Doing chores when you have a home office

I love reading Jeff Opdyke’s Sunday column from the Wall Street Journal. His advice is very common place, not telling you to invest a million dollars here or there, but things like starting a college account for your kid. This weeks column was talking about something that I have had to struggle with since I went freelance, i.e. how many chores should you do when you are working at home? How do you balance work and home chores?

I first ran into this when I was on maternity leave. I worked part time, for about half of the leave, because I couldn’t afford to go on disability. It didn’t pay well enough. While I worked at home, for those eight weeks or so, I did the chores, because I could and I was there. When I went back to working full time, in an office, we noticed that things were getting done. That’s when we brought in a housekeeper. When I went full-time freelance about 2 and a half years later, we still had the housekeeper, so I could concentrate on my work, and not on my house-hold chores.

Jeff writes (and the Wall Street Journal is subscription only, or I would link to it here) that when he started working at home, his wife expected him to pick up the slack, to do the things like laundry and cooking that he wouldn’t have had time to do or been able to do if he were working in an office away from home. He hasn’t even gotten to teachers expecting that he can go on field trips with their kids, or doing volunteer work in the classroom for them. He just mentioned doing the shopping or starting dinner.

It is a hard call. He said if it couldn’t be done in an office, he shouldn’t have to do it. I think if it takes all of five minutes, it’s OK. I don’t believe in going shopping during the day, as that takes away too much time, but running the laundry, or starting dinner, that is easy and can be started and left alone so you can go back to work.

He argues that if it is something like a sick child that the balance should be whomever has the less hectic day. But for me, I don’t mind having my sick kid at home with me when I work, as it isn’t that much trouble.

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