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Working from home not working! Separation anxiety

(20 Posts)
Maria2007 Wed 23-Sep-09 17:25:26

I have a 14 month old little boy, who's really great, except he's going through a huge phase of separation anxiety & general clinginess in the last couple of months. I think this is completely normal & I'm trying to be as gentle as I can with him... However, this has created a problem. I work from home part-time, doing my PhD. During the hours that I work (20 hours per week) we have a part-time nanny who DS knows & loves (we've had her for a few months now). However, because I work at home, whenever I take breaks (e.g. to let the nanny know about something, to make myself a cup of tea, to get some lunch) I see DS (if he's at home) & he becomes inconsolable & cries & cries. What to do? On the one hand, going to the library would be great, but I have all my books & articles etc at home, so can't do it every day. On the other hand, our nanny takes DS out a lot (and that works out well) but they're always at home at least 2-3 hours each time, to have lunch, a nap etc.

How do other MNers who work from home arrange things so that it's not so painful for all involved? At the moment, it's hard both for DS & me, but also for our nanny who has to deal with the tears every time I leave the room. On the other hand, whenever I stay for a while to comfort him, that also doesn't work because he somehow knows I'll then go up to the loft again & soon becomes inconsolable! Plus, I end up losing a lot of time from my hours of work being around DS & consoling him (which most times I can't help when I'm at home as it breaks my heart to hear him cry).

What to do?

Maria2007 Thu 24-Sep-09 10:33:55


AvengingGerbil Thu 24-Sep-09 10:40:16

I think you need to take a kettle and a sandwich to the loft at the beginning of the day and not come down at all. Go to the loo when you are sure they are out of the house. Have your discussions with the Nanny at the beginning/end of the day just as you would if you were out to work or DS was at nursery.

In general, behave as if you are at work somewhere else. The problem does not seem to be DS's anxieties so much as you not staying out of the way.

womblemeister Thu 24-Sep-09 10:42:42

Hi Maria, this sounds v. familiar. My DS is 4 and still does this. He is always going to prefer your company to the nanny. Either get her to take him out for longer, or take your books to the library. I work from home and have done since my LOs were born. The only time it works well is like I said, when he's out of the house, or at night when he's asleep, or first thing in the morning before he wakes up.

cinnamon81 Thu 24-Sep-09 10:44:39

I have a DD the same age and know how hard it is.

From his point of view you are leaving him more than once if he sees you around the house so is there any way you can stay out of sight during your working day? I appreciate its awkward going out all the time but can you get an extra kettle etc for your study room so you can keep out of sight?

Or maybe you can have scheduled break times and arrange for the nanny to be doing something with DS during these times, e.g. out in the garden when it's tea break time, out for an hour when you have your lunch.

Just a couple of suggestions. I'm studying too but not a Phd so I just do it from 7 until 10 every evening when DD in bed.

Fennel Thu 24-Sep-09 10:48:51

We used to have this, basically on the days I was working from home I had to have childcare out of the house, or if I had in-house childcare I had to go and work elsewhere. It did get easier, I used to work 2 floors up but it is very hard to keep working while you hear your child crying or yelling down below (and it wasn't poor childcare, it was their father or uncle or aunt, but babies and toddlers do cry sometimes).

you have to either learn to switch off and keep your distance, not let them see you during your working day (kettle and snacks upstairs, as others have said) or you have to find another place to work if possible.

It's very hard for the childcarer too, having a parent nipping in and out and the child then wanting the parent. Not much fun, I've been on that side of it too.

CMOTdibbler Thu 24-Sep-09 10:49:19

I agree with gerbil - you need to just hide in the loft with a flask, and treat it as if you had gone out to work

Acinonyx Thu 24-Sep-09 11:33:19

I have just finished my PhD working mainly PT from home and dd is now 4. I was NEVER able to work with her in the house, I'm afraid. Dh used to take her out on a Saturday and she went to a CM PT during the week.

Either the nanny takes dc out or you go to a library or cafe.

deepdarkwood Thu 24-Sep-09 11:36:14

Agree with others that the only way to work this is just to disappear, and NOT come down, unless you know he's out (only way I can work at home if ds & dd are around, and they are 5 & 3)

If you need to talk to nanny, ring her. Take food into room. Not sure how you manage loo smile

naturopath Thu 24-Sep-09 11:58:06

I hide myself away in the study. I get food, make phone calls etc. when he is out with the nanny. When they are in I am "at work", and never make a sound. He doesn't know I'm in the house.

ijustwant8hours Thu 24-Sep-09 14:59:55

My DS is nearly 3 now and he has got used to me going to work in the loft. I can come down for lunch etc now but it is always better the more I stay away (also I don't want to annoy the nanny!)

mumof2222222222222222boys Thu 24-Sep-09 15:23:48

Slightly different perspective, but I work from hom usually 1 day a week. Traditionally it has been great and I get loads done. But DS1 has started school this sept and so far it has been half days. We have a pretty good AP and she has been taking him out in the afternoon - but when we are both in the house, I get NOTHING done.

Agree - hide in the attic or the library. Out of sight, out of mind!

Maria2007 Thu 24-Sep-09 21:28:37

Thanks everyone, your suggestions are really helpful. Right, tomorrow I'll buy a small kettle for the loft. I'll also prepare some snacks at the beginning of my 5-hours work to have there with me. Thankfully there's a small loo in the loft so that's not a problem. From monday, I'll say goodbye at the start of my 5 hours & will disappear. Lets see how it goes.

Maria2007loveshersleep Wed 04-Nov-09 15:56:02

I'm returning to this thread a couple of months down the line. The situation hasn't really improved so I'd love some more advice. With the increasing cold & bad weather, our nanny & DS stay at home much more so I can hear him crying / playing / whatever during my work which is really distracting. Plus, he's going through a very clingy / tantrumy / not-sleeping-well-at-night phase, so if he sees me during the day at all (I try to avoid this but sometimes it happens unavoidably) he goes berserk. This- I can sense- drives our nanny a bit mad too,since it's hard to distract him afterwords... and I understand her! It drives me mad as well. I would love it if she would take him out more, since I'm on a deadline & am in my last 3 months of working on my thesis, but when it's raining etc I don't know how to ask her this without being mean!

The worst is on the days when I haven't slept at night & just need a rest / nap for about half an hour. In those cases a) I can't rest because there's simply too much noise and b) I feel guilty because of the whole thing (napping & not working!)


indiewitch Wed 04-Nov-09 16:01:32

Can you not work somewhere else? Library maybe? It's obviously not working but it's only for 3 months so you've got to do something different, particularly as nanny and child are likely to be in quite a lot over the next 3 cold winter months.

Maria2007loveshersleep Wed 04-Nov-09 16:08:52

I think that's what I'll have to do, try to go to the library more. But the problem is that I have all my books / papers / computer programs here at home. Which was the whole idea of working from home. Also the idea (initially) was to be close to DS in case he needed me etc. But clearly this is not working atm...

megonthemoon Wed 04-Nov-09 16:13:01

I'm speaking as someone with a nanny who sometimes works from home and has occasionally had to deal with this, and I do sympathise, but...

I think it's hugely unfair and quite selfish of you to wish the nanny and your DS would be out more walk the streets in the cold and rain TBH for fear of distracting you or upsetting him. I'm not sure why it's worth having home-based childcare if your DS can't be in the home a lot and benefit from his home environment, and it's not fair on your nanny that she doesn't get to decide when they do home-based activities and when they go out. So I think your options are either:
a) send DS to a childminder or nursery so he is out of the house and you have the peace you need but DS is not forced to be out in the cold and rain, OR
b) you work out of the house at the library

Maria2007loveshersleep Wed 04-Nov-09 16:41:18

Well Meg, no, I wouldn't want them to be out & about now that it's cold! That's exactly why there's a problem. I would never ask them to do that! (you probably misunderstood me...).

I think the options you describe are reasonable btw.

Conundrumish Wed 04-Nov-09 17:23:25

Earplugs? They work wonders sometimes. Alternatively, could you concentrate with headphones and music/white noise on?

Maria2007loveshersleep Wed 04-Nov-09 17:27:01

Following your suggestions, I've already left home & am now writing this from a local cafe! I've already done a bit of work in my time here, which I was unable to do at home. I think the best thing to do, for the next 3 months, is to just not be home during the hours our nanny is home. If that means I can't have full use of my books/papers/software etc, so be it. I can make up for that, I expect, in the evening hours.

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