My baby may be babbling like my ever sociable mother, but she is like me when it comes to motor skills – somewhat unconvinced of their utility until in a tight spot. Bubba was up every hour from 3.30 am onwards this morning. She sent herself back to sleep, but it did mean a broken night sleep for both her and I. She is still learning how to roll over in her sleep, and she gets stuck on her tummy. Which is as tragic and funny as it sounds, and has a diminishing return for both of us as the night turns into early morning.
On the plus side, it is Saturday, and that means Unstructured Time. My husband and I have this rather full-on routine going now, which we started last Monday, at the beginning of our working together life. I get up with bubba at around 6.30-7, while my husband goes for an hour exercise. At 8, we do a baby handover, and I go for a walk. At 9, I get home, shower and then attempt to meditate, although bubba is often up again after a one cycle nap, so I am back on bubba duty. My husband meanwhile has started work for the day, and he will be in and out of mine and bubba’s view for a few minutes every half hour for the rest of the day.
My day is then a comedy of running backwards. I play with bubba, feed and change her. Feeding is now a process, with solids on the menu as well as the trusty milk bar aka me. She is now awake for longer stretches of about 1.5 and even 2 hrs – a record for my bub – and naps for mostly only one cycle, which is 50 min in layperson terms. In those cycles, I prepare more solids, do the washing, try to do my physio exercises, and work. Bub still sleeps all up about 4-5 hrs a day, but that time is mercilessly broken up across the day and somewhat unpredictable.
By 6, we are all knackered. Bub starts the journey to bed, with my husband and I her personal trainers, bathing her, feeding her, and gently easing her towards sleep. Once she is tucked away at around 7, we eat our dinner, which I have hopefully prepped at some point in another parallel universe where time is 6 dimensional, or my husband gets our meal ready while I chomp down fruit and almonds in growing, hunger-inspired desperation.
Often we will watch a program on ABC iview while we eat, both of us needing to not-talk-about-work for a bit. Our favourite at the moment is Dragon’s Den, when we get to watch English wannabe entrepreneurs roasted by arrogant, so-and-so’s who can be as rude as they like because they have the money and the wannabes don’t. We used to also enjoy Grand Designs, because Kevin McLeod is such a great TV host and can milk drama from the most banal of building projects, despite his Ayn Rand-like sermons about the power of the human spirit. I also like Annabel Crabb’s Kitchen Cabinet, because she seems like a really nice person and it is fun to see politicians of both stripes in their homes, being human.
By about 8 we are ready to remove to the couch, where my husband will play Words with Friends and I will basically vague out, waiting to think of something to talk about that is not work. At 8.30, we have scheduled creative time, which we unwillingly drag ourselves to and which always makes us feel better about the choices we have made the rest of the day/life. 9.30 pm and I am ready to hit to pillow, rarely needing to listen to relaxation tapes to get to sleep any more. My husband soldiers on a little longer than I. Overnight, I will wake several times to the sound of my baby complaining, cooing or generally doing whatever she does as she turns in her sleep. And so to another day.
It is a demanding schedule but certainly not the hardest out there. Work is going to intensify pretty fast, and we have agreed that we might need to work in the evenings or weekends sometimes, and our creative time may reduce to half an hour a night. But we can’t let it go. Otherwise, what is it all for?
Similarly, I want to, as one of the other self-employed mums in my mothers group put it, “be a mum,” when bubba is awake. I will only let myself check emails once or twice in her awake times – the rest of the time is all about being on the home front. I may run around getting the washing and so on while she wriggles about on the floor, but then I will spend time at her level, verbalising right back at her.
Occasionally I will catch myself watching the clock, wanting her to go back for another nap so I can get on with things. It is then that I have to look at her closely, put away the phone, and remember why.
Working from home is a wonderful gift, and I do not want to squander it. All the routine and discipline and structure is only worth it if you stick to the boundaries. And a pat on the back now, because I don’t hand those out very often to myself, and so when it is due, I want to give it: so far, so good. I have a life time of compartmentalising behind me and can now put it to its best use to date. I may not have great motor skills, but my home-work sleight of hand is a sight to behold.