Working from home when your kids have a day off from school ain’t no crystal stair

OPINION: If you work from home, a kid’s day off from school can test your patience and ability to work through pure and utter chaos.

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Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

I’m a parent who works from home. Every day, I set up my laptop and punch away at the keys writing this amazing goodness that theGrio requests of me. I’m blessed and highly favored; I write for a living. Now, this setup is pretty good; of my four children, three of them are in school (the fourth will be going to school very soon) so my days are usually pretty manageable. I’m not a person who needs absolute silence to concentrate and write so one kid running around while I’m being creative usually doesn’t throw me off my game. 

But Friday is a holiday in my children’s school system. In honor of Veterans Day, three of my four children have the day off (oddly, my daughter’s high school is in session while the elementary and middle schools associated with her private school are out). And baby, it is loud in this house. My kids have been yelling for hours. They’re sitting in each other’s faces yelling not because they’re mad but because that’s how kids speak to one another in close quarters. 

They’re also running, heavily and frequently. I ask my kids to rush all the time, and they walk. I need to write something, and they’re moving like a herd of elephants who just drank a pack of energy drinks. These kids sound heavy; I don’t understand it at all. 

The point here is that it is loud and chaotic in this house, and I still have to write. The circumstances are not ideal, so how do I get it done?

Not well. Not well at all. 

For starters, not only are my kids here, one of their friends is here so it’s louder than usual. But what that means is I have to pay attention. It’s one thing for me to let my kids tempt broken limbs and pain but I can’t let somebody else’s kid get hurt. So not only must I work, but I must also pay attention to what my kids are doing when I can’t see them. Kids with friends have this uncanny way of getting into all sorts of shenanigans they wouldn’t normally get into. I don’t know what it is about other folks being present that says, “Let’s jump off this roof” and that sound like a good idea. 

That was said out loud in my house, by the way. I don’t know how serious they were about this — I have no idea how they were going to get to the roof. But I had to thwart that mission. Similarly, kids who are home also really want input on their activities. I’ve been asked so many times about suggestions for games and activities that it’s quite mind-boggling. My kids usually find all of the ways to entertain themselves — not today, buddy. Today, they want all of my input. They want me to play. They want me to invest in their entertainment. 

I think they know I have work to do, and they don’t want me to do it so they’re trolling me. That’s what’s happening here: I’m working from home, and my kids are trolls. They’re loud and boisterous and, well, they’re kids. Kids with a day off from school (where it also happens to be raining outside) are indoor megaphones of curious decision-making. 

I hope I can write this piece, y’all. 

I guess we’ll see.

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things, drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest), but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said: “Unknown” (Blackest).

Make sure you check out the Dear Culture podcast every Thursday on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, where I’ll be hosting some of the Blackest conversations known to humankind. You might not leave the convo with an afro, but you’ll definitely be looking for your Afro Sheen! Listen to Dear Culture on TheGrio’s app; download it here.