Working From Home Today (Not)

Today is a level 2 snow day. Level 1 is when the public elementary school is closed and Things 1-3 are home from school. A level 2 snow day is when preschool is also closed and Thing 4 is home with her brothers.

We have had eleven level 1 snow days so far this year but only a few level 2’s.   When there is a snow day, I send an email to work that I am “WFH today” which means I’ll be working from home. I can generally attend meetings by phone, answer emails, and maybe get some actual work done.

But that is for a level 1 snow day. With a level 1 there are several long stretches of opportunity while the kids are in the basement and getting along.  There are some interruptions to make everyone lunch, breaking up a few fights, and enforcing some structure like reading or cleaning up time, but otherwise manageable.

Level 2 is a different story. Even though I’m officially WFH, the W part is done in quick 5 minute bursts amidst constant interruptions and a noise distraction level as if I were working in the middle of kids birthday party after the cake was served.

At some point they will want to go outside in the snow, which is a reasonably quiet stretch I look forward to. But it comes at a price. That price is the aftermath of snow boots and soaking wet gloves and jackets tracked all over the house, and the inevitable fighting and crying when they eventually come in because someone got hit by a snowball or had snow dumped down their back and now they are tired and want food and hot chocolate right now.  

All of that usually happens precisely when I start a conference call. So, yes, even though I am officially “working” from home today, I do not expect to get anything done.

Day 17 – And Counting

Today marks 17 days I’ve been home with the Things. Holidays + Winter Break + Vacation + Sinus Infection + 3 Snow Days = 17 days.

Sure, it’s nice to not go to work. But when kids are out of school for that long, it gets loud and SuburbanDaddy blows his top. It doesn’t help when the majority of those days are with a sinus infection (mine). Work doesn’t seem like a bad alternative right now.

We’ve also had 3 snow days already. Only one of which I can explain. Seriously, when it is 43 degrees and dry out kids can go to school. When I was a kid, I remember school buses with chains on the tires so we could drive in the snow. And if the buses couldn’t make it we walked barefoot.

Here’s a video of Thing 3 learning about one of the cancellations. He actually thinks he caused it to happen by putting ice in the toilet. Hey, it’s only weird if it doesn’t work.

Tonight we are expecting a “polar vortex” with sub zero temperatures and high winds. Can you say Day 18?


Remember the movie Multiplicity? Starring Michael Keaton, it’s about a guy who clones himself so he can manage all the demands on his time. Go watch it this weekend.

People sometimes ask what it is like having 4 kids. I addressed it before in this post. But that was based on having very young kids. Now, there is another dynamic emerging:

How to be in two, sometimes three, places at the same time.

This week kicks off the spring sports season. Which means we are juggling practices, games, birthday parties, and other activities on a daily basis.

Yesterday we had baseball practice, Tae Kwon Do belt testing, after school and pickup at daycare. Saturday there are 2 baseball practices, belt ceremony, flag football, and a birthday party. And those are just the ones we said yes to.

As crazy as our daily schedules have become, it’s actually not as hard as when they were babies and all demanding our time at the same time with a lot of crying.

Now it’s more about logistics and how to organize and get everyone where they need to be, and still manage to get the important things done. Like having enough food to eat (4 kids eat a LOT). And having clean clothes for everyone to wear (taking a pair of pants from the bottom of the hamper now and then won’t kill you, I promise).

The biggest problem now is being in multiple places at the same time. I need a couple of clones. At least until Thing 1 and 2 are old enough to drive themselves and their siblings.

3 Things I Have Mastered

After 9 years and 4 kids, I have learned many essential skills. But there are three which really stand out where I consider myself to be an expert.

1. Changing diapers. Did you read my last post? 30,000 diapers. Enough said.

2. Installing car seats. We used to take the seats to the fire station to have them installed by trained professionals. After watching them do it many to times, car seat installation is something I have mastered myself.

3. Using a plunger. Yes, it isn’t pretty but with 4 kids it has become a necessary skill.

Laundry: The Great Unsolved Mystery

With a family of six, I would expect there to be a lot of laundry. But there seems to be some other factor at work which is increasing the amount of dirty laundry in our house.

Let’s see. Six people. Seven days in a week. Reasonably, you might assume one load per week per person would be plenty. Probably not even that much because we make sure to have enough clothes and underwear for everyone to easily go two weeks.

We do way more than 6 loads of laundry a week. In fact, there is always at least one load in progress at all times.

We already have the largest capacity washer and dryer available. So that can’t be the problem.

I believe I have discovered a force in nature that I’ll call the laundry multiplier principle. The amount of laundry goes up exponentially for each pair of people.

Going from one person to two doubles the amount of laundry.

Going from two to four people quadruples.

And going from four to six people results in a mountain of laundry that can never be finished.


This Is A Big Change

It only just started the last week or so. At first, I thought it was a fluke. A one or two time aberration. But now it’s happened at least three times. Three is a trend, right? It’s been so long, nine years, that I had to remember how to do it.

This week, I’ve had to set an alarm to wake up on time. Shocking, I know.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like we’re all sleeping in until 10am or even 7am. The alarm is set for 6 o’clock. But for the first time in a very long time, everyone in the house can sleep past 6am. At the same time.

By 6:30 or 7:00, we’re still a cyclone of activity. But I’m getting used to this new sleep until 6 am reality. And hoping it lasts.

My Kids Make Me Look Bad

People view kids as a reflection of their parents. And those people are judging us by the behaviors of our kids. Even if it isn’t our fault.

Today I picked up Thing 3 from kindergarten. As usual, he was deeply involved in an activity and not ready to leave. I told him to finish up his game and we’re leaving in 2 minutes.

Thing 3: “Daddy, you are annoying me. You’re giving me a headache.”

He said this in front of teachers and other parents. They all smiled uncomfortably. Of course, they were all thinking he was repeating what he hears us say to him.

I can assure you I’ve never said anything like that.

Sure, I may have thought it.

It very well may have been true on many occasions.

But I’ve never said it. And now his teachers and other parents think I did. This is why I get nervous whenever Thing 3 opens his mouth.

Victory At Last

It should never have taken this long. I blame myself, really. There were some early missteps, perhaps, but that’s still no excuse.

Until last week, both Thing 1 and Thing 2, ages 8 and 7, could not ride a bike. A couple years ago we had bikes with training wheels, and took them off to try to learn. But they had some falls, got frustrated, and developed an aversion to anything having to do with riding a bike. This was around the time Thing 4 was born, and Thing 3 was a handful and a half, so it was hard to find the time to teach them.

Finally we had to lay down an ultimatum. It was as much an ultimatum for me than for them. I told them kids their age should know how to ride a bike. It’s like swimming, reading, and tying your shoes.

But I was also thinking, dads with kids of a certain age should have already taught them how to ride a bike. Mission accomplished. Two more to go.