You tried to do it all today, but just didn't make it.
At home, you promised to clear the plate: catch up on laundry, get supper into the slow-cooker, clean the aquarium and guinea pig cage, get the kids to complete their art project for school, get them to have a shower before the grandparents came to visit, and remember to get dressed and brush your own teeth.
At work, you promised delivery by the end of the business day: a presentation without typos, figures which withstand scrutiny, graphics which rival the competition, a speech which captures the crowd with its first sentence and doesn't lose them halfway through, and also try to leave the office on time feeling good about your job security going forward.
While workloads between working parents and those at home are often compared and debated, the consequences of a missed deadlines are rarely weighed.
In this Globe and Mail article a father effectively communicates the challenges faced by every full-time stay-at-home parent.
Referring to his 1-year-old son, he laments:
"And he won’t sit still. Ever. Try going to a coffee shop to relax, even for five minutes. I bring an arsenal of toys and treats to keep him busy. But it’s no use. Nine times out of 10, I end up chugging my coffee and fleeing the scene.
How I long for those easy, halcyon days at the office, days that can include any or all of the following: working quietly on something by myself; having a coffee break by myself; chit-chatting with people my own age; and earning plaudits for work well done (at least some of the time)."
However, on Saturday, I had a conversation with a working mom who spent the day racing against a 6pm deadline. The client was awaiting delivery; "sorry, you'll have it Monday" was not an option. She was working with insufficient resources, with almost no support staff, and her managers were with their families (it was Saturday after all). The situation was untenable, and very nearly impossible. Certainly these working conditions should be discussed with the office managers and avoided in the future. But, on Saturday, the client was waiting; this was not the moment for workflow evaluation.
Clearing a full workload triggers similar feelings of satisfaction, accomplishment, and pride whether at home or at the office.
Missed deadlines, however, can have very different consequences.
At home: if the house is a mess, there are dishes in the sink, the kids more closely resemble Pig Pen than Caillou, dinner isn't made and the laundry hamper smells like the compost bin; you will have to contend with your frazzled psyche as well as the expectations of your housemates. It may be demoralizing, but the laundry will be done tomorrow or the next day, the kids will have to go to school as they are, and it will be tuna and apples for supper.
At work: if the project is incomplete and the client isn't satisfied, they will take their business elsewhere. You risk be perceived as incompetent and risk the possibility of losing your job.
Again, it becomes a question not of comparing a quiet day at the office to a busy day at home or vice-versa. But rather the worst and best case scenarios of each.
Or even better: not comparing them at all, but rather accepting and understanding that one cannot exist without the other, and what is important is understanding which works best for you.