It’s bad news, I know, but, this year, you may actually have to go on vacation.
Leaving your comfy COVID-19 cave to plunk yourself down on some sandy beach or mountain aerie may be tolerable. More problematic are those entries to visit the old folks at home, which now may be impossible to refuse.
Fortunately, you still will have to work. (You certainly don’t want to give your boss the idea that they can live without you — because they just might try.)
If the family vacation creeping up on you is creeping you out, better visit The Washington Post, where Natalie B. Compton recently penned “The Completely Correct Guide to Working Remotely with Your Family.”
Compton’s advice may be correct, but it’s hardly complete. That’s where I come in.
no. 1: Set Expectations for your availability
It is certainly true that you “can’t expect your family to know what your workday will look like during your stay,” but unless Mom and Dad have degrees in abnormal psychology, the sight of their beloved child, hanging over a laptop, alternately sobbing, laughing and screaming could cause concern.
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To soften the shock, “communicate when you are free to spend quality time together.”
From 5 am to 5:15 am is more than ample time for family togetherness. You will be asleep and your parents can use the time to finish your laundry and stock the refrigerator with your favorite snacks.
no. 2: Be honest with yourself, too
According to psychologist Andrea Bonior, “it’s unrealistic to expect to pick up your entire work life and plop it into your parents’ house with no change in productivity.” This is true. Being far away from your Xbox, your blankie and your stuffies, you may actually turn out a lot more work than you ever did from home.
This is a major problem, since it could result in attracting the attention of your manager, who could expect that you continue this high level of productivity when your vacation is over. This would only be possible if your parents come to visit you, which certainly would be welcome, if only for a year or two.
no. 3: Prepare for a barrage of distractions
Life at your family home will not come to a complete stop simply because you are in residence. The blender will be blasting. The parakeet will be screeching. The Roomba will be nibbling on your toes.
You could buy noise-canceling earphones, but those are expensive. The same result can be achieved by filling your ears with paste. Fusilli works best, but hold the pesto. Another solution is to “hold up in a makeshift bunker.” A closet is suggested, but consider setting up your vacation office under the dining room table. This would ensure privacy while also putting you in close proximity to scraps from last night’s family dinner.
no. 4: Keep your inner teenager at bay
Being back with your parents can bring out the teenager in even the most mature individual, which, hate to tell you, you ain’t.
If you find yourself reverting to your rebellious, unpleasant teenage self, Bonior recommends “reducing physical tension by going for a walk, deep breathing and stretching.”
Or you can go to your room, lock the door, and holler that the world is unfair. (If this doesn’t work at home, try it next time you’re in the office. It could get you moved to a top job in marketing.)
no. 5: Follow a script for defusing arguments
Here’s mine: “Let’s agree to disagree. It’s obvious that I’m right and you’re wrong. And, besides, you’re an idiot. Now pass the green beans.”
no. 6: Map out a good night’s sleep
Even a gifted sleeper such as yourself may have problems when forced to listen to your parents’ stupid television shows with the volume cranked to 11. You can use earplugs, or melatonin. You can also put the melatonin directly in your ears, assuming you’ve already removed the fusilli.
no. 7: Don’t treat a home like a hotel
As much as your family may love to spoil you, it is important that you don’t act like “a gainfully employed parasite,” especially considering that you are actually a tenuously employed parasite. It is suggested that you leave a thank-you note, but I recommend you add an invoice.
No need to go crazy just a standard hourly rate for the pleasure of your presence over the vacation.
Explain that until you get payment in full, you’re not leaving. My guess: you won’t have long to wait.