• Justin Hannam

The Madness I Call My Office

I often find myself sitting at my desk with a child on my shoulders as I try typing onto my computer. I’ll try reading a document with the sound of screams all around me, as if I were at a Bon Jovi concert, with the lights flashing like a firework display. And even toys fly through the air and hit the back of my head as I try and concentrate on that spreadsheet. For me this is life working from home and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Granted, it probably would be easier if I had an office to myself, instead, I have to share it whilst it's used as a playroom, a classroom, the Christmas dining room and a bombsite. Somehow I manage a productive day with little catastrophe.

When I was younger I found myself easily distracted whilst at school. Whether it be a bird flying into a window or the sound of someone closing a book, my attention would distract from my work far too easily. It seems strange that now I am able to write an email with a three-year-old covering my eyes. These days I can block out sound without any problem at home. I’ve gotten so good at it that I can ignore Liz and the kids when they are standing right next to me, talking to me. It’s frustrating for them, but a necessity for me to be able to carry out my daily work.

We see home education as a lifestyle that wraps around our daily lives and intertwines everything we do from eating food, to exercise, to work and play. This madness that I call my office is just an example of what we need to do to exist. Without a doubt it can become frustrating when your son is constantly leaning over you to plug in cars, boats and drones to charge at your desktops USB port. Or, your eldest keeps asking to borrow elastic bands (That she will never return), or borrow any other stationery that isn’t nailed down to the desk. All of that said, believe it or not, there are some benefits to this crazy way of working. If Liz is busy doing some work with the kids for example, in particular maths (Liz is amazing at a lot of things but it’s safe to say maths isn’t one of them), then I can be on hand to help out with a bit of advice or support). If the youngest bursts into the classroom when the other two are working, with the excitement of just building the worlds greatest tower made out of Duplo, then I can be there to appreciate this eighth wonder of the world whilst the others continue without distraction. If all else fails, I can always do some work in the evenings when it’s quiet. Though believe it or not, I find it a lot easier when the children are in the house, rather than when the house is empty.

We have created this wacky world and I am happy with how it all works. I learnt a long time ago that it was important to be able to let go of any niggling frustrations that may be caused by sharing my office with the playroom, the classroom, the Christmas dining room, and the bombsite. And as much as I would like to say it’s a perfect environment for me to work, there are times when I get a little impatient with everyone and I have to shut the door to keep my sanity. I’ll take the laptop in another room to work or out to the garden and join the chickens. There’s been quite a few phone calls where I have had to head out into the rain with no shoes or coat just to get away from the loudness of the kids.

For me this has been a way working for the last nine years, for some this will have been their way of working over the last 12 months or so. From my experience you just have to accept that what will be, will be. It’s difficult sometimes but it’s often a privilege to share the space. One of the most difficult things to do is to be able to switch between the work head and the family head. It’s difficult to not carry stress from the computer screen to a conversation that Liz or a child has sparked up. I often have to tell myself that it’s not their fault. One day the dream will be to have my very own office, a cabin out in the garden would be perfect. I regrettably shared this dream with Liz and she now also shares this dream where I can have Office in the garden. Though in her version it's also a playroom, a classroom, a hangout area for when the kids are older, a yoga retreat and a Christmas dining room.

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