Once you have a child, life as we know it stops. Everything revolves around the baby; we are learning as we go along. Each day is a joy and a trial. Here’s one Golden Rule: the baby does not know any better! They pick up whatever we teach them real fast – and they don’t know anything else. One of the very first things to realize is the new schedule. If you are nursing, you have to be up every three hours or so. You need to pour some liquid into yourself before each feeding. Tea with milk works best. Very quickly you both realize another important fact: ah, if only the baby woke up at regular intervals! Just every three hours which gradually move to four to five to six, until you suddenly sleep a whole long night of 6-7 hours undisturbed. No such luck, the newborn may wake up every fifteen minutes. Give yourself some time to adjust, and try to work out some schedule. Choose a system which suits you, which you understand. I read Dr. Spock, and his advice was exactly what I needed. He describes the tiniest daily actions in detail, explains how to train your baby to follow more or less set times for feeding (give your little bundle of joy water instead of milk in the middle of the night; they lose interest very fast and prefer to sleep instead). When and how to start potty-training: between 4-8 months, once they try to sit on your arm while you are nursing. If you wait until they walk and talk and expect them to ask for a potty, you’d be stuck with Pampers until they are five years old. The time to start saving all that money you spend on Pampers is before they turn a year old! Settle them on a potty while they cannot up and run away, and they’ll get used to it real quick.

In about two months after the Arrival, you may notice a semblance of some regime, some normalcy. You may even find yourself with fifteen minutes or half an hour to spare during the day. Here’s another Golden Rule: never try to do anything important while the baby is awake. They will demand your attention by non-stop yelling (they cannot yet talk, remember?) You will feel frustration because of the inability to do what you want. Watch your baby’s behavior, amazing though it may seem they do have one. Suppose your baby sleeps between 6-7 AM. OK, that’s your shining opportunity, go grab it! Read that new article, make some notes for your research, wash and curl your hair, or lie down and slumber. Next time during the same day, the baby sleeps between 1-3 PM. Two hours is a LOT. You may actually start and finish something sensible. Your next opportunity may come after 9-10 PM. If you are not dropping down from exhaustion and you haven’t any romantic plans with your husband, review your notes, have an adult discussion with your man, call your mother or friend, watch a new episode of your favorite TV show.

Dr. Spock gives this great advice which we followed wisely: if you don’t have anybody to leave your child with, carry them with you. First time around, I asked my advisor if it was OK to have my baby with me when I was ready to submit a new chapter of my thesis for her revision. She was dubious but willing to try. It went well, and next time I didn’t need to ask. By the time my little kid started walking, everybody knew her and cooed around whenever I came to the faculty building. Babies are sociable creatures, they thrive with attention. If your boss is against it though, find a different way. Arrange things with your husband, and he’ll arrange his obligations with you. Use all the help offered. A good friend may baby-sit for a couple hours. Grandparents may be a real help. I never had that luxury but I’ve seen enough people enjoy it.

My longtime observations on multitasking at home are simple. When the man of the house cooks dinner, he cooks dinner. The woman may simultaneously do some other things. My internal clock always tells me how long each activity takes. I put on soup, it takes one hour, so I can do something else. I stick fresh breads into the oven, set my mental alarm clock to 40 minutes, and write or read or help the kids with their homework. Maybe it is all connected to our carrying, bearing and nursing while performing many other functions. The trick is to know how much time any process takes, which is not that different from our jobs. We also need to know how long this or that process may take. Know your strengths and your weaknesses. If, say, you turn on a hotplate, set a pan with vegetables to boil, and decide to surf the web, you may eventually find yourself with a nice little unique dish of pureed veggies inextricably melded with your pan. Some experiments need your complete attention and attendance; if you are teaching a class, you need to be alert and concentrated. So it is with some household chores.




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