Archive for March 12th, 2013

Think about where you live right now. The house or apartment. The street. The city. The state. Is it where you thought you’d be at this point in your life? Is it where you want to be next year? Five years from now? How about 20?

We bought our home a month before we got married in 2006. In just a couple of weeks, we will celebrate our 7 year anniversary of living in this house. SEVEN. YEARS.

I thought we’d be here five, max.

I’ve talked about how we tried to move to Charlotte a couple of years ago, perhaps only vaguely. It was so horrible that neither of us want to move to Charlotte ever again. Not because we hate Charlotte; it’s a lovely place. We just don’t want to go through that heartbreak again.

But sometimes, just sometimes, I think we should try again. Maybe not Charlotte, no. But somewhere. Somewhere closer to my husband’s family. (Though not TOO close, considering they live in the unhealthiest and saddest city in the country.) Someplace where the housing market isn’t quite as screwed up as it is in St. Louis. Where we can get a nice home in a nice school district that isn’t five times the price of our current home.

But is that all it takes? Being closer to family in a semi-decent job and housing market? Shouldn’t we be dreaming a little…bigger?

Last Sunday the hubs and I (and the baby) drove back from my grandma’s 91st birthday party. A 2.5 hour drive. I brought up moving and threw out terms like “five year plan.” Then I said, “How about San Diego?” and soon we were down a rabbit hole of hypotheticals. The hubs started surfing realtor.com, pointing out this home or that. We talked about the pros and cons, making a verbal list of each. Wouldn’t it be great to live near the beach? In a warmer climate? But could we stand being so far away from family. In order to live in paradise, we’d have to leave everyone behind and spend whatever vacation time we had visiting them. Several flights a year. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

After we got home, we did our bedtime routine and climbed into bed. The hubs got out the iPad to continue exploring this California dream, but for me, something just didn’t feel right and I no longer felt like daydreaming.

Making a pros and cons list only helps with the criteria are of equal importance. But when you’re comparing being within driving distance of LegoLand or your entire family, it’s hard to give the former top billing.

And with that, he put away the iPad.

I’ve never been very good with staying content for very long, so it goes against my nature to admit that things are pretty comfortable right now and that maybe we should just continue to let fate run its course for awhile. So what if that means staying in our house for another 2, 3, 4 years. So what if that means staying in St. Louis for another 2, 10, or 20 years. Life is pretty good right now, and St. Louis truly is a great place to raise a family. I know this. But it’s just so hard to look at someone else’s grass and not think to myself “Is it greener over there?” Especially if that grass is in California, because with average temps in the mid 70s year round, it’s definitely greener.

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Ever since Marisa Mayer (Yahoo!’s CEO) demanded that all work-from-home employees now be present in the office starting this summer, the Internet has been ablaze with articles and opinions on the matter (most of them disagree with her actions). And since I have a blog, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to add my two cents to the discussion.

Working from home, in my opinion, is a┬áprivilege. Unless you’re self-employed, then it’s just a means to an end because maybe you’d like to have a separate office somewhere but it’s more cost-effective to stay home. But if you’re a parent who’s trying to have the career, save money, AND be a present parent, then it’s definitely a privilege.

I don’t fully agree with Mayer’s decision, but I’m also not the CEO of Yahoo! and I highly doubt it was an easy decision for her to make. I also don’t buy that it was a decision based purely on the assumption that all of the remote workers were unproductive. I would speculate it had more to do with trimming the fat without forcing layoffs, and putting a very public focus on profitability for shareholders. And in the instances where productivity was the issue, I would fault bad management. Besides, if you’re a company trying to model yourself after the Yahoo! as it currently exists, you’re probably doing it wrong anyway. Ahem.

But here’s where even I surprise myself: I don’t think it’s a bad move to require employees to check into a brick-and-mortar establishment once in awhile.

It’s no secret that I have a moderately flexible work schedule. I’ve been with my current company for nine years now. I think I’ve more than proven myself responsible and have showed my dedication to my workplace. So shortly after I came back from maternity leave, I worked out a schedule that allows me to work from home one day a week. And that day is flexible depending on what I have going on in the office. I still have to get my hours in and I still have to be available and responsive, just like I would be at the office. But instead of taking a Starbucks break, I can go play blocks with my baby for five minutes. My husband is self-employed and works from home so he’s still in charge of things when I’m home, but if he has to go to a meeting, he basically gets one day a week to do outside-of-the-home things. One day a week doesn’t seem like much, but it’s made all the difference in my job satisfaction, and my husband’s satisfaction with our childcare arrangement.

I read a blog post today that dispels the fantasy that working from home is the greatest thing ever, and while I know some of the article was meant in jest, a lot of it was very true. Although I have to say that while I have worked in my PJs before, I still usually get up, take a shower, and get ready for the day like I normally would. I just don’t put on makeup or shoes, but I still wear a bra and clean clothes. Nor do I sit on my couch in front of the TV. I’m usually at the kitchen table in silence, with my phone and notepad at the ready, and my work IM open at all times. The baby and my husband are typically downstairs, or I will set up a mini desk near the baby’s play area if my husband needs to go out for a meeting. I take frequent breaks, but if we’re comparing productivity, I’d say I’m just as – if not more – productive when I work from home. Mostly because I know it’s a privilege and I don’t want to screw it up.

So here’s what we know. Working from home all the time isn’t really a good thing. But not necessarily for the productivity concerns Mayer cites (though I’m sure those exist). The isolation, the mom guilt, and the inability to escape your work are just a few. And working at the office full time, all the time, with no flexibility isn’t a good thing either, for a multitude of reasons (though for a lot of employees, they simply don’t have a choice. You can’t be a truck driver from home, you know. Or be a receptionist for a doctor’s office out of your living room.) But for those of us in fields that just require a laptop and an internet connection, a schedule that allows for both at home and in office work days is the best of both worlds. I wouldn’t want it any other way.*

Do you have a flexible schedule? Do you work from home all the time? I love hearing other perspectives and experiences on the subject.

*Okay so maybe I would want to win the lottery and live in a mansion on the beach and be a SAHM, but unless I can have it THAT way, then I’m perfectly content with how things are right now.

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