• Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.


How to Work From Home

Lessons from the famous BBC interview.

March 15, 2017

I know I should be more sympathetic, but that interview this past week with the male professor participating in a televised BBC interview about South Korea when his two toddlers barge in made me laugh out loud. As a working mother, I totally get what he went through, and I have to say that, while my children have interrupted many different phone interviews, phone conferences, a class or two, and a couple of speaking engagements at conferences, I have never had it happen on live television.  I will leave others to debate why people assumed that the woman who removed the children was the nanny and not, in fact, his wife. Always eager to discuss and promote quality work-life balance, I would like to offer some advice for him in the future in case he’s tempted to try to work from home again:

  1. First, you need to begin with some preventative measures. Television works best -- preferably two 22-minute shows. In particular, a show that under normal circumstances you might not let your child watch works best for very important interviews. I’m convinced that’s why Sponge Bob was invented. Check out these statistics about the rise in working women from 1970 (40%) to 2000 (61%). Now, note that the Sponge Bob premiered in 1999. Coincidence? I think not!
  2. Second, you should find a place to hide to conduct the interview. Only a rookie would take a call in his actual home office. In fact, that’s a great decoy spot to lure the kids while you are at your real location. I always like to pick places that the little ones would never think to find me. I find these spots to be ideal: under the dining room table, outside on the porch (especially if it’s below 30 degrees Fahrenheit outside), or on top of the washing machine. If you’ve got the right kind of house or apartment, the roof may also be an option.
  3. Third, you must lock the door. This is a simple procedure but absolutely necessary. In fact, I’ve found it ideal if you could be locked behind two separate doors. For example, if it’s not a video interview, then the locked bathroom inside my bedroom works quite well. Plus, if nature calls, just hit that mute bottom, and you are all set.
  4. Sometimes doors don’t lock, or the lock can be broken. In that case, it’s probably best to have a simple barricade behind the door. I have found that leaning my office chair against the door works well so I can keep nudging the door closed if necessary. You can even skip the gym later that day if this is what happens.
  5. Sometimes, they still get in. That’s why I always have a bag of lollipops in my office. Again, if your child isn’t used to candy, they will suck on those treats for a good 20 minutes. That should buy you enough time to finish, but seriously, do not take more than 20 minutes to wrap it up, because you definitely do not want to still be on the call when they have the guaranteed sugar crash.
  6. Finally, if your child does manage to penetrate my practically full-proof system, my advice is to not look annoyed or shove your child. Instead, act like you are the advanced one, accepting that children are a part of life and that their being there is no big deal.



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