top of page
  • Writer's pictureCommunity Post

Working From Home: Achieving the Elusive Balance

by Esther Igwanya



Thursday morning. My coffee is cold. In the background, CoComelon is playing to entertain my son because despite being jobless and unable to do anything for himself (well, he is still a toddler but hey, just saying), he is an (inconveniently) early riser.


The brain fog and mental fuzziness are worse today. My emails remain open but unanswered. I know the calls will be coming in soon.


“Your eyes look tired.” My husband commented as he kissed me good morning. 


“I thought working from home would be easier. What am I doing wrong?" I asked him in what was barely a whisper while mastering all the self-will not to cry from the sheer overwhelm.


I was second-guessing my decision to work from home and watch my child grow and avoid the crazy two-hour public transport Nairobi commute characterized by angry drivers, endless hooting, constant traffic snarl-ups, and ear-splitting, raucous, and usually raunchy music.


When I got the chance to work from home, I was beyond elated. I knew that this was a game- changer, but I did not understand how intricate it would be to balance between a job I greatly enjoyed and being a wife, a mother, and handling all the duties heaved on a woman. That Thursday remains embedded in my mind because it was the onset of a transformation. I powered through but asked for an off day on Saturday.


My husband and I requested my sister to watch the kids while we took a small getaway. During this weekend break, we devised strategies that have proven effective in my WFH journey.


Self Care Tops the List-It is not a luxury 


For the last several years, I have been intentional about taking care of my physical and mental health. As my husband incessantly reminds me, you can not pour from an empty cup. I brisk- walk several times a week while listening to music and enjoying the fresh air. When I started walking (For the life of me I cannot jog), I did it alone or in my husband’s company. Currently, I still do this twice a week.


The other days, I walk as part of a group where we talk, laugh, vent, and network. I try to meditate, power down, and, when I can, sleep in. My mental health has significantly improved and I am better placed to take care of my family and meet my work targets. So, grab that cup of coffee alone, catch up with that friend you have not seen in years, and, take a weekend away with or without the kids!


Plan, then Plan Again.

 

Planning has become a lifetime habit. I plan everything. Does this fail sometimes? Yes! In fact, sometimes I witness the full manifestation of “When man plans, God laughs.” However, I try my best, and with the help of the other family members, things have improved over time.


I plan and prep my meals in advance, schedule play dates early enough, and even plan when my husband and I can get a much-deserved sneaky getaway, especially when I feel overwhelm and exhaustion creeping around. 


Ask for, and be receptive to Help


At times, despite meticulous planning, things fall apart. For example, three weeks ago, my child fell sick and had to stay home from school. He is a healthy, active child, always in a quest for ways to totally use up his (or my) energy! I think if harnessed, his energy is enough to power a small generator! Being sick slowed him down, but not enough for him not to ask me to play the police chase game, or to narrate to him the story of Elijah and the Chariot of Fire for the forty fourth time in two days! 


My employer also needed me to urgently prepare a PowerPoint presentation that was dire in sealing a deal. Oh, the icing on the cake? My husband had to make an urgent work trip at a time when he was to be in charge of handling countless home-related errands. By the end of the week, I still smiled because while I was ready to down a whole bottle of wine, everything fell into place.


My in-laws greatly came through as they helped with grocery shopping When I was making my presentation, they took care of the baby. They baked me a banana bread and, as I overindulged under the dim lights on a Saturday evening, I could not be more grateful for the help. I have learned to ask for help and graciously accept the same when offered. In our walks, another WFH mum says, “I accept help because even Superman does not do it alone”! 


Invest in Your Workspace


When I have a minute, especially in the afternoons, I (unashamedly) take naps in my office. They are sweet, short naps where I even drool until I am jolted awake by my phone ringing! In my current WFH role, I am tasked with making and answering calls, and, honestly, it can be quite exhausting. I have designed my WFH office in a way that it confers utmost comfort.


Apart from the couch where I nap, I also have healthy snacks, a connecting bathroom, and lemon-infused water. I also realized that a well-aerated room, noise-cancelling headphones, and fleece blankets for cold days make my work easier. Having a room set up away from the main sitting area helps me focus, reduces distractions, and allows me to catch a breather when the calls are slow and someone else is taking care of the child.  Between my employer and I, there is an 8 hour time difference.


This means that sometimes when he wakes up, I am just about to go to sleep. However, there may be urgent matters he needs me to address once I wake up. The calls can go late into the night and start very early in the morning. Therefore, I am always on the lookout for all strategies that can improve my WFH experience, including the few mentioned above. Is working from home while being a mum, a guardian, and a wife easy?


No! However, it has gotten better over time. I am rooting for all women working from home because nothing beats the chance to earn, while you get to witness all your child’s milestones; their first tooth, first giggle, first step, and being present when they fracture their hand like my son did last year!

Comments


bottom of page