Negative Space

I would say it took us about two and a half months to get ourselves back on a routine. Well, that’s not fair: To get myself back on a routine. Going back to work full time necessitates that in part, but the rest involves making use of negative space.

I have friends who, rightfully so, laughed at me when I talked about the things I would accomplish after Joshua was born. For a while, they were most certainly right. Almost nothing got done in our house outside of caring for the baby. That included basics like cooking and cleaning. It’s less that there’s no time for working on anything when caring for a baby and more that it is difficult to get into a rhythm.

There are a great many distractions and small interruptions with a baby. There’s the crying and the pooping, and that’s just Mom (hiyo!). You’re not going to want to keep working while your baby is doing something cute. There’s always the chance that you’ll miss seeing a first anything. And believe me, the first everything is important to you. First spit bubble. First uncurled fist. First noise that sounds like “guh”. If Mom needs to use the restroom, you might be on baby duty if he’s not calm. If Dad goes to work, he’ll likely only be home in the evening long enough for a single baby nap period and there are likely chores or things like dinner to take care of during that time.

It’s very much a matter of “water, water everywhere…”. There are pockets of time all over your day that you could use for work, it’s just impossible to string them together, at least while everyone is awake.

I began to get antsy to get back into a routine. I’ve gained some weight (a journey I began once I left high school — let’s not talk about what my driver’s license says I weigh), and I stopped basically all creative writing. I was better about the blog in those days, but there was such a flood of new parenting info that I had to output it somewhere. Plus, I wasn’t working then. After a couple of months, I knew it was time to start working on a routine before what stuck with me was simply not doing anything.

The immediate dilemma was when I could possibly work in my own personal projects. If I wait to wake in the morning until the kid wakes us up, I’ll have enough time to shower and get ready for the day before it’s time to take a turn caring for Joshua and then I leave for work. When I get home in the afternoon, there’s usually enough time for dinner, playing with Joshua, catching up on any chores and then maybe there’s an hour or so before it’s time to put the kid to bed. So if the span of my regular day doesn’t accommodate working on projects, the only choice left was to work outside of it.

So now my day begins at 5am. I wake up and come downstairs and have a snack and maybe check some e-mail for about 30 minutes while I wake up. Three days a week I start into a light morning exercise routine that I’ll ramp up into more serious exercise over time. Then it’s time to shower, care for the kid and hit work. The other two days I write for another 30 minutes until it’s light enough outside to take a long-ish walk. Then it’s shower/baby/work.

At night, I basically shove the notion of working on projects out of my head because it’s time to play with the kid and connect with Janelle. Then, once they’re in bed, it’s back to work. From whenever Joshua gets laid down until 10pm, I write.

True, I continue to have the nasty A.D.D. habit of checking e-mail and social networking sites like a trained lab rat while I work, but it’s a routine and it guarantees me at least two hours a day to handle personal projects while still working in around 7 hours of sleep, which is the amount I was consistently getting before Joshua was born anyway.

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