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The 36-Hour Day

with Lylah M. Alphonse

I'm a full-time editor, a part-time writer, and a mom and stepmom to five amazing kids, ages 1 to 14. For me it's not about finding balance, it's about the daily juggle-- my career, my commute, freelance work, homework, housework, married life, social life, and parenting-- and finding the time to get it all done.

To learn more about Lylah, check out her Work It, Mom! profile and read her blog at

Do women work from home differently than men?

Categories: The Juggle, Working? Living?


By the time you read this, I may be buried under a couple of feet of snow. (*Shakes fist at groundhog, continues sulking.*)

The Boston area is supposed to get slammed by a late-in-the-season “Nor’Easter,” and many schools have closed in anticipation of the storm. Which means my youngest kids’ preschool and daycare center are closed, too. And when the schools close, parents scramble, because you can be pretty sure that most employers aren’t encouraging the adults to stay home.

Now, it’s an ugly thing, but I’m going to put it out there: If we’re stuck at home because of the storm, my husband will be working from home, too. And, let me tell you, when he works from home, it’s a totally different experience compared to when I do.

For example:

Me: Get up to make a cup of coffee, notice that the sink is full of dishes, decide to load the dishwasher while the coffee is brewing. But the dishwasher is clean, so I have to empty it first. I do so, then notice that the counters need wiping down, and if I’m going to do the counters I might as well do all of the big surfaces, like the stove and the fridge. I go to get a clean dishcloth, discover that there are none in the drawer, duck into the laundry room to get one, take the clean clothes out of the dryer, find a clean dishcloth, set it aside, move the wet clothes into the dryer, and stuff another load of dirty laundry into the washer. Wipe down the laundry room while I’m at it, because it’s actually part of the downstairs bathroom, and what if someone comes over? Might as well scrub the toilet, too. Get another clean dishcloth, head back to the kitchen, wipe everything there down, re-load the dishwasher, grab my coffee, nuke it because it’s grown cold, wipe down the microwave, grab the now-warm coffee, and go back to my desk to work, thinking that I really should have pulled something out of the freezer to thaw for dinner, since I was in the kitchen anyway.

Him: Gets cup of coffee. Goes back to desk. Works.

And, when the little kids are home, too:

Me: All of the above, then the baby — who is actually a toddler, who can run like the wind — sprints in, clambers up onto a chair, guzzles my cold-again coffee, and grins at me. He will be completely wired in 3… 2… 1. The preschooler is quiet — too quiet. I discover that she’s been sitting about 3 feet away from me for the last half hour, under the dining table where I’m working, stealthily disemboweling a box of 10 gummy “Dora the Explorer”-shaped treats and rummaging through a stack of items I’m supposed to review. She is practically vibrating from the sugar. I log off and start child wrangling.

Him: Working steadily in another room, headphones on.

Why? Because the kids are on me, and even if he takes a break to let me work, they will find me. I have actually had to fake them out by going outside in a snowstorm and pretending to drive to work before sneaking back into the house and getting anything done.

So, I know what it’ll be like, once all that snow falls. I’m getting prepared right now.

But that doesn’t mean I’ll end up getting a whole lot done.

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2 comments so far...

  • Yes, women can walk and chew gum at the same time when men can’t multitask.

    momof02  |  March 5th, 2009 at 2:30 pm

  • I am sitting in a coffee shop right now, working “from home”. That is, I didn’t make the 50 mile/each way drive to my office because I had no meetings today. I cannot work literally “from home” because my kids won’t leave me alone, and I get way too distracted by all the items I need to do. My husband hates when I go to a coffee shop to work as he doesn’t understand why I can’t stay home/thinks it would be better for the kids if I actually worked from home occasionally. But I need to *work*–all I want is to avoid using the gas some days! So I totally get where you are coming from!!

    spacegeek  |  March 5th, 2009 at 5:26 pm

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