by David T. Bruce
We both work from our home now, more or less. Having opted for a career in teaching, I am continuing my education as well as functioning as a full-time househusband and father. Shadra, having recently left the corporate world (kind of) contracts her services as an administrator, an editor and a French translator. While this arrangement has obvious advantages and disadvantages, we are enjoying our new lifestyle and the advantages, while trying to minimize (or at least adapt to) the disadvantages. In particular, we are enjoying being closer as a family during the summer months. I suspect our oldest daughter, Kira, however, may not have the same warm, fuzzy feeling as the rest of us, as she has obtained a summer job that keeps her busy and she is anxious to leave the house many evenings.
The two of us wake up as early as we did when commuting to work, and we start our day with coffee and the morning paper, as usual. Afterwards, Shadra begins work, as our bedroom becomes an office. I begin kicking the kids out of bed (if they are not up already), caring for their needs, planning meals, and caring for the house and yard. As time allows and circumstances demand, I help Shadra with her extra workload. This is our new routine.
With our new routine as it is, the typical work structure is abandoned. This works to our advantage when we need to make appointments or take a break from the computer screen. We govern and budget our own time. However, stealing time away from the children during the summer months is a challenge unto itself. We live in a decent size house, but there is really no place to hide from the sounds of children playing, screaming, or fighting. Part of the advantage of the new arrangement to them is having Mom and Dad around when they need them. I can run interference, but both of us need a break from time to time, in order to recharge and re-center ourselves. We have stumbled upon an interesting solution that has the support of the children.
When the two of us need to escape, we do not hide in a room. We go outside. Just outside the front door of the house, we have a leather green office sofa and two end tables. Here we can unwind for a moment, discuss business or share frivolous conversation, and enjoy coffee or what-have-you. We let the kids know that “we are going out front.” The kids understand that this means we need time away and should not be disturbed unless someone is bleeding out of their eyeballs.
Our “time out” never goes uninterrupted. That’s okay. We do get a moment of respite, and sometimes that is all we need. When the kids do interrupt, however, they knock. They knock. They knock to come outside; we open the door to let them out (or not). Who would guess that the entrance to our house would work best as a firewall of sorts to the outside? The knocking started with the children. Apparently, they truly understand that their parents need a break from the chaos and knock as a courtesy. We did not demand that they extend this courtesy; it just happened. At first we were touched. Then we were amused. Knocking to exit? Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.