The Parent Project: Month 4

Child\'s handprint in blue paint
Tiny hands. I took this handprint while Jack was asleep! Seemed the best time to do it, and easier for clean up too.

15 weeks in and we are starting to get a bit more sleep in the Otobos household. And as with anything new, we’re also getting better at it. At least, I think we are – we’ve managed an overnight trip to the seaside staying in a hotel and a couple of long weekends away staying with relatives, so it feels as if we are getting more confident and capable. I tell new starters at work that it can take between 3 and 6 months to feel fully up-to-speed with their new job in a new company, and I think that’s got to be the same for parenting.

This month, the key thing I’ve realised is that I’m glued to the clock.

You pay attention to time passing

On a project, as you are counting down to the delivery of a deadline, you watch the clock constantly. If we get this done today, we can start Task X tomorrow. That activity has completed on time so we’re on track. This new risk means there’s a chance we won’t hit that deadline.

Parenting is exactly the same. I know how long it has been since the last feed, the last nappy change, the last bout of crying. And I know these things even without looking at the clock, although we have set up clocks in nearly every room so that we can keep on top of the time.

But the most extreme example of knowing how long things take is sleep. I add up all my sleep hours each day. I know exactly how much sleep I have had, several times. I’m obsessive about sleep time. I would never (ever) have thought that there would be a time in my life where I was grateful for a 45-minute nap! I don’t now remember the last time I slept through the night, as even when I was pregnant I couldn’t make it a full 8 hours without waking up for a toilet break, but I can tell you how many hours of sleep I get every night.

I can’t even do that with some of my project milestones – maybe this new skill of obsessive time recording will carry over into my work life!

You have a toolkit

I’ve also realised this month that you have to select the right tools for the job. For example, some projects work with Agile, some won’t so well. On some projects I use a full-on Gantt chart and have stakeholders who will understand it, and on others I type a list of milestones into Word. You use the tools you have available to best effect to get the result you want.

On the parent project, I use the butterfly mobile to buy myself 10 minutes in the morning once Jack has woken up so that I can get a cup of tea and make some breakfast for myself before the childcare routine kicks off in earnest. We also have a lion rattle that makes a good distraction if he is hysterically crying and we can’t work out why. Plus it sounds the nicest of all the rattles we have so it doesn’t get on my nerves. He can’t shake it himself yet, but I guess that will come with time.

And some of the tools in our parenting toolkit have been put away already, like the swaddle blankets. Swaddling was excellent, but it won’t work now.

What tools do you have that you pull out time and time again?

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