05 August 2008

10 ways work differs from home

After spending last week working outside my home for the first time in over a year (I most recently spent many months working from home before leaving that job last November), it's only natural that I was bombarded with observations on the differences from my now-typical work week.

Here's a quick list of 10 differences between being paid to work in an office and being unpaid to stay at home with small children:

1. Generally speaking, you must wear shoes the entire day.

2. Unless you happen to be The Boss, you are officially not considered the wisest and most experienced person on the premises.*

3. It's pretty quiet, to the point that you have to repeatedly disabuse yourself of the notion that everyone around you must be up to something truly naughty.

4. Unless you work at the Matchbox Car Testing Facility, you don't get to play with toy cars all afternoon.

5. When people start getting fussy, you can't make them lay down and take a nap.

6. Unless you work as some kind of nurse, you can go eight whole hours without having to help anyone vacate their bladder or bowels, and you don't even have to be ready to clean up if they have trouble trying to do it all by themselves.

7. You can swear, at least once in awhile.

8. You get to eat all of your own food. Not only that, but you can do so without feeling like just maybe you need to be planning a method to dispose of the corpse of what will appear to an outsider to be an emaciated street urchin.

9. The kids might actually be interested in seeing pictures of your co-workers.

10. Unless you really, really need to start checking out the classifieds in earnest, whenever anyone hits you in the balls, they will apologize without any prompting at all.

* Parents of teenagers may have resigned themselves to a conflict of opinions on this particular issue.


Unknown said...

This post is great. I would also add - when someone has a tantrum you cannot send them to time out.

Mama Dawg said...

You know, I'd have to leave a job where there is the potential for someone kicking me in the balls (apologies forthcoming or not).

That is, if I had balls.

Natalie said...

you know i went from teaching kindergarten to staying at home with two kids. there really wasn't much difference...well other than only having to worry about two kids messes instead of 20. oh yeah...and the shoe thing. i didn't have to wear shoes. that was nice.

Brittany said...

HILARIOUS! Ahhh...to only be responsible for getting food into my own mouth, and not wondering if saggy pants means a full diaper...that would be sweeeetttt...

Cassey said...

My husband says their are people who walk around shoeless at his office. I will send them a link.

Kori said...

The eating all of your own food bit? One of the reasons I love to have to work. Seriously. Because I like me some food, and I hate that O. think the exact same food on my his plate is death, whereas mine? Ambrosia.

unmitigated me said...

When I am back in my classroom full of 6th graders next month, I fully intend to blogart this idea and tell you the differences between being home with two somnolent teenagers and being at work with twenty-eight hyperactive 11-year-olds.

blogart = blog + bogart. I totally invented that term. Ask Jozet at Halushki.

Chris M. said...

Welcome back, Dan! The working world has missed ye.

Now go drink your juice cup.

Weather Moose

PS - I have people in my office that still bring Lunchables to work.

Mrs. B. Roth said...

Real jobs ... sigh.

No one at my paid job smiles and tries to kiss me. Some of them are almost exactly as whiny as my 6 yr old when asked to do something not normally in their job description. But I am usually able to complete tasks with out fecal matter interruptions, that makes it worthwhile. And the money.

BabyonBored said...

Makes me miss the office.

By the way, my list of superficial reasons were SUPERFICIAL. I'm just sayin'. If I broke up with a guy for putting on chapstick too much that speaks of my lack of tolerance not that they are bad. Check out my new list and feel free to vent.

Anonymous said...

This is one of my favorite posts ever! And very informative for those like myself who have not had a "real" job since having children. I had no idea...sounds like heaven, actually.

Amanda said...

I work 3 days a week as a Nurse, and some days it's hard to tell the difference between a my mad job and a mad house!! haha!
Great blog and thanks for your comment on mine.

Renee said...

Shoes? Really?? So I guess pants that don't require buttons and zippers are out too, huh? Screw that.

Already a fan of the blog, and I've only read the first page. I hope this whole working for money thing isn't going to distract you from entertaining me daily.

Anonymous said...

Great post!
ooo another great thing about going to work in "an office"
When someone spills their lunch...they clean it up all by themselves.

Candid Carrie said...

I miss gainful employment. I miss annual reviews. I miss office supplies. I miss being missed if you miss a day. I miss adults. I miss making fun of people that aren't me. I miss delegating and procrastinating. I miss post it notes with smiley faces and dirty coffee mugs. I miss intercoms. I miss paychecks. I miss having an inbox and an outbox. I miss free stamps and staplers. I miss pens that say "your name here" and salesman that bring smiles and freebies.

Dammit Literal Dan, dammit. Just when I thought I was progressing you had to write a post and dedicate it to me.

Kevin McKeever said...

Dan, after 4 years of working from home I can assure you ... there is no going back.

AJ said...

If only we could make those damn fussy coworkers take a nap. Ugh! I bet I'd order at least 3 people to take naps per day. Perhaps even myself some days!

Just give me a second to sit and reflect on how nice a nap might be.....Ahhhhhh:)

kel said...

Re. #2---actually, since I'm a middle-school teacher, I am the smartest person in the room. It rocks. I can make up whatever I want, and those little suckers believe me!

#3--When it's quiet, they ARE up to something. This is something all parents and teachers must know if they are to survive.

#7---I have all kinds of dreams of cussing out the little effers in my head, but, alas. In real life, I'd probably get sued.

Kat said...

I often ask my husband to trade with me. I will totally go play Air Force guy and he can stay home with the kids. He has yet to take me up on the offer. I think he is scared.

Weith Kick said...

I'm not so sure I could work at home. Too many distractions and I'm not that disciplined. I commend you sir on your abilities!

Jenny Grace said...

Pretty sure I swear more at home than I do at work. Which is actually something I need to work on.

And...well...there are a lot of barefoot people at my job. Okay, not a lot, but ENOUGH.

Allison said...

I'm reading this at work.

I just took off my shoes and said fuck just to pretend for a minute.

Your kids don't read this, do they?

Dad Stuff said...

Eating your own food would be nice, but is it worth the absence of Matchbox cars?

Robin said...

hahaha! Classic. #5 is my favorite!

Anonymous said...

This is great, Dan :) Very funny and true.

LiteralDan said...

Mekhismom: Sure you can! It's called a coffee run.

Mama Dawg: That's because you're a quitter, and you

aren't thinking outside the box.

Natalie: Isn't it? And man, that's a great way to get

perspective-- start with 20 kids, and even just 10 isn't that big

a deal.

Brittany: Whose saggy pants are we talking about,

yours or your kids'? Are you as lazy as me?? If not, I totally

can't identify with that at all.

Cassey: Into every life a few hippies must stroll


Kori: That seems to be a universal phenomenon.

Maybe our children were meant to eat our regurgitated food,

like baby birds, and merely staking a claim to everything on

our plate is the next best thing.

Middle Aged woman: I think your home life might come

out on top in that comparison. At least, compared to the tales

my wife comes home with of her sixth grade class.

That's a cool term I hadn't heard before, so as far as I'm

concerned, you absolutely made it up.

Chris: The funny thing is I actually did have a juice cup

while I was working, and it was delicious, because it was ALL


I always found Lunchables gross, and I don't exactly have a

discriminating palate when it comes to bland food. That's

pretty embarrassing for an adult, either way, but I guess it's

good for them they are so uninhibited. However, you should

still mock them.

Mrs. B. Roth: Consider yourself lucky no one smiles

and tries to kiss you at work. Though that might be a quick and

easy way to financial independence.

Each of those times your tasks involve fecal matter is a nugget

of blogging gold, my friend, so you have the best of both


Stefanie: But the superficial reasons are usually the

most frequently considered and foremost in the mind. Whether

or not someone needs chapstick for the soul is immaterial-- the

clear moral of your first list is that I will die

unloved and alone if I am unable to hang on to my wife.

Christy: Heaven is definitely too strong a word. If

anything, this just reaffirms the old adage about that green


Amanda: Working as a Nurse AND a mother? You are

definitely a glutton for punishment.

Renee: Considering the frequency with which I was

treated to the sound of flip-flops flapping down the halls of my

old job, I think those pants are probably just fine-- there's

some good news for you.

Glad you like it, though I just realized that you caught me on a

little downswing and are probably disappointed by the lack of

my fast-and-furious posting rate. Sorry about that!

christie: Or, more likely in my experience, they don't

clean it up, but it's not your problem.

Candid Carrie: Wow, I think you definitely need to go

back to work-- god bless you for enjoying that life. I guess you

balance me out, cosmically.

I grant you that I do miss making fun of people that aren't me--

reading blog posts about "my stupid kids" is not quite the

same as our hilariously mock-vicious-insult fests for my old

friend from the trenches. I don't blame him or dispute that, but

c'est la vie, I suppose. (single tear)

Always Home and Uncool: I have suspected as much.

What's funny, though, is that the office I was working in was in

somebody else's house. So if I am ever defying the odds and

going back, it will apparently be through baby steps.

AJ: That would be an awesome place to work. Are you

starting a company any time soon?

kel: You can consider yourself lucky, though I'm sure most days you don't. I know my wife feels deeply fulfilled in her work as a middle-school teacher, and she's definitely lucky enough to have found her calling in life, but I also know that many days during the school year, she wants to put a bullet in her brain. Or someone else's.

Oddly enough, she is itching to get back into it now. I'm amazed and humbled by that. And by her success in not cussing out the little effers herself, when they are begging for it. It would get their attention, don't you think?

Kat: Your portrayal of "playing Air Force guy"

completely clashes with the images in all those TV commercials. I'm crushed by my disillisionment.

Weith Kick: My abilities are debatable-- I don't have anything to compare to. Now excuse me while I go watch my soap operas.

Miss Grace: I only swear in my head at home. Unless the kids aren't around. I don't think I could possibly swear more than I did at work. Ahhh, the good old days.

Allison: You are my rebel hero. My son wants to read it, but if he could manage, I'd be sending him to Harvard by the time he turned 5. And then I'd find a way to financially exploit him so I could blog in peace.

Dad Stuff: Is this like one of those hypothetical deep thinking questions? Wikipedia tells me it's called a koan.

Robin: Five is my favorite number, so that seems fitting to me.

Half-Past Kissin' Time: Thankya, ma'am. I'm sure it would only get longer if I spent more time away from home. So it would help the blog, I guess, but would it help my soul?

Sue said...

This has to be one of my favorite of ALL your posts! Love it!!!

The Microblogologist said...

My niece has been here less than a week and I have already reverted back to being scared of silence. Dad came to my room and informed me that Niecey had gotten up early and quietly while we slept, my kitchen is a mess, my desk drawer in part emptied, and my office door is "decorated" with stickers.

Now to decide if I should leave her here with Dad when I go to work (I've been bringing them with me) so I can have a break or if I should bring her with to give my apartment a break! I am totally understanding why those crazy people put their kids in cages to sleep!!!! Oh great, now she is in my bedroom closet again..... ack the sound of something being torn apart, gotta run!

LiteralDan said...

Sue: Wow. Hmmm... I'll have to comb over this one and see if I can get lightning to strike twice. I hope it's not all downhill from here.

Microblogologist: She's performing a valuable service in giving you more than fair warning of what you're in for should you ever choose to sail upon that sea yourself. We should all be so lucky.

Andrea said...

Thanks for this! I had forgotten what the working world was like! I guess you can't watch talk shows and eat ice cream either?

I guess I'll just stay where I am....right after I clean up and put away laundry....and ....

LiteralDan said...

Actually, if you worked at one of those video-monitoring services (counting product mentions in various shows), you could do that officially, but otherwise, you can do that in most jobs as long as you're able to ditch the ice cream and hide the TV at a moment's notice.

Kind of like when you're having one of those days at home and you don't want anyone to find out how little you accomplished, so before they get home, you quickly spritz yourself in laundry detergent and grab a few used dustrags you keep around for just such an occasion.

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