Recently I came across a photo online depicting a typical work day in bed with the kids. The photo had beautiful lighting. The hotel styled bedding looked hardly ruffled or messed. The bedroom was and tidy immaculate. They kids were dolled up and working quietly away on their side of the King side bed.
It was a fantastic photo. It could have been used in a magazine.
But as I sat in my bed looking at that photo, I couldn’t help but laugh a little. This photo was so unrealistic to me. Let’s face it, when freelancers work at home with the kids, our houses are anything but immaculate!
Lifestyle blogs and Pinterest spotlight photos like this showcasing how to live beautifully & organized. Supposedly they work at home with kids but everything is just too strangely perfect.
Meanwhile, in my little corner of the world, my house is busy. I have two kids and I have worked at home for many years. When I say busy, I mean things get done & things get made. Games are played. The WiiU gets loud from Mario Cart. The TV has a cartoon on and another and so on. Drawings get made. There are sometimes dishes in the sink. And my bed might still have books and papers on it.
I don’t do perfect. I prefer a house with toys, books, pictures on the wall, a fridge gallery, mismatched things, antiques with a history and a story to tell. I like colour, collections and stripes. I keep it interesting because I don’t do boring either.
I should mention that when I went to art school I did in fact, take photography too. I could create these stunning welcoming photos depicting a life of wondrous work at home splendour. But I don’t nor do I have the time. Although it is true illustrators live in a world of ideas and a type of visual make believe, I do not need my house to look that way. Simply put, my house is lived in. I do love galleries. I don’t wish to live in one.
Living where you work has a unique give and take dynamic. Working at home goes against the typical career structure. Our commutes are quick. Our breaks include throwing the laundry on and taking out the garbage. We set our own schedules. We sleep sometimes. Eating lunch during our work day is often scheduled or forgotten. Tea and coffee are a warm comforting friend on the frustrating days and helps us to keep going on the others. Our wardrobe is comfort casual from jeans to pj's. We live with distractions here, there and everywhere. We send out promotions and emails as we look for new projects while working on the ones we have. We promote online that should take 20 minutes but leads to a 2 hour mind melt! We start the morning with intentions of getting it all done. We get half of it done. We go to bed eventually and do it all over again the next day.
Bissell has a great slogan that says it like it is-"Life is messy. Clean it up!” I tell my kids this often to encourage them to clean as they go. If I didn’t there would be trails of paper, pencils, toys and clothes everywhere. Living where you work is a progression and an exercise in patience. Perhaps our illustrator work at home slogan could be-"Working at home is messy. Embrace the imperfection and get back to work!”