Watching a video by the energetic Louise Pentland is when I heard her term “soft office”. It’s how she refers to working on her laptop while sitting on her bed. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant!
Why is this brilliant you ask? It’s a fantastic way to describe that working from home is still work. Yes, you may be in your own space, on your bed or sofa or favourite chair but you are still working. It’s simply an alternative to a traditional work space that you get to enjoy working from home.
Creating your own soft office is fun. It’s as simple as finding a cozy spot and turning on your laptop. Or you can get fancy! Your soft office can only be enhanced by more creature comforts like:
This tray table
Cozy blankets (with coffee of course!)
A good little task lamp
Or anything else that makes your space feel like you and helps you concentrate.
So who is a soft office for? It’s for anyone who does or wants to work from home.
- Work from home parents – kiddos can cuddle or sleep close by, also sick days or in-service days off
- Students – for when the library is too quiet and cafés too noisy and pricey
- Consultants – so you can enjoy your off-site work time
- Startup entrepreneurs – the kitchen table is not always available
- Downsizing or short on space – when you don’t have a traditional office you can close a bedroom door
- Side gig enthusiast – set up your space to reflect your passion project
- Teachers – test and paper grading is painful enough, you may as well be cozy
You may have guessed already that I have my own soft offices. I do write for a living after all. I use my sofa during the day when baby is sleeping in a wrap. (Babywearing for the win!) I also work from my bed on the weekend when my big kid is home and taking over the living room. I’m a downsized / short on space / tiny living goals mamma. And I also have a lovely secretary style desk (handmade by my dad) that gets a lot of use. And hides a lot of mess inside that flip down compartment.
The variety lets me use the space that feels right on any given day. I can change based on my family needs; even work in my room when grandparents are visiting. This is real work from home freedom! There are no rules on how it should look. An office can be traditional or cozy or somewhere in between. You’re imagination can fill it with beanbag chairs, glass tables, antlers on the wall, vision boards, a mini fridge, fresh flowers, wind chimes, black out blinds, an indoor herb garden or absolutely anything else that motivates you.
You be the judge if you need a soft office in your life. If you ask me the answer is an absolute YES!
I’m sitting in a cafe, just weeks before giving birth to my second child, and I’m terrified!
My first baby has not been a baby for a very long time. He is approaching middle school age and has a high level of independence. Of course I’m still bound by his schedule, especially as a single mom, but outside of his home time I’m essentially free. He has sleepovers at his dads’ place once in a while or with my parents. An occasional babysitter (or kidsitter as he prefers) is an option when I want to be social or have another commitment. It’s not always easy but it is so much more than when he was 2 and we were first alone.
A newborn is a whole other adventure. I remember the exhaustion, the 3 am tears (mine) and the loneliness. During that time I had a live-in partner and it was spring time in Nova Scotia. It was easy to go out for daily walks. We had breaks from the indoor monotony. I had another adult to share the chores. As any single parent knows this is an absence you never quite stop mourning.
This time will be different. November here means rain, cold, wind, upcoming winter, dreary skys and knowing snowbound days are on the way. I’m also going to be alone with two children now. (Life happens)
I know the adjustment for my big kid will be tough. He’s used to having me all to himself and our treasured pre-bedtime snuggles and reading have to change. My hope is his excitement for a sibling and all the love he exudes will balance the big changes for us faster than I expect.
But newborns, oh how they are delicious! The teeny fingers alone make me lose my senses. Add the yawns, little noises, stretches, grunts, vulnerability, delicacy, and that smell… You did it too right, a deep breath in, a sigh and a remembrance?
So what keeps me going? How will I cope? Will it be terrible? Will it be wonderful? Will there be tears?
- Easy answer; I have to keep going, it’s inevitable at 9 months pregnant. Complicated answer; that may be a whole other post requiring a lot of thought and retrospection.
- I will cope how I have coped with everything else life has thrown my way, I just do. Reaching out to family and friends of course but most often it’s me on my own. The deep sense of responsibility to my children is unlike anything I can describe and forces me to rise to challenges.
- Yes. Yes. Yes. It will be all these and so many heart expanding, terrifying more things I can’t even imagine yet.
Wish me luck.
Minimalism is one of those words that brings to mind images of crisp sterile homes that do not looked lived in. At least it does to me.
In reality, at least in my reality, it looks very different.
I have embraced a kind of lived in minimalism. Less extreme and more what I feel is useful. How do I do it? I have 3 loose rules to follow.
First, I regularly purge all the areas of my home. Clothes, kids clothes, cosmetics, papers and recyclables (man those add up fast!). The more I do this the less attached I become to items. This makes it easier to tackle the memorabilia type stuff with practice. I don’t keep cards or gift bags or little tchotchke things except in one box I designate for those bits. If it doesn’t fit it goes!
This is a process of course. My goal is to work toward seasonal capsule wardrobes for myself… eventually.
Second, I buy less. At one point I had a shopping addiction. That’s not tongue in cheek and I’ll write about that more another day. Over time I’ve worked on my mental health and financial health and changed how I spend.
Don’t get me wrong I’m as eager to go on a shopping spree as anyone else but if it’s not in the budget it doesn’t happen. I’m no expert budgeter but I look to what’s needed vs wanted and make choices based on that. Being a single parent and the sole income earner in my home gives that sharp focus. Even if you share expenses with a partner try using the need vs want question when you’re making purchases. Less coming in means less to declutter later.
Third, I organize everything. From KonMari folding techniques for all our clothes to my linen closet having labeled bins for different size sheets, towels and wash cloths everything has a place. It lets me see what I have much easier and helps with the want vs need question above.
Bonus of organized spaces, they are peaceful to look at. My linen closet makes me happy! Seriously.
These loose rules are simple for me and for you to follow. It brings minimalism from bare bones to comfortable simplicity. Try it, embrace the process. Little by little it becomes easy and you’ll wonder what took you so long.
I’ve always been a writer at heart. It began with pen and paper and a pink fabric covered journal with a picture of a horse on the cover in grade 6. That one has since seen the inside of the fireplace! No one needs to read the angsty musings of teenage girls, amIright?! But that experience fuelled my love of expressing ideas in the written word. Add the university essays in psychology and social work and you have the perfect recipe for a freelance writer for hire.
So here it is, my first official post on my very own website. Yay me!
My goals here are to connect with women’s organizations, single mom resources, mental health professionals (like me) and anyone else who likes my style. For the record I pride myself on being brainy, professional and having a healthy dose of whimsy. And I’m interested in absolutely everything, a result of time spent as a Jill of All Trades office temp for years.
Follow along and join me in this journey. I’d love to get to know you, your story and your business too.
Me and my kiddo in Rabat, Morocco – May 2018. Also known as the reason I work from my laptop.