My baby doesn’t care if I get my work done
By JUSTIN COX
I wake up early all week long and spend the bulk of my day hovering over a laptop in my apartment. Sometimes I don’t go outdoors until my “shift” ends, which is usually between 4 and 7 p.m., depending on the weight of the news day.
I used to regularly do the bulk of my writing in downtown Davis, CA coffee shops (I’m a news editor), but 10 months ago, my wife and I had a baby (his name is Noah). A few months ago, my wife went back to work as an afterschool program coordinator. She works from 1-4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
During the first few days after my wife went back to work, I found myself bouncing Noah on my knee while scanning local news and attempting to plow right on through my workday — half of my attention on the job and half of my attention on the baby.
During those three hours each day, I’m Noah’s sole caretaker. My work production lightens significantly, unless he gifts me a long, deep nap — which very really happens. (Only in the cozy-comfort of my dreams).
As the first few weeks unfolded, I learned a lesson. (A crying baby can do plenty of teaching, it turns out). It was clear that I had to rethink my schedule and alter my approach.
Not only was I producing second-rate work during those three distracting hours per day, but I was also acting like a second-rate dad. I was pretty much squandering away this block of high-quality time with my son, who will be bigger tomorrow than he is today. And even bigger than that the next day, because that’s how it works.
I’m lucky to have had a job that allows me to be home, and to bend my hours to accommodate my new family without having to shell out all kinds of money for daycare. Those three hours are something I should be taking advantage of, because I won’t always have them.
They’re a very legitimate reason for me to snap my laptop shut for a few hours everyday and get outside, or just lay a blanket across the floor and play with Noah.
Or just keep him from crying, or rock him to sleep, etc.
By the end of my second week, I had exchanged my half-assed combo of working and babysitting simultaneously for long walks in the park with Noah strapped to my chest. We stop along the way so Noah can study the skateboarders and the dogs we see along the way. This gets me outside, and it lets Noah have my full attention.
And here’s the nice part of this new approach: At some point during that walk, Noah often conks out, at which point I walk back home, lay him down in his crib, and go back to my computer to get some work done.