Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Time/toddler management

Writing with a toddle underfoot is tricky, no doubt about it. There's nap time, obviously, and I am blessed with a kid who sleeps like a drunken frat boy, so I get a good two to three hours in the afternoon. That is certainly enough time to get a good whack of writing done, as long as there is nothing else that needs to be done without the "help" of grubby little hands, temper tantrums and a litany of unanswerable questions -- "Why?" "What is this?" "Why?' "Where's my dolly?" "Why?"

I used to get up an hour before everyone else in the house and sneak up to the attic to work. I've stopped that, though, because my angelic child has developed supersonic hearing, whose pinpoint acuity and accuracy could direct surface to air missiles.

So, this often leads me to attempt to work while she's hanging around. I've encouraged solitary playing, and if I set her up with an exciting game of cars or restaurant I can usually snatch half an hour. The problem is that I have to answer urgent questions about what kind of soup or cereal I want her to pretend to serve me, or my presence is demanded to inspect a tower of cars she's created.

What I've learned to do is leave all of the actual writing that demands serious concentration to those uninterrupted hours when she's napping. Instead I do all of my less serious computer work while she's sitting at my feet methodically emptying the Tupperware drawer.

This strategy helps me maximise my time, but doesn't help with the guilt. If I'm home with the little ragamuffin, shouldn't I be devoting my time to nurturing her creatively, emotionally and intellectually? After 2.5 hours of wrestling with these mundane questions of maternal guilt, I've come up with an answer: No. My parents certainly didn't agonise about whether all of my various needs (beyond food and safety) were being met... Instead they ignored me most of the time, with a few well timed and useful "Pipe downs!", "Get your hand out of there" and "I love yous." While my parents weren't ideal, they were pretty great, and frankly I've managed to sort myself without a lot of handholding.

While I theoretically endorse the "tough love", or at least "less tender," approach it still doesn't help the guilt. I don't think I'll ever toughen up enough against that.

1 comment:

  1. My favourite - "If you don't stop crying, I'll give you something to cry about!" Can anyone get away with saying that now? I make every effort to ignore B as much as possible, and I'm not even attempting the feat of writing a book. I am impressed and sickened by your commitment to your craft. Impressed with you of course and sickened with myself. Because while I'm ignoring B, it's usually to read the Lifestyle section of the paper and drink a coffee. But I like to chalk it up to encouraging her to be independent and imaginative. Plus, she does the most entertaining things when she thinks she's on her own. Win win, I say.