Now I would love to be able to claim that the characters in this story are purely fictitious.. but I can’t. I am, unfortunately, the epitome of organised chaos. In my younger days, when the children were small, my life was a well oiled piece of machinery and I was able to juggle work, 3 children, multiple football and dance clubs, housekeeping, laundry, being a gym bunny and remain sane.
Not any more!
You would expect that as the children grow up and become independent then Mum’s taxi service is decommissioned, Mum’s laundry service diminishes to a neat pile of just my own clothes, and the lack of 15 different clubs in different places all week would leave me with spare time in abundance. Dream on! Somewhere along the line the much awaited ‘spare time’ got swallowed up – and I still haven’t fathomed out what with!
Anyway, I digress.
Most days start much like any other – alarm gets ‘snoozed’ too many times, and I am sat at my laptop in my home office at 8 am. OK, so I am not wearing make up (that would have meant one less ‘snooze’) nor have I styled my hair – favouring the trendy messy bun (again – a snooze vs hairdo dichotomy), but I do have caffeine and I do have an hour where I am not commuting to the office – bonus! That hour becomes a ‘sift through emails and prioritise actions’ and ‘have a nose at social media and see what is shareworthy’ sixty minutes – whilst the phone doesn’t ring.
All sounds good so far? Don’t be fooled…
You just know you are going to be on the back foot when before the alarm has even gone off – the phone rings. Now I love my sleep – so Do Not Disturb is on my phone, and the very fact that it is ringing means it is one of a tiny handful of people on my ‘favourites’ list that overrides DND. Now I am WIDE awake with all sorts of terrible scenarios running through my head in the moments before I stop the pesky, sleep intruding, ringing.. As soon as I answer and the ringing stops, the teenage wailing starts. Oh Joy. ‘Muuuuuuuum… I was at the bus stop going to college and the bus didn’t stop it just didn’t the bus driver just drove past i was at the bus stop early [BREATH] so what do i do know muuuuuum I will be late for college what am i going to do…….’ and the wailing fades as I lay the phone down with teenage daughter still barely pausing for breath and i pull on sweatpants and t shirt, scrape hair back into very trendy messy bun and grab car keys as I shuffle, still in slippers, to the car and head off to ‘rescue’ the daughter…
Daughter safely deposited at college gates (having been lectured on the virtues of getting up earlier and getting earlier bus to avoid such situations going forwards ) and am pulling onto the drive back home. Glance at watch – not doing badly – would have just pressed ‘snooze’ again anyway – so nothing lost. My early morning autopilot kicks in and I start chatting to the coffee machine – planning my day ( I am really NOT a morning person!). Other Half slept through the lot and comes cheerily down the stairs having showered, dressed, had his OJ and is heading out the door, wishing me a great day, and being generally ‘chipper’. Pffffffffffft!
Coffee in hand, I take my grumpy, morning hating, self off towards the home office, but there is a noise coming from the washing machine – just like it is on spin with a full set of spanners, nuts and bolts in there… and then the foamy water floods through, wetting my slippers so that the bunny ears flop. Off goes machine, out comes mop and bucket and the sudsy flood subsides. On the positive side – the floors are gleaming at this point. Distress call to repairman placed. Now to wait. Repairman is busy. Not just a bit busy, but ‘<sharp intake of breath> up to his neck in it and don’t know what time he can get to me, do I know how many washing machines he has to get to every day’ busy. Great.
Finally sit down at my laptop, realise it is still only 8:40, so I still have time to prep my day. Facebook happily reminds me that it is my sister’s birthday today, how lovely! Of course the old, organised me would have bought the card and gift a month in advance, have posted it to her two days before and would have called up with birthday greetings by 8:15. Current day self panics, sends generic ‘happy birthday’ message on Facebook, goes online and orders a retail e-voucher, pdf’s and emails to sister, find a free e-card site and sends one of those too. Bit of a shame that in my haste I hadn’t read the card properly – but am sure she will see the funny side of a card that says ‘on your 80th birthday’ when she is barely half that…
Work is somewhat less chaotic! Well, that’s not entirely true, but after my morning madness it seems more structured.
My calendar resembles a game of Tetris, all those coloured blocks nestling closely against each other. Looks really pretty! A bit daunting but pretty nonetheless. Nothing that I can’t handle, until I look up and see some twinkly lights on the printer next to me that I am sitting expectantly waiting for it to churn out the travel documents that I need for that evening. OK, so I *might* have ignored a few pop ups on my laptop that warned me that ink was low – but I didn’t realise it would actually run out. Oops! So now, my Tetris calendar seems a bit more of a challenge as I need to get to the shop and buy ink. At this point I resemble a swan – graceful and in control on the surface… paddling like mad underneath to work out if I can fashion a new cartridge for the printer from the contents of teenage daughter’s make up box.
Luckily, before I started emptying eyebrow ‘stuff’ onto my desk, I remember that my calls today are on Circuit – and calm is resumed (and make up box thrown back into teenage daughter’s bedroom onto her floordrobe*). What this means is that I am Cinderella and I CAN go to the ball – or rather that I can get to the shops. Mid audio conference I simply Swipe my phone screen in Circuit and transfer the call to my mobile, whilst leaving a Sticky Note on the front door for the Washing Machine repair man – saying ‘back in 10’. Conferencing on the go – true anywhere worker that I am! I saunter round the stationery store with a smug grin , assuming that everyone is staring at me because I AM a professional woman taking very important calls on the fly.. til I realise that maybe changing slippers for shoes may have been a better idea…..
Circuit enables me to be agile (at my age that is no mean feat – yoga is a swear word). It also brings all my conversations, files and people into an incredibly easy to use tool on my desktop, mobile AND tablet. It has the simplest ever search function and is actually pretty cool. Very ‘with it’ and trendy – much like my messy bun (If I tell myself often enough it might actually become on trend for a woman of my age one day).
The point is, flexible working absolutely helps me to ‘cope’ with managing a slightly mad home life and an equally mad work life. It really is about balance. I get to work at home, be professional and productive, work around those incidents that do crop up, and save time by not having to brave the motorway commute each day. If you think about it – it is doing me a favour and keeping me safe by not being on the roads so much!
Although, you can pretty much guarantee that I will be on an audio conference when the washing machine repairman rings the bell……
Find out more about flexible working here