This week has been particularly hilarious for working parents, with the video of the professor being interviewed by the BBC while at home going viral. Don’t worry, Robert Kelly: We’re not laughing at you, we’re laughing with you. Because isn’t this every working parent’s nightmare? To be in the middle of a serious conversation with a professional we respect and have our kids barge in and make us look . . . human?
I love this video because it is a perfect reminder that young children do not particularly care how important we are, and maybe we need to stop taking ourselves so seriously.
The reality is that, in a technologically driven world where people expect an immediate response, clients and colleagues have to anticipate that things like this may happen. Taking 24 hours to get back to someone is not always acceptable, which means home life and work life tend to blend. People understand that, and they care more about hearing back from you promptly than waiting for the right moment when you’re back in the office.
As a solo practitioner, this can be difficult to balance. Sometimes I don’t get home until late Monday through Thursday nights, so I try to work from home every Friday, unless I have court. It’s nice to be able to take a day “off” each week to spend with my sons but, of course, there’s no such thing as a day off for a solo. I return calls and check emails when they nap. This is what I consider “working from home.” Yet even doing that causes anxiety, as I dread that one day I’ll be in the middle of an important call and one of them will wake up and start wailing on the baby monitor.
Over time, those concerns have become more subdued, and I feel less obligated to keep working from home a secret. On Tuesday, during the winter storm, I placed a call to negotiate a debt on behalf of a client. I told opposing counsel I was working from home and had just finished playing with my kids in the snow. It immediately softened the conversation. You would think admitting to this type of thing would make others take you less seriously, but I’ve found it has the opposite effect. It humanizes you, and people yearn to see more humanity in this world.