Monthly Archives

July 2015

9 partially successful ways to work from home with a velcro baby

1. Put him in his moses basket with a few toys
So you’ve chosen to work from home or freelance through your maternity leave. What you’ve done here, though, is mistake your baby for a good baby. The sort of baby who, if you plop him in a corner, will play contentedly on his own. But you don’t have that sort of baby. You have the sort of baby who causes health visitors to exclaim “doesn’t he have a lot of character!” At the end of a long, hard day of baby-wrangling, you yourself have told him “it’s a good thing you’re cute”. He needs constant stimulation. He is never not wriggling. He cries anytime you’re not holding him. What you have is a velcro baby, and it’s a matter of minutes before he kicks a hole in that basket, sweeps your coffee to the floor, and screams himself hoarse.
Work completed: 15 minutes, tops.

2. Make a floor desk!
Kills two birds with one stone, right? You get to work and supervise your baby, right? Wrong. You will surround your baby with all his toys, but the one he’ll be interested in is the big shiny one you’re spending all your time on, and the minute your back is turned to answer your phone he’ll roll over onto your laptop and suddenly your screen will be full of gibberish.
Work completed: FKSMASLG;J’K KL28_)(

3. Take a train to Penzance!
No, seriously. Buy a ticket, hop on a train and, provided you have enough laptop battery and/or your baby isn’t ill or teething, the movement of the train will rock him to sleep for the largesse of the journey, allowing you to work. Obviously this way you spend an entire day’s salary on a ticket to Penzance, but in return you get to eat in the buffet car, which makes you feel like a spy, and you get to visit Penzance (Obviously, if you live in Penzance, get a train to London).
Work completed: Five hours’ worth, unless you take this opportunity to sleep instead, in which case who could blame you.

4. Leave your baby with a friend or relative!
Leave your baby with someone while you work in the other room and you’ll realise just how well you can interpret your baby’s various cries. Also, you won’t be able to think about anything else. Whoever’s looking after him will try to feed him when you can hear that he’s sleepy, or try to rock him to sleep when he just wants someone to play with him. And you’ll sit there mentally critiquing their technique instead of working until you can’t stand it anymore.
Work completed: Very little, unless you measure work in tears and leaked breast milk.

5. Decamp to a park!
Okay, in my experience this one actually works when I time it with my baby’s morning nap. If I wheel him to the park via Starbucks I get to a) enjoy a soy hazelnut latte, and b) do some real work, because the combination of fresh air and birdsong lulls him to sleep and keeps him there for much of the morning. Of course, the cons include potential iPad theft, rain, toilet negotiation, and park yobs going “weyyy” if you breastfeed.
Work completed: Anything up to two hours’ worth, unless a yobbo nicks your iPad in the rain while you’ve got your norks out.

6. Wear him!
This also works. Strap your baby into a carrier, go for a walk until he falls asleep, then open your laptop and get some work done. If he wakes up for a feed, try and feed him in the carrier before he figures out that you’re sitting down (they always figure it out somehow).
Work completed: Up to 90 minutes’ worth.

7. Stand up!
If your baby gets restless in the carrier when you’re sitting down, set up shop on a kitchen counter, and work standing up. This also counts as a workout.
Work completed: As much as you can do before your feet get tired.

8. Work on your phone while he sleeps!
Typing one-handedly on my phone has become second nature, and I’ve even managed to push past the RSI I’ve been developing. Still, I only use this method for notes and edits, because it gets too cosy. Suddenly you become aware that you have this cuddly baby squished up against you, the oxytocin shuts down your higher brain and you just want to smell your baby’s head and nap all day.

9. If all else fails, give up, embrace poverty, drink wine.
You can do this. You live near Lidl.

Guess which one(s) of these methods I’ve used to write this post.


Five things I would have done differently from the beginning

1. Co-slept from the first night
From the moment we brought Herbie home from the hospital, he went off like a burglar alarm if we even looked like we were going to put him down, and the doctor said not to push it as he’d had a traumatic birth. So Stuart and I settled into a nightmarish 24-hour-a-day routine of holding the baby for two hours while the other one of us slept.

Day and night we slogged through these purgatorial shifts, dangerously nodding off in front of the worst of what Netflix had to offer with the baby snoring in our arms while the other one catnapped. This went on for two weeks which, when you’re living without REM sleep, is roughly 97 years.

Eventually a visiting midwife (I don’t know which one, only that she is the most glorious human alive) asked whether we habitually drink to excess or thrash around in our sleep. When we said no, she told us, a little conspiratorially, about safe cosleeping and breastfeeding lying-down.

Since then we haven’t looked back. I lie on my side with Herbie encircled in my arms, and together we sleep for between four and six-hour stretches. Even when he nurses, he’s basically at boob-level, so neither of us really wakes up. Compared to those early days, it is bliss.

I mean sure, sleeping in a family bed doesn’t make for a very romantic bedroom situation, and I can’t really feel my arms anymore, and I don’t sleep quite well enough to stop accidentally putting the kettle in the fridge. Oh, and obviously when we start sleep-training I will write a post totally reversing my position, BUT for now this works for us. Ish. And what I’m finding is that “works-ish” is about as good as it gets when you have a new baby.

2. Not bothered with nursing tops
Okay, FIRST OF ALL, why are most nursing tops ALSO maternity tops? Surely the subset of pregnant women who are nursing a baby AS WELL is relatively small?

SECONDLY, it turns out that if you develop giant mutant milkbreasts, as I have, those hidden-flap tops just make them look like the world’s most obscene tongues sticking out.

It’s so much easier to just wear a vest under a normal top. Then to feed you just pull the former down and yank the latter up, and tuddah! Accessible boob. Job done.

3. Watched RuPaul’s Drag Race
Why did I save up all of True Detective to watch while trapped under a breastfeeding baby? True Detective is slow, requires concentration, and contains “upsetting scenes”. I am a new mother. I can’t deal with slow programming because I’m too busy wrangling a crying/pooing/vomiting baby. Also my brain, she no work so good anymore. I barely sleep, ergo I don’t GET moody police nuance. And my hormones are so ridiculous that I pretty much consider Jennifer Lopez saying “I AM A BRONDE” an upsetting scene.

What I need in a show is primary colours and an easy-to-follow plot that will captivate me all day but not disintegrate if I conk out for an episode. I need a show where no one mumbles and everyone experiences simple, relatable emotions – like jealousy, and reem. I don’t need moody supernatural dramas like The Returned or challenging moral dramas like Breaking Bad. I need trash. I need RuPaul’s Drag Race.

So if you’re about to have a baby and you’re building up a stash of Game of Throneses to plough through after you give birth, well done, but don’t. Because do not underestimate how annoyed you’ll be if you miss a key scene because the baby’s crying. Whereas it won’t matter if you have a bunch of Catfishes or The Royalses, or Pretty Little Liarses, instead. Hear me. Netflix up some trash today. You’ll thank me later. Actually you won’t, because you won’t remember, but still.

4. Bought a little bag
One major thing I’ve learned about breastfeeding is that one session can take anywhere between zero and 90 minutes, you require constant rehydration, an obscene amount of snacks, your phone, and all the working TV remotes in your house.

What makes things worse is that when you have taken steps to assemble all said items, but find yourself trapped under a feeding baby ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROOM FROM THEM. For 90 minutes.

Hence I should have bought a small bag.

5. Saved up for a cleaner
Look, I don’t know about you, but my house is a fucking state. We moved to Kent from London a month before Herbie was born, and six months on we’re still finding homes for everything. Tidying, when I have time to do it, is mostly a case of moving the mess from one place to another.

All the literature says “just do the necessary and leave everything else”, and reasonably so, because entertaining a needy baby and keeping the house perfect is near-impossible.

The truth is, the dirtier your house gets, the worse you feel about it. You become convinced people are judging you and that you’re days away from a plague of rats, and every day you’re home with the baby this worry ticks over and over in your head until one day you put on your too-loose glasses, strap your baby to your front, and attack the kitchen floor with a mop too vigorously.

And then THIS happens:


More regrets coming soon!