Monday, 19 March 2018

Opus interruptus: 13 ways my kids interrupt me when I'm working from home

I work from home and I have three kids. At approximately 3.45pm every afternoon, my work day is interrupted when my kids come home. Most days I welcome this interruption, it’s the perfect time to down tools for 10 minutes and give my brain a break. Sometimes they visit my study one by one, sometimes they come in en masse to tell me about their day.
But they always come.

If I’ve ducked out to the shops, I get an accusatory 'where are you?' phone call, as though me not being at my desk in my study has completely upended their view of how the world should be. I’m not going to lie, it’s nice to know that they miss me when I’m not there.

But during school holidays, these interruptions really push the friendship: I cannot get anything done. The regular interruptions constantly short circuit my concentration and my productivity halves.

I don’t know if you know this, but it’s actually really hard to get stuff done when you are constantly interrupted.

Here are 13 things my kids regularly interrupt me for when I am working from home.

1. The wifi password


What’s the wifi password?

F*** knows. It’s some random series of letters and numbers that Telstra determined about five years ago. When anyone in the house needs to re-enter the password into a device, I have to look through my wallet to find the card with the numbers on it, give them the card and then remember to follow up half an hour later when they have not returned the card to me. If they don't return the card, no one will ever know what the wifi password is, ever again, as long as we live.

2. The internet is not working CALL THE POLICE!!!


The wifi and its ongoing maintenance is a source of constant interruption because it seems my children are unable to function without it.

When the wifi goes down, I can virtually set my watch by the time it will take for a child to appear at the door of my study. Wifi goes down: count to 10. Child bursts into my room as though the house is on fire.

During these moments it’s like I am the embattled IT department of a very busy and important corporation. Everyone is at me, everyone needs the wifi fixed NOW and everyone demands to know what went wrong and what I will be doing ‘going forward’ to make sure the same thing never happens again. Ever.

3. The TV is not working


Sometimes, mysteriously the TV just will not turn on. It’s random and there’s no sure way to fix it save for the slightly OCD series of gestures we go through to make ourselves feel better before the TV magically decides to start working again independent of these specific gestures we have just performed like superstitious pagans.

These include, switching out the batteries, shaking it violently, pressing the ‘on’ button really, really hard and pressing the ‘on’ button really really hard whilst pointing the remote aggressively at the red dot on the television.

When the TV stops working, of course, I am everybody’s first port of call. Because I am a television repairman in my spare time. (I’m not really, I’m being facetious.)

Anyway, what I do is perform all of the above useless gestures I have just described. What they don’t understand is: I have no power over the television and I have no special skills. There’s really no need for me to be in the room when all of this happens and therefore no reason to interrupt me.

4. “My computer is running really slow”


This is accompanied by demands to know what I am doing on the internet. Am I downloading something? Am I uploading something? Is there some reason that their computer is running so slow that could possibly be connected to my work activities and if so, my work activities should cease immediately.

Again, I don't why my kids think I can solve their PC problems. as I have told them time and time again, 'I'm a Mac person, I can't help you with that ugly piece of sh**.'

5. "The internet is really slow"


Thanks. Tell me something else NO ONE ELSE IN THIS COUNTRY HAS DISCOVERED YET!!! Every time they complain, I tell them to enthusiastically express their support for the NBN to our local member.

6. Something else about the computer


I dunno, sometimes all I hear is: 'Bleh bleh bleh computer bleh bleh bleh'

7. “What can I have to eat?”


This would seem obvious to me: whatever you can find in the pantry or fridge. I think they suspect I have a secret ‘other pantry’ and secret ‘other fridge’ that I am keeping from them.

8. Some sort of argument I was not privvy to but now am required to adjudicate


This one is time consuming. I must collect sworn statements from each witness, figure out who is in the right and hand down my judgement accordingly.  However, as the department of justice is currently understaffed, we now have a mandatory sentencing system whereby: whoever interrupted me to tell me about the argument, is in the wrong.

9. "I can’t find any socks"


Socks are like four leaf clovers in this house and a matching pair? WE haven’t seen one of those since 2005. The reason they can’t find their socks is because their socks are all over their bedroom floor, squished down the side of their bed and scrunched into the gap between the couch cushions. Sock hunting season commences at the beginning of the school term. Until then, the socks are free range.

10. The Paypal password


My middle child is has truly mastered the art of interrupting me with something at exactly the point that I will pay money to get him to go away. This has resulted in NUMEROUS ‘cheap games’ being bought (some sort of in-app purchases, I don’t know, when I ask questions I lose interest as soon as he starts to talk about it) with my Paypal account during the school holidays.

I once added it all up after the school holidays- all those US$15 games he bought when I was trying to get him to go away – and I nearly fainted. Mea culpa.

11. "Where are the biscuits?"


In the biscuit jar?
Where’s the biscuit jar?
In the pantry, where it always is?
I can’t see it.
Have another look
I looked I still can’t see it.
Please have a woman’s look.
(Shouts from kitchen) Okay I found it.
Where was it?
Was it where I said it was?
Shamed silence.

12. "My (insert random body part here) hurts"


My youngest child likes to go to the doctor. I think he likes the attention or something. He loves having his temperature taken and being asked how he’s feeling: all of it. And so any vague ache he may have, requires a long discussion around whether or not he actually does need to go to the doctor.

13. "There’s no milk"


There is milk. There is ALWAYS milk. Making sure there is always milk is one of the special skills I have acquired over 16 years as a mother.

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