I’m only taking a laptop

I am running away from home. I do not know where I am going, or when I will be back, but the combination of Joe out of town for a week, the children all in the house and the work deadlines have finally taken their toll. I am getting on my bike and riding to somewhere where I can plug in a laptop and NOT BE SPOKEN TO. This may be Aruba. Someone should totally stop by and feed my cat. I am not taking her either.


There is every chance that I will not come back until my daughters are all old enough to make a connection between interrupting my work and all of us going TO LIVE IN A BOX.

This is a struggle I go through every summer, when all of these people come and try to live in my office, aka, our house, and I know that this year it is compounded by the fact that Joe suddenly found himself “pursuing other opportunities” in September and has been around the house a whole lot more than ever. In addition, even though all the girls have summer jobs and Joe is freelancing, they appear to have finally perfected the ability to tag team me, so that just as someone is going out the door, someone else is arriving so that they have complete coverage.

Sometimes I read about “sleep deficits”, where people are chronically exhausted because night after night they fall short of their sleep needs, and I feel like that’s what’s happening here…not with sleep, but with alone time -the time that I use to reflect so that writing is possible and I can be at all sane. I know that parents everywhere are reading this and thinking “Holy cow lady, I haven’t been alone in seven years, that’s just what it takes to be a parent”…and I really agree with them. I think that it’s the added pressure of being a parent and working from home that’s got me. It means that I can’t really just take off everyday and go work at the library or something, because I am also a parent, and that means that I have to be dialled into what my kids are doing. (I happen to believe that teenagers need more supervision than 10 year olds. The stakes are higher.) If I just had to parent, or just had to work from home it would be fine. (Well. Mostly. Neither of those things is particularly easy, especially the parenting.)

A friend suggested this morning that I stop trying to tell these people my children “If you don’t go for a walk and let me think for ten minutes we will all starve to death because I pay the bills”, because they don’t believe me. They don’t believe me because it’s a lie. They all know that somehow I will pull it together and everything will be all right because I am the mother and I love them and would never let them starve.

She suggested that instead I relate it to what’s in in for them….Like saying “If you all leave me alone for “x” amount of time each day, then you will have a happier life, since you won’t have to live with a shrill, crazy harpy-lady who keeps yelling, crying and adding up the cost of the avocados you just ate.”

I think she’s right. I think she’s brilliant actually, and I’m going to try it, and any other suggestions you’ve got….because there have got to be parents out there who work from home, or maybe even parents out there who have creative jobs that take a lot of alone time to pull off, and some of you have to be making it work…right? I’ll try anything.

The minute I get back from Aruba.

411 thoughts on “I’m only taking a laptop

  1. We have a very nice treehouse you could use…and it’s closer than Aruba.

  2. Why don’t more parents think that teenagers need more supervision than 10 year olds?!?!? Kudos to you. Sorry you can’t get work done though πŸ™

  3. From the mother of a 14 year old daughter and 16 year old son who are both home for the summer and leave a never-ending trail of crumbs, dirty dishes and dirty laundry and unbelievable amounts of NOISE, I am besides myself as well and cannot believe that it is not even August yet.
    In other words, I hear you. I’ll hang in there if you hang in there, okay?? (If you do leave home, though, I’m coming with you)

  4. I absolutely agree with you that the body and mind feels a deficit of alone time. I love my husband, I love my friends, but sometimes I just need to be alone with my books, my knitting, and my iPod. Hmm. Like this afternoon, maybe.

  5. I so hear you. I’m a single mom of a kid with learning issues/health issues, his dad (my ex) is a total a**hole, and I work from home. The last year destroyed my social life. People can’t understand why I can’t just come to knitting social things – I’d LOVE to, but the kid is generally not welcome and we’re a unit at this point. I have to shoo him away enough just to work. I’m sorry, I have no suggestions.
    Have fun in Aruba. I do hope they feed the kitty. πŸ™‚

  6. Working from home is great in so many ways, but it means you never really leave work… so get out of there! If what they tell me about genetics is even remotely true, your girls are smart cookies. They’ll be okay.
    Good luck with the writing!

  7. Enjoy Aruba – but you won’t find solace in the plane πŸ™‚ …or the tourist! I often fantasize about just walking out the door and just keep on going … or changing the locks, turning out the lights and phone once they all leave… I know the knocking on the door will eventually end… Stephanie we all have been there! I think it is harder for those who work at home, because there is no where to escape. At least when you leave a building you can leave your worker ‘crazy’ at the office and home ‘crazy’ at home.

  8. Padlocks. Now you can go about this one of two ways. Install the padlock on the inside of the room you’re working in to lock them out. The other method is a bit more pricey, but might be better. You install locks on the outsides of their doors. Granted, okay, sometimes, this can be construed as unlawful imprisonment, but really, you’re just helping them focus on some other activity such as reading or sleeping or something that involves quiet. πŸ™‚ Or just lock them all out of the house.
    All else fails, go find a nice coffee shop and sit for a few hours. πŸ™‚ Good luck!

  9. Stephanie, I can totally relate to what you are experiencing!! My husband has been out of work for the last eight months and I am a teacher so I am home during the summer months. My son is also at home during the summer months and invites all his friends over to our house! I need my alone time, also!! What I really need is a testosterone break!

  10. Is that computer in a room with a door? I suggest expanding your friend’s suggestion: taping a sign to that door saying: “The next person not bleeding to death who interrupts me will vacuum the house tonight.” In fact, print out a bunch of these (vacuuming, washing the dishes, doing the laundry, sweeping the walk, etc.). It MIGHT at least slow ’em down.

  11. In our house, if it gets that bad, the phrase is “if you don’t get outside or in another room and quiet down, I’m NOT going to be happy and neither are you…” And my boys are 4 and 7, but they’ve learned quickly. Good luck.

  12. I’d loan you my ears if I could! You wouldn’t be alone but you wouldn’t hear their screeching, which is close enough for government business.
    Enjoy Aruba! πŸ˜‰

  13. My two teenagers and my husband all work 12 hour days. After years of children at home during the summer I am finally alone all day. Its lonely here!
    I am all for hiding, listen to CBC radio and as soon as they enter the room give them a job. Dishwasher needs empying, laundy to fold, toilet to clean that sort of stuff… they will get it soon enough.
    But enjoy the chaos, it doesn’t last long.

  14. Everytime they approach you reward them with a task, they will soon catch on that to approach you means work and will intinctively leave you alone as teens and work don’t mix.
    I think it is called negative reinforcement, however I wil warn you that some not so centered individuals get off on negative reninforcement, twisted minds!!!

  15. I feel your pain. Mother of 2 teens, dog, birds, hubby (whose business is based out of the house) frequented by continual interruptions from 2 stepsons, brother, mother with failing health etc etc… while going to college full time at home… how do I do it?
    I cry alot.

  16. Be sure to send me a postcard. ;o)
    My DH has an office in the basement–and even with that level of separation, (the office is soundproofed, and there’s unfinished basement between us and him), the kids and I are still living at work.
    I know how frustrated I can get just when I’m trying to type an email and my four (7 & under) tag team me. I’m only going for a few paragraphs . . .
    Go to a big public college campus library, Steph. Ultimate quiet, muffled by thousands upon thousands of books. Free internet. Library workers who patrol for noisemakers. And the best part? Those libraries are so freakin’ huge that it would take your kids at least a half hour to find you. ;o) And TGA has at least a few college campuses, right? The library at my University had five levels and something like 50 football fields of floor space. And that was before the expansion.
    I guess since my kids are home all the time, I’m desensitized . . . and why, when I miss my UFO night at my LYS, I get very, very cranky. Best of luck!

  17. I highly recommend locking yourself in a room and telling them that the next person who interrupts you in ANY way is going to be forced to sit in there with you in complete silence for the rest of the day.
    Works for my partners and I when I’m writing.

  18. I like the idea of giving them a chore every time they interrupt . . .
    Good luck in Aruba, and have lots of hugs.
    Take care.

  19. I tried to think back to when I was working on my doctorate (started when my youngest (of 4) was 12, oldest was 21)and hoping I could find some brilliant suggestions from my tried-and-true bag of tricks. But you know, I honestly think I just gave up in the summers, mainly abandoned my work rather than face the constant frustration. Not an option for you, obviously. Before that, I worked at home, but my work was built around the school schedule so I could just surrender to the summer thing. Even then, I remember more than once “running away from home” as well — once I took the ferry to Vanc’r (from Vanc’r Island) and back again. So I’m no help at all except to say that the four of them are all very agreeable and interesting adults living on their own now and at 54, I’ve got a few productive years ahead. You seem also to have had yours at a relatively early age so if you can hang on to your sanity a bit longer . . .
    as for the ten-year olds vs. teens, an older friend told me when mine were really little, “Little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems.” At the time I couldn’t imagine bigger problems than the sleepless nights — until I hit those other sleepless nights!

  20. Camp! I spent about 4 weeks in a creative endeavour that left me exhausted and almost brain dead. I knew I needed a break and last Friday did some quick research, found a camp for each of the girls and sent them away for a week. Tomorrow it will all end a 3:00pm but I have had a lovely time being all alone during the day and with Hubby at night.
    wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

  21. I could have written your blog today. Those are my sentiments exactly as I try to use my glass torch and care for my kids (and the others who always seem to come here.) I will pack up my torch and head to an island different from yours. I mean, I’d love to be with you in Aruba, but I just need to be alone right now…

  22. I totally agree with you about the supervision of teens. In fact, our plan is for me to be home when he hits grade 7 or 8. Right now, he’s got a great sitter and camp, so he’s looked after. When he’s a teen is when I need to be around more. As it is, my evenings are full of his stuff. I love it, but every now and then I’d like to be able to go out without dragging him away from whatever he’s doing.

  23. My idea: Office hours. Shut the door, tape a sign to it and then list the office hours, meaning no one enters during the office hours. This may not work but it could buy you two hours of work time. The next trick would be making the work conform to the two hours.
    Or hypnotize them. There’s always that.

  24. Perhaps instead of cajoling the people, you should cajole the squirrel. If you make nice with him, he might take you to visit “his” stash, and you know there must be room for a human in his tree if he’s taken that much wool. And it would be very soft and cushy. Install wi-fi and you’d be set.

  25. I feel your pain, I find if they’re involved in creative outlets it helps (mine have songs that need practicing & Broadway show tunes seem to be something I can tune out), I also get out of the house to do my thinking, thank goodness they’re all old enough to be home alone for a bit. I’m pretty good except for rainy days (few this year) when I’ve contemplated hiding in the shed.

  26. Before you run away, let me remind you that they will grow up and move away and you will miss them. My son is 34 and I get to see him once a week now that he has joined my martial arts school. For several years, I’d be lucky to see him once every 3 months and he only lives 8 miles away.

  27. I am so with you. Summer = no alone time = Lauren’s crazier than usual and that’s saying something. I do think we have finally come to a bit of a detente. When I start turning into Super Grump, they get this weird where’s-the-closest-sanitarium look on their faces which cues me to tell them I need some alone time. I then shut myself in my room and knit/write/drink heavily. I think it’s working, hiccup.

  28. My 4 year old son and 2 year old daughter don’t recieve preschool durring the summer either. I cant even go to the bathroom by myself! πŸ™‚
    How do I cope? –> 1) PBS morning kid programs 2) I send them to their room after lunch for quiet “play time” 3) Dad gets a turn when he comes home from work.
    Knitting usually occurs between the hours of 10pm and 1am.

  29. My kids are currently floating around me too, so I don’t have suggestions. I did want to say that it’s odd that both you and Dooce are hightailing it out of the homes you work in to get some work done.

  30. I bought a kayak. Float float float. No phones no kids no employees no spouse no mail no phones (yep-a repeat). Not any thought required, really. Nice – very nice. I recommend it to any mother or father. Find quiet water that your family can’t yell across, take chocolate, and feel free to babble to yourself or just BE. This is a vacation from reality without having to go to the airport. Other than two whopper sized Margaritas, nothing works as well for me. Best of luck!!

  31. Perhaps you can work a compromise on your television policy and allow them to watch a long movie as long as they don’t bother you while it is on. They can have two hours of entertainment and you can have two hours of work and then you can all have lunch and a bike ride.

  32. Sudden flashback to how indignant my preschoolers sometimes used to get when I locked the bathroom door to have time in there to myself…

  33. I also work from home full-time and I have 2 grade-school age daughters. Your post is very timely for me. I was just thinking this morning how sad it is that I now dread summer and can’t wait for it to be over (this while I was looking in my calendar to see exactly how many days until August 22!) We’ve tried a string of summer programs and my daughters hate them all. As a result, I let them spend way too much time at home with me. Like you, I have a hard time relaxing into my work when there are people around. I’ve tried to set ground rules with my kids (like “do not disturb” when the office door is closed), I always make a point to thank them when they are quiet for a whole conference call, and I try to take breaks to play a quick game of Sorry or read a book with them. Day-to-day is sooo hard, but it would be worse to have to go to an office everyday and leave the girls with a full-time babysitter (or in your case, not know what they’re up to!) I try to keep telling myself that I am incredibly fortunate that my employer is flexible. Thanks for your post — it’s so helpful to know that I’m not the only one with summer problems!

  34. As an attorney who has had a residential office now for 15 years, I have given seminars at the regional Bar Association on ways to combine lawyering and parenting, especially when working from a home office. Do I have all the answers? No! But ever since the day I got interrupted by “Mom, the sheepdog threw up” for the fourth summer day in a row, I have had a strict closed door policy that my kids quickly learned to respect. I walk in the house every two hours or so (your mileage may vary)and check up on my teenage son and the dogs, and they know that’s the time to ask me for anything anyone needs. Other than that, there had better be a life-altering reason to interrupt me!

  35. I work from home, part time, and I homeschool too, so I think my brain has melted. Anyway, I send the kids to “quiet time” each afternoon for 1.5 hrs, they read, draw, listen to music quietly, anything but talk to me for those 1.5 hours ;).
    Granted, my oldest is 10, but it has been my saving grace for sure.

  36. My mother had 5 children in 8 years. One year, due to overcrowding and double shifts in the Niagara Falls schools, she had 5 children on 5 different school schedules: half day kindergarten, half-day early, half-day late, regularelementary, and high school. She said she gave up on houseweork and spent the whole day playing scrabble with whichever children were home (we tag-teamed, too) and making chocolate pudding. She always insisted that the year-long scrabble game was the reason we all had wonderful vocabularies and did so well on our SAT exams! But if she had had to work from home, it would havebeen really rough!

  37. Snag a lock on your office door, and get one of those headphones that block out all sound (save for your music of course) and then you won’t be able to hear anything!
    You could force your kids into summer camp. While I went willingly while a teen, my friend didn’t. She went every year though and it was a learning experience that she’s now grateful for (just don’t tell her mom that).

  38. Charge them for your time if the interruption is not related to something life threatening – post working hours on your office door and advise them that your time is worth money and interruptions will therefore need to be covered off by them. Allowance deduction and less money for school clothes might work.

  39. I agree with the office hours idea, no visitors, only emergencies that involve bodily harm or fire.

  40. What about changing your hours, could you possibly go to bed earlier and get up early, I don;t know many teens that are up at 5 a.m. so maybe you could say get 4 hours in before they even get up…then if you went to bed at 10 or so you;d still get a good sleep,or ll -6 or something like that…plan that while they sleep you get your time

  41. I agree with the idea of “office hours”. I set aside time every day (even if it’s only 10-15 minutes) and during that time no one is allowed to bother me in any way. Not for anything – not for food, clean clothes, or anything short of the house being on fire. Even the cats are banished from the area. Just explain it without any sugar coating that you need this time to do your work, and that it is not negotiable. I’ve had to enforce it harshly once or twice before it stuck but now all I have to do is grab my laptop and make it clear it’s time to leave me alone.

  42. I believe that teenagers need more supervision that younger kids (my kids are 20, 17, 9 and 6), that said, I’ve told my older two that they are old enough to entertain themselves so that I can get something done. They’ve also been told (numerous times) that they are perfectly capable of doing dishes, loading the dishwasher and picking up after themselves.
    Good luck and save me a spot on the beach!

  43. Get an Amazonian dart gun and some horse tranquilizers, and stalk them around the house for a few hours, raving and muttering about anything you like. Perhaps the contact embarrassment will drive them out of the house for a few hours. I mean, what if their friends dropped by and saw you??

  44. Yes, definitely, post office hours. No interruptions allowed except emergencies of the type that require dialling 911 (or whatever emergency service you may have in Canada). They’re all old enough now that they can solve most of their own problems. I also suggest you make the house a no screeching zone during your office hours. They are teenage girls, you know. Good luck!

  45. My husband works from home and I’m a teacher so I’m home for the summer. Suddenly my life has gone from mach 3 with my hair on fire to dead stop. My brain has gone to mush and the most important thing I do in a day is … laundry. When I win the lottery I’m going to buy a condo and NOT TELL the children where it is!

  46. Well, if you don’t want to travel as far as Aruba, I can offer you accomdations in suburban Philadelphia: (a) my youngest is at overnight camp for another 16 days, (b) my eldest is immersed in football camp, so is either not home or asleep (except when he’s raiding the fridge for animal proteins), (c) my husband and I are out of the house at work for 9 or more hours a day, (d) the cat is hiding from the dog, (e) the dog is crate trained, so can be ignored, (f) we have central air and a pool, (g) wireless internet can be accessed anywhere in the house or out on the patio by the pool, (h) there are 4 spinning wheels, including a Norm Hall, (i) there are stashes for knitting, spinning and weaving, (j) coffee is not in short supply, (k) I won’t ask you to do laundry and (l) you would have your own bath room.
    Let me know if we should expect you and I’ll make the bed.

  47. Just remember in a few short years, you will be missing the kids because they no longer will be living there.

  48. Try reminding them that you are a knitter and have sharp pointy sticks close by and know how to use them. I personally recommend a purple metal 10 1/2, in a 14″. Also makes a great back scratcher.

  49. Well, isn’t there some sort of parenting advice about fussy babies, and how you can rub a cotton ball soaked in a bit of bourbon on their gums and it calms them right down? (I didn’t say it was necessarily advisable parenting, just parenting.) How can you apply that to teenagers? Hit ’em over the head with the bottle?
    (Don’t you all look at me like that – surely anyone with teenagers has thought about it. I saw that wild look in my mother’s eyes occasionally, and I know she wasn’t thinking about giving me a big hug.)

  50. I still have a 10 year old. And she’s gone to play at a friend’s house. And I’m reading blogs instead of working. I don’t seem to have the answer.

  51. Kid, I got nothin’.
    I remember telling a friend that my fantasy at that stage was all of my family safely away at something they enjoyed while condo-sat for some mythical friends downtown. I had no idea why she was breaking up until she said “That’s your idea of a fantasy?”
    Guess how many kids she had?

  52. Get thee and your computer to a coffee shop, library or any other location what has free WiFi. In the US the chain, Panera has free WiFi, cheap coffee and will let you sit there forever (Starbucks is another option and a number of bookstores especially in university towns have it available). Go there when Joe is home and able to keep an eagle eye out for the teens in the house. The other option is to demand that everyone in the household coordinate their schedules to give you some time home alone each day. Good luck!

  53. Wait…….by “only taking a laptop” does that mean you’re leaving the knitting?? That doesn’t compute.

  54. Oh oh, I am sending so much empathy from deepest darkest Texas. I eased out of my stay-at-home mother period into a wonderful work-at-home mother period, where for over 11 years I did Internet stuff for a sweet li’l mother and baby nonprofit. Those were my sons’ preschool through middle school years, and I can so remember trying to explain that every so often I simply HAD to concentrate. Of course I looked like the same mom who was “just reading email” to them, so it was hard to tell. They kept a-blabbing, crabbing and pestering each other.
    I’m also an introvert, which makes the constant companionship a real issue at times. Without that alone and recharging time, I’m unpleasant.
    Like many of the other commenters, my at-home years were rudely interrupted by a combination of things. The Spouse with High Income left for another part of the country, so I had to beg for more pay. And then, a couple of years later, the organization began losing money like crazy, and most of the paid employees were cut. I had no choice but to find work outside the home, which was not my goal.
    Why? Because I agree that teens NEED you. So, I spend a bit of time on the phone with them during the summers when they are not galavanting to foreign countries and spending time at their dad’s vacation home (I just have one home, and as a contractor, no vacation!).
    On one hand, it’s deadly silent here in technical writing land. Good for those who need alone time. I now run home and start yacking away at the poor kids because I’ve been so lonely in my cubicle!
    Just goes to show you, very few of us have the perfect set up. However, we all have a right to grumble and complain among friends and like-minded others. It’s hard to be a parent. It’s hard to earn a living, even doing things we love, and it’s hard to get things JUUUUST right.
    So vent away, you’re lucky you have thousands of sympathetic eyes to read and send good thoughts! You give your readers a lot, and they will give goodness right back!

  55. Stephanie, I’m so sorry you are not getting your alone time. As someone who was an only child I cherish my alone time as an adult.
    Your welcome here, I have two extra rooms, no kids and the dogs are pretty quiet and lazy.
    We are within biking distances of all necessary conveniences, such as the grocery store, the library, the dollar store and a department store (should you need extra shorts)
    Hang in there!

  56. Some great suggestions up there. My musician husband deals with the summer whinefest by … umm, leaving. Sound familiar? Always something to do down at the studio!
    My thoughts were, even before reading:
    *Room with a latch on the inside
    *Sign on the door with hours you are not to be disturbed unless someone has lost a limb (in all fairness, you do have to come out sometime then and deal with the ‘crises’, during non-office hours)
    *Reward inappropriate interruptions appropriately (if they’re spending your time, you get to spend their time — bathrooms in a house with three girls always need cleaning!)
    My Preteen’s ‘crises’ usually involve the imperative need to be doing something with a friend or get on the computer. My 9-year-old, who is more sensitive, still is very much wanting to tell Mom something or get help with things.
    In the course of Mystery Stole 3, I have taught the younger one, at least, the following critical precept:
    “When Mom is knitting lace, you HAVE to wait till the end of the row to interrupt or tell me something.”
    She’s got it! Good girl! Now if her older sister could just get it in her head….

  57. Oh my Stephanie – can I come with you? At this point in the summer, my kids are bored, bored, bored – they’re tired of camps, they’re tired of everything. Only about a month til school starts!
    Barbara in NH

  58. Personnally I would be heading to Kim’s in Philly… it has to beat having a toy chainsaw run in your ear as you are posting to this blog.

  59. I think a few of us would like to come with you. I am in a 3YO induced sleep deficit… crack of dawn waking this week. Ugh. When is the winter solstice?

  60. Oh, I know what you mean! I have this bank of alone time, and if the balance gets too low… My poor kids are used to me looking at them with a crazy gleam in my eye and my hair sticking up, saying “Is anyone on fire? Is everyone breathing? Then don’t interRUPT!!” They think it’s funny (I hear them saying to their friends, “Mama’s grading; we have to leave her alone” — to them everything I do is grading), but I can’t imagine what their friends report to their parents. And mine are only 9 and 6! The teenage years are going to be so. much. harder.
    Aruba sounds good. Go for it — we’ll get the cat.

  61. Stephanie –
    I work from home too and summer is always rough.
    My kids are 15, 11, and 8.
    I give them the “no food if I don’t work” lecture too and they also tend to not take it too seriously. This year I sat them down at the beginning and spelled it out. No clothes, no dance lessons, no violin lessons, no movies, no parks, no swimming, no friends, no fun stuff if Mom does not get here work done. Last summer, I even conducted a Mom strike against my whole family. It really worked. I think when they figured out that Mom was going to lose it big time, they knew I meant business. I had my “Mom’s moving to a tent in the backyard with a six-pack”
    So now I set timelines for the day. If you let me work from this time to that time, we will take an hour for the fun stuff, etc. When my husband gets home each day, all parent inquiries and nagging get referred to the Father Customer Service Desk.
    Mom is off the clock.
    This summer has been great. I’m actually sad to see the back to school ads on TV. Amazing!
    Good luck!

  62. All I have to add to the excellent suggestion about locking the door after leaving instructions not to knock unless the house is burning down and they’ve already called the fire department, is good earplugs or noise-canceling earphones (such as those by Bose). I haven’t tried the ‘phones, but earplugs block out most of the noise, so you can ignore knocks but would be able to hear them yelling Fire!
    I really understand about the alone time, even if you’re not trying to work. When my older child was in morning kindergarten and my colicky newborn cried from noon till midnight and then woke up at two-hour intervals to nurse, I resorted to getting up at 6:00 a.m. so I could have an hour with the newspaper and a cup of tea before I had to get the 5-year-old off to kindergarten. I needed time awake and ALONE more than I needed sleep.
    But it’s also true that they’ll soon be gone and you’ll miss them. Good wishes to all of you as you keep striving for the right balance.

  63. Get a lock for your office door. And very loud fan. And drug the children…
    Actually, if you figure something out, let me know.

  64. How about a house swap, I’ll come supervise the girls, (I have credentials, two girls of my own) and you can be here in Washington. Where the weather is cool and lovely, the spare room with DSL is all yours and I’ll leave the man who can cook to bring you a tray every now and then. Just say the word.

  65. My kids are 5 and 8 and I tell them I need a time out. Since your kids are older, I’d tell them that you are grounded!
    Good luck!

  66. I agree with wcedar. When my three were teenagers, I was working fulltime and also going to university. I found what worked for me was to go to bed at 9 pm for 3 hours (with earplugs if necessary). Their dad spent the evening with them and when they all went to bed I would get up and do my studying/writing from midnight to 3 a.m., and go back to bed for another 3 hours. It was blissful – no noise, no kids, no phone. Good luck. This too shall pass.

  67. Bill Cosby routine – his mother used to say:
    I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.
    You don’t drink coffee. Too bad – we’ve got an independent coffee shop near us with good wi-fi. You could have tea. Ohio is quite a distance to go for this, though it would be nice to meet you. Look around. Especially in the middle of the day or late evening when they aren’t busy, they’d love to have you. And they’ll refill the cup with water when you’ve OD’d on tea. (Someplace that serves beer will not serve you well…..)

  68. stephanie,
    get a blackberry! i have had one for 1 1/2 years and now can’t live w/o it. you can e-mail. blog, get programs for word and excel, IM, google, get mapquest, get programs which allow you to say “donuts in aruba” and the answer will come back in a few minutes of ALL of the donut shops in aruba with the addresses and phone numbers. etc. etc. i hardly ever take a laptop anywhere. and it is so much easier to carry on a bicycle. mine is the Blackberry 7250.

  69. Hmm if you really really go crasy come on down here to Ohio.. I have a nice spare room that is nice and quiet, airconditioned, and has a closet full of yarn.. and you can sit in the recliner with your laptop and work.. (er after I throw my husband out of it)
    I think that it even comes with nominal room service..

  70. Oh my. Do I ever relate to this one, Stephanie! I have four sons, now grown and gone to their own homes. But five years ago, the other “boy”, the biggest oldest one, came home, on our anniversary yet, to tell me his job had been eliminated. So guess who’s home all day “working”? He has a business from home now. And I am so starved for alone time I can’t even describe it. He loves me. He wants to go places and do stuff. All the time. The minute I get out of the shower he wants to know when I’ll be ready. And all I crave is time to make my own choices and to do my “stuff” and not be cleaning crumbs every time I walk into the kitchen. Yeah. I do say no sometimes…. I could volunteer someplace, which has been suggested, but, like you, it’s at home I need to be. My sewing machine and quilting frame and yarn and all are here. Maybe I should put a lock on his office door? Let him out for breaks, lunch, and at five-thirty? I think you need office hours for sure, and all the suggestions for giving the girls jobs to do if they can’t understand that fact are valid. I hate the word “bored”, as in, “Mom. I’m bored!” usually said with a whine. My boys learned that there’s never a reason to be bored. There are always things Mum can find for them to do! Good luck and if you want to, ride your bike back down Niagara way. Remember how lovely it is here? You could work in my little room. I’m sure the hubby wouldn’t bother you. Long as I am around….. samm who actually loves the guy, but (24/7/365) x 5? (not that I’m counting)

  71. Its called a velcro room. You know at fairs where they have those giant velcro walls and you put on this suit and run and jump and stick to the wall? Sorta the same idea except its an entire room with extra strong velcro. You put them in the suits, stick them safely on the wall, close the door, do your work and everyone stays safe and sane. πŸ™‚

  72. My kids are still only 3, so I’m totally talking out my butt here, but perhaps if you shut the door to your office and posted “hours” of when you absolutely /could not/ be uninterrupted? And, along with that, a list of responses to the most common questions:
    1. No, I do not know where your (garment/hair dohickey/purse/keys/ID) is. Where were you when you had it last? Start looking there.
    2. Yes, you may go out with your friend(s), but first fill out Going Out Form 1-A, being sure to fill out the sections on where you will be going, who you are going with, your form of transportation, and when you will be home.
    2a. No, you cannot stay out past curfew.
    3. Is someone bleeding? Is the house on fire? Is the bag of sawdust in the yard on fire? If the answer to all of these is no, then no, you cannot come and talk to me for “just one minute.” I will be taking a break on the hour, for 15 minutes. Anything else you need can be addressed then.

  73. Sorry, Steph, but there is no solution to your dilemna, no fix, no words of wisdom. You’re on the right track, you just have to get through it (without losing your sanity). I am heartened to hear you say teenagers need more supervision than 10 year olds. This is so true. My kids are now 28 and 24 and have moved out of the house. I see them on social occasions. David and I have our house back. We can read, knit, play music, meditate, all whenever we want to. I love it, and I am profoundly grateful for the peace and solitude I get every day. You just have to work through these teen years. There is nothing for it but to supervise them and let those kids age. Just like they eventually got out of diapers, they will mature. They will. Really. Eventually. MaryB

  74. Go on strike. Take a pot and plant a sign in it saying “Mother on Strike: Every disruption of work will lead to 1 more day (or half day, or hour…) of strike.” that you can place in an strategic place (or make several…) And then you do nothing else in the house then work, knit or spin. No cooking (apart for yourself, of course), no dishes, no laundry, no cleaning… nothing! And when they finally get the drift, you make them all clean the whole house while you do nothing else than sit somewhere central, drink coffee, knit and look at them. You have to be prepared to live in a very dirty house with really angry teenagers for a while, however.
    My mother did that once when my brother and I were teenagers. She was working outside the house but was also attending school a night a week and had to study the other evenings. Her strike lasted two weeks. The house was so disguisting that it took my brother and I three full days to clean it. We never disrupted her in her studies again. Well, not as much anyway.
    Have fun in Aruba!

  75. Anybody else remember a YA novel where the heroine’s mom got so fed up that she went up to the roof of their apartment building and refused to come down until people started behaving more constructively?
    I say go on strike for real: they’re old enough to handle themselves for a little while-at least long enough to realize that they’re better off with you around and in a good mood.

  76. Aw, i would so have you over to my place 9-5 if it would help. It’s just got me and tea and cupcakes and leftovers, and ALL of my procrastination devices (which are many). One would think that being alone and getting up early would translate to so much writing, isn’t that the way it’s supposed to work? i will try to remind myself that my house is not full of teenagers and be humbled into a work ethic… πŸ˜‰

  77. Fines-and they range in scale from minor to aggregious behavior. I have 2 boys, 7 and 9, and have to run a sheep ranch/do other work as well. The absolute hardest part of parenting is no alone time. When you find yourself getting up at 4 am to walk in the back pasture with just the dog, you know it’s bad. Anyway-fines have worked here when there is a complete disregard for rules. A house is run by rules, just like Canada, and, if you break them, monetary consequences result(and I would imagine money is a BIG deal to teenagers). My boys have had to pay me to clean their play area(that has never happened again:), for fighting after upteen warnings….
    Good luck-may I recommend pomegranate liqueur, soda and lime as a back-up.

  78. One time when we were in Florida on vacation, my husband was driving me crazy with what I call “The Disney Death March.” Up at dawn to catch the first theme park to open that day, there until closing, then on to another, finishing the day with firewrks at whatever park closed last. On our feet 18 hours a day, relentlessly. The next time, I put my foot down. No arguments– He was ordered to leave me physically alone for three hours, from 9 until noon, every day, so I could “work on my screenplay.” I actually did write a screenplay, though it never sold. More importantly, I didn’t go mad, kill my husband, or both.
    Nowadays, I go away for three days a month, all by myself. I spend three to six hours a day doing public education on marine mammals, and the rest of the time locked in my motel room knitting. Originally, I had intended to spend that time writing, but there’s this really cute yarn shop near the elephant seal rookery…

  79. Yep… Go visit Kim in Philly. If you don’t, I will. My husband just quit his job, without discussing it with me first. What was that all about? I’ll even walk the dog, Kim!

  80. I work at home and have three kids. Summers are trying and several times I have told my husband that I’m very, very close to being violent if they ALL don’t leave me alone that very second.
    I disappear in the evenings for runs or walks and blast the ipod. I also stay up until 2-3AM most nights working. Yep, I’m exhausted but I need solid blocks of time of uninterrupted quiet.
    I think your kiddos are old enough to be able to handle taking care of business for a few hours a day. Set a timer, tell them it’s called respect to abide by your wishes, and shut the door.
    Good luck!

  81. I remember feeling like you do when my 6 children
    were growing up….yes, for many years I wondered
    how I was ever going to raise them without begging
    a friend or neighbor to adopt them and then one day I found a great cartoon in the newspaper which
    became yellow with age after leaving on the refrigerator for so long. It was a cartoon of a
    mother standing on the side of the highway with her
    thumb out with a sign hung around her neck that
    simply said “Away”!

  82. It is absolutely NOT helpful to hear that someday you’ll miss your kids. That may be true, but it’s not helpful to hear it now. You deserve to vent without hearing platitudes.
    I’m with you, Stephanie. I work from home, my husband is retired, and even though my kids are mostly out of the house, there are days that feel like one long interruption. When those occur, I can’t concentrate and can’t recharge my energy. I’m an introvert, and being around people too much drains me, let alone prevents me from doing what I need to do.
    If you’ve got a friend who is out during the day and is willing to let you work at her/his place for a few hours when needed (maybe in exchange for a pair of socks!) that might be a solution. Maybe you could do half the day like that, then be home the other half. That way you’re keeping an eye on the teenagers, which I agree is essential. Good luck!

  83. I know exactly where you are coming from! I work from home and the best time for me to get things done, unfortunately, are the wee hours of the night. I stay up until 2 a.m. most times. Now I find myself, even when I am not working, staying up late just to have my “alone time”. I by no means “sleep in” in the morning either. It takes lots of CAFFEINE!

  84. Steph, I feel you pain. My husband and I work at home, together, and sometimes it’s difficult in the summer to explain to our nine-year-old son that sometimes mommy & daddy have to work instead of play, even though we’re all in the same room together. I’m counting the days until school starts again. Speaking of husbands around all the time, a friend’s mother told me about her husband after he retired and had nothing to do all day. She said, “I married him for better or for worse, but not for lunch”. Hey, I just had a thought, you could ALL go to the library, that way the librarian will keep everyone quiet while you work!

  85. I stopped reading comments at Kim’s offer of a place near Philadelphia — it sounds better than Aruba and cheaper! Go, Stephanie, go! Take a train though . . . the bike would take too long. (She forgot to mention beer, but I’m betting that can also be arranged.) If you don’t want to go, hey Kim, are you taking reservations from others?!
    I work from home at times, always have, and my kids learned young that interrupting me for something less than fresh blood or the equivalent resulted in the assignment of a chore. Multiple interruptions = multiple chores, and they get worse. Start with do the dishes or pick up your room and progress through dusting and meal preparation to “pick up the dog poop in the yard.” (I only had to get there once!) They taught their friends that they should not bother me, either, because I was not afraid to give them a choice between a chore and either leaving me alone or going home.

  86. Oh yeah, on your way to Aruba, can you make a pit stop in MA and take me with you?

  87. How about sending them all to the mall to go window shopping for school? (That includes Joe.) They ought to be able to do that for several days and you could get some kitty-loving-work-accomplished.
    Don’t forget your water bottle, canteen and rain slicker.

  88. I agree on the firmly enforced office hours, the household-task-as-reward-for-interrupting-you, and the periodic breaks just to check up on them and let them know you still like them. My 2Β’: keep a squirt gun handy. It works as negative reinforcement for cats, why not on teenagers?

  89. Steph:
    You had an office built and you forgot the lock on the door?
    Well you’re welcome to come here. It’s quiet, clean and we have a spare office and bedroom.
    (in Elora)

  90. Mary and Denise – I’m in Granville – 30 min. east of Columbus.
    Stephanie – the real answer is a door on the room and threats. Convert a largish closet for the summer if you have to. I have this picture of the door closed, with power and internet cables snaking under it.

  91. RUN, woman, RUN. You deserve the moments of quiet you so desperately need. They can eat grass and wear the same underwear for a week until they get a clue. They are old enough to know better. C:
    And order room service, lots and lots of room service – where someone else fixes it AND brings it to you AND best of all, cleans up after themselves.

  92. Poor Stephanie! My son is now 20 and living in another City with his father. Within two weeks of his moving out (not that I don’t love him or anything you understand) I took over his room and it became my craft room. Now when he comes to visit for a weekend here and there, he gets to sleep on the couch and he’s just as happy there in front of the t.v. where he can watch movies! My point is: Just remember, when the girls are bugging you to death, one day (believe me, this is sooner than you think) you will have TWO or THREE more rooms for your stash! And, if your daughters really love you, which I am sure they do, you will also be stashing at their houses! (except for Megan who would totally knit up all of your yarn!) πŸ™‚

  93. I’ve got a couple of cousins who work at those little Bose kiosks in the airport. They swear by those noise cancellation headphones. Perhaps those & a locked door might get you a moment of peace.

  94. Mary, Denise and Iris – I’m in Johnstown, Ohio right next to Granville. We should have a knitting get together!

  95. Not sure if this is helpful with teenagers, but–I figured out recently that while I’m an introvert, meaning that I need time alone to recharge (as you said you do), my boys are both extroverts, which means they are literally sucking their energy from me. They need talk, feedback, me, me, me. Part of this is their ages, of course (3 and 5) but part of it is truly them. I’ve taken to telling my older son, who can understand a bit better, when my energy is low and I need time to myself. I tell him my energy level is about near my ankles, and I need time to do whatever by myself so that I can get it back up to at least my waist. This is overly simplistic, yes, but I’m thinking–teenagers ought to understand this concept in actual grown-up terms. It’s not selfish–it’s just comes down to what we all need in order to co-exist happily in the same house. It’s completely fair for the Mama to have needs, too.

  96. For the summer rent a small (cheap) room somewhere, anywhere, and go to work. Once you are away and they don’t have free access to you they will realize to respect your time more. Worked for me and it only took one summer!

  97. The chores thing is good for interruptions (and anytime just on general principles), but I think it would be really good to schedule availability breaks. For example, post a sign that says you’re freely available for 10 minutes on the hour (9:00-9:10, 10:00-10:10, and so on) during your “work time.” Then *you* use those slots to stretch your legs, get coffee, move the wash (assuming the girls didn’t earn that chore), etc. You want to be available (in 0 to 50 minutes) but not too interrupt-able. You probably don’t need it, but a list of jobs to delegate could be useful. Heck, you could try giving chores to Joe, too!

  98. Actually, I like Bonaire way better than Aruba. Much more bicycle friendly and a lot fewer people. There is even a really great salt mine at the south end of the island where you can put your family to work so that they don’t hassle you.
    I recommend the Pina Coladas at the Blue Parrot.
    Heck, maybe I’ll buy the first round. Good luck!

  99. Oh, Steph. I do feel for you. I just remember how positively exhausted you looked and were when you were out here in Denver. You seemed so anxious to get home. So just remember that when you feel the way you do now.
    You need to tell your little darlings that they should pretend that you are away at work in an office somewhere and try to get by as though they were latch key kids. Shut your door (if you can) and make them leave you alone. OR ELSE!
    Now let me add something to what Daniele said. My babies are now 22 and 25 year old men. I miss the days when I had them running around the house, when I had to fix them all dinner, do their wash, etc. Cherish these moments because in 10 years you’ll wish they were back.

  100. I like Linda Millerick’s suggestion!
    I haven’t found anything that works except for telling the crew that I need to go out with my stuff so that I can focus for a bit. Doesn’t work that well, though, since I am worried about what is happening at home while I am not there to supervise. Vicious circle, really.

  101. Wow! It sounds like you are under a ton of pressure and stress. There are a lot of good suggestions in the other posts. Some of my friends-who-work-at-home-have-posse-of-kids block time by 1) locking themselves in a room and wearing sound blocking headsets 2) going to a library conference room for a few hours 3) in desperation – renting a hotel room for a weekend. Good luck and I hope you find a way to get some work in. It is so frustrating to spend hours “trying” to work and constantly being distracted and then the deadlines get closer. It makes wine attractive.
    But – true story. My husband is working from home this afternoon (office too noisy) and one of the neighborhood kid’s friends was walking around the neighborhood shooting a handgun – and killed a rabbit which died in our yard. Also – one of the neighborhood cats. The police came. Obviously someone is not supervising THAT teenager!!!

  102. I have been working from home for the last 14 years. I find summers and holiday times difficult because of the at-home kids situation. However, I have given in and enjoy relative peace because I let them watch TV. It was either that or my sanity. This year, my 19 year-old son came home from planting trees in Alberta. He was home 10 days and then left for South Korea to visit a girlfriend (I think). During these 10 days, I could have killed him at least a dozen times. And yesterday, I enjoyed cleaning up (yet again) his pigsty of a room (garbage bags in hand). The house is again relatively quiet. My 14 year old daughter is a lot more understanding of the fact I need quiet to work. She is leaving for camp on Sunday for 2 weeks. I have two weeks of total childless bliss. Yes, we love them dearly, but we need adult alone time too. No demands, no pressure, no meals to cook, no chauffeuring to do, no constant negociations as to the various demands put on us parents.
    A solution? Take on less work during the summer, that’s all I have been able to achieve, in order not to lose my mind. But Aruba sounds good…

  103. I just applied for a job which involves significant telecommuting. I told my husband that we have to clean out the attic for me to work in, because I KNOW that I can not work with all the distractions of the house. When I used to work from home occasionally, I found it much easier to actually work from the Starbucks. Thus I’m not tempted to work between loads of laundry, or after washing the dishes, or while the baby sleeps or after the kids are in bed… Work happens when work should be happening, and home happens when home should be happening.
    Maybe a lock on your office door? Ear plugs?

  104. I think you should take JUST the cat to Aruba. Make everyone else jealous and possibly better-behaved…

  105. Oh Stephanie, your friend is so right. I could really feel your frustration in your blog entry!Teenagers are very self-focused so pointing out what’s in it for them if they give you something in return — be that, peace and quiet to do your “homework”/work at home — should get you the desired result. I have to add that I’m not a parent, however, I do have a Masters degree in College Student Development, and put this to practice numerous times. Maybe you can think of an reward that they will particularly love in exchange for giving you the alone time you need.
    GOOD LUCK ~ May the Force be with you!

  106. I’m not a parent but I can relate. I used to work at an office and my husband retired from the AF and he was home when I got up (that was out of the ordinary) and he was home when I got home (also out of the ordinary) and NEVER BEING ALONE DROVE ME BANANAS. He’s since gotten another job and I work from home so I get lots of alone time. But I don’t see how people can survive without alone time.
    Have fun in Aruba.

  107. I know exactly where you come from. I’ve been there, maybe still am. After the millionth time my teenaged son (16 yo) staying home bored, leaving crumbs, clothes, CDs and most importantly his very bad mood everywhere while I’m trying to keep it all together, I yelled yesterday that there were rules to follow or … He provoked me asking “Or, …” and I said then you go find yourself a place where you’ll feel happy and leave us alone so that we can try to be it too. He left. I mean he packed some bags, called somebody and left. Didn’t come home at night. Left a note saying that we’ve destroyed his past and present but won’t do it with his future. He won’t be back. He has no money, no other family. Now what? It’s become very quiet here if it wasn’t for my convulsive crying.
    Sorry, just had to get this out there. Don’t know what to do anymore.

  108. I started working full time in the teen years. That and getting up at 4 a.m. I know, I Know but it was the only time it was quiet in the house.
    Have you thought of calling the girls places of employment and telling them that the girls need more hours, specifically to coordinate with your hours of work?
    Or the duct tape. I really like that duct tape idea. Could have used that myself.

  109. This reminds me of a bumper sticker… “I child-proofed the house but the kids keep getting in!” Only 23 more days until my son and DH head back to school. Yay, alone time. πŸ™‚

  110. I used to ‘sit’ for a woman who worked from home. I stayed with the kids and she stayed in her office. Now, I know your kids are a bit older and don’t exactly need a sitter .. but perhaps you could have a couple of friends/office guards come over during the day to solve hair tie crises, feed the kids, and generally ensure that absolutely no one enters your office for at least two hours a day?

  111. Around here we live by the principle “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”
    Sometimes it’s like what the flight attendants say – you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you can help your children travelling with you. I’m a homeschooling mama, so I get where you’re coming from… I’m in the midst of it, day in and day out. You gotta carve some time for yourself in order to survive and stay sane.

  112. I worked for a while as a free-lance writer. I had the computer in the bedroom, and I taped a manila envelope to the bedroom door. The kids could write out all their complaints about one another, requests, etc. and put them in the manila envelope, and I would come out every two hours and say hi and read all the notes. No one was allowed to come knock on the door unless someone’s life was in danger. If they knocked on the door otherwise then their requests would not be processed “because you had your chance in person.” The oldest child was in charge of entertaining them. There was a long list of 100 things that you can do if you are bored that the kids had put together themselves with my help. One summer they also had their own book project, in which each child had a character for which s/he was supposed to write backstory, and then we were going to write a book together.
    The way this worked out was that the oldest child either went to her room and read a book, leaving number two in charge and very stressed out, or if something really interesting was going on such as a watermelon fight in the kitchen, oldest child would photodocument it. They found that if they yelled at each other loud enough I would eventually come to the door without anyone being penalized. Sometimes it did work, such as when I only found out the space shuttle had blown up because a friend called me in tears, or in cases such as the aforementioned watermelon fight when everyone was having a good time and did not want me to interrupt them. I also went back to college to finish my degree, because I got tired of freelance journalism (I have a short attention span). This meant that in the summer I had to take a certain number of these people with me on campus, since someone’s life probably would be in danger if all six were left at home together. This resulted in irate, Mr. Filch-like janitors combing the building for “the parent of the two brats downstairs flooding the ground floor with the water fountain.” My advice is to keep changing strategies to keep them off balance. The envelope on the door did work a high enough percentage of the time that I did not kill any of them.

  113. The last 9 months of my dissertation was from home with a one-year-old and a three-year-old, so I can definitely empathize! Unfortunately, unlimited Nick Jr. isn’t nearly as attractive to teenagers, so no helpful advice here!

  114. I’m a single mom who gets to work from home and I have an 8 year old daughter and 6 year old son at home for the summer. I so feel your pain. I get the “You always work, you never do anything with us” (I get it all the time, but considering we just got back from a week at Disney, it’s a little hard to swallow!). My father, brilliant man that he is, has suggested I color code each day of the week, by the hour. My kids are going to color in each hour I work and they have to fend for themselves with reading, bike riding, etc.; each hour we spend together and even the hours of sleep. He says the visual and the fact that they are a working part of the process will give them a clearer understanding of the time needed to keep the household running. I realize my kids are much younger, but I gotta believe it can be tweaked for the older set! Best of luck to you, maybe I could catch a ride to Aruba???

  115. I know exactly where you are coming from. Keep reminding them that “if mamma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy”
    I cannot tell you how many times I dream of running away from home too.
    Teenaged girls really suck.

  116. I hate to break it to you, but thus far, in my experience, that doesn’t work either. Nothing works except *being* the shrill harpy eventually, to the point that you do get left alone. But even then, you never get left alone long enough.
    What I want is for All Those People to go away for a while and let me get everything under control. You know, the laundry, the sweeping and mopping, the finally unpacking my OWN boxes from the move last year, that kind of thing. It’ll never happen; but all the same, when I find myself turning totally snippy, that’s what I crave. They could come back; but, you know, after I have everything how I want it.
    I’m on my second work-from-home life. In the first, I worked for The Man; now I work for myself. In both cases, I’ve found that people often do not understand that a) you still have to work, even if you do it at home and b) no, you can’t just take a break and change your schedule around randomly all the time and c) working from home actually makes the household maintenance harder in some respects, not easier, because you’re THERE MORE, so you do things like make dirty coffee cups, if nothing else.
    Anyway, most of my work-from-home lives, my son has been there. “Leave me alone and I’ll be nicer” seems not to work on him. If you DO find a magic turn of phrase that works on your kids, please do share it. I’ll, uh, come up with a way to make it worth your while if you solve this problem for me.

  117. Come on down to my house.
    I have an apartment on wheels – the 35′ Class Motorhome – with a king size sleep number bed, separate bath and shower, 42″ plasma tv with DirectTV and a wireless hookup to the office network.
    Fresh peaches and apples off the trees in the front yard at no extra charge.
    Heck none of it at any charge except for whatever it takes to get you back to Northern California.

  118. I completely sympathize with you, having been there. However, I now work away from home and am gone 11 hours (leave at 7, come back at 6) and sometimes I think it’s worse, because I’m trying to cram 8 hours of fun, plus dinner and each-alone time, into the 4 or 5 hours before my body gives up and I collapse. My one solace is 2x a month, knit night. That’s it. πŸ™

  119. This is not easily done – and you have to be the strong one, but set rules – work hour rules and REFUSE to allow them to be broken.
    Set the household – husband, kids and cat down for a family discussion. Mom works from home, mom is making the living that ya’ll all so richly enjoy – so here’s the deal. You have office hours from this time – this time. I will take a 15 minute break here and here. I will take a lunch hour (half hour) here – and those are the only times that you can ask – KEY WORD HERE – ASK and expect to get my attention to resolve your world shattering problems.
    The family may leave me a note posted to my door if they will not be available when I take my breaks/lunch and I will read them at the appropriate time. I will respond to your note by either giving you a verbal reply or complete the task that you are requesting – within reason. PERIOD, PERIOD, EXCLAMATION MARK. No arguing, no sitting out in the hall whining. No calling me from another room to beg. Here are my work hours, here is my free time til work is done for the day. Work work (not all the other catrillion things a mom has to do too).
    Give it a shot – works for me.

  120. Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures. I understand your opinion, but you might let them watch TV. Schedule a movie time and let them veg. You know where they are, you are in the same building, and there might be quiet. Maybe until Joe gets back, or something else changes

  121. If you figure it out, let me know! I’ve been working at home for a few years, with a demanding boss on one end (via computer) and demanding children on the other, and have yet to figure it out. I’m usually opposite most parents I know – I can’t WAIT until school starts. I also end up staying up very late at night – I find my quiet time while the kids are sleeping.

  122. I am also a writer, although not with the print run you enjoy. My desk sits on the landing of the stairs, next to my son’s room. He is two. We have another on the way. So I totally understand the trying to work and trying to parent at the same time…it doesn’t always go well. I feel for you.
    But I also envy the door to your office that you can shut. Maybe you should also get a lock and earplugs to go with the door.
    btw- my tulip sweater is almost done….that I ordered from Canada to be shipped to the UK…your blog has $$ side affects πŸ™‚

  123. Yup. Summer stinks. I’m just counting the days till school starts. It doesn’t help really, if you want to know the truth, but ya’ gotta believe in something, right?

  124. I do two different things working from home with 3 kids 15,12,9. When I just need a break, I tell them I am taking a rest with books and or knitting and they are not to interfere until I come out. If they start to interrupt then I yell “Rest with books!” and they usually go away unless someone is bleeding and then I will leave the book for a while but I add the missing time. When I need to work, I tell them I am going to work and if they want to be near me or talk to me then they also have to work and I have a nice array of work they can do near me. If they dare to say they are bored they get ever present option #3 yard work.

  125. I have requested two lo-o-ong weekends once my husband redeploys from Korea next year.
    One romantic weekend, just the two of us, kid at Grandma’s.
    One weekend alone, where I get to leave my parental, spousal and housewifely responibilities, and just chill by myself, no one around.
    It varies, and I’ll never tell, but sometimes I look forward to the latter far more than the former…

  126. I found myself in the dentist’s chair last year enjoying a root canal because it was the first time in seven years that I was both alone (except for the dentist, obviously, but she was busy) and had someone taking care of me.

  127. Honey, you have to put yourself first. Learn some phrases (though not for Aruba):
    1. I am not your cruise director. Find something to do that guarantees me 30 minutes of quiet starting NOW, or I will assign you the chore of _______ (and make it the nasty ones, like cleaning the shower, the gutters, the closet nobody’s touched in 10 years, stuff like that). If you bother me before 30 minutes is up, I keep adding 10 minutes to another chore.
    2. Remember nap time? Reinstitute it! 30 minutes for everybody in their bedrooms with the door closed.
    3. Anybody who wants to take responsibility for planning, cooking, and clearing up after dinner? You get a free pass on tomorrow’s chores. Just don’t bother me with it.
    These are tried and true – I’ve used these when I’ve had to write lesson plans, and my children tell me that my face turns some really attractive colors during this!
    Good luck, dear, we’re all behind you.

  128. Um, I work from home and have both a toddler, grade school children AND a tiny teen. I do less of everything than I want to (especially sleep) and right now they’re watching a horrible movie on video so I can GRADE SOME PAPERS AND MAKE MONEY SO YOU CAN HAVE THE EXTRAS YOU WANT Aaaaiiiieeeeee!
    Actually I lean very heavily on my work-out-of-the-house spouse in the evenings. And I’m only working part time.
    I agree on your assessment of teen supervision needs, though. It’s very high. Can they all get babysitting jobs that happen in the same 2 hour block during the day?

  129. 1) Sit down with them (and no, you may not use a pitchfork to pin them to the couch, sorry) and talk scheduling. Theirs and yours. They have jobs, they will be able to figure it out.
    2) What has the cat done to deserve being left home? Take her to the treehouse with you for quiet company, as long as she doesn’t ‘help’ by sprawling on the keyboard. Besides…purring is therapeutic.
    3) I agree with those who have said ‘set office hours’…but that can be really hard when you have no private ‘office’ to work in. My suggestion is that you establish one, ASAP. Even if it means working on the back porch in good weather!
    4) Sometimes, the kids just have to learn to understand that despite the ‘I’ll be leaving soon and then you’ll be sorry’ thing, YOU ARE IMPORTANT TOO. So is your money. LOL!
    5) Isn’t Aruba a bit of overkill? (Nice overkill, though!) The treehouse, the college library, the motel room…all of these sound like much less expensive choices, really…I LIKE that treehouse idea…
    We love ya, and want to help you keep your sense of humor intact–so no, you may NOT chase them out with a lethal implement, nor with a handful of #000 needles. Spiking the couch with aforesaid needles is also a no-no–not only does it lead to doctor bills, it will bend the needles, and you can’t have that….

  130. So, LAST summer was my first summer working from home. Well, it was also my first summer being back at work after being a stay-at-home mom since 1998. I was the Editor of a regional magazine and honestly? I loved my job. But LAST summer was the worst summer I’ve ever experienced –I, who love my children a lot more than myself. So, I resigned. I resigned the job I loved because I had spent last summer resenting my work for taking me away from my children and resenting my children for constantly interrupting my work. No one was happy. I resolved never to have another summer like that again, as long as I had a choice in the matter.
    I resigned at the end of May, just in time for my kids to get out of school.
    It’s been a horrible summer. I find that THIS summer, I resent my children for being children. The nagging. The whining. The FOOD STRUGGLE–oh my gosh, it’s a wonder I haven’t been institutionalized. And, of course, the lack of money (now that I’ve quit my job) to send them to constant camps.
    THIS summer, my husband is traveling MUCH more than he ever has for work. And THIS summer, we’ve had more rain than in the other nine years I’ve been a parent in the summer put together.
    I can only tell you to hang in there. Fall is coming. And the other thing I’ve done which has brought me some relief is to hire a nanny (I know your kids are older but read on) to be the gatekeeper to my office. For $10, she makes sure the kids get to where they need to be on time, she answers the silly rhetoriacal questions that only MOM can answer (not) and she fixes lunch.
    So far, I swear, it’s the only thing keeping me from jumping off a building. Sorry this got so long but MAN, I feel your pain. –Barb

  131. Oh, I forgot to say that *I* was thinking about running away to Canada. Maybe we could just change places for a while. you know how your kids are always better when it’s someone ELSE yelling at them?

  132. I teach music from my home and my husband is retired. We still have 4 of the 6 kids at home. Alone!!! hahahahahah!…. if only…..my husband and I are actually going out tonight for the first time in about 6 months, oldest is babysitting, in order to TALK about things without 4 pairs of ears listening in. I NEED to go out and just talk for a while. I told my DH that it was that or I pay my shrink friend $150 per hour to get it off my chest. I am the bread winner too, and often have to spend time at the computer preparing for lessons, etc. and the kids don’t get it…..
    Mary E

  133. Having just been urped on, scratched and had an entire load of laundry unfolded, I decided to take a sanity break from my 2 year old and 1 month old. What should I do? I know, I’ll check the knitting blogs. A little YH always cheers me up. And now I’m smiling. Thanks πŸ™‚
    But, in the long run, I have no answers. Just commiseration.
    It’s strangely quiet. Must run.

  134. well since my kids are all littles, and getting away is not an option… I wake up really early in the morning to get all of my WAHM stuff done (think 5:00 a.m.) I am bleary eyed after lunch, but then I put them all down for naps and I take one as well… I only do this when I am on some sort of deadline or something.

  135. Steph, I feel your pain. I have lived your pain. Know what worked for me? I would periodically announce that I was “not home.” Then I would retreat to my workspace and commence doing things that I wanted to do. Without them. If they by chance tried to come talk to me, I would look at them and announce that I was NOT HOME. (Of course, mine were 11 and 7 when I did this, and boys as well.) They figured out pretty quickly that I would be of no use to them in those circumstances and would go bother their dad. Thank goodness!
    The alternative? I’d tell them I was gonna “rip their lips off if I hear one more sound!” This usually resulted in four hands immediately covering the offending orifice and the sound of rapidly departing feet. I found it worked equally well on the father figure as well. (Apparently I was quite convincing.)
    The alternative? Take a GO bus to Port Perry and visit my shop. I promise not to talk to you and you can play with your needles and wool to your heart’s content. Also, the library has wireless internet access. Come on a Thursday for Knitting Night and my husband and I will see that you make it to your doorstep unharmed. Honest!
    How many days until school starts?

  136. Stehanie I have a solution, I have “night owls” for kids and my hubby. They play at night , mostly on the computer and reading books, thick ones(youngest age 13) reading the “Count of Monte Cristo”I can do my thing while they are sleeping and they do theirs when I am. If I need something , my son is home for awhile and he drives me when I have migraines . And if they need me, they tread lightly, They know when Mom is disturbed there is hell to pay, it has to be a good reason.Yes hubby works days, but for some reason he needs like 4 or 5 hours. hopefully you will find a happy medium.much luck

  137. OK, you need to get out of the house every day. Say two hours at the coffee shop or library (I really like the college library idea). The teens, although they need some supervision, also need “alone time.” This is a good way to give them some freedom before they have altogether too much alone time after they leave the nest. This will help focus your work as well as theirs. They’ll know exactly when each day they can get in trouble!

  138. Reading this post took me back to the years I was in college. I started school at age 33, with 9, 7 and 3 year old children. It took me six years to earn my degree. I took every opportunity to take classes, including during the summers. Getting homework and papers done was a nightmare sometimes. My son, the youngest, has learning disabilities and required an enormous amount of help with his school work. For years, he did his homework with my help while dinner was cooking so I could finish up and get to school by 6pm. My husband, who works nights, would get them into bed. When I graduated, my son, who was almost 10 at the time, said he couldn’t remember a time when Mommy wasn’t in school. We all managed, though. Somehow, you just get through it. Now that they’re all adults and doing their own thing, it’s so quiet around here that my husband and I look at each other and think wow, we could go to a movie if we wanted to. How amazing is that?
    What I’m saying is this too shall pass. They will grow and become wonderful, responsible adults who will make you proud. They will also have a sudden realization that their mother is a wise and amazing person. Hang in there. In the meantime, find a quiet, nearby coffee shop with free wi-fi and leave them chores until you return.
    On the other hand, Aruba sounds restful.

  139. when my children were younger, and my job was stressful to the max, and it took 3 modes of public transport to get there each day, and a husband who didn’t/wouldn’t/couldn’t work, I’d lock myself in the bathroom. it was the only place I could go to be alone. I survived, my kids survived, the husband is now an ex, and I’m not sure I’m totally sane, but nontheless, I survived. hang in there. write us when you get Aruba

  140. My tiny home office has a door– and when it closes, the “Three B Rule” applies:
    “DO NOT ENTER unless someone is Bleeding, Burning (as in, On Fire), or Broken.”
    It doesn’t work all the time, of course; but at least the interruptions are fewer.

  141. OK, an idea: lock your office door (it locks, yes?), announce that you’re leaving for a good long while, and sneak back in the window.
    -Jennie, so grateful that I work in an office that is not in my home

  142. Maybe you actually do need a few hours a week away from the family.
    Swimming was my summer salvation – I took the kids to the public pool and I had peace, I sat as far away as possible, while still able to keep an eye on them.
    Best of luck over the rest of the summer.

  143. Perhaps you should go to Ken’s, or Joe’s mother’s place, or your brother’s house, or another close frined that is near-by – but not so far away that your are unreachable should something dire occur at home.
    In my own experience, family and close friends will usually let one take up space in their home for hours on end. As a student, I sometimes escape to my mother-in-law’s home, where she will let me sit at her kitchen table an work on my paper. As a close friend, who ever it is will understand your need to be left alone with your coffee and laptop. This would be cheaper than going to Starbucks or a coffee shop, as you are not obligated to buy anything, and there would be no guilt associated with sitting in the same spot for five hours. Though perhaps you should bring your own coffee supply …

  144. When my kids were driving me nuts, I’d use that as an opportunity to assign a new chore. I gave them specific times I was not to be interrupted and told them any interruption would result in my assigning that child a chore because I wouldn’t have time to do it since the child interrupted me. And I made sure they understood the new chore was a)permanent and b)directly the result of that child interrupting me. And if said child uttered a single syllable of protest, I added another chore.

  145. Same problem here. Sorry, I haven’t figured it out yet either. All I know is that there are 25 days until school starts. Yes, I am counting. And mine will only be gone 3 hours a day! Apparently, Daddy cannot make a pb&j the same way I do. Even though we use the EXACT same items! Curse or Blessing? I have not decided yet!!

  146. maybe a lock for your office door and a nursery monitor for the kitchen, front hall or whatever??
    or maybe just a work environment SO weird they won’t be able to come in and still be anywhere near cool . . . like a tepee where they must remove their shoes and do some sort of spiritual salutations before entering.
    oh and hey, there is always electric fencing for around your desk.

  147. I’m so with you. I love all the people in my house and I really need them all to leave (or at least go to sleep) so that the house is quiet(er) for an hour a day. My kids are still young enough that I can tell them when bedtime is, but I’m dreading the time when they stay up later than I do! But then one day they’ll all move out and I’ll miss them so much. I wish those days could somehow intermingle more.

  148. And I’m sorry to tell you that sleep deprivation has been linked to weight gain: http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/lose-weight-while-sleeping
    I once read of a woman with seven children who only wanted 5 minutes to herself and, of course each of the children would run to her for attention on a near constant basis. Her solution, “Oh yes, I want to hear all about it, but first- your face is so dirty!” And she would dip a cloth into the basin next to her and swab their face. Over time, they learned to stay away.
    Do they girls need activities? http://www.ymcatoronto.org/en/index.html

  149. Steph: Come on over to Seattle–Mac-friendly house with only one person–also working. Wireless internet. You can sit in the backyard among the flowers. Breathe in the scent of lavender, and listen to the bees buzzing around. I guarantee no children will bother you–and beer may magically appear. πŸ˜‰

  150. So, what’s Joe doing during all of this? Have you really allowed the four of them to think you are the only person who knows anything and/or can do anything around there? Joe has to be on your side (actions, not just words) and not part of the tag team. So, suggestions (this may repeat what others have already said).
    First, designate which half of the day that they must go to him, not you, for all needs. During that time you will probably have to go work at a coffee shop or friend’s house for at least the first couple of weeks. At lunchtime, trade.
    Second, make sure they all have plenty of work to do when they’re not at their jobs. They’re all old enough to do their own laundry, clean their rooms, and prepare meals for the whole family at least once a week each.
    Third, have penalties for interrupting your work time which actually mean something to them. They’re teenagers, they still don’t get long-term consequences like what happens if the bills don’t get paid. They still need “every minute you waste of my work time is two minutes the TV remains off”. Or whatever works.
    Fourth, during the part of the day when they must leave Joe alone and come to you, have a list on your (closed) office door that reminds them what things are permissable for interrupting you and which they must handle on their own. Squabbling, not being able to find what they want to eat, etc. they handle on their own. Bleeding and/or fires, they come get you.
    My husband is a freelance engineer and works from home. Weekends get a little fraught when he has to work.

  151. I loved your comment about “can’t just take off and go work at the library…” cause I do that every day as a librarian! So, it does work for some of us..and trust me, many times I look forward to it.
    Although I do hear that Aruba is beautiful…does it have wi-fi?

  152. Surely your friends at Lettuce Knit would let you come over for a brief reprieve from your children? After all, there’s nothing like hiding in plain sight, and I do believe inhaling wool fumes could induce a state of inner peace!

  153. I’m telling you this works. See, I have the problem of not being able to leave home without my cell phone ringing every 5 minutes. What I did was every time my kids called me for a non emergency (which was 99% of the time) I gave them a job to do. Whether it be emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash, weeding the beds, picking up the den……..whatever. Then, I inspected it when I got home and if it wasn’t done right,they did it again. Payoff for me was, while you are wasting my time you are also getting something done for me that I won’t have to do when I get home. My youngest (who is 11) will call me for something dumb and then at the end of our conversation he will say, “Okay Mom, what is my job?” You gotta love it! It has seriously reduced the amount of phone calls I get while I am at work.

  154. You might try the library around the corner or a quiet bookstore cafe. They usually have a power plug you can borrow. You can usually rely on the laziness of teens to leave you alone. If they need you because there’s an emergency, they can usually find you not 10 minutes away… But of course, that’d be way too far to complain about lip gloss, hair ties, and phone usage.
    Of course, you might need to randomly drop by the house to make sure they’re abiding by the house rules. Spot checks.

  155. My only salvation- the BEACH!!
    No kidding, my girls (7&9) think I’m the best mommy in the world for taking them there every day. Really, it’s because they have so much fun swimming and playing in the sand and chasing friends that they completely ignore me. I can knit, work on my designs, even take a moment to contemplate that day’s dinner.
    Another perk – the house stays clean and there isn’t much laundry to be done when you live in a swimsuit!
    PS…Do we at least get a postcard from Aruba?!?

  156. Any mother who says she has never thought of running away is lying. My line is, “Mummy needs some quiet time because Psycho Mummy is very near.” Having seen Psycho Mummy, it works very well.

  157. I like the idea of locking the door and posting hours, and listing consequences. I also may go a little too far: I wait until my son is quietly reading a book, and then start poking him and talking to him incessantly about nothing, then saying “See what I mean?” when he gets annoyed. I wait until he is watching something interesting on TV to start talking, because he does it to me all the time. Just trying to demonstrate, teach by example (since leaving him alone when he is reading or watching TV doesn’t work) I get so aggravated!!! So while I feel your pain I may not have the greatest advise!

  158. The funny thing about when my in-laws come to visit is that my MIL is fond of telling me that everyone needs time to just “think their thoughts” — and then she never lets me get any.

  159. If you’re thinking of taking Kim up on her offer I’m driving from Toronto to Philly next Tuesday, then back to Toronto the following Wednesday. That would be about 16 hours of knitting time in itself for a passenger. Plus time in a quiet spot!
    Just saying.

  160. It’s not exactly parallel, but the time I was most proud of my mom was when, after my dad promised to do something and then didn’t (get the basement waterproofed – and it rained – and the basement got flooded)(he tended to do the promising thing a lot) (and the leaving town for work thing)and then left town on a business trip, she packed up a suitcase, some suitable beverages and snacks, the checkbook and checked herself into a hotel in town and told my dad that she’d be back when the basement was clean and dry. We were old enough to take care of ourselves for a while and she was only across town, but it was just crazy enough to get everyone’s attention. Maybe a short disappearing act is just the ticket to a little respect for your work, space and time! Mom acting really weird always made us sit up and take notice… And, funny, the basement got clean, dry and waterproofed pretty quick, we gave mom a wide berth and everyone lived.

  161. Amen! I have mentioned running away from home a few times, especially the 9,000th time someone asks me what is for dinner. i work nights and need to sleep some of the hours they are awake, (four kids, ranging in age from 8 to 17) so you can imagine the chaos. I told them the other day that we need to spend August undoing the damage of the past school year (clothes everywhere, miscellaneous piles of books and papers) so that we can start again in September. I think I am doing something wrong during the school year as well!

  162. I feel your pain! I do freelance editing from home and have been lucky enough to have full-time work all summer. My 3 daughters (7, 9 and 12) have thus been stir-crazy most of the summer. A few things that help me get work done are:
    Carrots & Sticks–“If you can leave me alone so I can get X done, you will get Y (pizza for dinner, a friend over, $ to go to a movie, a new CD, etc.). If I don’t get my work done, you don’t get Y.”
    Working at odd hours–from 12-6am are prime quiet hours around here. I get a lot done then, though not every night.
    And the chore thing–assigning chores to kids who interrupt your work–has helped cut down the interruptions around here.
    I also recommend getting noise-blocking earphones, so you can listen to music and not the sounds of 3 teenagers arguing.
    Nothing works every time, but they are better at not interrupting than they were a month ago… Good luck!!

  163. I’m a teacher and obviously have my summers to myself…no, wait, I don’t, because I’ve got these offspring who just can’t go anywhere or leave me alone. Curses to the cell phone and why, oh why did I ever give them my number? They call right when I’m in the inner sanctum of the beauty (?) salon getting my gray covered to ask where I am and what do we have to eat in this house. Yes, I share your pain and understand exactly what you are saying. I will, though, warn you that kids in their 19-22 year old range are still a great worry for Mum. Good luck and have a great time in Aruba. I’ll see you there.

  164. First of all, take me with you! πŸ™‚
    I am a parent, I work from home *and* I work with both my son and my DH. I don’t need alone time to work, but I need alone time for sanity.
    My suggestion (besides taking a break and heading to the local coffee shop or bar that has wi-fi – or not, if you don’t need the internet) is that you consider writing about things besides knitting. You have a fabulous sense of humor, and a wit that gets “at” the subject. So far it’s been knitting – and I wouldn’t want you to give up writing about that – but I think you could use your home situations for humor as well (like Erma Bombeck). The whole routine about the girls and the laundry and the hallway mess and all that was great. I can’t remember how many responses you got, but it had to show you that among us knitters (and probably even more in the Muggle population) that we had all “been there.”
    So, perhaps it would be easier to take the disruptions, etc. if you were taking notes for future humor books about family life….
    Otherwise, you could threaten them with hiring a babysitter to get your peace and quiet! (Yes, I know they’re too old for that — that’s the point!)

  165. I reduced my working hours to 1/2 time for the summer and work at home behind closed doors. I’m an early bird, so I work from 5 a.m. – 10 a.m. My girls sleep late in the morning so I get my work done. I also often take them for a long swim in the afternoons and let them stay up much later than normal so they are tired and sleep-in. We also have a “bored” list that they came up with. If they can’t find something to do on the bored list, they then can move on to the “chores” list.
    Maybe you should threaten to have your girls share a bedroom and take over one of their rooms as an office….? Don’t know if they have their own rooms.

  166. I work full time-3 kids-one has special needs-husband commutes.
    I say to all:
    “I will be at an undisclosed location”
    “For every call you make that interupts me, you will have an extra chore. If I get no calls, we go to __________ for a treat” (my kids are 5,6 & 13, treats still work and don’t cost much)
    And leave them with our nanny
    Mostly I am just around the corner at Starbucks getting the writing done.
    It’s the only way I have found.
    I feel your anxiety. It.is.real.

  167. It sounds as if you are talking about my life as well! I have 3 boys at home this summer while running a daycare in which 6 kids under the age of 4 all need things from me all the time! On top of it, the parents are always coming and going. At least I don’t have a job in which I need to concentrate. For my sons, I have a “have to do list” each day. When that is done they can “earn” points by doing chores or something school like such as reading, writing, etc. These points can be turned into time playing video games or doing fun stuff with me like going mini golfing, going to a movie, etc.
    Hang in there! Summer is half over, and just know that you are not alone.

  168. I like the suggestions of having them do chores if they interrupt at non-approved times. If you also give extra benefits if they coordinate activities to keep the other siblings busy, quiet and safely away from you, you might be able to get them to want to earn bonus points (good towards clothes, music, etc. or even tv time). (A combination of negative and positive reinforcements .)
    I also suspect this may be an effort to lift the tv limitations.
    Good luck!

  169. A few years back when I was particularly stressed, my husband suggested I go out for a bit. My head spun around a few times and then I stated rather emphatically that I just wanted to be alone in my house. God bless him. He learned the lesson quick and now makes sure I have alone time so I can work, think, and knit.

  170. i don’t work from home but i feel your pain on many levels. my vote is for the library though. ever since our local small town library was re-vamped you can’t keep the teens out of there! i mean, all that free internet access? c’mon! also, going there “en famille” means the parent can find a quiet corner somewhere while the kids go online (with lots of websecurity built in) and just have them check in with mom every so often. it’s ideal really. try it! and you never know, the kids might even be lured by a book while on their way to the computer (at least that’s what i keep hoping with my own 2!)

  171. I have five children, ages 14 to 24; 4 are still at home. When they are underfoot, I become their best friend. Joined at the hip, so to speak. I sit with them, talk to them, watch TV with them, talk to them, follow them, talk to them, make witty comments to their friends on the phone, talk to them…after about an hour, they find things to do – away from me!

  172. this is your time to shine if the glow
    is to bright for others dont let thier
    walking in the shade get to you
    or who runs this house you or me
    the fullest life you have will make the
    years ahead oneofjoy and fullilment and yes
    yes money in your pocket nothing wrong with that
    and perhaps they will find thier way as you have
    take thee off not for any one else but your self
    then hire jeeves for all the rest do it now

  173. that alone time issue is such a tricky one. as a mom and wife, i find that i get shorted on that as much as i get shorted on sleep, and want nothing more than 5 minutes in the bathroom. alone. by myself. i hope you found a few more minutes for yourself. and you are so right that teenagers are in some ways more work than toddlers.

  174. My suggestion: Work with Joe on this. Schedule a set number of hours that he is the Head Parent in Charge. He has all parenting duties, and no one is to disturb you for any reason. Set a different set of hours for which you are Head Parent in Charge. And of course, leave a few hours for being Co-Head Parents in Charge.
    For a little fun, you can let the girls play around with being Head Parent in Charge for an hour every once in a while. I’m not kidding. Pick a low risk time for it. But for that hour, she has all your parental responsibilities: making sure she knows where everyone is and that everyone is safe, resolving conflict, providing reassurance, menu selection, etc.

  175. Quinn’s answer still has me laughing – it would so not work for me – my studio has huge windows on the 2 sides we have neighbours on!
    we have multiple teenagers, with multiple friends, would rather they were here rather than goodness knows where – that’s part of the problem – being a good Mum, means that your kids want to hang around you- do you have designated break times? maybe you could spend 15 minutes morning and afternoon and 30 minutes at lunch with the kids who are home – and really focus on talking with them, and then get back to work when break time is over – I know thats difficult when creative – just an idea.

  176. I say you reinstate nap time. It doesn’t matter that they’re too old for it. Naps for everyone. Or you make them go to bed at 8. I do all of my work between 9 and 2am. If that doesn’t work, you can come to my house. Nobody is ever home. The toddler and I are only home for lunch and nap and later for dinner and bedtime. Bring your kids even if you have to. They can go to the wading pool with the baby and I’ll make us margaritas to knit and work with.

  177. Although my kids are much younger (2 & 4), I have a deal with them. I will do an activity/take them out somewhere, but when we return, that’s my time to work. I’ve also been know to get up a few hours before they do, and do my work then.
    Why don’t you send both them and darling Hubby to Aruba, and then you can get some peace and quiet.

  178. some of the comments have already suggested this – and I have to confess that I didn’t read all 193! But it’s all about “let’s make a deal” and you have to use their currency (that’s what Dr. Phil calls it). So – “Mom needs XX amount of quiet alone time. If you do the following (stay quiet, don’t fight, don’t interrupt me, keep the music level at 2 or below, no TV (no need for “the TV fight” which you’ve never lost) – then you get something positive. If you break any of the rules in the deal, you have to clean the kitchen for a week, forfeit your allowance, no TV even after 4pm, etc.
    The positive and negative reinforcements have to be their currency.
    Or just go to Aruba.

  179. Oh, how I wish for year round schools! I didn’t when I worked in them though. We’re “on guard” these days or should I say nights, as our 14 year old keeps climbing of of his bedroom window at 2.00 a.m. (even sets his alarm) and dosesn’t return until 5.00 a.m. He’s told us we will never stop him!!!! I hope he grows out of this soon or we’ll have to install tiny windows. It still wouldn’t work – last night he left by the back door! I had sat up until 2.30 then couldn’t go on – it’s totally rediculous! Keith was too tired to take over the “watch”. Totally sapped today – can’t work – can’t clean – can’t cook – can’t knit or sew – can only veg out and eat chocolate. The 11 year old says I can go for a sleep and she’ll watch the shop for me – bless her. Happily the 14 year old is playing soccer for the next 2 weeks down south so we get some repite.
    Fella feelings from Janet MF in YK

  180. That friend sounds like she has the right idea. Or you can try what JK Rowling used to do–just go to a coffee shop and sit and write. It’s not private, per se, but if you don’t tell the kids which coffee shop you’re going to….
    And, I wanted to tell you that I just read your interview in the new VK, and I laughed when there was the comment that you’re like a knitting rock star except that we don’t throw underwear on the stage, and you said “Don’t ask. They will.” Because, yeah, probably we would. So I just thought I’d mention–ask for Koigu instead. See how many skeins you get!
    Enjoy Aruba….

  181. Oh, for 500 pounds and a room of one’s own.
    How about putting a lock on that back room door, and a sign on the front of it saying when home-mother will be in, and work-mother will be out. And stick to it. Only exception is fire.

  182. I hear you sister, I feel your pain and I will tell you LOUD AND CLEAR, you need to get away and have some you time. Absolutely. I have done my time in the Mother Trenches, it was hard. And long. I had so many people tell me that when my kids were gone and I did indeed have more time that was taken by the care and feeding of young ones that I would miss it so bad I’d lay my head back and howl from the sheer pain of it. THEY LIED. I am here to tell you, you just have to get through it. Make time for yourself and do nice things just for you (because nobody else will, but you know that truth)–and do it at every chance you get. And someday they will be gone. You will love them with the same passion and intensity, you will miss them lots but you will lay your head back and sigh with contentment. The trenches are hard, you will make it. Hang in there!

  183. Come to Sudbury, bring a large stash. Lots and lots of lakes, few mosquitos, very little smog (pay no attention to today!).
    My mom got around my constant annoyances by taking up hobbies that I hated. Like gardening. My dad would spend summers in rooms with only one chair, so that even if I was in the room, I wouldn’t be staying long. Best of luck.

  184. I used to work from home several days a week, for the same reason as you — my girls are 9 and 12 and I like to be “around”. However, my being around means I’m the snack-maker, argument-fixer, question-answerer,…the way I handle this at moments I need to think is I point to the computer and myself and say, “Do you see the computer? Do you see me in front of it? Working?!?!” And they go figure it out themselves. The next time they come ’round I just point to the computer, “still working”. This works, but maybe I’m just grouchier than you.

  185. “They all know that somehow I will pull it together and everything will be all right because I am the mother and I love them and would never let them starve.”
    You said it. That’s how it is around here, too.
    I keep dreaming about getting one of those storage buildings and putting it in the back yard (I want a treehouse, but I have no trees). The lock would go on the inside.
    I did go to the library this morning because I had a freelance deadline this afternoon and yesterday involved a series of crises that needed to be attended to, so the freelance work got interrupted. . . .
    I think all you really need is to go where they can’t find you. There are places within biking distance. It helps if the cell phone is broken (mine currently is).

  186. Chucking out the “no television before 4 PM” rule that you have would help, but I’m not sure if you consider that a viable option. And it would only help if each child has access to their own television, otherwise they will be constantly interrupting you with a fight over who gets to watch what. {{{hugs}}} I work from home as well, which is why my two-year-old gets shipped off to daycare every work day. I would NEVER get anything done if he were underfoot all day.

  187. For ChristineB. Hang in there. He’ll come home.
    When my oldest son was about 17, he called me a HORRIBLE name. My husband was traveling and was in Australia at the time and I completely lost it. He called me the most offensive name that a woman could be called. I kicked him out of the house I was so angry. I was so angry that he could stoop that low. It was trashy.
    I guess he went to a friend’s house. I worried, but resisted paging him. (This was before the time when all teenagers had cell phones.) The next day he called and apologized and asked if he could come home. He hugged me all over when he got back and it never happened again.
    Boys that age are dealing with a lot of emotional (and hormonal) issues. He’ll come around. Be patient. He’s probably scared right now.

  188. I have been a work at home accountant mom for twenty-three years. The kids still don’t believe I “really work” and I’ve come to the conclusion I will never change that. Field trip? “My mom can drive, she doesn’t work.” It makes me crazy. Snacks at all hours, no problem. I don’t know what to tell you, I know it’s tough. One of my kids is 24 and gone; the other is 16 and I’m glad I’m here to see what’s he’s up to!!!

  189. sister… i hear you, loud and clear (and by the way, you are absolutely correct about teen parenting. congratulations for getting it). this summer will end. it will. i promise.
    just hold on.

  190. Try using a kitchen timer. You get so many minutes or hours to work then you reset the timer and they get so many minutes or hours of your undivided attention. πŸ™‚

  191. Aruba – my parents went there twice in two years, they loved it so much! So, enjoy…but I don’t think you can bike there!

  192. I find asking my kids to please sit and help with whatever I am doing usually causes them to quietly disappear till said project is done.

  193. Well, I hope some of you million suggestions work. I understand the desperation that goes with parenting and trying to get anything else done that takes any concentration. Do you have a Starbucks nearby? Laptops, coffee, good music? run away! =)

  194. I’ve got a guest room that isn’t being used right now and you’re welcome to it. If you don’t mind a bit of guitar music during the day (and some times at night), it could be a nice getaway. The weather’s beautiful in California right now and we’ve got more yarn stores than you can shake an Addi at.

  195. I feel your pain, dear Harlot, and would offer to take your kids to the mall (or whatever it is you canuks do to kill time) so you could get some work done. Too bad I’m in CT!

  196. If a trip to the Kentucky Bluegrass appeals to you, I brew a mean cup of coffee, make a terrific cinnamon roll, and the tomatoes and corn are at their peak right now. We have 2 spare rooms, an office, wireless internet – and our city has bike paths, microbreweries, and several really nice LYS.
    My sons, now in their 30’s, responded to our turning the tables on them. Wait til your kids are deeply involved in something that interests them, i.e., the meager tv allotment, an engaging book, a phone conversation with a special someone – then bug the h@*l out of them with repeated interruptions! Once, my husband and I deliberately stayed out about an hour past the time we told them we would be home – it gave them a taste of what it’s like when soemone you love is late. Neither of them missed a curfew after that!
    Also, after age 12 each of my sons was responsible for his own laundry. Helped immensely
    I did not work from home but love my solitude and quiet and absolutely agree that teens need supervision.
    Hang in there.
    Peace and blessings to you.

  197. I can completely relate. I try very hard to wake up early, early in the morning as often as possible (’cause I live with a bunch of crazy night owls.) That hour or two of peace and quiet is what keeps me sane and allows me to actually complete projects that require more than 45 seconds of uninterrupted focus.

  198. may I suggest an ipod with good headphones? especially one with all the harry potter audio books loaded on to it…works like a charm for me!

  199. Make a red sign and place it between you and children, tell them they can only disrupt you for something red (blood, fire etc) if they disturb you and there is nothing red then they have about ten seconds to run before they see red in your face.

  200. Boundaries!!! Set them and stick to them. This is difficult at first but soon becomes routine.
    When my kids were still at home we still had a phone with a cord. A very long cord that reached to the bathroom by the kitchen. Yes, you’ve got it-I would take the phone cord and go sit in the bathroom if I had a call I didn’t want interupted.
    Sometimes I would put ear plugs to the tape player(now I am giving away my age)-Sony walkman-and not even play anything. They knew if I had the plugs in my ears I wouldn’t answer so they gave up trying to get my attention.
    But Boundaries really help. For example: Announcement!! From 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm I will be working. That means you need to find something to do, somewhere to go or handle all problems that come up. Unless blood is pumping from an artery or your hair is on fire there are no interuptions.
    Put in the plugs. The first day they will try to interupt(“but it’s important” will wail from their lips) but by day 4 they will get it. On day 1 when they interupt tell them that they now get to do the dishes,walk the cat/dog,make dinner,go to the store,etc. If everytime they interupt for the first day they get a chore they soon learn the old addage”Never talk to a working Mother unless you want dishpan hands”.
    Boundaries. Ear plugs to your Ipod. Chores. An actual time frame for the work period.
    Now, go forth and work. If all else fails-make Joe take them. He will hate this and learn the mommy addage(see above) and they will hate it-“Dad is so boring and I hate the hardware store,can’t I just go to my room?”
    If all this fails, I have an empty guest room here in Olivet, Michigan where no children remain on site. It’s free and has a computer hook-up.

  201. Oh dear, you have my sympathies. I’m starting to work on (and possibly purchase) a magazine, so I can work from home… with a teen and a toddler (i’ve got two older kids, but they’ve just moved out… YES, IT WILL HAPPEN!).
    Am I insane to try working from home again? Probably. Anyway, know that you are Not Alone. I’m joining forces with another work-at-home mom to cover the little guys… teens tend to balk at being babysat, though.
    Hang in there, and thanks for sharing. Even if it doesn’t really solve anything, knowing we’re so many of us in the same boat somehow eases the frustration.
    Looking forward to the postcard from Aruba!

  202. Let’s play a little game I’m going to call “Win My Household Chores”. For every non-life-threatening interruption, the interrupter wins 30 minutes worth of household chores (on top of normal responsibilities). You will either end up with a sparkling house, clean laundry, beautiful garden, groceries bought, dinners cooked, baths drawn, a freshly shingled roof… (oh, I hope there aren’t THAT many interruptions!) OR you will have nary a word from anyone. Either way, you win.

  203. I had to move back in with my parents for a while last summer and I felt the same way. “Why were you up so late?” “Why were you at the bookstore for so long?” Because I was ALONE!

  204. I second what Sally Villarreal said. I’m back at home for a little while while I’m “between opportunities” and my sister is home from college for the summer.
    After living on our own for a while, both my mom and I went through a bit of an adjustment phase.
    Anyway, send me a postcard from Aruba.

  205. Well, I’d offer you some quiet crash-space out here in California – but unfortunately, my three school-agers don’t start school for another two weeks, and the fourth-n-final is NOT the strong-but-silent type. Actually, he’s more of the Velcro type, clinging to mommy and going, “Sccccchhhhhhrip!” any time he isn’t physically connected to me.
    They also do not understand the concept of “leave mommy alone”, or that NOT leaving mommy alone has a direct impact on how much (or little) extra cash will be floating around for their dining / shopping / going-to-the-zoo pleasure.
    Hang in there!! I’m told that at some point they all, uh, leave? Or something? And that at this point, we will sit back (in the silence) (possibly with a cup of something we can actually drink while it is still hot/cold) and MISS ALL THIS NOISE AND BOTHER, DREADFULLY.

  206. OK, so you contact a cruise line (or the Wonder Publicist,) and after convincing the Muggles that “YES, that many people do read the blog and buy my book,” you book a YARN HARLOT CRUISE TO ARUBA. Then we can all come along and knit and get away from our families, too. You tell NO ONE where your cabin is. Other than a couple hours to eat, sun, and knit-along, you hide and write. You get a free cruise, hopefully a kick-back from all the knitters trips too (must keep the daughters in avacados,) and we all have an excuse to run away from home, too. (Please. My husband already said I could go.)

  207. Bribery always works for me, like… if you let me go to the bathroom without any interruptions, I’ll let you have more than crackers and water for dinner.

  208. There are such things in Toronto as time-share apartments, believe it or not. A person might work nights, and rent out their place during the day, evening, etc. Check craigslist. Or, rent a cheap office space for a few months (again, look for a timeshare). I also think it is perfectly within your rights to DEMAND that uninterrupted time from your daughters, in no uncertain terms. They are young adults, not little kids, they could be made to ‘get it’. I like the going on strike idea too.

  209. I tried the living in a box thing with my youngest son. When the words didn’t seem to register, I got a really big box, put it on the deck with his pillow and blanket and some food in a bag. It worked really well, so well I took the big box, now colored up to look like a house to a client not paying attention either..with the threat that not only would his family be living there, his employees would be in there with him..I loved that box…

  210. Make sure you find a nice cabana boy to put sunscreen on your Canadian skin.
    I am probably one hundredthing the whole what’s in it for me idea. Children are notoriously self-centred it should work.

  211. Have you tried a large rubber mallet? Very effective when applied firmly from a distance of about 15 centimeters to the base of the skull.
    Actually, the three “B’s” sounds great, but I would advise against the Bose headphones. They cancel ambient sound, so you don’t here the whirr of the computer fan or other continuous noises – but they have NO effect whatsoever on a raised human voice. They are a gift of the goddess for a flight to New Zealand (that’s “a couple of movies and a couple of meals” to a travel agent, but wa-a-a-y too long to sit on an airplane listening to the engines) but I tried using them to help concentrate in a very (I mean VERY) loud office and it was hopeless. Go for the giant sound deadeners the guys who signal the planes in on the tarmac wear – it’s the only thing that will eliminate the sound of a bored and whining teenage girl!
    And you’re always welcome in my backyard, too – wireless, coffee and real beer on demand, and a cat who will purr on your lap until you relax.
    And Christine – my son ran away repeatedly in his teens too – you are not alone and you WILL survive, as will he (even though there will continue to be times you really really really have to exert some control to not refer to my hint in paragraph number 1!)

  212. When I get stressed, I always threaten to run off to the Outer Hebrides. It just sounds so nicely remote.
    But Aruba would be warmer. πŸ˜€

  213. I can totaly relate to this. I used to occasionally change my name to something like…..Ezmarelda and not answer to anything else. I’ve also offered big rewards not to be spoken to for X amount of minutes and swore that I would tell them when the time was up! Now they are grown, married and I think, Durn! I wish they were back at home! Empty nest requires a lot of yarn retail therapy!

  214. Steph, I feel like you’ve gotten in my head and voiced what goes on in there! Being a single mum with little kids, there are times when it all gets too much and I have to shut myself away for ‘x’ amount of time. And trust me, the ‘if you can leave me alone for (x amount of time), you will be dealing with a happier Mum’ WORKS – and my kids are nearly 10, 6 and 4.5! I am very blessed that the kids have a hands-on dad, and they spend nearly half their time with him, but those times when it’s just me against 3, sometimes I feel horribly outnumbered…..and I’m bigger than them. The power of kids, hey.

  215. How I laughed at quinn’s suggestion of working in the nude! My office was in the hottest room of the house in the summer, and I *did* work in the nude with the door closed. I told the kids I was working in the nude so not to come in. They were horrified at the thought!
    I love my children, dearly, but I hated summers. For all the reasons mentioned above. I tried many of the suggestions (timers, schedules, quiet time and naps, etc.) I missed the alone time the most. I missed having a functioning brain that wasn’t interrupted every 5-7 minutes.
    I wasn’t the only one who felt that way about summer time. How I wish I had known!
    Good luck. You are doing well. They are still living and the house isn’t burned down. That’s a good day in my book. πŸ™‚

  216. I knew there was a reason I didn’t have any children!! (Maybe in a past life I had a dozen or so and wanted quiet time in this one!)
    My suggestion ought to work: get a few setups like they had for their boss in the movie “9 to 5”. Drug the offending quiet time violators so you can get them into the rig. When they wake up, hit the remote, hand them some of those noodle pool toys and let them play pinata with each other!! This will be funny enough to release some of your stress. You can go into your office knowing that, A: You will have your quiet time. B: They will not be able to injure themselves, set the house on fire, or report your cruelty to the police. C: You can squeeze in some knitting time as well.
    As you can see, it’s also a good thing for children everywhere that I’m not their mom!

  217. I can relate to your problem somewhat about writing and being interrupted in mid thought, since it is very disruptive. But I was alone most of the time that I wrote my stuff.
    I can’t really relate to the teenager thing since mine were rather easy, but I would timidly suggest that crying and yelling is a result they want. I would suggest not to give them that “power” or control. Let them have control over other things important to them, such as their money, their stuff. Let them know about your unconditional love for them, that you will love them no matter what because you are their mother, and then apologize for yelling (crying is okay.)
    I think the apology is important. Then state the facts calmly, and set a timer. Even if this sounds a little childish, let them have some time to talk to you after a couple of hours. If this doesn’t work, then leave the house. They are old enough to not need constant supervision (unless there are special circumstances) and trust them.
    You might be pleasantly surprised at how much trust, apology and unconditional love assurance can do.

  218. Omigod… for a moment I thought you were talking about SHEEP deficits.
    Hope you have a great rest in Aruba. (Watch out for a weight lifter named William!

  219. Somehow, having no children (yet) and working 45 min from my home, I feel the exact same way most of the time. Sharing an office with my intern and a coworker, and sharing walls and doors with my two bosses, I have four people (at least) talking at me at all times and from all sides all day long. I don’t see how they (my bosses especially) don’t understand that when they talk to me about non-urgent stuff, they are distracting me from work…THAT I AM DOING FOR THEM. Today was especially bad and your post really hit home! Maybe this is all preparing me for having children?

  220. I share an office with my husband. I feel your pain. He’s on vacation. I’m listening to really cheesy Mike Oldfield against my will and leaving the room when the cigarette is lit.
    I just braved two hours of Montreal traffic to get to Ikea today and bought a wall shelf unit to store enough stuff to move me into the front room. Our kid isn’t even here right now and I want to throw someone out the window. I’d give anything to be handling the smaller of the two children.
    I’ve forced him to move on to Mike Stern until further notice. Jesus, the man’s got to learn the difference between jazz and cheese, or I’m totally moving to the other side of the house.
    I think the “here’s what you get to do if you don’t leave me alone” thing actually works. I’ve tried it on a 36 year old, so it might actually work on the teenagers.

  221. You and the cat can both come here, as long as you promise not to talk to me. :))) Maybe you should try bribery.

  222. I feel your pain… I am a mother of 2 boys (age 3 and 5) and I am a full time employee (computer work) from home without baby-sitting help. (I don’t have a room for private office either.) My husband is working 6 days a week since he became self-employed this year. Between taking care of kids, housework, and full-time work, I squeeze out time to knit. Although I can only knit middle of the night most of the time, I feel so guilty when I knit as if I should be doing more of housework, spending time with family, etc. But I really need this private knitting time or time-alone, that I end up staying up late at night. I am thinking lately that this knitting is what keeps me going. When you post your blog, I read it with a cup of coffee for a break. It is my favorite time of the day πŸ™‚

  223. How the hell do WE get to Aruba?
    Assuming, of course, you don’t mind sharing your ‘alone’ time with another crazy work at home herder of teenage hurricanes…….do they have pina coladas?

  224. Forget Arbua, Steph … i live in a gated community here in Tampa (no its not for old people)
    I have a guest room with private entrance and its own bath (ok so my 2 cats, Buster & Purl do live in it also).
    We have 3 pools, 2 hot tubs, a full spa, 3 bars. and best of all, no one can get thru the front gate without an invitation. (that keeps out husband and teenagers).
    just email me when to pick you up at the airport.
    Madame DeFarge
    ps. did i mention it is clothing optional??

  225. Can you send them to grandmas? Aunts? Uncles? Either all together or one at a time. I find the house gets really quiet if just one child leaves, suddenly there are no fights to break up and it’s easier to related to the one left in a positive way. If they both go I begin to wonder what I ever did before I had kids.
    Another option is to give each child a list of chores to do. They must do them. If they argue about it you add another chore to the list. While they work away you hide in a quiet closet somewhere. The chores can be very creative-send them to find the wool the squirrel keeps taking.

  226. How about —-adding a doorknob with a lock to your office door and you only have the keys so at least you could control access to the office. Then you should wear earplugs and only remove them at set times when the children can communicate with you. Yes, I’m childless. πŸ™‚
    Best wishes in finding a good solution.

  227. Oh, Steph—I know where you’re coming from. But I have good news!! The offspring will soon understand your need for alone time. Soon, just about the time they get ready to move out!! Sorry, but that’s just the way it is. I will soon be an empty nester (which means MORE SPACE FOR YARN!) Hang in there girl!

  228. Schedule a family meeting. Tell them how much uninterrupted alone time you need each day. Ask them what they will do to ensure that you get it. Ask them what they want to get in return. Something out of the ordinary, but within reason. Perhaps a mother-daughter chat where you do nothing but listen. Or maybe a weekly outing of some sort.
    They’re so smart, let them figure out the answer to your problem.

  229. Duct Tape!!!!!
    Just the thought of it should make you at least smile… picture it… the whole lot of them… bound and gagged with duct tape all shoved into one room together on the other end of the house, or garage, or furthest corner of the back yard.
    OK, so since that could cause problems if the police find out… I LOVE the idea of handing out chores… it’ll either cut down on the chores you have to do, or more than likely they will QUICKLY learn to avoid you!
    If you need a good laugh while in Aruba, go back to the above image… gives me a GREAT chuckle and they aren’t even mine.
    Start making the “to do” list and best of luck.
    P.S. I find bourbon works well too… NOT for them… for YOU! :o)

  230. Can I come too? Please?
    Our winter holiday is just over now and working from home while being cooped up with 3 kids (14, 4 & 3) just about put me over the edge as it rained constantly and they were stuck indoors. I found myself eerily turning into my mother and saying things I remember from my gruesome teenage years:
    “If you can’t find food you deserve to starve.”
    “You again! You must be bored. Here is a job for you (always something horrid)”
    “I thought I would take you to the cinema this afternoon but I can’t. I have to clean the bathroom, peel five pounds of potatoes, change all the bedlinen…” Add deep meaningful sigh and walk away.
    “All grievances must be submitted in writing” (with teenage girls this can keep them busy for hours)
    “No. Whatever it is, No.”
    “Because I said so.”
    “WWaaagrrrgghhhhh!” (shake frying pan at them)
    And if you really want to drive the point home wait until their friends are over, join them and refuse to leave (point out they did want your attention and now you have time to share it!) and talk endlessly about anything medical. Mention pus. They will get the point if you embarrass them enough.
    This one also works for teenagers who are not where they are supposed to be on time. Hunt them down and (in front of their friends) shriek “There you are, my baby!” give them a sloppy kiss and hold their hand all the way back to the car.
    It works. Ask me how I know.

  231. take the laptop to the library. wear a disguise in case they come looking for you.
    when mine were still at home sometimes I locked myself in the car. you would be surprised how long it took them to think of looking there. especially when I drove it around the corner.
    you have my sympathy – how many more weeks?

  232. Every time they sit down for some of their “me” time give them a job that you know they loathe. Continue this pattern, and pretty soon they will not want to be in the same room with you for fear they will be given more work.
    Trust me. I’m 13. I know.

  233. Oh I know how you feel. Me being a work at home mom…and mine being so young that I CAN’T escape for a bit….really takes a toll on you!

  234. Have fun wherever you escape to! I like the idea of the yarnharlot cruise…
    Oh yeah, you can read my new (!) shiny(!) blog(!) while you run away.

  235. You know, it could work if you just took your laptop, a charger, and ran out the door to the nearest coffee shop. It’s surprisingly soothing I think. But that could be just me talking. My parents were really never home. XD Probably why we haven’t killed each other in the first 15 years of my life. But that’s changed… I’m sure you drive your kids as batty as they drive you. Every action cases and equal and opposite reaction. *patpat*

  236. I’m just a stay at home mom and I still find a need to schedule a Mom Vacation most years. The best one was the year I went and stayed at my parents cabin (no electricity or running water) for 3 days. By myself. No conversation for 3 days. It was wonderful.

  237. Have you considered having an out-of-home office? Likw, what’s that back room at Lettuce Knit doing these days?
    Basically, all my family and I, and many of my friends, work from home and have to deal with their kids all summer. It can be done. Could it be you’ve reached ‘writing avoidance’?

  238. Ask them for help around the house. They’ll be gone before you can drag the vacuum out.

  239. Whatever you do, don’t relent on the TV Rules.
    Resort to taking their money or putting quantities of Benadryl in their beverages, but not the tube…..
    If you cave, they will never leave you rest.

  240. oh, honey, i SO understand. this is the first summer i’ve been home with the boys (now almost 13 & 15) since t hey were itty bitty guys (like newborn and 2?), and i swear, i KNEW there was a reason why i didn’t like teenage boys. and the worst part? hubby doesn’t get why i’m just a wee bit stressed out. i go to S&B every thursday, and i usually take off around 3 or so. still, (especially, lately), when i call at 730 to see how he’s doing (he goes to bed very early because he gets up very early), it’s “come home honey, they’re driving me batty.” he has no frigging idea!
    however, with 26 days to go til school starts, i think we’ve finally reached a compromise. if mom’s spinning, do not approach unless it’s a dire life situation. a late lunch IS NOT a dire life situation, no matter HOW hungry you are. you are 14 (or 12). you know where the bread and lunchmeat are. go make your sandwich and LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE. sorry, i should go put this on MY blog, and not yours, lol.

  241. Oh – and hey Steph? Nice to see you in the 25th Anniversary Issue of Vogue! Great job!

  242. J.K. Rowling wrote “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” book in various Edinburgh coffee shops. Just a thought.

  243. there really is no solution. I spin and dye and sell said yarn and fiber…clearly i don’t go to an office. Summer is HELL. My three children will not quit asking things like: “when can we go swimming” and “It sure would be fun to go to the library”. LIKE I HAVE TIME FOR THAT. I am busy goll durn it. I have 13 pounds of silk to dye. I have untold pounds of yarn to dye, and even more wool. They just don’t get it. You’d think i was a stay-at-home mom or something. (and worse yet, my husband, the attorney works out of house too. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!!)

  244. I say you make threats to tell all their friends and boys who call the house embarassing childhood stories every time someone calls. Just hearing the phrase “did I ever tell you about the time…” should do it.

  245. Oh, Stephanie, I feel for you! I am going through the same thing right now (and, btw — as the mom of a 6 and an 8 year old, and a former HS teacher, I TOTALLY agree — teenagers DO need more supervision!). Summer is terrible! I am so torn between work deadlines/orders and trying to make some $$ to pay the ever climbing bills, and the need to be with the kids and make their summer enjoyable, or at least help them find something to do that keeps them from killing each other or crawling up my butt! Wishing oyu luck, sanity, and peace and quiet, my dear.

  246. You could always try saying when your kids get in the door……….”Oh good, you home! There’s something you need to do.” Followed by something you know they wouldn’t want to do……..clean your room, clean the bathrooms for me……sweep the floors……….do the laundry, mow the yard, run an errand do somewhere that’s a waste of time. In other words anything you don’t like to do that uses a bunch of time.
    Good Luck!

  247. Aw Steph, come on and use some of my creative juice for a moment since you are tapped out.
    Just use anyone who interupts as your secretary.
    “Oh wow, your bored? Good, I need someone to type for a few hours while I dictate”. Sometimes just asking for them to make a fresh pot of coffee sends them running. Finally, hand them a SMALL amount of money (perhaps enough for a box of pasta but not enough for sauce too) and tell them they are responsible for dinner for the whole family tonight, planning, shopping, cooking and clean up.
    Good luck

  248. Hahahahahaha! I can relate! Enjoy your alone time, and if you ever figure out how to explain the doing work vs. living in a box thing, please let us all know.

  249. I hear you loud and clear. I can’t write at home, and I don’t even have kids. I just have a boyfriend and cats, and that’s enough distraction to kill all my creativity. Even when the cats are locked up and BF is at work I still find writing at home difficult. My answer is writing at coffee shops. Sadly, my favorite writing spot just suffered massive fire damage, so I have to find a new place to escape to. Go figure.
    My theory is that the cost of a few copies is well worth the ability to get some work done. (Especially when someone, namely a publisher, is paying you to write.)

  250. Actually, the shoe is on the other foot at our house. I get to leave each morning to work with other people only one of whom I actually hate. It is my poor DH who works at home with the guyzos. Our oldest son is handicapped but that has not stopped him from learing how to squirt water from the sink and totally innundate the bathroom including all knitting books on the back of the toilet. Or getting into the dog water….see a theme here? Or finding anything on the counter in his reach and dragging it to the floor. You can be gone two seconds and he can destroy a perfectly clean living room. Add to that a nine year old who has a trail of crap following him from room to room. And the youngest wonders why we demand notice to shovel the house before he invites friends over. I usually knit at lunch at work or in the car at red lights.
    Come to think of it, I need to book a flight to Aruba for my hubby. You won’t mind the company since he will be the poor soul getting a chance to sleep and won’t be talking at all.

  251. Steph, many others have given excellent suggestions for coping with the lack of alone-time. All I have to offer is sympathy, alas, and a nod toward the future: When my children were ten and twelve, a friend told me that life begins “when the kids leave home and the dog dies.”
    Now that my kids are 18 and 20, I’m starting to see what he meant. My youngest left home this summer (just off to an apartment in town with a friend), and I find myself reveling in the fact that I have the mental room to put two thoughts together. I’m having the time of my life this summer, actually.
    So hang in there. It won’t be long now!

  252. Stephanie,
    I think you must be chaneling me! I too write from home. Two friends and I publish a quarterly knitting newsletter. I have girls aged 14 and 17. Today I did household chores before taking one child to theatre rehearsal and another shopping. Picked child at rehearsal up and took her to the theatre for a matinee performance, took second child home, picked first child up so she could be fed before an evening performance, went to see her in evening performance, then took her to her best friend’s sweet 16 birthday party 30 miles from home, and returned home at 10:30 pm. I am now beginning to “work”. I am trying to get the current issue of the newsletter to the printer before leaving on a working vacation Sunday. Short of no sleep (which seems to be my solution), I have no suggestions. It is an exhausting life, but I don’t know which part I could give up.
    If you ever have a free moment, I invite you to read my blog:www.allinaday-kris.blogspot.com
    Good luck to you. I hope you hae some productive alone time.

  253. No one has ever, ever found me at the library at the vet school. It’s way too intimidating for most people. Nobody ever looks for anybody there. Just ask Amelia Earhart and Jimmy Hoffa.

  254. Oh how I empathise … the flip side of being able to work at home … in spades!
    Can you find a neighbour who’s off for a week or two to the cottage. Offer to house sit.
    Give the kids the phone number but not the address. Then “go to work” for an hour or two in the morning, again in the afternoon, more in early evening. Increase the time.
    And be careful how you answer the phone. “Find it yourself” is better than “the milk’s in the fridge”. The family will get the point! You’ll be the neighbours’ comfort. You’ll survive.
    Just so you are prepared, it happens even when they’ve left home!

  255. From a Mom who also agreed that teens need more supervision than 10 year olds (and now has 2 well adjusted young adults), let me say there is light at the end of the tunnel.
    No wait – that’s the train…
    I am sorry and I do understand. I worked from home for several years while the hubby was mostly on the road for long stretches. It is hard. I worked a lot of nights while they slept and was sleep deprived more often than not. But in the end, it’s worth the struggle.
    I could offer you a lovely quiet guest room, except you’d have to come to beautiful BC. My door is always open!

  256. I work from home. My mom works from home occasionally and it seems that I ALWAYS know the moment she is working at home because I’ve managed to call her at that exact moment. I have four beagles and we have instituted quiet hour in order for me to get some work done. Now, I know you can’t put kids into a crate with a pig ear or chewie and let them have at it (I hear children’s services looks down upon this), but you certainly could just lock yourself in a room for awhile… I manage to get twice as much work done during those two hours of nap/quiet time than I do the entire day.
    If you can manage it, cage and chewie. I guess that’s my input.:)

  257. Figure out how much time you need during the day, and then schedule it. After all, do the kids get up at 6am? No? Then get up, do your work, and be done. You must be smarter than they are.
    You must set limits, you are the parent, they are the children. If they don’t follow your wishes or commands, it is not precisely their faults – they are simply continuing behaviors that have worked to get your attention in the past. Like all things, the re-programming for you all will take more than one or two tries. But if you want results, you must decided on a program of action, and stick with it.
    Most of these posts focus on setting boundaries, limits. They need to be decided upon, set, and kept.

  258. Oh, my DH works from home and we take turns standing guard over the 1-year old and 5-year old. (I’m a college professor, so I can be somewhat flexible). For him, this means that the house is his workplace, so he’s disinclined to clean it very much. For me, this means that all class prep and grading and housecleaning and knitting, etc., must occur after all the little people are in bed. We have very firm bedtimes around here.
    I think you have to pretty much be a night person to make this kind of thing work. That and a lot of turn-taking.

  259. Oh thank God it’s not just me with this problem at the moment. Except it’s not so much my son as the rest of the world getting in my way. I have this big dye job that I’m committed to, and I really want to do. The problem is that I can never get people (or the world) to leave me alone long enough for me to get something done. I need to come up with several new colorways for a friend of mine who owns a yarn store, and there is always something unavoidable that comes up that sucks up my time. Since it’s design work, I need to be in a the right frame of mind and mood. I need to NOT be stressed, interrupted, or hurried in order to get the creative juices flowing. I’m sure that there are people out there (who are much more talented than I am) who can come up with something no matter their mood or circumstances. Not me that’s for darn sure! So after listening to me whine about how I now understand why people go to writers and artist colonies, how I could become a part time hermit, and how I could really, really use a studio that I could lock myself in and not come out (or let people in!) until I wanted to, my DH had a solution. He suggested that since this was his weekend to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, he would run interference for me and tell people that I’m not here, screen my phone calls, take care of dinner and the house and all, so I could get my designing done and not totally lose my mind. This is my weekend, Hurray!!! Good luck on your mission Harlot. If things don’t improve let me know and I’ll send my DH up to run interference for you too LOL! He likes Toronto and he could bring his bike.

  260. A simple suggestion: get up early to write. I would guess that at 6am, the darling teenaged daughters will be very quiet…
    My husband and I are both novelists (among other things) with a four-year-old son. Eric is a morning person, so he writes from 4am – 7am, I’m a night owl, so my day starts at 9pm, after the little one goes to bed.
    Most writers get all they need done in 3-4 hours a day (even the prolific Stephen King.) And I know on days I try to write more than than, my brain goes fritz, my muse leaves the room in disgust, and I end up playing solitaire.
    Happy Writing!

  261. The reason you work from home, I suspect, is so you can be there for your children. Deadlines are the problem. Interruptions play havoc with deadlines. While it might be a bit late to renegotiate a deadline for the current project… on the other hand it might not… you might ask if you can push things back a month and take this time with the girls. In any case, something to keep in mind for future writing projects that fall across a summer. Money… well, you might actually sit down with the girls; show them the household budget and let them know that if they take time from your work (at how-ever-much an hour), since they are old enough to work, they need to go out and find a job that will replace that money for the household.

  262. Stephanie,
    You write so eloquently what’s in my head for the last week. I too work from home and I have 4 children (and their various friends who seem to have no home of their own) — Aruba sounds *really* nice right now…but alas, I have no laptop….

  263. Oh, lovely one. I hear ya. Could you perhaps formalise some time to yourself – make an agreement with the kids? You don’t seem the scheduling type (me neither) but that’s what I’ve had to do and, even though I hate it – abracadabra – I get things done.
    Y’know, there’s a reason why on aeroplanes they tell parents to put the oxygen masks on before they help their children – its because if you’re not fully okay you can’t be there for them.
    Find a way to guarantee yourself that oxygen mask!

  264. How about an iPod? I find that I can put mine on, and then I just smile and nod at the kids and listen to the music… as long as the house isn’t burning!

  265. You don’t need to travel as far as Aruba (really hot in the summer) – you can come a few hours north to Ottawa and enjoy the sticky heat and humidity here. πŸ™‚ I’ve got a spare room (daughter moved out 2 years ago), wireless internet, AND I work from home. I know how distracting children on vacation can be. You can pick your preferred work space and I promise to leave you alone for several hours at a time.
    I have chocolate, too. Now that my daughter doesn’t live here, it lasts long enough to share. πŸ™‚

  266. My family (I’m the 23year old kid who is home for a few months) is going to “the lake” this weekend and I’m getting endless crap for staying home – but some peace and quiet sounds wonderful! Good luck!

  267. I would suggest working in the bathroom but after years of experience with 6 children I know that doesn’t work either. I did achieve peace, calm and quiet for brief periods by standing in my closet behind the clothes with the door closed and the light off. Hard to work that way!

  268. work early, take advantage of teenage sleeping habits. When I’m truly busy I’m up and at it at 4AM (and I would have laughed in the face of anyone who said I would do that 10 years ago) downside is you crash early so maybe 6AM?. Remote location for your workspace, mine is in the front end of my basement, make em work to get to you. Get an intercom, you can get them with three stations set it up Kitchen, Workspace, popular child location. This gets rid of wandering around to tell someone the phone is for them etc. The Movie idea works really well but that means giving up your TV rules. Dad is home Dad is in charge

  269. I am a consistent early morning riser. While I don’t write to publish, I do a LOT of writing for the classes I teach. Every year I create dozens of new activities and handouts for my classes, many of which get shared via other listservs or on my own website.
    So I get up at 5:30 AM to write. The kids are sleeping ’til at least 9 AM, the house is quiet. I get a lot done. Occasionally I will knit while waiting for the creative spark. πŸ™‚ I especially do this during the summer when the girls sleep later (the oldest is home from college for the weekend at the moment & the twins are rising seniors). The more creative stuff I’ve developed in the summer for the coming year, the less frazzled I will be during the school year with four math preps (two of which are Advanced Placement courses).

  270. I feel your pain! I work and go to grad school and I have small children–and on my days off, I babysit (I do a sitting-kid-trade with a neighbor.) So while I am writing 20,000 words on metadata (its library school) I have three kids under 5 racing around, Power Ranges flying through the air, the floor covered with My Little Ponies. If my professors could see my work conditions I would get an automatic A and a medal for bravery.
    I don’t yet have teenagers (though I hope my kids will survive to that age, some days it seems doubtful.) If there was a medal for Extreme Writing and Creation Under Pressure you would HAVE IT!

  271. This, too, shall pass. (chant) I have a theory that you must build up a serious case of “wanting” your children gone, before they will actually go off and be adults. If life with kids just got better and better, why would they ever leave? Why would you want them to? (I know…. grand children and knitting beautiful little jackets… but that won’t be enough to convince them to leave. Trust me.)
    Still, it’s a pain while you are in this phase, and it is not a comfort to know, someday you’ll miss having them around.
    Rams… how many kids did this friend of yours have? Your fantasy sounds pretty idealic to me (when I had teens).

  272. I don’t have any teenagers (just a very talkative (wonder where he gets it?) 4 year old) but I completely feel your pain.
    I remember as a teen being put to work doing LOTS of menial labor around the house if I even thought of bothering my mom. She had super-human thought reading abilities, I swear. I’m sure that we had the tidiest 1.5 acre yard that had never seen any sort of chemical because we were all out there weeding it by hand.
    Enjoy Aruba and send us a post card.

  273. I teach junior high. School started on July 23. I will put the tip jar on my desk at open house next week so that grateful parents can contribute to my next vacation. After reading all these comments I think that parents should adore and rever me a lot more!

  274. Although I’m a stay-at-home-mom, and my children are 12, 8 and 1 1/2, I totally am with you.
    Sometimes I just wish I could just have 5 min to think (and knit). Or pack my things and return from, say, the Hebrides in about two years. Working from home would make me a hysteric.
    Thanks for keeping up blogging anyway, I’m always looking forward to reading your posts.
    Greetings from Germany,

  275. I work-at-home also and I’m with you. Although my kids are almost 6 and 8. I’ve been working at night (8-11:30) for 8 years. It’s only been the last couple of years that they’ve let me get ANYTHING done work-wise when they’re awake, and even then, it’s constantly interrupted.
    So I, for one, am looking forward to First Grade this year, when I can look at the six hours with no children and know that if I spend three of those working, I will still have time to eat, to knit, to do what needs to be done and finally…FINALLY…not have to spend every evening working till I’m falling asleep at the keyboard. Whew! It’s been a long time!

  276. Forget threats, go for bribery. Oh wait, now it is called Parenting Through Incentives. Mine are younger (11, 8, 5), so I promise if they leave me alone long enough to get X much writing done, I’ll take them swimming or something. Yours are older, so the bribes have to change. I don’t know if you can bribe the hubby, though. Mine still goes away on his own every day.
    For brief escape times, I walk the dog, trying very hard just to tell my husband about it and sneak out before the children realize I’m going somewhere without them.

  277. Make a list of chores, post it on your door and each time one interrupts you, tear off the bottom chore and hand it to them. Bet you still have 3/4 of the page left and plenty of quiet time for August.

  278. I feel your pain. I have been working from home for almost 20 years. When they were younger it was a nightmare and I always comforted myself with the (mistaken) belief that it would get better when they got older. Well, now that they’re 15 and 19 I can only upgrade it to a disaster. Although they are more self-sufficient, they don’t need less supervision and they still manage to interrupt me about as much as they ever did. Some days it literally takes me eight hours to accomplish the work I could do in half the time if I could be left alone to do it. Sorry, I wish I had some answers…

  279. We have a mandatory, daily “quiet hour,” usually during the hottest part of the day. It was actually my husband’s idea, a practice he learned at a summer camp he attended, which he suggested as a way to salvage a bit of my sanity… For one full hour every day (not during school, of course) we all do something ALONE and QUIET. It may be a nap, it may be writing a letter, it usually is reading a book, for for ONE FULL HOUR I get peace… Amazingly enough, they seem to get something out of it too.

  280. WHEW!!! I know this is not helping but thank goodness your house is like mine…see I thought that maybe mine was the “crazy house” HA I did have a very good outside career and decided to stay home and I can honestly say I have done MORE work now than I did when I had a job. Hope you get some peace soon.

  281. This is for Christine:
    I’m sorry that your son ran away. I too, hope you find him and you all can find a way to live with more peace. Here’s a virtual hug…

  282. You should’ve started training them earlier. I’m a teenager & both my parents work at home. Not only do I mostly stay out of their way, they’ve managed to get me to cook dinner for them, so they don’t have to take time for that.
    Maybe you can send your children to a psychic or something, & get them hypnotised to leave you alone?

  283. I understand completely – been there. 2 suggestions 1. lock yourself in the bathroom for about a half hour – or long enough to see straight.
    2. ask for a ‘time out’. The idea being-I don’t want to yell all the time – but you are stretching my sanity.
    Good luck – this too shall pass.
    By the way – you sound like a GREAT Mom.

  284. This too shall pass….like a kidney stone, maybe…. but it will pass….then the silence will be deafening….

  285. I also work from home and have three kids hanging from rafters here. I run a book business out of the house, and am also writing a book, so I think I can relate a little bit. Oh and similar to your house, no electronics (save music only) are allowed at our house between the hours of noon and eight.
    Here’s the thing, my hubby knows that I need to work when they’re home, so when he IS home, he is required to contribute if he wants me to keep making the moolah. Occasionally I have to remind him, but that is OK. I also tell them, what times hey have an open door (unless bleeding) and what times they do not.
    Blood or broken bones are the only exceptions. If they fight while I am working and they come get me, I make them sit on the couch and hold hands. (just threaten and the look of horror in their eyes is worth it all) Teaching them that parents need some time to do their work is NOT neglect or even being selfish on your part. It’s a very valuable lesson that they need to learn. PLUS, we all need to be able to entertain or take care of ourselves a bit. So really, you’re doing them a big favor telling them to take a hike. Wow, what a great Mom you are!
    P.S. They’re driving me nuts this summer, and that does not make me a bad Mom.
    P.P.S. Hang in there, as my mom always tells me in times of stress: this won’t last forever.

  286. Best way to clear the house of kids? – just announce a spring cleaning! You could even look as if you’re going to start it. Once they’ve mysteriously scattered to the four winds, put down the cleaning cloth and retreat to the study.
    Okay, maybe that’s being a little glib, but I constantly marvel at how my family find other things to do and places to be when there unpleasant chores to be done.
    I’m still waiting for the summer toys – wetsuits, flippers, body-boards, fishing tackle, hats etc,- to be cleared off the patio, in mid-winter here!
    I hope you find the space you need.

  287. Considering you are not getting any time alone, I doubt you will have time to read all the posts, but here is my suggestion anyway:
    When my kids were little I used to turn on the kitchen timer for 1 hour, or 2 depending on ages, and unless the house was on fire or someone was bleeding to death there was to be absolutely no noise or disturbance in the house. You wouldnt beleive how many time I found the kids staring at the thing, waiting in a silent trance for the thing to ring… The kitchen timer is mother’s best little helper, its impartial, does not scream or answer back, and really works for the entire family….Until this rings am not here…. The other advantage is that everyone gets a quiet/alone time, so everyone is relating better to others later.
    Of course, leaving for Aruba……

  288. I have an odd sort of job that keeps me on the move. I have an office and sometimes I work from home. On a regular basis I escape with my laptop to the quiet corner of the public library. It works. I think the sort of job I do requires “thinking” time when I stare at the wall uninterupted. If I do that in the presence of either my family, or my colleagues, they interupt. Off to the library. They don’t know me there because I never make pleasant conversation. I wear grey and I sit quietly. I don’t want to be noticed.

  289. There are times when I get a bit overwhelmed with life and am about to descend into crazy-lady territory. At those times I look at my child and tell her, “Mommy is taking a time out.” And I give her a timer with 15 minutes on it and tell her to come get me when it dings. At five, she finds this completely hilarious and leaves me alone for my much needed 15 minutes of peace.

  290. You poor thing, I can totally relate. I have a 9 month old, three year old, five year old, and a 14 year old. And two of them are homeshooled. And I of course have the spinning magazine to write.
    It can be a mess, but I find that I have to be really strict about working time. I have to be pretty mean, and hop all over them for the tinyest infraction, every single time.
    I find that if I don’t instantly met out some sort of punishment, such as making two kids who are fighting sit on the couch for 15 minutes while they hug each other and say the things they love about that person. Then it’s a constant fight to get anything done. I have also been known to say that obviously you are bored, go clean the kitchen or something like that. I find that after doing this several times, when I am working the kids tiptoe around me, afraid I will assign them housework. It takes a few days of getting mostly nothing done, but then you have smooth sailing.
    I also end up staying up till like 1:30 am at times. Or getting up at 4am.
    If that doesn’t work, there’s always duct tape.

  291. Go for it! You deserve a break. I think we all know by now that yours is a generous, loving and giving nature. I say call in your favors. Being the exceptionally responsible person you are, go ahead and get 3 responsible adults to commit to total responsibility of each of your children – presumably Joe can take care of himself and the children can take care of the cat and just GO, GO somewhere and let them miss you for a week during which time you will regain your…(whatever it is you need to regain).

  292. Would a lock on the door work in your situation? I have actually locked myself in the bedroom before. The kids pound on the door but at least they can’t get to me.

  293. I am also currently coping with the exploded bag of dirty clothes in the living room, the grocery bills thru the roof, the loud music from upstairs.
    But in my case, I am grateful beyond belief. My Marine son is home on R&R from Iraq. Count your blessings, Steph. I know I am. (At the same time – Yeah, feeling rolled over by the Marine!Goth tusnami and am hiding out in my study for a few minutes.)
    Take that library time or declare hours X to Y are ‘closed door’ times. That’s how I got thru his high school years. And OH yeah, teens need a LOT more attention than most of them get.
    JC was talking to me about his finacee. They are starting to have those hard discussions – the ones about money, children, careers, ect. He told me that about the only place that they are having a real issue in on childrearing. He wants to raise their kids in the ‘tough but fair’ mode that he grew up in. She’s a lot more liberal. He told me, “Mom, when I was 15 I thought you were so mean. I had to be home early, and there for supper every night, had to do my homework and you’d check. Now my friends whose parents didn’t care are in jail or working dead end jobs and I’m an NCO. Thanks.”
    So hold on – the emo and dark mutterings do turn into compliments at some point.

  294. I’m with Shelly on the Yarn Harlot cruise to Aruba! Sounds like a great way for all of us to get away and get some uninterupted knitting/thinking/alone time and some fresh air and sunshine at the same time.

  295. Three things:
    1) I feel your pain.
    2) You’re not taking your knitting?
    3) Apparently you’ve perfected the art of cycling on water. How do you do that?

  296. You have my support, don’t forget your coffee. I need at least 1 day at home by myself, without having to go anywhere or I go absolutely buggy. See ya when you get back.

  297. I have no brilliant suggestions, so all I can do is hand over a nice mixed drink with a little umbrella and the SPF300 or so. Although frankly, I think the idea of a Harlot cruise is a great one. If I had the money, I’d sign on in a second!
    (For those whose spouses are home all the time and driving them nuts – and who also have no kids at home – I do have one suggestion. Do what my DH and I did when we both went on disability and were pining for computer access time. [One computer + two computer nuts = problems. Kinda like with teens, LOL.] Switch to a 12-on, 12-off schedule and alternate sleeping times. You get reasonable interaction with each other, but the rest of the time the spouse is asleep and you are blissfully alone, alone, alone! Some people thought it was weird or funnier ‘n hell, but it worked for us!)

  298. The lime green beach chair sitting unused on the beach in Aruba is mine…feel free to use it in my place. Have a beer for me while you are there!

  299. I used to have a friend that said he would tell his children he was going to throw 100 pennies in the yard and when the found them all he would take them anywhere they wanted to go. Then he would throw 98! What a stinker. But it worked for he and his wife. After a few hours when they only had 98 he would say, CLOSE ENOUGH! And off they would go! I’m not sure what you would throw out for teens but it’s worth some thought!

  300. Have you tried earplugs? It works better if you can maintain a line of sight to your children, so they know you’re watching them… but it’s harder for them to distract you.
    My mother had to log in 4 hours of studying a day at home, after getting home from her full-time professional job as an actuary, when she was studying for her fellowship. This was 8 months out of the year, for about 6 years. With 4 kids at home ranging from ages 15 through 1 year.
    Her trick was to work at the kitchen table, so she could keep an eye on what was going on (and we knew she was there, hard to sneak around when mom’s at the kitchen table), but she wore EARPLUGS, so she couldn’t hear any of it, and could concentrate on her studying/thoughts.
    Good luck. I hope you find a good solution. πŸ™‚

  301. P.S. — in the kennels I like the Smith and Wesson headsets meant to damp sound at firing ranges. They REALLY, REALLY work, even in a municipal animal shelter with 500 dogs barking all at once in a concrete building. You can hear just enough to hear something important with the headset alone on; if you use your ear-bobs for your Ipod under the headset, you have pure uninterrupted musical bliss.
    I have to have wordless music for work, myself — otherwise I sing along. πŸ™‚

  302. That must be so frustrating for you. I also NEED my alone time, so I can relate. Here’s an idea…why don’t you take some time at the beginning of the day to go off by yourself, so that you’re not resentful at 5:00 in the afternoon, when you haven’t had any alone time. I find if I take the time to have some alone time, then I am a much more patient parent because I’ve taken care of myself a little bit and I have some energy to deal with my two daughters when they’re making me crazy. Anyway, I think a lot of us (who read your blog) can relate to what you’re saying, and I know I feel so appreciative of your honesty and frankness. You work hard – you deserve some alone time. Make sure you get it – early in the day, so that it actually happens.

  303. Look out Aruba you lucky people —here she comes –loaded down with her laptop and NOTHING else ????!!!!!

  304. Sorry, I don’t have kids, but I do have parents. Luckily, they don’t need much supervision so I can run away and visit friends or go to the beach when I need a moment to breathe. Hang in there, I hear it gets better.
    PS: Love the mug! πŸ™‚

  305. I have 4 under 8. Nap time is my time and bed time. But then they are small and can be “made” to do things.
    Maybe a reward type thing can be set up. Say you work out that mom gets x hours (secs) a day, from such to such time, then said month and children and then do such and such on what ever day because mom got her work done. If they want to go to the library, pool, what ever, they can do it on say Friday with you, but they have to give you 2 hours a day (or what ever you need) to work so you can do such things. I have to bartter for my time, and even more some when my hubby is home because if he has been gone all day at work, he wants to see me and not be left with 4 little people while I hide some place and work. I know yours are bigger, but still stuff and time with mom (or dad) alone doing what they want can really work. Lucky for me stuff like the park still works, or the pool. Best of luck, enjoy the beach.

  306. I know where you’re coming from. Too bad I can’t leave my 3 year old alone!!!! LOL.
    I hope you get some much needed *you* time. We all deserve that!

  307. I have no suggestions. But if you get anything good, let me know. One kid, one husband (who wishes he was “pursuing other opportunities”), a dog and two cats wreak a poo-load of damange on one’s ability to “work at home”.
    Aruba sounds good.

  308. When you find out this crucial secret tell me and I will also be able to stop behaving like a fishwife.

  309. Stephanie,
    Hi! I don’t know if you have time to read ALL the comments, but I noticed you have Sept. 17 open…You are on Wichita the day before and you are in Houston a day after. Well Tulsa, Ok is right between those two places and I work at the coolest Yarn Store in the area: LOOPS. Anyway, I don’t know who to contact, but we would LOVE to have you with us in Tulsa. You have a ton of fans here.
    Take care,

  310. Didn’t I hear that JK Rowling wrote the first HP at a coffee shop in 2 hour increments while her baby was napping? Don’t you live in the city? Go find a coffee shop.

  311. Ohhhh, trust me I understand. As the mommy of 4 younguns with my hubby deployed… Alone time is rare. And heaven forbid I actually try to do something like KNITTING! For example:
    K2p1, k2p1, k2-
    *sigh*, pause movie, set down knitting, climb stairs, change diaper, fix bottle.
    Back down stairs, restart movie, pick up knitting, find place.
    P1, k2p1, k2p1-
    *sigh*, pause movie, set down knitting, climb stairs, help 3 yr old pull up panties.
    Back down stairs, restart movie, pick up knitting, find place.
    *sigh*, pause movie, set down knitting, pull 3 yr old into lap, restart movie without picking up knitting.
    3 yr old crawls into mommy’s bed, pick up knitting, find place.
    P1, k1
    I miss my dadddddddyyyyyyyy!!! I want you to snuggle with me!!!!!
    *sigh*, pause movie, set down knitting, climb into bed, snuggle till 3 yr old wants to go upstairs.
    restart movie, pick up knitting, find place.
    K1, Turn. P2k1 to end of row. Turn. K2p1, k2-

  312. Take your laptop and go hang out in your local medical library. The other patrons will be health professionals and medical students, i.e., adults. Much quieter than a public library. Sweet, sweet quiet.

  313. I have no suggestions, but I have to say this post did make me stop bemoaning my singleness and lack of roommates (usually something I rejoice in–well, the roommmate-less part at least). Ah. Quiet.
    Actually–I’ll trade you? Quiet, messy apartment in Oakland occupied by two cats with no other residents or friend dropping by in exchange for, y’know, human contact with someone who isn’t a coworker?

  314. Have laptop, will travel is my new motto as SAHM of two toddler boys—i got this as my escape and I’m on a search for the abyss that I might fall into so as to get uninterrupted time to be with my own thoughts–everything you said is so complete and verbatim of my thoughts after the day in and day out us mom’s endure. Know that we are here together in cyberspace and at lys’ or coffee shops (and bars!) rejuvenating to stay sane. Disappear and heal….!

  315. Wow, I can’t believe how many people responded to this. Isn’t it interesting how quick people are to offer advice on raising someone else’s children?
    Having offered that caveat, I will offer the following. I’ve been freelancing from home since my now grown son was 11. He was still at home interupting me with his personal dramas until he was 22. What worked best for me was to say “I am at work. This is the same as if I went away to work even though I am just down the hall. You may interupt me for anything that would require you to call me on the phone if I worked elsewhere. That is: If you find yourself in the presence of blood, fire, projectile vomiting, or other dangerous situation. Yes, if you are offered an opportunity to spend the afternoon at the zoo/park/movies you may come ask me. Otherwise: If you need a snack, get it. If you want to visit a friend in the neighborhood, shoot hoops in the school yard, or go to the library, leave a note on the kitchen table. No, I will not drive you anywhere, even if you left your backpack at school. If there is anything else you feel you really, really need to tell me- I will come out of my workroom at at 5pm and give it my undivided attention then.
    It’s not perfect. I still got interupted. But I was able to deflect most of the interuptions by telling him to save it 5 O’clock.

  316. I met a woman in the grocery store yesterday who, when I offered to finish her shopping, deliver her food to her home, and prepare her dinner if she would just take my three boys (who were making me insane at the moment, fighting, running over my feet with the cart, et al) for the rest of the day, told me her best threat used when her kids were underfoot:
    “Just know that at some point tonight you will fall asleep. When you do, I will shave half of your head.”

  317. Hope you find your quiet spot and have some work time. I have three cats but I know the working at home won’t work for me.

  318. Babysitter.
    From the time I was 5 until I was 16 my mother shipped me off to the grandparents on the farm in rural south Texas for the entire summer. This was her vacation time, as much as mine. Do you have any relatives who would like to see the girls for a prolonged period?
    Although I think the camp idea is brilliant.

  319. A viking hat and a little cardboard clock with movable hands (you know, the kind people put on market stalls with a sign saying “we’ll be back at…”).
    Since you don’t have a door, wearing the Viking hat is a visual sign that you are not to be disturbed until the time on the little clock.
    Combined with the “Disturb me and you get chores” thing, I think it could work.
    Although, I’d like to think that encouraging them to think of how nice it would be live without the harpie would work too.

  320. Some ideas:
    1. I bet you can take your laptop to the park. Or how about a coffeeshop? Library? University Library or Campus? I bet you can pick up a Wi-Fi connection in any of those places (wireless internet stuff, get your techie support system to explain) =)
    2. Is it in your budget to rent a small office/studio (closet) somewhere? Then you have a designated workplace to go to.
    3. How about spending one or two nights a week in a Hotel. There is a nice, quiet and cheap B&B I stayed at in Toronto. THe Ainsley House at 19 Elm Ave. Not too far from Yonge and Bloor. About $50.00 per night and you get breakfast! http://www.ainsleyhouse.com

  321. Steph. Aruba. July. Think about it. Maybe somwhere in Manitoba would be remote and cool? Okay, maybe Aruba doesn’t have black flies.

  322. My mom worked from home when my siblings and i were teens. She devised a clever plan to get us to leave her the hell alone AND keep us out of trouble that was so clever that we didn’t even realize it was a plan until years later when we were grown.
    Here’s the basics: Sit down and brainstorm a list of tasks. These tasks must be time consuming enough to get them out of your hair for awhile but not so long that they bitch and moan about it and thus drive you more crazy. (one of my mom’s favorites was to find strange dinner recipes with exotic ingredients. The kind of ingredients that could only be found at certain specialty grocery stores. Stores that just happened to be on the other side of town).
    Once you have a list made, assign each child a task for *EVERY OTHER DAY* of the week. This is key because it actually serves to get them out of your hair every day (because 1/2 the days they are running errands for you and the other 1/2 they are hiding to avoid you so that they don’t get assigned more errands). Brilliant!
    This plan is wonderful on a multitude of levels: the girls have to leave (and thus leave you alone), they are running errands (which saves you even more time because then you don’t have to run those errands), they are staying out of trouble (because you can’t be up to mischief and at the dry cleaners at the same time). PLUS if you send them on food errands then you will get to eat well on top of everything else!
    If all else fails, though, you can plead with friends to pick the girls up and take them to the movies or somewhere else to get them out of your hair for a few. Good luck!

  323. I can really recommend just leaving. Seriously. For a day, or two. It might take two days for them to notice. They will be fine, the cat will be fine, and you will feel much better afterwards.
    Don’t tell them where you’re going, but do tell someone. Maybe even someone who could just “drop by” and see how the teenagers are getting on.
    I put my email in above, but it’s fried right now…but my blog comment section works…if you need to say anything to me.
    Much love, Karin M-T

  324. Stephanie!!! You haven’t written in days, I haven’t read about any big Yarn Hiests. Have you really run off? Where will we all get our daily fix of knitiness????? Please come home. I’ll come from Kentucky and do your laundry!

  325. My boys (16 and 18)have jobs (at Panera which would be a great place for you to go and hide, Steph)so they are busy and also aren’t asking me for money all the time. Also girlfriends and summer reading for school and a band they are in. I wish they were home more, especially since the oldest will be going away in a month to college. I work at a school so I have summers off from there but work a second job where I can increase my hours for the summer. So I guess I am lucky that they are busy and not bugging me. And yes, teenagers need more but it seems like you have done a good job with your girls so they should be able to keep themselves occupied for a few hours and understand why you need some time. The sign on the door and the chores to do sounds good too.
    Hang in there.

  326. Steph,
    I have the “red, black,blue and dead” law. Unless my children (and that includes the 46 yo one) interrupt me it better be because some one is bleeding to death, bruised beyond all recognition , having trouble breathing (hopefully not because one child choked the other), or certifiably dead. My 18 yo son is home unexpectedly this summer. He was supposed to go to basic training. So, I have to deal with the boredom. Lack of money issue etc… I have to let them all know that there will be no playdates, or activities if I am interrupt one more time. As for my son, he leaves for college in 2 weeks…I count the days!!!

  327. It seems that the impulse to flee has been spreading lately. As an Atlanta, GA dweller, I’ve been dreaming of somewhere mountainous and secluded in Colorado. Just me and whatever I can stuff into a backpack. And my knitting bag. Or two.
    I say let Aruba take you. πŸ™‚ Someone has to live the dream for the rest of us. Mail me your cat. She can hang out with my demon, and perhaps teach him how NOT to eat my yarn.

  328. How interesting that I read your post now, after my first 3 alone hours in however many weeks it has been since summer vacation started, and a week’s vacation camping in the Upper Peninsula (really fun, but absolutely NO alone time) with my 5 family members….3 hours spent reading and knitting and contemplating how nice it is to have alone time and how much I have missed it and just how many more weeks until school starts again? It really does get to you, doesn’t it? :::sigh:::: I can totally relate…and I bet I’m not the only one! haha

  329. Can you get to Aruba on a bike? I would hate that your laptop got wet. Or your knitting.

  330. When I had 3 kids under 3 I used to abandon them to their dad for a couple of hours and escape to the nearby airport or a hotel where I could sip coffee and read in solitary bliss. It saved my sanity.
    Now that I work at home and my semi-retired husband is at home more and more I find that I regularly need to go to the library for “research” with my laptop. If the house catches fire, I’ll get a text message or an email.

  331. Ok Steph,
    I hope you get to read this one. Unless you are the “perfect prent” this is the solution to your problem.
    You are gonna have to loose it. I mean big time. Start throwing things at them like you are a m…f…ing nut of the worst kind. Stuff that if it made contact, it would infict some amount of mild to moderate pain (but no injury… don’t leave any evidence). Flail your arms. Scream chit that does not make any sense… with some truth sprinkled in on occasion. Scream so that your face turns beet red. Your hair has to stand up like Don King’s hair. Oh, and if you call them names… throws some of those in too.
    Make the first episode last about 3 minutes… no matter what they do or say, don’t stop until they leave your presence. Make the episodes of the “crazywoman maniac” increase in severity, intensity, and frequency until they leave you the hell alone and/or become reasonable with their demands/request.
    Trust me… this is the only thing they will respond to… and you will feel better.
    Dayum… I hope you read this.

  332. An observer once spent a year in a Grade 5 classroom. He noted that the teacher had only 15 seconds continuous time with any one issue before the demands of the classroom took her elsewhere. I’m sure you are feeling this… and no recess breaks.
    Caution: biking to Aruba may be somewhat hazardous to the laptop unless it is waterproof.
    Have you considered a judicious use of ear plugs?

  333. My favorite saying, and my kids know it by heart:
    “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”

  334. I got a lot of milage out of a sponge and a bowl of water. It sits at my side and any child who comes within whine range or hang on mom’s arm range gets the face sloppily washed with the sponge. They tend to stay a good six feet away after a couple of those. Add in to that, ear plugs and a lock on whatever door you lurk behind. When you go in there LOCK THE DOOR and put in the ear plugs.

  335. Tell them (the kids) you will let them get something pierced for every hour they leave you alone. Really.
    The piercings will eventually come out- but you will never get that needed time back.
    Am I dramatic? Possibly. A realist? Always.

  336. I don’t have children (yet) and I really admire parents. I can barely cope with things if I don’t get alone time without background noise like tv and phones (I do work with kids 8-9 hrs a day so I have an inkling) and I mean regularly.
    My hat is off to the parents out there who maintain their sanity enough to raise healthy, whole citizens and not lose themselves entirely in the meanwhile.
    Sounds like it is time for a latte and laptop break – do you have a personable coffee shop you can head to?

  337. I attended a seminar once on time management. The suggestion for not being interrupted was to: 1. lock your office door. (the lead question was “if you were going to have sex in your office what would you do to not be interrupted?” (sounds like sexual harrassment case to be, but I digress). So, lock your office door. Put a sign on the outside that says “Your Mum is having sex now – back in ____ hours” (SEX could stand for “Stach Enhancement EXcurssion” or something else less repulsive to teenagers. LOL. I also suggest listening to your iPod or something so you can’t hear them screaming. How about lock THEM out of the HOUSE! LOL.

  338. I hear you about the working OR parenting. I’ve got a high-speed 6 year old and a higher speed 2 year old, and nobody ever told them that girls are supposed to be quiet and helpful. πŸ™‚ They’re the swing-from-the-ceiling types. But now I’m working from home nearly full time and sleep deprived again just when my toddler started sleeping through the night. Hang in there. Just a month of summer “vacation” left.

  339. I already posted today but could not get Christine’s story out of my mind. I hope that boy is home by now. Otherwise, please contact the police or other appropriate agency that deals with runaways.
    I’m thinking the boy is suffering from depression?
    And otherwise, I kept thinking about how the kids need to have a purpose. You know, get them out of their own head a little. There are hospitals that need volunteers, and food banks, and homeless shelters. Let them see how good they’ve got it, and do something for someone else for a change, outside the family.
    Or let them start their own little enterprise, to earn that movie money.
    Anyway, just my 2 cents’ worth…I have a teenager and a 10yo.

  340. I have two step daughters, ages 21 and 19. There were summers where I doubted they would see the next school year begin.
    In order to accomplish working at home, I would set time limits. “Leave me alone for X amount of time.” Violators lost privledges or got assigned work. Usually, I sent them out to weed, trim or mow the yard once they were old enough for that type of labor. I also had them clean their rooms, clean the bathroom or take out the trash. When the husband interrupted, he got a calm and rational lecture about what I was doing and why I was doing it. A second interruption from him resulted in a request for him to take the kids to the park, a movie or their grandparents. Once all three were gone, I had blessed peace to work.
    If you want, I have a spare bedroom, few neighbors and a spinning wheel I will let you use.

  341. Okay, did I miss something here? Hubby is ‘between jobs’? No he isn’t. He is running the house and raising children. Why do we women think we have to do it all? Case closed. Next question?

  342. Don’t worry. Take your laptop to my house, because we have wifi, although i am not sure how well this would work because i have a little brother who is probably worse than anything you can imagine. Are you imagining? Now take the horrible thing you’ve just imagined,and multiply that by about a billion.
    You’ve just met my brother.

  343. Poor Stephanie
    If you relate to your girls at their level about what they will lose if you don’t get quiet time to work, they might understand better. It must be s something that they covet and something along the line of, if I can work on this (project, blog post, book, whatever) without interruptions for the next week, you will be able to have clothes for school. Or, did you say you wanted XXXX for (birthday/christmas or just because) – well I need some quiet time to make the money to pay for it. Kids don’t understand “bills” or paying for food, but they can relate to the objects they want/need – new album, the hot new shoes, latest style of jeans – whatever.
    When I was working 3 jobs to support my 4 kids, I put it in a perspective they could understand such as – I need to work 6 hours to pay for that new pair of jeans, or 10 hours for that sweater. They got the picture!

  344. Please let me know when you find someplace peaceful! I am currently tearing my house apart
    (hardwood floors, roof, gutters, exterior painting and landscaping) but thought the few weeks between school semesters would be enough time. Ha. In addition, am dealing with a 14yr who thinks she would rather live with me full time, a 17 year with moderate developmental disabilities, am starting a new non-profit for individuals with special needs, an ex who is a neandrathal(?), his wife with their precious 4 year old, and school starts in 7 days – I am a kindergarten teacher. I forgot to mention the aging parents with tons of demands and little patience. I want an island that is not too hot, with lots of hammocks, but very far away where I can knit socks and hats, and sleep past 6am. Is there such a place? Steph – take me with you if you go???
    Tricia – stretched to the breaking point!

  345. What you need, it sounds like, is an office. If you don’t have one, might I suggest hinting to the girls that one of their bedrooms might do nicely? It would, of course, mean they’d have to share a room.

  346. Can you not go to a cafe or library or may be ……… a yarn store???
    All you need is your lap top and some power. Your trusty stead can take you away, just leave a big pasta salad and they won’t miss you for hours.

  347. My mother went to college later in life. She was able to just shut her bedroom door. We understood she was pretty stressed and that seemed to take care of the rest. She did set time in the evenings, though, when we could catch-up on each other’s day.
    Duck tape and chores are also a good answer!

  348. When you said you couldn’t go to a library to do your work, right away I thought, why not? At least for some of the time. You would have no interruptions there. Did you know that J. K. Rowling wrote all of her books(or at least some of them) sitting in a certain cafe. I skimmed through all the comments and did not find this suggestion. It sounds good to me, anyway.

  349. Oh no, poor you! The part of me who is a parent is sending a big hug! I think your friend is right, you need buy in from the kids. I just spent 6 months going to massage school (too bad I don’t live closer or I would offer a massage because it sounds like it might do you some good) and my kids really did (for the most part) help us all get through it. I did a lot of “Man, this is hard! We are all having a hard time here!” You know, instead of “You guys are making this ten times harder and I want you to change right now!” which, you know, is totally what was going on inside my brain. I just asked my daughter why they were helpful and she said that they could see that I was having difficulty and that nothing good would happen if they didn’t help. I know. It isn’t much, but it’s all I have got. And after a heartfelt post like that I’m just offering what I can.
    Or perhaps you could send your kids on a yarn related tour of the continent. It works like this: we all volunteer to take them for a day, and we blog it so that you can keep track of their progress from a sane distance which will provide for a lot of writing time. I’ll bet with all the readers you have that there is probably one person every 50 miles or so. We keep them for a day, do some sightseeing and then drive them to the next location. Oh I know IRL you don’t know all of us and you would never do it, but it sounded so glorious that I had to write it anyway.

  350. Right there in that living hell with you girl. Been doing this for years….a husbutt and three boys and more animals than I can count. I’m an artist and illustrator and I have Chronic Fatigue/Fibromyalgia. Since I have to make a living (and I’m completly unemployable except for my art work), I work at night when everyone else is asleep.
    They have never learned to SHUT UP and let me THINK nor have they ever learned to stay OUT of my office and not put their big feet on my desk and watch my tv. NOR have they ever learned to not eat cold cereal on said desk with their feet up, watching tv with a $2000.00 painting inches away. Oh I could tell you stories…..I have screamed,yelled, cried, beggged and now I just want to shoot up, sit in a fetal position in the corner and pick imaginary lint off my imaginary sweater.
    Just work at night honey, have a coma a few times during the day, naps are more easily interrupted than work. Believe me, night time is the only time to actually complete a thought without being “mommed”.
    The sad thing is, when they do finally move out, we miss them and it’s nearly unbearable……but we’ll get over that bit!

  351. I know this feeling…
    But I know too the other side of the coin. My Al. works at home. Now he has built himself an office in the attic and it is much easier for everyone, but for a long time, he had to work in the living room. Hard for everyone.
    What is the most difficult for me, when he is working at home, is never knowing when he will be really here for us, and when he will be “not working” – thus when I can speak to him. So I find very interesting all the advice about work hours put on the door, and clear pause when we could talk to the worker. Sadly I know that with the computer, it is very rare that one is able to respect those schedule (just one more little thing, five minutes… yeah, that takes two hours in real-time!)
    Going away is a good thing for everyone. They can use the house as a house and not an office, and you can be quiet and enjoy working at your pace without being interupted. Then everyone can be more relaxed, and find together an agreement for a schedule.
    That said, I am about to start a new school, on top of working half-time and being a mother full-time. We will see how I will be able to do my homework in a few weeks! I know now where I will be looking for advices and encouragement.
    I love your blog, and I love your commenting area. All those people are just wonderfull.
    xo from switzerland

  352. We both have offices at home so the rule is that when we say we need to be left alone to work the only interruptions allowed need to involve being on fire or arterial bleeding. If we get interrupted, we take some of their ‘alone’ time away. Also helpful is if every time you are bothered you say, “OH, I glad you stopped by I’ve been thinking I need you to ……… right away.” Keep picking the most boring, odious jobs you can find and they will begin to avoid you like the plague!
    By the way, when you work outside the home you are no safer. Some actual phone messages I received…”Banning put his shorts on backwards so he can reach the pockets”,”Banning told me to hog tie him and then he hit his head”, “Robin fell on a toothpick and it disappeared into his leg”, “We accidentally broke the bathroom door.”, “where’s the channel changer?”

  353. Wow, that’s a tough one. I’m pretty sure that when one of my kids interrupts me he thinks it’s just one little interruption–but every time you stop, it takes awhile to get started writing again. Surely they can give you a 2-hour free period, especially if you can touch base with them all before the time starts. I wish that I had something exceptionally wise or at least funny to say, but I do believe that parenting is a marathon, not a sprint, and we have to pace ourselves. If we don’t get a certain amount of time alone, it’s not good for anybody.

  354. Earplugs. Or a MP3 player.
    I hope the person who does your tour travel isn’t planning your route to Aruba. I do hope you weren’t being serious about riding your bike to there. But you could ride it up the mountain and out of the city and up ‘north’ to me!

  355. I feel for you, dear Harlot. I don’t pay the bills with my craft, but I am an occasional seamstress for cashy pennies. I usually have three or more jobs lined up that I do either for trade or for hard cash. I also have a 5 (almost 6) year old, a husband, and a cat to feed and an apartment to keep straight and in a few weeks, a master’s degree to work on.
    It is too much.
    Sewing is important to me and I could make even more cashy pennies at it if I could only balance all of these things a little better. A friend of mine is a lawyer and works from home. He’s got a 6yo, 7yo, and 13yo who have a bit of trouble with the concept of “Daddy’s working” when he goes to his office. Work-at-home moms and dads have it rough (as you well know).
    I suppose you can offer to put them to work each time they pester you. Elsewise, you could keep a sprayer with water and squirt them if they come within five feet of you. The first one gets housework done and the second also works for husbands and cats.
    I dunno – you’re more stubborn than they are and I’m sure it will work out.
    I have heard it said that *everything* is in retrograde right now. Blame it on a misalignment of the planets (shakes tiny fist of fury at the planets). Darned planets!

  356. two words – duct tape. Okay, I’m kidding (well, only partly! πŸ™‚ )
    As a mother of a 6 yo and a soon to be 3 yo (if she makes it that far) who **used to** work from home, I can understand your prediciment exactly. That’s why when I work from home, my kids go to the babysitter’s house. (I know you can’t do that.). A lot of times I would work “off hours” – when they were napping, early in the morning when no one was awake, late at night when they finally went to sleep…
    Your kids are old enough, however, to understand that if you say that you are working, then only at appointed times can they come in and bug you. The average adult attention span is 45 minutes. After 45 minutes of working, you will be ready for a break. So, tell the kids that the last 15 minutes of every hour, they can come in and ask you questions, hang out with you, etc. The other 45 minutes you are “off limits”. No asking questions, no coming looking over your shoulder, and no burning the house down. It will take training, but posting a notice that says “working” and “taking a break” to reinforce the concept may work. .
    I wish you luck – otherwise, I suggest duct tape. And bungee cords. πŸ™‚

  357. I’ve been known to set a timer for an hour or two, and tell my family “do not disturb until the timer goes off unless life or limb is in peril” and it seems to work. If I get interrupted, I can tell them to wait for the timer. It works, for the most part, and allows me to think and watch, but not have to interact and lose focus.
    Good luck!

  358. Doesn’t Hank need some summer babysitters? Three nice cousins who can watch him at your sister’s house?
    Your kids sound like they need summer jobs (or more summer jobs). Then they will be out of the house and you’ll have some quiet time to write. If they’re into babysitting, I might have something during the day for them.

  359. Well, the only solution I’ve found is to get the majority of the alone-time-required work done while everyone is asleep. This means I don’t get a lot of sleep when a deadline is on top of me, but that’s the way it goes. I homeschool 3 kids, 17, 12, and 10, and *there is almost zero time away from them* – this has its good points, for example the teenager refused all on her own a party invitation at an unknown boy’s house where there were to be no parents supervising. However it also means that every one of us needs a break from time to time, and we fortunately have enough space in the house that there’s usually room for a person to be alone if she wants to be.

  360. If you;re only taking a laptop will you be back when your underwear needs Mr. Washie?
    Just curious.

  361. First of all, a big hug. Or maybe half a dozen.
    My best advice is to take a long walk. Right around lunchtime. Or maybe dinner. And make sure you take all of the money in the house with you. And maybe the takeout menus. That way, when they start getting hungry, and discover that you haven’t 1) cooked, 2) left money for food, or 3) considered that they’re _starving_, they might start to see what you do as important.
    Then do the same thing tomorrow.
    Good luck. It does get better. Right around September!

  362. a thought. i once knew a family who had a hat. the gist of it was that if any member of the family was wearing the hat that they were not to be disturbed (on threat of death). not talked to, not asked questions of, nothing. hat wearing was serious business. maybe a hat isn’t for you. perhaps you’re at the point of carrying a big stick… but you get the idea. good luck.

  363. your post now helps me understand why J.K. Rowling finished writing Harry Potter 7 in a hotel room. I remember thinking, “this woman has bazillions of euros and must have a lovely home office…why is she writing in a hotel room?!” At the time I figured she just needed no phone and room service…but perhaps it’s because she has a teen and husband πŸ™‚ Hang in there.

  364. I Hear Ya! I go insane without my alone time. It’s critical for my survival — I’m serious. I will get up early or stay up late to get it. I feel for you, and my only advice is to communicate it and take it…no one is going to give it to you. Have fun in the sun!

  365. I don’t know if Canada has something similar to the Forest Service but here in the US, you can rent a cabin from the FS pretty cheap. Work it out with the hubby for a long weekend and then be sure to only leave rudimentary food supplies, beans and water, maybe a ham hock, so that they know what it will be like if you don’t meet your deadlines.

  366. Try leaving the house with a laptop during the early morning hours. Coffee shops are open, and teenagers rarely get into real trouble before ten in the morning because that would require waking up. I know, the downside is that it also requires you to wake up. But a few hours of concentrated, focused time might be enough to see you through a day of interruptions.

  367. Sorry darling. I also work from home, have a child on summer vacation, and a husband that works swing shift so he alternates between driving me crazy during the day and driving me crazy in the evening.
    See you in Aruba. I will be the one hiding in the hotel closet with my laptop, gently rocking and humming. When you get there I will move over and make room for you. Bring chocolate.

  368. As a teenager, I never understood why my parents wanted to go to bed & get up so early, letting my sibs & I stay up so late. Now I do: they got to relax in the beautiful summer mornings when we were asleep.

  369. When I need time to myself for working or thinking I typically hide away in my bedroom (I’m sadly officeless) and with each interruption I grow more and more frustrated until I make “The Pronouncement”. The Pronouncement isn’t something I came up with on my own, and I’m not certain where or whom I’ve borrowed it from but it does come in quite handy.
    “We all know that when Mom isn’t happy, nobody is happy. At this moment Mom isn’t happy and is about to make sure nobody else is happy either. Who would like to go first?”
    At this point everyone typically scurries away to avoid being first.

  370. I suppose you want to keep them? Did you lose the remote to mute and freeze them? Technology. It just hasn’t come far enough.
    Good luck! School will come soon. Any cause you’d like to go on a hunger strike for?

  371. Please tell me you’re also taking yarn with you! Otherwise, I’d be seriously concerned.
    My friends deal with the teen interruptions on the principle that ‘turn-about is fair play’. If they’re interrupted for 30 minutes while trying to work – they then spend 30 minutes bothering the child while the child is trying to entertainment his/her friends. After a few days of embarassment, the child has learned that mom and/or dad can be much more annoying than the child can and stops interrupting their work.
    And if all else fails, they take away the iPod, computer and allowance. Never fails.

  372. Where, oh where has our Yarn Harlot gone?
    Oh where, oh where can she be?
    With her temper cut short
    And yarn left at home
    Oh where, oh where can she be?

  373. I homeschool my kid *and* work from home, so I am somewhat familiar with your problem, although I don’t have as many people to tagteam me (just the hubby and the one kid). However, my kid has Aspergers Syndrome, so until I figured the following out, he interrupted me *constantly*, as he had absolutely no sense of other people having their own lives and needs. He still doesn’t, much, but he knows about his OWN life and needs, so he now avoids unnecessary interruptions of his mum when she is working. Because old mum is now very cheerful about being interrupted, and always willing to answer any question or solve any problem he brings to her – as long as he pays for it up front by doing a chore that he pulls from the Chore Jar.
    Because that’s the deal – mom’s Work Time is worth money, and in order to take up some of it with his own ‘needs’, he has to pay a regular Consultant’s fee for it – with either his own time or with his own money (I figure $15 per hour is more than reasonable for a person of my experience, whereas the kid’s time is worth half that, so an hour’s worth of chore time is worth 1/2 an hour’s worth of mine).
    But what if they just inflict the interruption on you and don’t pay up beforehand, by fighting with each other right in your face, for instance? Well, in that case they don’t get to eat until they set the table, cook the meal, and wash the dishes for the entire family… thus paying you back for your time. (And no, I don’t think they will starve to death if they skip eating the next day or two, if they happen to be of that stubborn variety. When they get hungry enough – or poor enough, if they are using their savings to pay for meals away from home – they’ll cough up the chore time)
    And yes, I do keep adding on the chores during the time used up in arguing with my unfair tactics. I’m a mean, mean mom. But not a very stressed one.

  374. No kids, but I can sympathize. I think a shotgun approach (no not literally) is best: a chore, dock their allowance, or 15 minutes earlier on their curfew for every interruption. As for Joe, pull a “Lysistrata” – if he doesn’t keep himself and the kids out of your hair, he’ll be sleeping celibate until the book is done. πŸ˜‰

  375. My mother adored us. Still does. Wishes I would call more often. Never said it while we were living at home so we wouldn’t feel rejected, but practically chants it now: If you do it right, when they’re 18, they LEAVE.
    Because they should live their own lives. And you should be able to live yours. And in the meantime, you should all be able to get in some practice for that time when everyone will be living their own lives. Good luck, hang in, and don’t forget to take the tire pump and an extra inner tube.

  376. I’ve only made it through half the comments, but I think it’d be worth a try to smother your kids with attention and see what happens!
    Also, (I have little kids) I always ask myself “What would Supernanny do?” She always has some sort of a reward program.
    Good luck!
    Come to think of it, good luck to us all! Got to go–my 2 seconds on the computer is up and somebody is fighting/calling me/asking for something to eat!

  377. OMG and all the while I thought it was me. I work out of the home also. I have incorporated the youngest DD to help this year. However I am amazed when I ask her to take over the computer work making the yarn labels for my dyed yarn etc. and she suddenly becomes totally computer illiterate. How can that be? This kid makes power point projects for school and aces her classes. She surfs on here like nobody’s business. She set up my printmaster stuff, she claimed prior to her work experince with me to know just about everything about a computer and suddenly she knows nothing? how can she suddenly not know how to do this work?
    I only wanted her to see what work I do along with the laundry, cleaning, cooking etc.
    You’re heading to Aruba? I’m heading to Alaska!
    Might see you in the airport. ha-ha

  378. If I didn’t know any better, I’d have sworn that I’d written this post. I, too, work from home and have had my two boys home all summer and am suffering from the same problems that you are. Aruba sounds really nice. But then again, the funny farm does too right about now. Good luck getting through the next few weeks.

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