Test Run

Not on purpose, one day two weeks ago, I had a test run of what’s ahead as a work-at-home freelancer self-employed type person. And it left me pretty worried.

By 10.30am, I was phoning my husband to tell him it wasn’t going to work, and that I needed to start talking to recruitment agencies again IMMEDIATELY. He talked me down, and the day got a whole lot better. But seriously, I am going to need some practice at all of this.

I’m usually off on a Friday, which is of course a relaxing day, with light traffic and general good-moodyness all around. There’s no homework, no lunches to make, and life is just that little bit easier. The smallest and I usually go for coffee and scones after school drop-off, because it’s Friday and totally fine to do that kind of thing.

But my accidental test-run day was Wednesday. A relatively serious day. A good chance to test the waters, without a weekend-shaped life-jacket so to speak.

I started by getting up too late. I get up too late every day, but when I only have to get myself ready and run out the door to work, and do my make-up at the office if needed, it’s easy. Getting up late and then getting three kids ready is a whole different story. We left for the school a full twenty minutes later than we should, with everyone upset and in bad form. Big fat fail for me.

After drop-off, the smallest and I went to the supermarket to buy a few bits and pieces for lunch. Then I wanted a takeaway coffee, but the boy quite understandably argued that we should sit down and have scones. He won the argument.

Coffee - Office Mum
Coffee? Twist my rubber arm

Which meant that by 10 o’clock, I’d spent €15. Not a huge amount of money but it’s still €15 more than I would have spent had I been sitting in my office at work all morning.

People often say that you spend less when you’re not working, but this has always seemed unlikely to me. Surely being out and about in shops and cafés instead of sitting in an office means spending more money? if test-run-day is the template, my now meagre finances are in the ha’penny place, literally. Well, figuratively.

We went home to clean up after breakfast – oh the joy of Weetabix-covered everything – and then while opening a roller blind, the wooden bit at the end of the cord bounced off the window and hit me on the lip. There was blood everywhere, and a small boy trying to put ice on it with a luke-warm cool pack from a picnic bag that had been lying on the kitchen floor for over a week.

That’s when I rang my husband to talk me down. He did, and I stopped the blood and brought down the swelling and decided to make soup and reply to some emails. The former was a great success (the three-year-old has a rare talent for peeling mushrooms) but the latter not so much. After some serious key-banging by the small boy, I closed the lap top and gave up. We went for an ice-cream. And another coffee. Somehow it cost me another €15.

Freelancing is going very well indeed. I’m sure there are many happy years ahead doing this. Yes. Talk me down.

toddler - Office Mum


No doubt, I’ll feel just as guilty when I’m home more, as I did when I was working 9 to 5, but here’s why working mothers should ditch the guilt – it’s all in the research (an article by me, for the Irish Examiner) : Cut the working mum guilt – children aren’t suffering 

Examiner Working Mother feature - Andrea Mara

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10 thoughts on “Test Run”

  1. Keep the faith! You will find your new routine really soon, I’m sure. In the meantime just look at that gorgeous ice cream covered face in the photo and enjoy every second of every coffee/scone/soup session (even if it does make you bankrupt…!). This might sound odd but I found that maintaining a work wardrobe and a home wardrobe really helped. Not a power suit and heels, obvs, but keeping a line between working week clothes (this pair of jeans and a top) separate from weekend clothes (that pair of jeans and a top).
    Clare recently posted…Learning To RunMy Profile

    1. I’m completely with you on the clothes thing. I’m a compartmentaliser anyway, so there’s the office wardrobe that’s now in the attic, but there’s the smart stuff that I really like, which will be my new work wardrobe and yes, that’s different from the weekend stuff. So off I go to bankrupt myself with scones!
      Thanks for the lovely comment.

  2. It’s only the start and you are getting used to a new routine as is your little guy, he is obviously delighted to have you around on a day you normally wouldn’t be! If it is any consolation on the days I work from home (today) I somehow can’t manage to blowdry my hair, clear the table and am brushing hair at the school gate even though we leave the house 40 mins later than the days I go to the office! Best of luck!

    1. Thanks Colette! Yes you’re right, it’s just the start, and I’ll surely find a routine. Surely. Or else I’m going to be broke and exhausted and racing to the recruitment agency 🙂

  3. I feel your pain. I’ve been at home for 3 years now (as a result of cancer) but just recently decided that I needed to get back into career mode. Well kind of – 2 or 3 days consultancy a week – I’m hoping! Finding it a bit tough to get a first break though 🙁 As far as ££, sorry to say but I too spend more than if I was in the office!! Some days I intentionally leave the house with little money so that I can truthfully tell the kids ‘but I’ve no money with me!’. Good luck anyway.
    Raising Mighty a Girls recently posted…Bring Back Bookstart NI with Parent PowerMy Profile

    1. Karen I hope it all works out well for you getting back to work – not easy at the start but you’ll get there, I’m sure! And yes, I reckon all the other people were fibbing or deluded – being at home definitely costs more. Now I need to figure how to keep myself out of clothes shops…

  4. I had to cut back on tea and scones in cafés when my maternity leave ended. When the weather is good enough we use Lidl as a pit stop on the way to the park for a picnic. Less clean-up required, and sometimes I even get a few minutes to read things while he plays! I’m sure you’ll find something that works for you. Working from home with kids around is a tough gig thoug!
    Stuff and Nothing recently posted…Toddler Rituals – how do you do yours?My Profile

    1. I love the picnic idea Sheila – will definitely do a bit of that! Now all we need is for the rain to stop…

  5. Hello Chief :-),

    I just wanted to say hello . I hope all goes well for you. I regularly follow your website and comments. Your subjects are really interesting , all this is really new to me. I will continue to follow you. I’m in Luxembourg and the last 4 days were very good 20 degrees ;-).
    See you soon Mourad

    1. Hello!
      What a lovely surprise to log in and see this! (the system makes me approve it because you’re a new commenter, so apologies that I didn’t see it sooner)
      It’s lovely to hear from you – it feels very strange being “outside” work now, and out of touch with everything. I’m really delighted to get this message – please do stay in touch.
      Take care

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