Here’s To The Weekend.

My 3 highlights of the week:

1.

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Chubby baby fingers + homemade finger paint = gloriousness

2.

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I’ve been wanting to go to the Strand since I can remember. That day finally came. And I made a monumentally restrained purchase of one book.

3.

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Today, a local arts writer came in to take a peek at tomorrow’s exhibition opening. Very excited to unveil the new show!

 

What a week! Sunday in the city, beautiful (spring-like) days, homemade goodies, and a girl date with one of my best friends. PLUS, I’m leaving for Florida on Monday for two weeks! I can’t wait to get out in the SUN. And, really, to just relax for a bit. Gosh, this has truly been a week to smile about. Hope yours is super sunny!

Link Love:

  • Want: Sunshine! (a candle via we are ONYX)
  • Need: Sunshine! (the importance of getting your Vitamin D in the winter)
  • Drink: Sunshine In A Glass! (actually, that looks disgusting. So how about a Sunshine Margarita? In fact, I’m definitely making that this week.)
  • Read: The Sun Also Rises! (okay, that was a stretch)
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Working With Baby.

Tip #4: Train your baby for independent play

I learned this one from my mother: when I was just a baby, my mother “trained” me to be comfortable playing by myself. Early on, this involved setting my in my crib with a few books and walking out of the room. Quickly, I learned the pleasures of alone time, and was content to play by myself with a few toys and books for at least half an hour at a time. This gave my mother the opportunity to get some much-needed work done (or, hell, rest for a minute), and taught me early on to use my imagination.

Now, as an adult, I love quiet. I love being alone. I have never felt truly bored. Ever. Isn’t that strange? I attribute all of this to my parents and their emphasis on alone time. As a working-from-home-with-baby mom (I still don’t know what to call it), I’ve found this practice to be essential to my own productivity.

I began when Chloe was young. At about the same time every day, I’d put her in her crib with the book Art for Baby and let her stare at the pictures for a while. If she got fussy, I’d go in and coo at her for a little until she calmed down, then would resume my post in the next room (keeping her baby monitor close by). Very quickly, her baby brain began to recognize this daily ritual of “quiet time.”

Now that she is older, I make sure Chloe has 2 quiet “half hours” (longer if she’s into it) every day. For the first half hour, generally between breakfast and lunch, I let her sit in my bed and read to herself. I make a big show of selecting a stack of books, laying them all out, and letting her pick which one to start. My voice is upbeat and excited, showing her what an awesome opportunity it is to get some alone time! Right now, as I write this, I can hear her making animal noises and babble sounds. It’s been 20 minutes already, and she hasn’t looked for me once. Bonus: this usually leads into nap time, so I get another hour-plus of work under my belt.

For the second half hour, I let her do an activity, independently. Yesterday, I made a batch of homemade finger paint. I played with her for a bit, then set her up with a few more sheets of paper and sat at the table answering emails while she continued to create. Happy as a clam, she made about a dozen pictures, and I only had to intervene once (when those chubby little fingers got a little tooooo close to the walls).

By adding these “quiet times” to our daily routine, I get an extra bonus hour of productivity. This is enough time to reach out to clients, write a press release, or design a brochure, tasks that need quick bursts of focus.

I sometimes think that because moms have the pressure of “being it all,” this negatively informs how we interact with our children. The tendency is to be hovering all the time, watching the baby’s every movement, over-narrating ever gesture so that the baby learns, dammit!, detracts from the very important task of allowing the child to explore their own individuality. I’ve sat in a library with mothers who follow their toddler’s every footstep, narrating along the way (“Left foot! Right foot! Great job, Johnny! Now reach for a book! It’s a red book! Okay, the blue book! Now open it!”) As well-intended these narrations are, I sometimes wonder if in Johnny’s little baby brain he’s thinking “will you be quiet for just one second?!”

One thing a working-from-home mom lacks is quiet. By instituting some (mandatory) independent play into your child’s day, you may be one step closer to achieving even the most fleeting moments of silence.

 

Little disclosure: I am not a child development expert, nor claim to be an expert of any sort. I am just sharing the things I’m learning on my journey as a working-with-baby mom. What works for me, may not work for you. And that’s just great.

March Reads

MARCHREADS

  1. The Girl with the Gallery by Lindsay Pollock. I spotted this book for three years straight at a used bookstore in the boonies of Vermont. Finally, last year, I purchased it. Pollock penned this biography of Edith Gregor Halpert who, at 26 years old, opened one of the first galleries in Greenwich Village. She is one of the “forgotten” women who changed the modern art market, and I’m excited to learn her story and fantasize about the golden years of being a gallerist.
  2. Transformations by Anne Sexton. Sexton reimagines 15 Grimm’s fairy tales. While I’ve read passages and pieces, I’ve never read the poems in their entirety, in order. Now’s the chance.
  3. Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne with Lisa M. Ross. As a former employee of a (wonderful) parenting book company, I am notoriously wary of parenting books. This book, however, celebrates all the things you don’t need to be a good parent, and reminds us how to live a simple and mindful existence that will benefit our children in the long run. I’m excited for it.
  4. Great House by Nicole Krauss. Started last month, I’m only about halfway through (I blame one too many binge-listening sessions to RadioLab). Time to get back to reading.

Aspirational Additions:

  1.  Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. A re-read of this classic has been calling out to me every time I pass over it on my shelf. Perhaps I’ll pull it down on a Sunday afternoon.
  2. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P by Adelle Waldman. I’ve stopped and started this book a few times, but can’t find enough interest to finish it. Perhaps March is the month.
  3. The New Yorker. I can’t freaking believe I’m still working on my pile of these (pile as in less than a dozen). I told myself I couldn’t order a subscription to the magazine until I finished all of the New Yorkers I’d already purchased. And, if I don’t finish them within 3 weeks, then no subscription for me. Clock’s ticking.

Here’s To The Weekend

My 3 highlights of the week were not well documented due to a malfunctioning phone (also: laziness). But here’s something:

Photo by Robert Chamorro for the New York Observer

Photo by Robert Chamorro for the New York Observer

It’s Armory Week in New York. I’ve been disappointed at the fair the last few years, but here’s hoping they come up with something new for 2015. (Though, I must say, taking Chloe around last year in her vintage pram was a total highlight of the entire fair experience). F has already been twice, but I’m willing to brave the weather this weekend to take a peek.

Link Love:

Nicole Krauss on Writing and Motherhood

BOOK REVIEW HISTORY OF LOVE

From an interview with the Guardian (February 12, 2011):

“There was a moment, quite a long moment, after my son was born when I wondered whether my ambition would return to me. I remember saying to my mom: my inner life has gone. But eventually, it flowed back, and when it did, I was surprised how much depth of feeling flooded into the work. Everything… trembled. And now, I’m so grateful for my inner life; it’s almost visceral, when I’m working and alone.” She smiles. “I take real pleasure in thinking.”

Nicole Krauss possesses a particular talent for words that inspires both lust and envy (perhaps the two most conjoined of the Sins). Sometimes, you forget that the writer is another human, feeling and experiencing some of the same, very-human things that we do. So, when looking at reviews and interviews concerning Great House (my current read), I stumbled upon the above quote and it reminded me that even a writer I revere can have that moment of self-doubt when stepping over the threshold of motherhood. And, at the same time, can come out of it victorious.

Working With Baby

morning

Tip #3: Become a morning person.

When I started this gig of working-with-baby, I not-so-secretly hoped that I’d be able to keep our morning snugglefests under warm blankets and languishing over coffee without altering my schedule. I figured, on occasions that warranted it, I would just work late at night, after Chloe was asleep. This technique very quickly spiraled out of control. If she was having an off night, my “work time” kept getting pushed later and later. I would wake up exhausted, and veg out on the couch building towers of blocks (or watching FRIENDS re-runs while she napped) instead of getting down to business. My already tenuous willpower eroded to virtually non-existent.

Then I realized the clue to my own productivity was to change my nature and become a “morning person.” Throughout my lifetime, I have envied my friends and peers who summoned the wherewithal to get up early. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I loved sleeping in. I hate the morning chill. I, resolutely, believed I was just made for the night time.

No one is “made” for only one thing. And while becoming a morning person is a labor of love (and not quite a success for me, yet), I’ve realized how essential it is to my daily productivity. Right now, my alarm goes off at 7:15am. My goal is 6am (5:30am is my super goal). Immediately, I push myself out of bed, because if I linger, or hit snooze, then I’m back to sleep until Chloe wakes up at 9. After switching the kettle on, I sit at my computer and start reading my favorite blogs.

But wait a minute… shouldn’t you be working?

In order for me to be my most productive, I need to have some “me” time. My me time consists of Pinterest (follow me here) and reading. That’s how I role. If I don’t get these moments of quiet to look at something non-work related that I enjoy, my whole day is off. After about half an hour, I start through my email and making to-do lists and starting the day. Even though, as of right now, it’s only a few morning hours solo, it has helped me by a landslide.

Little disclosure: I am not a child development expert, nor claim to be. I am just sharing the things I’m learning on my journey as a working-with-baby mom. What works for me, may not work for you. And that’s just great.