As I write this, I’m not in my home office, tucked into the corner of my bedroom. I’m not even in my home at all, nor am I in an office of any type. That’s not to say, I’m not all that far from home, although where I am certainly does feel a million miles away from the chaos of two screaming children who want to avoid naptime/bedtime/mealtime and the clutter of four baskets full of clean – though unfolded – laundry.
So where am I, you ask, and how (or better, why) did I get here?

When Work Productivity Suffers

Lately, I’ve had a serious case of writer’s block. I open up my computer, sit down at my desk to work, and stare at the screen for far too long before putting pen to page – or in this case, fingertips to keyboard. And when I do start to write, I’m not thrilled with what comes out. My work productivity, in terms of hours to output, is at an all-time low.
I know what’s behind this general malaise. It’s the fact that working from home actually requires me to work from homeIt requires me to work surrounded by dirty dishes, unvacuumed floors, and, of course, all that laundry. It forces me to strive for creativity and productivity amid two young children who don’t always understand what it means when I say, “Mommy’s working.”
So to combat this issue of writer’s block and suffering work productivity, I’ve tried a variety of methods to ameliorate it. I’ve moved my work at home office to different rooms, hoping to find a location that gave me privacy; I’ve rearranged my working hours, shifting more of my assignments to early-morning or late-night hours, to maximize the amount of work I get done once my children are asleep; I’ve even rehired our old nanny – the woman we employed 40+ hours a week when I worked full-time outside the home – to take my kids to her house a few afternoons a week so I can get more done, whether it’s actual work or chores that have to get done.
All those tactics have worked to an extent.
Yet yesterday, there I was once again staring at an empty computer screen, wondering about what I was going to write.

Mommy Flew The Cuckoo’s Nest

When my husband woke up around mid-afternoon (he’s currently on night shift, yet another disruption to my efforts at work productivity), he saw the worry lines on my face and the anxiety in my voice. My frustration was obvious, but to him, it felt – for the first time – toxic.
When he asked me what was going on, I told him how our children had had two poor nights of sleep in a row, not only limiting my time to work, but also my time to sleep. I felt exhausted physically and mentally; I was overwhelmed.
“Why don’t you just get away for the night?” my husband suggested. His words stopped me in my tracks.
“What do you mean?” I cautiously replied.
“You haven’t been able to sleep, you haven’t been able to work, and it seems like this house is the problem,” he observed. “You need to push the reset button. Go stay at a hotel for the night. Take your laptop. You can work when you want  work, sleep when you want to sleep, and you can even watch TV in between. You won’t have to change anyone’s diaper or coerce anyone into bed.”
I mulled it over for a minute, wondering whether I could truly shirk my parenting duties for a night. On the one hand, it seemed irresponsible; it also seemed like a ridiculous luxury. But on the other hand, my husband was right – I did need to push the reset button, and despite my best efforts, it was becoming increasingly obvious that wasn’t going to happen at home.

Spending Money to Make Money

So I booked a night at a moderately-priced historic inn about six miles from my house.The one-night’s stay cost me:

  • $78.55 for the hotel, including all taxes and fees; it also includes continental breakfast
  • $16.01 for dinner and gratuity at a nearby bistro; it was the first time I dined at this establishment but, thanks to an amazing fried BLT and glass of prosecco, I’ll be back
  • -$3.50 cashback for booking the hotel room through my credit card’s web portal (5% of the basic room rate)

In all, all my night away is costing me $91.06. Between getting in a good night’s sleep and enjoying a little relaxation, I likely won’t be able to recoup those expenses through work assignments before I head home in the morning; in other words, this escape will result in a net-loss.
When I lamented as much to my husband via text, he reminded me that “sometimes, you gotta spend money to make money.” Then he told me to turn off my phone; he’d call me through the hotel’s front desk if he needed me.
As I sat back, I ruminated on his words; of course, he was right. I thought of all the other times when we’d justified spending money to make money: having our carpets professionally cleaned to help sell our house; paying for my own domain name – instead of a WordPress URL – for my website; paying out-of-pocket for a professional development seminar that would help my husband network with movers and shakers in his industry. All of these had cost us money – some more than others – but all of them had been worth it in the long run. They were investments in our future, and when put in this perspective, they were wholly justifiable.

In Morning’s First Light

I was going to end my post with the section ahead when I wrote it last night, but I thought I’d hop back on this morning – as I prepare to check out of the hotel – for a final word. It’s been just 18 hours since I left home, and as I get ready to go back, I do feel refreshed. I actually dedicated an hour of my night to surfing the web, reading various personal finance blogs and money-related articles, among other things. This turned into a massive brainstorming session, and I ended up with a slew of story ideas for my writing assignments.
Feeling renewed? Check! Feeling rested? Check! Feeling inspired, motivated, and ready to work? Check!
I’d call the night a success.
At first, it felt ludicrous to spend money to work and sleep, something I was still pretty sure could be done at my house.

Libby Balke

Libby Balke