Wailings Of A Work At Home Mom

The Wild and Wacky World of WAHMs!


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Office Sharing – An Alternative to Home?

Nicky working like mommy

Nicky working like mommy

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being a work at home mom. But for the past few months my sister and I have been scouring the city for places where we could work, especially once my daughter starts going to school this June.

We figured it’s more practical for us to start looking for places near the school for several reasons.

  1. It’s cheaper and less time consuming to just find a place where we can work close to the school. It’s too expensive and tiring to go home after we drop them off just to work then leave work to pick them up from school.
  2. My sister and I alternate dropping off and picking up our kids. (The school transport service does pass through our area.)
  3. We could work at nearby coffee shops and co-working spaces but they’re too expensive.
  4. This school has a lot of great after school programs and activities their school has for parents (like free Chinese lessons and parenting seminars) that I want to take advantage of. Working nearby would allow me to do that easily.
  5. I want to be able to get to school quickly in case of emergency (our house a bit far from the school).
  6. We want to work in a place where we can be comfortable. A place where we can bring pillows, a small pantry, and maybe have other work at home parents over. We all that’s not possible in a coffee show or virtual office.
office setup

office setup (Photo credit: Rob ‘n’ Rae)

Then, a friend of ours suggested an alternative, why not share an office space?

It turns out our friend P (a lawyer) has this office nearby where he meets with his clients. Even at his busiest, he only uses the office around 20 hours a week.  He got the idea of sharing his office from his fiance, an online entrepreneur who also uses the office to do her accounting and to meet up with suppliers and customers.

After talking things through, we’ve come to an arrangement:

  • We’d be sharing rent, electricity, and internet connection equally.
  • We’d have our own keys and can stay there as long and as often as we want or need.
  • We have free rein over the conference room (which they never use). We can bring anything that would make us feel comfortable.
  • We can bring our own food/snacks.
  • We can have our kids/spouse/partner over. This is perfect for us because it would allow us help our kids homework right away after school (they’re open too tired to do their homework by the time we get home).

It’s a short walk away from my daughter’s school (more exercise for me!) and it’s cheaper than working in a co-working space or coffee shop.

We’re lucky, I know. We’re lucky we had a friend who was open to the idea. We were lucky that his landlord was open and, in fact, encouraged this arrangement with his tenants. We’re lucky the office happened to be in a place close to school and it was something we could afford.

I’m not sure what the future holds with this arrangement. But it’s definitely an option and an alternative for us work at home parents if ever we need to work outside of our house.  Will update you guys on how this “experiment” would work. Wish us luck!


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Zoofari/Tree Haus – Bacaca, Davao City

Zoofari/CoffeeHut at Bacaca Road

Zoofari/CoffeeHut at Bacaca Road

I’ve been wanting to go to Zoofari/Tree Haus Cafe and Restaurant for several months now ever since it opened last year. When I first passed by it, I thought it was going to be the answer to my prayers. A coffee shop attached to a kids area! You can watch your kids play as you’re having coffee and working!

Zoofari is a already a well known kids play area with a branch in SM Ecoland. The Zoofari in Bacaca is a lot bigger ( almost 3 stories high) that also caters to children’s parties and events. I was really happy when I saw that this branch was attached to a coffee shop, the Tree Haus, and that coffee shop was specifically created so that parents/guardians can relax and chill out while their kids are in the play area. Rates for the Zoofari play area are P100 on weekdays and P140 on weekends. If you plan to take your child there often, you could get ask the staff about getting a membership card so you can get a discount at every visit.

My daughter rolling in one of Zoofari's ballpits

My daughter rolling in one of Zoofari’s  ball pits

The thing I like about their play area (other than being massive and absolutely fun!) is the strict security. Parents with children 5 years old and above (kids 4 and below must be accompanied by an adult) can leave their children there without having to worry that some stranger would take their kids or their kids wandering out on their own. There’s always a guard at the door and authorized guardians are photographed prior to leaving the child to make sure the right  person picks up the right kid.

And if ever a child  does get away from the play area, he/she has to go through a flight of stairs and several guards before reaching the coffee shop and the street. The coffee shop and the play area are also connected by an intercom system to alert parents when their kid’s time in the play area is up or when there’s a child on the loose.

Watch your kids play as you work or relax

Watch your kids play as you work or relax

Like most places in Davao, it has free WiFi (even the beauty parlor I go to has free WiFi). But the problem with most places that have free WiFi is that they’re often slow or unreliable. When my sister and I were there on a Friday, their internet was strong and steady. I was using the internet on my phone in the play area at the lower ground floor and she was using her laptop in the coffee shop and we were emailing and messaging each other constantly. The good internet connection may be mostly due to the fact that there weren’t a lot of people there on a Friday afternoon. We are thinking of  going back there on weekends to see if the internet there is still as reliable.

For a coffee shop, the quality of coffee at the Tree Haus is pretty mediocre and a little expensive. But it’s really not so bad because parents like me do go there to get a break from their kids (or in my case, to catch up on some work and let my daughter blow off all her excess energy) and not for the coffee.

But what I found almost unforgivable about the  Tree Haus is the bad food. I don’t mind mediocre food because I didn’t go to  Tree Haus/Zoofari for the food. But that slice of moist chocolate cake (which costs P120 by the way) we had was not moist or flavorful. It wasn’t even fresh and they were selling it to adults. They hold children’s parties there and they cater for these parties. If they’re willing to serve bad food to adults, I worry what they’ll serve to kids!

And for P100 (or P140) per hour plus coffee (or food, ugh!) it’s a little too expensive for me. And compared to the other places I reviewed (see related articles below), it’s not as accessible. I think Zoofari is something I would save for special occasions, like when I want to treat my daughter to an hour of unrestrained play time and I need to work. But this wouldn’t be my go-to place to work. Maybe if the quality of food and coffee improves the experience will be worth it. But for now, the search continues for that perfect WAHM alternative work space.


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4 Best Places At Home For Work (And How To Make Them Even Better)

When you work at home ideally you should have a home office. But that’s not always possible especially when you don’t have the space or the resources to build a home office.

Even without a home office, there are plenty of rooms within your own home that would make great work spaces. Finding the best one for you would depend on your situation at home, you schedule, and the type of work that you do.

1. Living Room

For the most part, living rooms are great because it allows you to work comfortably without falling asleep. But if you’re the type of person who is easily distracted, this would not be a good place for you. That because the entire family and guests often hang out in the living room. More often than not, that’s also where the TV is, which can distract you even when you’re alone.

Image courtesy of hit-decor.net

To make the living room work for you, try to carve out some  space away from the couch and the TV. Having a pair of noise cancelling headphones can also help keep out the TV noise so you can focus on work and won’t be tempted to watch TV with your family. And with a bit of creativity, you can blend or camouflage your work space and make it fit with your living room decor.

2. Bedroom

Image courtesy of HGTV.com

I usually retreat to my bedroom when I’m working on a major project and I need to focus. It gives me the privacy I need and it’s a space I know my child respects. But the problem I have with the bedroom is it’s too comfortable. The bed is right there. just a few steps away, calling me to rest my head and take a nap. I can’t count the number of times I’ve fallen asleep simply because I was working in bed.

In order to work in my bedroom without falling asleep, I had to get a table and chair that looked away from the bed. My set up was a lot like the photo you see above. I had a tiny table facing the wall and a chair that’s comfortable enough so I can sit for hours on end without falling asleep. I even resorted to putting curtains between my bed and my work space so I wouldn’t be tempted. That space worked well while it lasted but eventually I had to give it up because of home renovations.

3. Kitchen

The kitchen is now where I have set up shop and it’s been good so far. It’s not as distracting as the living room and it’s not as comfortable as the bedroom which is a good thing. My only complaint with this space is I had to pack up my things every time we had to eat. It’s a good thing I only need my laptop to work so it’s not really a big problem. But my sister and I are thinking of having something like this:

http://media.treehugger.com/assets/images/2011/10/trunk-station-office-workspace-in-use.jpg

That way we can easily hide our office stuff when we have guests over.

4. Outdoors

I know it’s not the best place to work when you’re at home. There’s virtually no privacy, it’s not very comfortable, and the electrical outlets are inaccessible. But it’s actually refreshing to work outdoors, especially when the weather is nice and I don’t have that much to do anyway. All I need is a folding  table, a chair, and a fully charged laptop.

Image courtesy of HermanMiller.com

 


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Figaro – Gaisano Mall

When my sister needs to take a break from working at home, one of her favorite places to go to is Figaro at the Peak in GMall. She goes there often enough to the point that the cashier and waiters know her by name. She even has an engraved membership card. That’s how much she loves this particular coffee shop.

Figaro GMall. Image Courtese of DavaoLife.com

But why Figaro? Why of all the coffee shops and work spaces in Davao City, why does my sister keep coming back to this particular place?

I have gone to Figaro a few times and have worked there a few times. The one thing I truly love about the place is the strong internet and WiFi connection. The connection is so strong, you can easily stream videos from their outdoor dining area.

Another thing I appreciate about this coffee shop is its location. It doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic so it’s much more quiet compared to Starbucks. Although the place can get crowded on Friday and weekend afternoons.

Their location also makes it ideal for mothers who don’t have a nanny and can’t leave their kids at home. Inside the mall, just a few floors down is a secure, supervised kids play area where you can leave the kids (ages 5 and up) for a fee. The mall is also close to several schools and I actually plan to enroll my daughter in one of them. This means that after dropping off my daughter, I’d be able to walk to Figaro to work and walk back to pick her up after class.

The only thing I don’t like about their location is the traffic. GMall is located at a busy intersection, so getting to and away from GMall during rush hour can be hellish.

I also like the fact that most of the tables in Figaro are not tiny. You can actually put your laptop there, plus a cup of coffee and a plate of food. Unlike another coffee shop I know that had ridiculously tiny tables that can only hold a cup of coffee and a cupcake.

In addition to the WiFi, my sister loves their coffee. It’s strong, reasonably priced, and flavorful. The large servings of good food also helped since my sister and I like to pick at our food as we’re working.

Lastly, I love the fact that they have a restroom exclusively for customers. I really don’t like mall restrooms because they’re usually, uhm, icky and not to mention the looong line. But since Figaro has their own restroom, it’s always clean, you can use it as often as needed, and no waiting!

I definitely recommend this place for WAHMs as an alternative work place. Just make sure to avoid GMall during rush hour and you should be good.


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MyFlex’Office In Davao City

If you’re a Davao-based WAHM and you want to work outside the house but you don’t want to hang out in a coffee, there’s usually not a lot of options. But did you know that Davao City now has it’s own co-working space right in the middle of the city?

I discovered MyFlex’Office earlier this year along Sta Ana Avenue when I was supposed to cover an event there. I wasn’t able to stay long because of a family emergency but I was able to stay long enough to get a good look of the place and what it had to offer.

It’s a really simple office, with a small conference room, a couch that could serve as a lobby, and open, shared work desks with multiple outlets. They have WiFi, fax machine, copier and a mini pantry with limitless coffee for workers.

I find the P200/day rental fee a little steep but if you’re going to spend that much for coffee anyway, I think this place can be a good alternative since it does come with unlimited coffee, Wifi, and use of office equipment for that day. They have cheaper rates for those who want to rent by the week or monthly but I’m not ready to make that kind of commitment yet (and I can’t afford it).

But overall, I really liked their concept and I’m actually looking forward to working there when my daughter goes to school nearby.

For more information about this place and how to get there, you can visit their website: http://www.myflexoffice.biz/

If you guys know of any alternative workspaces that WAHMs can use, please let me know! If it’s in Davao, I can check it out and feature it here. If not, I’d be more than happy to let you guys write a guest blog here. Until next time!!