but don’t blame

This should be at the top of your agenda. It’s important that you both talk about what you do, how much you do and the way that you are feeling. One of the things that I am very aware of is the fact that Matt feels like we don’t get much time together in the evenings, so I try to make sure that blogging and some of the housework are done while he’s out of the house, then it’s just the things that we can do together before we relax, or things that I can do while we watch TV, like loading the dishwasher or preparing food (in the adverts) and pairing up odd socks.

2. Minimize

I won’t lie, folks. I have 4 crates of junk piled up on my lounge floor at the moment, that I need to go through. They are old storage drawers full of junk that needs sorting out and, most probably, getting rid of. It’s that old adage, the less junk you have, the less stuff you have to clean. Apply it, and mean it. I know I should.

3. Don’t try and keep up with the Jones

I’ll let you in on a little secret, and it’s a secret that so many bloggers hate to admit. Our homes aren’t nearly as tidy and beautiful as you’ll be led to believe. We may have one corner that looks nice and that we’ve chosen to use for a perfect photo, but I’ll guarantee that there is junk in every room and clutter on the floor. The focus of the photo is on what we’re blogging about and want you to look at, not anything else about our home lives. Even I’ll readily admit to digitally manipulating images to make things look better than they are, it’s nothing new. None of us are perfect, even if photos will have you believe that we are. Focus on being the best that you can be and don’t worry about anyone else.

4. Outsource

I’ve already said to Matt that in the New Year, I’ll probably hire in a gardener. Here is the deal. There is one of me, one of him and both of us are glued to a computer for about 7 hours a day, trying our best to earn an income. If we’re working, we’re not cleaning or gardening. If we’re cleaning or gardening, we can’t be working. There is nothing wrong in asking for help, it’s what these people do for a living. Don’t be ashamed in hiring someone in to help because you don’t have the time – these people want to pull up your dandelions!

5. Manage your time

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, if you work from home then it’s vitally important that you manage your time. For me, that means I start blogging at about 9am and I finish at about 4pm (so that I can fit in a few hours of cleaning!). I also do my utmost not to blog on weekends. For me, evenings and weekends are family time with my husband (and my family, when I see them), and it’s vitally important that you make time for yourself, and your family. When we’re finished on a Friday, I’ll have you believe that us home office types want nothing more than to pack up and clock off like everyone else. Set rules for yourself, and stick to them!

How do you and your family manage your home/office life? Let me know in the comments!

Helen xx

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