The Change Direction Blog is about the joys, and practical impacts, of working from home online. It is about online businesses and techniques for internet marketing, traffic building. It is also about what it is like to work from home, working with family around, and all the practicial issues that arise on a day to day basis for someone working from home. Plus, an ex pat view of an English guy living in Palawan, a tropical paradise in the Philippines.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Sharing My Home Office

My commuting time is pretty short these days. Just across from our bedroom is our baby daughter's bedroom. She very kindly let's me have part of her room to put a computer, stand and desk.

I say baby, but she is a year old now. For most of that one year, she has got used to me working at home, on the computer, just a few feet from her crib. For her day time sleeps, she has almost always had me there as company as she drifts off to sleep or after she wakes. When awake, she takes an active interest in what is happening on the computer screen, and is quick to show concern if something appears to be wrong. She looks worried if I switch it off during the day due to a power failure, which are quite common here. But she's not worried at her bedtime in the evening, she knows it is part of the routine. I get booted out of my home office when she is ready to sleep for the night.

Last night the computer was already off and I was about to read her a bedtime story when she started frantically pointing towards the door. Pointing is something quite new, but Saffron has become prolific and enthusiastic with her pointing. I was baffled, then I realised she was not pointing at the door but the computer. I had forgotten to put the cover on. She had seen me do that so many times, that when I forgot, and now she can point, she was quick to act as my assistant and get me do things properly. The cover is bright pink with lots of coloured Disney characters on, my acknowledgement that although it is my computer, it is her bedroom.

We are blessed with a daughter who sleeps 12 hours a night, and has done since quite young. But even if she wakes before us in the morning, she is normally quiet, and waits for me or her mum to come in. When it's me, which usually it is, she gets quickly to her feet to watch the computer being unveiled and switched on. As the computer boots up, she is like a caged tiger, stalking up and down her crib to get the best view of things that are appearing on the screen. I dare not stay in the way too long, I would get an earful!

This morning, though, I made my commute across the landing and peeped through the door. It was past 7am but she was still fast asleep. Unusually, my office could not open for business at that time, so I went down, made my green tea, and sat outside reflecting on the tropical sounds, the balmy Christmas air, and the two sleeping beauties I had left inside.

Early next year we will be moving to a larger house, where the computer will have a room of its own. But over the first 15 months of Saffron's life, she will have had more computer and internet experience than almost any other 15 month old on the planet. All because I did not go "out' to work, but worked online at home.

Working from home has many advantages, and one of them is being able to see your children grow. I've had all the destructive commuting back in England. It is so wasteful of time, energy, and life. It's a land of zombies. But if you spend 4 to 6 hours a day commuting, as I used to, your family suffers, your health suffers, and you miss out on an awful lot of your children's development.

I'm more than happy to share my home office with Saffron. And of course, my wife, Mary Ann, is here much of the time too. Working from home can be great! Working for yourself can be great! Working online can give millions the freedom to do just that.

As I write this it is late morning, and Saffron has just drifted off to sleep in the crib. In this tropical climate, I think she will be sticking to two daytime sleeps for some time to come. But when we move, I think I'm going to miss her watching over me while I work, and I watching over her while she sleeps and plays in her crib.


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