A SAHM’s office

On most days, Jennifer is on the trails or in the kitchen. But there are some days she runs her household from the most unusual places

By Jennifer Pinarski
A SAHM’s office

Finding a time to make phone calls as a SAHM is difficult. Photo credit: Ed Yourdon via Flickr

I am sure there are many stay-at-home moms who are tremendously organized and have a dedicated spot in their home where they pay bills, book appointments, file coupons and use as a base to run their household from. I am NOT one of those moms. Our bill rack is in our bedroom (I’m sure this kills the sleeping feng shui if our children and pets climbing into be didn’t already kill it). My husband works at a small desk in the corner of the living room and his BlackBerry is plugged into a free outlet by the coffee maker. My laptop is usually on the kitchen table and my coupons are in the glove box of my car. If it weren’t for my iPhone, I have no idea how I’d keep my appointments organized and bills paid on time. My phone goes wherever I go, so it’s not unusual for me to book doctor appointments for our children if I’m out trail running because it’s the only time I will be guaranteed to have a few quiet minutes on the phone by myself.
There are of course drawbacks to this — and yesterday was an example of how not having an office to make and take calls from is one of the things no one warns about about when you decide to be a SAHM.
Yesterday I was on the road the entire day with Gillian, with several out-of-town appointments spread throughout the day. It was a 12-hour mega marathon of trying to keep a two-year-old busy and happy in waiting rooms and grocery stores. It was hard, especially since she’s a terrible napper who rarely sleeps in her car seat. So when she konked out, I took advantage of the downtime to try and get caught up on emails and phone calls. (Confession: I pulled into the closest McDonald’s and parked close enough to get a decent WiFi signal). My most important call was to sort out a billing and cancellation problem with Bell, which I thought might take 20 minutes tops. 
Unfortunately for me, it took 20 minutes to talk to an agent, never mind the right department. And unfortuntately for Bell, Gillian’s nap only lasted 20 minutes. Here I was stuck in a McDonald’s parking lot with a screaming toddler and trapped in an elevator-music holding pattern with Bell’s customer service. When I thought things couldn’t get worse, Gillian announced that she’d pooped. Great.
Wishing that I owned a Bluetooth, into the McDonald’s bathroom we went, phone tucked in my neck, and stinky baby under my arm. You know those people that talk on the phone in bathroom stalls? That was me yesterday.
Five minutes and a diaper change later, I STILL wasn’t through to the right department at Bell. Not wanting to strap my toddler back in the car, I opted for the indoor play structure, hoping that she’d be happy to climb while I try and sort out my billing problems. And she was — for about three minutes. After that, our daughter begged me to climb the stairs, sit in the helicopter and go down the slide. With every slide, the static was enough to make both of our hair stand on end and I was convinced that it would short circuit my phone and I’d get a shock in my brain. And not only was Gillian screaming (this time, because she was having fun), the entire play structure was full of families getting snacks or dinners in the after school rush to get to their evening activities. It was nothing short of chaos, and I was getting the stink eye from other parents for not only being on the play structure, but being on the play structure while on the phone. I admit, it did look awful. I explain to the customer service rep from Bell that I’m out of breath from trying to sandwich myself between foam rollers in order to prevent my daughter from falling out of the play helicopter — and whether he believed me or not — 45 minutes later later my Bell problem was sorted out.
So tell me: where are some of the places you have to make important calls or emails from? How do you find down time to get caught up on household appointments, bills and calls?

Photo by Ed Yourdon via Flickr
This article was originally published on Feb 01, 2012

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