Thursday, April 2, 2009

Working from Home: The Noise Factor

Obviously there are huge, huge benefits to having TJ work at home: the overall pace of our lives (especially when compared to the hellish job he had before), the lack of commute, the help I get in the mornings, the ability for us both to be present for dinner prep/evening playtime. The fact that we're usually done eating dinner by 6:30. The bonus of having my lunch made for me whenever TJ has time. (We never eat lunch together, but he makes my lunch when he can.) And perhaps most importantly, there's the huge benefit of E getting to see TJ during the day, even if it's just to wave hi as we pass his office.

TJ doesn't have the type of working-from-home job where you make your own hours and work quietly behind a desk. His is a high-pressure, fast-paced job that's more suited to an office environment in many ways. His schedule is packed with phone meetings and conference calls with clients and colleagues and his partners. He never starts later than 8:00 in the morning, and doesn't take a real break until he stops for the day, which is at 5:00 on average (though he sometimes works at night). Not bad.

The issue that seems to be developing has to do with E's noise level, specifically the high-pitched shrieks he's been into lately. There's no way to stop him, nor should we, in my opinion, and the dynamic that's developing around his shrieks is problematic to say the least. For example: Today we'd been out all morning. Upstairs from 8:30 to 9:30, and then out of the house from 9:30 to 12:30. E needed to eat lunch as soon as we got home, and then we'd be going upstairs for naptime. He was in his highchair, waiting for me to quickly get his lunch together, when he started with the EARSPLITTING shrieks. I knew that TJ was just getting on a video conference call, so I was shushing E desperately (knowing that this only makes it worse, but feeling like I had to do something). I was begging him to be quiet, but the shrieks continued, not surprisingly. TJ came barging out of his office with his earpiece on and said, "You've got to do something. Just . . . do something." I said there was nothing I could do. He repeated that I had to, period. I repeated that there was literally nothing I could do, sorry. E had to eat. Back and forth we went, at a stalemate.

After lunch, to get E upstairs without a struggle or a peep, I was parceling out sour cream and onion chips (not worth explaining, but obviously they're not something I want him eating at all). Yep, I was buying his silence until we were safely upstairs.

Not good.

It's frustrating to me, and I know it's frustrating on TJ's end as well. But I don't know what else I can do. I'm already taking him out of the house every single morning of the week, then we're upstairs in the afternoons from 1:00 to 4:00 or so.

The last time TJ was out of town (which obviously sucked except in the way I'm about to mention), there were a couple of days where E and I had a dance fest in the kitchen over lunchtime. I cranked up the music and we were dancing and laughing and whirling around like lunatics. It felt so wonderful, and I remember wondering why we'd never done this before. And then I realized--it's because we always, always have to be quiet.

There are also times when I'm trying to prepare dinner when TJ's working late, and E's doing what toddlers do in that situation--pulling on my legs and moaning and crying and trying to get my attention. I can't let him do it for long since it's too loud, but if it were just the two of us at home, he would have to wait until I'd reached a stopping point. I worry about what this is teaching him. And what about when the new baby is born? Can you imagine?!

We definitely need to figure something out.


Brianna said...

Can TJ work out of the home in the afternoons when you guys get back from co-op? Like at a local coffee shop with wireless or something?

With Ben, the fastest way to kill the shrieking is to completely ignore it. The more I label it as 'loud' or even ask him to be quiet, the more he does it. If I just continue what I'm doing without acknowledging the shrieking, he loses interest in it pretty fast.

Heather said...

Yes, I think he'll have to find a place with wireless, definitely next fall, if not sooner. The incident that happened Friday was the first of its kind, although there have been more minor issues with noise.

As for ignoring the shrieking, you're so right. I've found the same thing. Ignoring it is the only thing to do (anything else encourages it), and I even knew that at the time, but everything flew out the window in the moment. I've resolved to ignore it at all costs now, no matter the circumstance. Easier said than done!