19 Cringe-Worthy Parenting Stories That Prove the Work-from-Home Struggle Is Real

By now, we’ve all watched and re-watched the epic viral clip of Professor Robert Kelly — the dad who was being interviewed live by BBC News this week when his two kids burst into the room and created one of the most hilariously awkward displays the Internet has ever seen.

But if you haven’t yet had the pleasure of watching it, please do yourself a favor and watch it now, because it’s comedy GOLD.

Understandably, the Internet has had a field day with the 42-second clip in the last 24 hours. But to any parent who’s ever worked from home themselves, watching it all the way through has been equal parts hilarious and cringeworthy, for one main reason: It feels all too real. Because the truth is, getting any kind of work done while under the same roof as a small child is a near impossibility. And that’s something a few parents we know have learned over and over (and over) again.

We asked them to share some of the most random, hilarious, and yes, mortifying things their kids have done while working from home. And let’s just say, they did not hold back …

“My then 2-year-old son began loudly demanding I put on a new episode of Thomas when I was on a work call with the mayor of New Orleans. The mayor had squeezed me in for a few minutes at the end of a very busy day. He has five kids of his own, so he was understanding, thankfully. [But] listening to the recording of that phone call afterward was painful.” — Sarah Netter

“I used to work as a university professor on a team of Americans in a Southeast Asian country. The team meetings usually occurred at the head teacher’s house, but on one occasion, we had a team meeting at my house. We were having a professional discussion in my living room when my 2-year-old came in buck naked pushing a toy car along the floor. My boss was repulsed and I really blocked out anything else that occurred in that moment.” — Candice Kilpatrick, Mom Most Traveled

“My family had recently moved to London and I was interviewing with recruiters constantly. I happened to be conducting a phone interview one day and had set my then-2-year-old son up with his favorite cookies and a fresh episode of Peppa Pig, and figured it would buy me at least 10-14 minutes. Nope — three minutes into my call, as I was mid-sentence, my kid walked into the room and screamed (for no damn reason whatsoever) ‘I HAVE TO POOP!’ … I did not get a call back.” — Sara Ahmed

“I was on a conference call and my son, who was 2 at the time and home sick, had a MASSIVE blowout. I had to put him in the bathtub immediately while on the call, and in all the chaos forgot to MUTE my phone. I’m going on and on about poop … ‘Buddy, you’ve really outdone yourself here. Holy poop, Batman. Look at all this pooooooo,’ and every other way possible way to say poop to make him laugh. All of the sudden, my boss’ boss goes, ‘Julie, this has been enlightening, but could you please mute your phone? We actually have business to discuss.’ HORROR.” — Julie Scagell, Another Mother Blog

Every week we had a Skype call … My daughter — then 3 — came in naked and waved to my bosses.
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“Once, I was Skyping with a writer (I was a script editor on a TV drama) and my 2-year-old son came into the room and took off his dirty nappy and handed it to me — replete with poop. Another time, I worked for a ‘structured reality’ TV show about models in NYC. Every week we had a Skype call. My daughter — then 3 — came in naked and waved to my bosses. I died with embarrassment and thankfully, they saw the funny side.” — Suzanne Cowie

“My son (2½ at the time) was in a phase of bodily ‘self-discovery.’ While giving a Skype presentation to my boss and co-workers, he decided to come in and show me his latest discovery. I had to act like I lost Internet connection while I immediately shut down the session …  Another time, I locked myself in the home office to join a conference call. In the middle of a rather heated conversation, my son tried to get into the office by knocking. As the knocking got louder and more desperate, the next thing I hear is, ‘Papi, are you pooping?’ Apparently, I was not the only one that heard that as the conference call erupted in laughter. Even though I was embarrassed, it broke the tension of the conversation.” — Rolondo Talbott, Redefining Dad

“A note was slid under my office door during a conference call some years back. I must have really put the fear into my son before this particular call, because the Cheeto stains clearly prove a true thirst emergency … ” — Peyton Price

Image Source: Peyton Price

“I was on the phone with a client once when my daughter shouted from the bathroom she needed me to wipe her butt.” — Betje.com

“My husband actually made me a big, bright red ‘stop’ sign on a stick that I was supposed to hold up when my 4-year-old popped into my office while I was on the phone. That was supposed to be his signal to stop talking and stop moving. Yeah, that NEVER worked. Even with a bunch of training sessions, my kid never did figure out how to ‘stop.’ I would be trying to talk all professional while waving my sign around desperately.” — Molly Pennington

“After my first baby was born, I quit my job as an office aid at a company that manufactures rock crushing equipment. They asked me to come back for a week to answer phones while they were at a trade show and said I could bring my baby. It was great, but there were several awkward moments when my baby would be crying as I tried to talk to clients. I would just explain, ‘That’s my baby saying hello!'” — Katy Anderson

“Once while on a conference call I realized the door to my office was not locked and that my kids had just come home from the park. I threw off my headphones and did an Olympic sprint across the room to lock the door. On the sprint back to my chair, I tripped and collided [with] the corner of my desk, causing a gash in my forehead. I threw my headphones back on and breathlessly responded to a question I did not have an answer for, while blood ran down my face. Somehow, by the grace of the working mom Gods, no one suspected a thing and the call carried on.” — Kate Casey, Reality Life with Kate Casey

“Our bedroom is L-shaped and has a door at each end, so I made an office out of the smaller part by putting up a folding room divider screen to give me some privacy. This was fine, until my kids realized they could go into my bedroom and throw things up and over the screen onto me/my desk (while giggling furiously) when I locked them out [during] video conference calls. I had to literally build a wall to stop them from doing that. Once the wall was up, they’d take the, ‘Please be quiet: I am on a call’ signs I’d hang on my office door to write their complaints on and slip them under it. So I’d be on a video call and the other people would suddenly see a white sheet of paper come sliding under the door into my office behind me.” — Kim Bongiorno, Let Me Start By Saying

“I’d say the most embarrassing thing was when I was sending my first series of requests for an interview for my first potential Babble interview! I had only begun the email when my 1-year-old daughter began screaming to be on my lap. I picked her up, trying to unplug my keyboard while I did it so she wouldn’t do any damage to my work. BUT — as I was unplugging it, she quickly and violently banged on the keyboard and my incredibly short and unfinished email SENT! I was mortified. Needless to say, I responded to my subject with my full, finished email and some humor about being a work-from-home mom … it turned out she had a child too, so she totally understood.” — Lindsay Wolf

“With my baby sleeping strapped to my chest in a Snugli, I was doing a voice-over for a software training video. Ten minutes into recording my voice narration, my son suddenly woke up and threw up all over the microphone. Needless to say, I had to start over. Another time, in the middle of teaching piano to clients inside my house, my 2-year-old son called down from the bathroom upstairs, ‘MOMMY … WIPE MY BOTTOM!!! I WENT POOPIE!!!!’ My student stopped mid-song and look horrified.” — Cori Linder

My son ran into the room naked and screamed, ‘I have poop in my hair!’ And then rubbed his head on me.
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“It was one of those mornings … On a conference call, I tried to multitask and also pump milk for my infant. A few minutes in, one of the guys suggested we all call back in because it wasn’t a good connection. But on the second attempt he said he keeps hearing this sound, and mimicked the sound. That’s when I realized he was hearing my breast pump! I explained what was going on and we all had a laugh, [though] mine was more an embarrassing chuckle.” — Brooke White, The Girls with Glasses

“When I was on the first call I’ve ever had with my now publisher — a call that was essentially being used to see if I would be a good fit for them — my son ran into the room naked and screamed, ‘I have poop in my hair!’ And then rubbed his head on me. I think this actually endeared me to the publisher who is also a mother. Thanks, kid.” — Bailey Gaddis, author of Feng Shui Mommy

“The other day I was trying to get in touch with the Colorado Police Department for a statement on a story. I left them a message earlier in the day, and then they got back to me after both my kids were home from school. When I picked up the phone, my kids were screaming, so I had to put the officer on hold and run into the other room. Five minutes later, the officer called back to clarify something, and I was in the bathroom literally wiping my preschooler’s butt. THIS IS MY LIFE.” — Wendy Wisner, writer and lactation consultant

“I hit send on an important email and was having just a moment of the boss lady feels, when my toddler waltzed into the kitchen, where I was working at the counter, with a stinker. There is nothing quite like wiping poop off of someone else’s butt that will bring you back to earth, and remind you of who the real boss is.” — Katie

“I was on an evening work call when my toddler, who was supposed to be in the other room with her dad, ran up to me and started yelling, ‘Mommy, mommy, I have to go potty!’ I don’t think my colleagues or client heard it, but it was very nerve-wracking. The mute button is my greatest accessory in these situations!” — Masha Rumer, The Flying Yenta

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