Remote Work: A Working Parent Reflection

By Ashley Wirgau • Sep 22, 2022
Child playing soccer

I used to wake long before sunrise, gingerly stepping from bedroom to bathroom to kitchen, trying my hardest to keep little children asleep while I readied myself for work. Once they opened their eyes, all time disappeared, and the mad race toward daycare and the office would begin. I do not remember a single day when I won that race. I’m guessing few parents do; the shuffle between work and home so often feels like a predetermined loss on both sides.

But today, like many days now, I wake relatively rested in the glow of early morning sunlight, grab a pair of jeans from the bathroom floor, throw my hair in a Mom bun, and stack plastic plates high with homemade muffins. I reheat yesterday’s coffee on my way out the door, four little boys with full bellies and backpacks trailing behind me.

When I arrive home an hour later, school drop off complete, I am itching to start my work day. The house is quiet as I flip open my laptop and log on to that first meeting. From my office, I can clearly hear the buzz of the washing machine reminding me to switch loads between emails. Around lunchtime, I pull a package of chicken from the freezer, place it in the crockpot, and toss in the remaining ingredients for our dinner tonight. I whip up another batch of muffins since our current stockpile is quickly fading, then microwave leftovers and move my computer to the dining room table. I eat lunch while plugging away at an article due by the end of the business day.

There is a knock on the door a little after 2 o’clock. I greet the gentleman who has come to pump our septic tank. I open the garage up, show him to the backyard, and return to my edits. An hour later, I hear another knock and hand him a check. Thirty more minutes and I’ll need to leave to get the kids. I’ll take my last call of the day from the car as I sit in the dreaded (but now more productive) pick-up line.

A new survey from OwlLabs indicates that 57% of employees say working independently in a remote location is more productive and a majority feel like they think more creatively when they are remote. I certainly find that to be true as I surprise myself by hitting deadlines, all while taking breaks to switch over laundry or throw dishes in the dishwasher.

These days, I am able to work from home until 5:15 and still be ready to cheer on one of our four boys at football or soccer practice by 5:30. Gone are the days I would have to be out of the office a few minutes before 5 to make it to kid activities. And if truth be told, I would have spent a portion fo that evening wrestling with guilt for being the first person to leave the office. Regardless of how our evenings are spent, whether it’s going for a walk together or snuggling up around the TV, these after-business hours together were rare before the gift of work-from-home entered our lives. Now, with life’s mundane tasks checked off our list intermittently throughout the work week, we are able to consistently rely on this time each evening to connect and recharge.

Few things have done more to help lighten the load of employed parents than the shift to remote work. With more and more companies deciding to loosen the reigns and allow employees to trade in-office hours for at-home convenience, parents have begun flocking to jobs offering increased flexibility and understanding for working Moms, Dads, and caregivers.

These folks with full-time careers outside the home have struggled to keep up for years, most especially mothers, who often have to carry the weight of both the working world and their entire family upon weary shoulders. A 9-hour work day with any kind of commute or after-hours obligations, leaves little time left for babies (or big kids) waiting at home. Raising children is hard enough without feeling like you spend all day long on a treadmill.

We’ll be talking about how remote job opportunities has improved the quality of life of professionals for a long time. We’ve been given the gift of time, time to be productive and time to breathe. These two seemingly disconnected things could not be more dependent upon one another. When parents are provided the space to accomplish necessary household tasks, the hours dedicated to work are more sharply focused, given that life’s daily stressors have already been handled. Weekends and holidays become periods of relaxation instead of hours reserved for all those things lying in wait on an ever-growing to-do list.

The added flexibility of even one or two “work from home” days brings a noticeable change to a caregiver’s typical work week. With decreased commuting times comes less burn out, less expense, and less stress trying to get from the office to a kid’s soccer practice on time. Parents who previously had to shell out hundreds of dollars in after-school care are now home to welcome their kids off of the bus themselves. Entire lunch hours reserved for running errands can instead be used for their intended purpose – eating lunch (and maybe busting through a few emails between bites). Lunch is a good thing. Hangry and highly effective do not go hand in hand.

Our crew at MakeMyMove, many of us remote workers ourselves, believe it is worthwhile to take inventory of everything the past few years has taught us in terms of what priorities are truly important. The long list of “office” tasks easily accomplished from the comfort of our homes or community spaces like libraries and shared work environments has done wonders to help us reset our eyes upon those things in life that matter most – each other. And while a global pandemic can hardly be seen as advantageous, it would be nearsighted to ignore the benefits that followed in its wake. For countless full-time employees with families at home, the migration to remote working opportunities likely sits right at the very top of that relatively short list:

  1. Work from home

  2. Better hand-washing

About MakeMyMove

Remote work has freed millions of Americans to live where they want, and many are making the move to places that better match their lifestyle. In turn, cities and towns across the country are offering incentives like cash, perks and programming to remote workers who move and work from their communities. At MakeMyMove, you can explore all the places, get personalized help to find the one that’s right for you, connect with locals, and access support to make your move a piece of cake.