A Day in the Life (of working alongside a work-from-home parent)
6:45 AM: Arrive on time (like always) with a smile on my face and my lunch in my hand. Mom boss answers door and greets me superficially and then returns to her home office where she continues working on her computer. Says the child (1 1/2 yrs old) is in the family room eating breakfast and watching T.V. with her father.
6:47 AM: I enter family room and greet both the child and her father. Child is in the middle of breakfast and seems to be enjoying watching "Thomas the Tank Engine" on PBS. Father immediately leaves to shower and get ready for work.
6:50 AM: I put my lunch in the refrigerator, then sit down on the sofa and tell my charge "Good Morning" and try to start a kid-friendly conversation. She is in a good mood right now and I hope that she stays that way all day today.
7:00 AM: I go into the kitchen to get some milk and see a whole sinkful of last night's dishes in the sink. On the counter are about six dirty bottles I will need to wash/sterilize later on. I sigh as I wish I could get my chores done now just to get it "over with", yet since mom is close by in the home office, I know that I will have to wait for nap time. I drink my milk and peek inside the dishwasher quickly. Yep, full of clean dishes that need to be put away before the dirty ones go back in. Great! *sigh*
7:20 AM: Dad walks into family room in his boxers and I try to avert my eyes and concentrate on Thomas, Percy and James. Father looks for something, finds it then leaves.
7:30 AM: Dad kisses the child good-bye and waves to me as well, then leaves for work. The child tells me she is done eating and motions for me to get her out of her highchair. I wipe her face, hands and tray, then unstrap her and put her on the floor. I take the highchair tray, dish and cup to the kitchen and hand wash them both. Child is calling my name as Thomas just ended and she doesn't want to watch Pocoyo which follows. I sing a few songs as I clean up which makes her smile. Oops, I forgot to move the highchair back in the kitchen and clean up the floor....
7:45 AM: Mom walks in the kitchen and tells me, "Can you please turn off the T.V. set? I don't want "V" to be watching too much T.V." I comply but inside am wondering why the T.V. didn't bother her before when the Dad was there.
7:50-9:30 AM: "V" and I play in the living room. I read her stories (about 13 or 14), we listen to sing-along CD's and we horse around with some of her stuffed animal puppets. I try to perform a puppet show which she loves. Man, she is a doll. I love this kid!
9:35 AM: Mom walks in living room and inquires if we are going to the park and/or library today?? I understand her asking me to mean that she actually wants us to go to the park and library today. I tell her sure we will if she wants us to. She responds that it is entirely up to me, we are welcome to stay home too if that is what we want to do. I tell her we will go out and she says, "Great!" and cheerfully leaves.
9:40 AM: I make sure "V" is in a fresh diaper and put her hair in barrettes, dress her and put on sunscreen. Mother walks in and reminds me to pack up the diaper bag. I inquire where it is located and she tells me it is in the hall closet. I retrieve the bag and am disheartened to find out it is completely empty. Argh! I spend about 10 min. packing it up with snacks, a water cup, diapers/wipes, sunscreen, an extra change of clothes, sunglasses, hat and books/toys. I make a mental checklist in my head to ensure I didn't forget anything.
10:00 AM: Mom returns and tells us to have fun. She says she likes the outfit I chose for the day. "V" and I walk out the door and to my car where I strap her in the car seat and off we go... away from her crazy Mom!!
10:15- 11:00 AM: We play at the park where I push her in the baby swing (her favorite), make cakes in the sandbox and bounce on the "teeter-totter" (I haven't been on one of these since I was a child!)
11:15-12:00 PM: We arrive at the library just in time for story hour. A young male librarian reads a few stories and sings a few songs, but since he is young and a Male, he seems entirely out of his element. But he's easy on the eyes so I don't mind. After stories, I talk to some of the other mothers there while "V" plays with the blocks and puzzles. Then we leave.
12:20 PM: We arrive home and Mother greets us at the door. Asks us if we had fun and I say of course we did. Then she reminds me to go through the "motions" to get "V" to nap. She says, "Now remember to lay her on her back, on your lap and rock her and sing to her. Make sure she has her pacifier and favorite blanket and the curtains are closed." I comply. When my own children were younger, I would just lay them down in their cribs and close the door. Sure they would cry for about a second or so, but then they were out like a light. But hey that was 1992 and this is 2011 and hardly any parents let their children "cry it out" anymore.
12:45 PM: After much rocking, stroking, massaging and singing, child is sound asleep. I carry her upstairs and lay her in her crib, praying she doesn't wake up which would mean I would have to start the whole process again.
12:50 PM: I return downstairs and begin emptying out the dishwasher. I put away the clean dishes, and fill it up with the dirty ones after I carefully inspect them to be sure they are properly rinsed. I wash the bottles and set them in the sterilizer and turn it on. Then I open the refrigerator to grab my lunch just as Mom boss walks in....
1:15 PM: Mom boss begins to prepare her lunch as well. She cooks everything fresh and I have to admit, my ham sandwich looks pathetic in comparison. I finish up my sandwich, then dig into my hot Cheetos and boxed juice. Mom looks at my food and asks me why I don't eat organic food like they do. She tells me what I am eating is unhealthy and that I should eat better. I tell her organic food is more expensive (just my excuse) and she says it can be, but it is worth it. I am tempted to say, "Well if you paid me more than ten dollars an hour, then maybe I could afford to shop organic" but I keep my mouth shut. She then tells me her child has never been to a McDonalds in her life and never will. I nod as I reach for my twinkie.. Man, I love the creme filling inside. Mom looks at me disgusted and I joke that with my luck, I would eat healthy all day, then one evening I would probably walk outside to check the mail and get hit by a butter truck. Mom ignores my comment and reminds me that there are three laundry baskets that need folding before "V" awakes.
2:45 PM: I hear "V" crying via the baby monitor and hurry to get her. Thank goodness I managed to get all the laundry folded and put away before she awoke. I am starting to feel accomplished and relieved that my chores are over for that day.
2:55 PM: I take a freshly changed "V" downstairs and sit her in her high-chair while I prepare her lunch. I make her organic Mac & Cheese and cut up some veggies for her. Mom boss enters and says "Hello" to "V" and kisses her on the cheek. "V" is ecstatic at seeing her Mommy and shrieks with joy. Then Mom boss tells me I didn't cut the veggies in the correct shape that "V" prefers even though "V" is happily munching on them as we speak. I say nothing and simply nod my head. I then put the Mac & Cheese on a child plate and give it to "V." Mom boss tells me, "Please make sure the plate is on a placemat when you set it on the tray, I don't want any heat marks on the tray, okay?" WTF?? I quietly get a placemat and comply.
3:20 PM: "V" ate all her lunch... yeah! I tell her what a good girl she is, then offer her some fruit for dessert which she happily agrees to. Mom boss reminds me to wash the dishes before I leave and wipe "V's" face and hands as well. She tells me to rinse out her bib and lay it on the back of the highchair. I am due to get off in 25 min and while I love being around sweet little "V," her mother is a different story. Also, today is Friday and I get paid (!) so I am in a good mood.
4:00 PM: Mom comes into the living room where "V" is playing with her blocks and hands me my payment in cash. She explains they didn't have any smaller bills than 20's, so they overpaid me by ten dollars. She told me to remind her next Friday to just deduct that from my pay. I smile, say "Thank You, I will..." then tell "V" good-bye. It is so sad since I know this will probably be the last time I ever see her again. Why?? I can't take another day of working alongside a work-at-home parent and I am done. I will send an e-mail when I get home letting them know I won't be returning and my reason why. Mom boss is too controlling and I have no autonomy. They will simply shrug, place another ad on either CL or Care.com and I will be just a memory....