When you work from home it’s not the same as working in an office. Sure, you are working, but “shutting it down” is just not the same as leaving an actual office when the clock strikes 5PM.
We are all guilty of “taking our work home with us” from time to time. For myself, I have been very guilty of this. But I’m actively trying to get better. I’d like to think it’s working.
I know for a fact why I do, and why I did this for so long to the point at which it was unhealthy. I liked feeling important. I liked the feeling that other people “needed me” outside of my home life. Sometimes when you have kids back to back and you’re deep in the trenches of diaper duty, meal prep, laundry and covered in spit up and snot, it’s nice to feel like your opinion matters to someone over the age of 5.
It’s also nice to hold adult conversation. For me, it serves as a fundamental outlet to escape and to satisfy my unbreakable passion to earn money and earn purpose outside of my family. None of this would be possible if I couldn’t work from home. My personal life wouldn’t allow for that. I have to be home to play shuttle bus driver, among other reasons.
But when is it “too much” that it becomes unhealthy? For me, it was when I realized what I defined as my level of “commitment” was a stark extreme compared to others. The phone can wait, the messages will still be there after the alert goes ding.
Above all, I’m actively learning that you don’t need to go on an actual vacation just to get away from work. You should have enough strength and will power and commitment to yourself and to your well-being to be able to shut it down even when you are at home.
Life needs balance. Without it, there are sure to be consequences. I think back to January of this year. I’m one of those corny people who goes guns blazing with personal “New Year’s Resolutions” I seek to fulfill because I convince myself that it will “make me a better person” when all is said and done. Typically I choose 3. This year was to give up caffeine, alcohol, and to try and take on side jobs and grow my “writing career” other than my editing career in hopes of self-fullfillment.
Fast forward to mid February and I was sick as a dog. My body, mind, and spirit were so run down and exhausted I could hardly move. Why am I killing myself to try harder? I couldn’t see that I was trying too much. For anyone that’s ever worked freelance at anything–or commission based–you understand the strange feeling of declining offers. You have this overwhelming sense of guilt that’s attached that makes you worry that you may not get this golden opportunity again.
Having to turn down the opportunity to earn more money was hard, but not when it came at the expense of spending less time with my kids or less time allowing my brain to have some downtime. The sense of worry was outweighed by practicality and I made myself speak up for the tiny voice in my head that was begging for a break.
Take those 5 extra minutes for yourself. Sleep an extra hour if you need it. We are all human and being a mother is like working two jobs that no-one is sending you a check in the mail for and if you throw a career on top of that it’s damn near impossible not to lose your mind on a few occasions. It’s okay to “shut it down” and detach. Don’t feel bad for needing or wanting that each day. Because if not, you’ll just be doing yourself an injustice that will transform into a major issue before long.