I recently went back to work in an office after years of mothering and working at home. Anxiety reigned as I prepared for the change with upgraded organization and OCD-level menu planning. I tried to anticipate our family’s every reaction to the new schedule and I admit to my pessimism about our ability to adapt. During the past month, I have been mostly pleasantly surprised that we’re not imploding. We’re managing just fine. Not only that, there are significant benefits to going back to work. And I’m not only talking about a paycheck that magically lands in my bank account at regular intervals.
Turns out, I have been missing quite a bit during my decade in YogaPantLand. Here are a few of my favorites.
Last time I was a regular in the cubicle world, people actually left the premises to eat lunch. If we needed a snack, we brought it from home or hit the vending machine. Times have changed. My new employer keeps us fueled with trail mix, Goldfish, and a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich bar. In time, the fit of my jeans may convince me otherwise, but so far I’m loving the on-site sustenance. There is something extra nurturing about food I did not have to purchase, haul home, and hide away from the ungrateful little snack thieves I birthed.
I’m too new to actually be privy to any juicy bits, but it’s only a matter of time. I trust that scandalous whispers permeate every corner of my new atmosphere, not because I work in a particularly drama-filled environment, but because stories are everywhere. It’s human nature and when many humans gather for eight or ten or twelve hours a day, narratives emerge. I’m just waiting. And, you know, trying not to be the plot.
Life as a freelance writer can be a bit free-flowing. While I certainly didn’t spend every day in yoga pants, no one was holding me accountable to get dressed on a given day. The only time I really had to look decent were the days I spent working in coffee shops, and even then, your favorite barista really doesn’t care if you look put-together. Grande triple choco-lattes cost the same whether you’re in PJs or pinstripes. In an office, real clothes are important, as are real shoes, and a semi-regular manicure. If only I had time to shop and get my nails done.
I’m not talking about the graphics designers and copywriters at work. I’m talking about sharing the load at home. My husband has always been great about doing things for the house—the lawn, the cooking, a little cleaning—but there is a whole roster of family tasks that happen around town, too. Until now, I have been the go-to parent for orthodontic appointments and soccer sign-ups, for last minute school supply purchases and picking up dinner when there’s nothing in the fridge. I’m enjoying pushing some of that onto my better half.
On top of all these perks, I get to play in a new world with a talented team. Working at home, for me, was the greatest adventure I ever had. Now I’m on a new journey. This one comes with snacks.
Lela Davidson is the award-winning author ofBlacklisted from the PTA, and Who Peed on My Yoga Mat? She speaks and writes about marriage, motherhood, and life after 40, and recently took a day job managing content marketing for Acumen Brands.