By Sierra Fentress, daughter of Keith Fentress (President, Fentress Inc.)
I was prompted to write this blog per my father’s request, and being a 17-year-old high school senior, I figure now is as good a time as ever to get published somewhere (even if it is only via my dad’s company blog). So, I am here to tell you all what you’ve clearly been dying to know: what is it like to be the child of a parent who teleworks from home? I hope you enjoy.
There are certainly several pros and cons to having a parent that works out of the basement of my home. I’ll start by explaining the cons, bad news first: my dad is pretty much always home. This means that I see him in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings, so pretty much all of the time. Which is great, don’t get me wrong, but it also means that I can’t get away with anything. From having friends over, to eating the last cookie, to staying in bed until 1 pm, I am acutely aware that there is always someone watching.
The worst part is that sometimes his employees also get a peek into the fascinating life of “Sierra on a sick day/day off from school.” I clearly remember an incident from several years ago that is ingrained into my mind. I was staying home from school with a cold. When I got up that morning (wearing an old, unwashed, NyQuil stained t-shirt and sporting very knotty hair with drool dried onto the side of my face), I stumbled down to my dad’s office. When I entered his office, I heard him speaking and I assumed he was on the phone. Little did I know that my dad was on a videoconference that was currently featuring me, very disheveled and extremely embarrassed.
Also, the first Wednesday of every month is *drum roll please* Company Meeting Day!!! All of the employees get together monthly to meet in our basement. So if I get home before 4 pm I will be hearing the ongoing laughter of adults giggling like school girls from the basement. I often find myself wondering “what the actual heck could they be laughing about,” because as far as I know there is not anything that funny about space planning or whatever they do.
Company meetings also mean that the house MUST be clean. Therefore, I try to make myself pretty scarce the first week of every month because cleaning is certainly not my forte.
Perhaps the biggest downside to having a parent working from home is the office space. My dad’s office/conference room is our whole basement. That means no wild parties or hanging out with friends down there, which is a huge bummer if I’m being honest. Especially since there is a 72-inch flat screen TV in the conference room, which would make for some pretty awesome movie marathons except for the rule that there are absolutely, unequivocally, categorically NO messy food and/or drinks allowed anywhere near the conference room chairs and table.
Onto the good news, the pros, which I have realized while writing this blog are actually quite abundant.
Number one: sick days. If I ever come down with a cold it’s very convenient to have a part-time nurse to make soup and tea and ensure I don’t die or anything, thanks dad :).
Number two: pets! so many pets! My family has two dogs and two cats, which my father kindly takes care of during the day. And let me tell you, we probably have the two most spoiled 85-lb Rhodesian Ridgebacks you’ll ever see. I mean my dad’s office is only one-third office supplies and two-thirds dog supplies. He has several drawers dedicated to dog treats and a nice luxurious canine retreat under his desk. I wish I could tell you all that I am joking when I inform you that each of my dogs has a memory foam dog bed, fluffy blanket, and little heater arranged for their maximum comfort under my dad’s desk.
Number three: cars. You may think I bring this up because of how good it is for the environment that my dad doesn’t have to commute to work everyday or how much gas money we save, etc. But really this is a pro for me, a 17-year-old teenage girl, because it means that more often than not I am allowed to use my dad’s car whenever I want.
Number four: office supplies! This is one of my personal favorites. My dad has closets of markers, paper, Sharpies, staplers, tape, binders, folders, paper clips, binder clips, pencils, legal pads, etc., just sitting around waiting to be put into use by his company (or his daughter) :). It’s pretty much a mini office supply store down there, which really comes in handy if I am ever in need of any school supplies. Also, I find myself using his printer for various school-related projects A LOT (probably more than he does), so thanks for letting me use all your supplies dad :).
Number five: great homework/exam studying space. If I ever find myself in the middle of an important school project or staying up late studying for an exam, the first place I go is my dad’s office. I put his nice “focus” playlist on the speaker, crack open the whiteboard and expo markers, spread all my books out over his conference table, grab a coke from the mini fridge, and go to work. There is definite evidence that my dad’s work space is one of the biggest reasons I passed all of my exams throughout high school (again, thanks dad!!!).
Number six: although there are at least a dozen more reasons having a parent working from home is an awesome thing, I’ll wrap up with this one: my dad is always around. You may notice that this “pro” also fell under the “cons,” but most of the time it is definitely a positive thing. I feel very lucky to have a father that I see all of the time and can always go chat with if I’m bored. I can always count on him to hold down the fort when everyone is away, keep the dogs company, and pretty much always be available if a crisis arises.
Recommendations for a Home Office Parent
Nonetheless, having a parent working from home can be a tough situation to navigate. So I have a few pieces of advice for any parents that currently work from home or are planning on working from home in the future:
Kids Need Space Too - try to make sure that your kid(s) have their own open space to hang out with friends and play around in (it keeps us out of your stuff).
Time with Kids - make time for your kids, even if this means just putting work on pause for a few minutes and saying “hi, how was your day” when your kid gets home from school.
Chill - try not to work all of the time. As I have seen with my own dad, it is easy to get wrapped up in a project and, since his office space is right downstairs, it is pretty convenient to work through dinner on weeknights and through the day on weekends.
That being said, if you were to ask me if I’d rather have my dad not work from home, thus allowing me some more freedoms, a functional “kid friendly” basement, and some alone time, I’d actually say “no.” No, I wouldn’t want my dad to work anywhere else because even though I do see him every morning, afternoon, and evening, I kind of love that he’s always around. It makes me feel safe and if I’m being honest, I love my dad (shh don’t tell him that). I hope this blog has successfully enlightened you on what it is like to have a parent working from home. Thank you for reading.