Two at Home

By | November 3, 2009

David and I just completed our first full month of co-working from home. Typically this elicits strong curiosity from people who assume it’s a disadvantageous scenario. So, I tell them the truth: I love it.

During the summer, when David was contracting at a company downtown, we rarely saw each other. He had a long commute via public transit and had to leave home early and typically arrive home after our daughter was already in bed. Meanwhile, I had to get up super early to exercise (say 6am) before our daughter woke up (7:15/30am), dress & feed her, pack her lunch and drive her to daycare, then at night pick her up, feed her, bathe her, walk the dog, make dinner.

It was hard. Hard for me because I was doing all the kid-stuff before & after work. Hard for David because he was commuting and working non-stop.

Contrast that to our current situation: I wake up around 7am to exercise, David sleeps in until our daughter wakes up (7:15/30). He takes the morning shift to prepare her for daycare and drop her off. I walk the dog, shower and eat breakfast while they’re off to daycare. David comes back starts work downstairs. I’m already at work upstairs. Then when one of us has a break in the day, we visit the other. Sometimes we break and have lunch together.

At night we’re flexible with our daughter’s pick up. I usually get her, but if I need extra time David can jump in and do it. This happens in the morning at drop off too. Then we’re all together for dinner, bath-time, stories. Once our daughter’s in bed David and I have time to ease into the night: movies, TiVo, or quietly transitioning back to work to meet deadlines.

Our daily routine is so much more relaxed than it used to be. It’s hard for me to imagine returning to the daily grind of commuting into an office.

On the flip side, just like any good fairy tale, ours has its dark moments. There are days when the instability of our situation fills my entire body with anxiety. The looming deadline of projects; late checks from clients; the labrynth of tax work and accounting; and health insurance (we’re still on government subsidized COBRA, but that runs out in February). I could, and probably should, devote entire blog entries to these topics. They are some of the most compelling reasons people don’t quit their jobs to become contractors.

Remarkably, it’s all a little easier to deal with when we don’t have the additional burden of commuting. Do we get tired of each other or on each others nerves? Much, much less than we did when we were both working outside of the house.

It’s fascinating to me how life offers these little trades in sanity. Remove one hurdle, shift to the side, replace with another, add something pleasant to the mix. When I was a kid, I used to wonder if we’re all given the same amount of happiness and sadness in life — regardless of the specific situations. We’ve “won the lottery” in so many areas of our life, that it makes things like home value and monetary instability seem petty sometimes. So, I’ll take this little island of harmony while it lasts and we’ll see where the winter takes us.