BABIES STIMULATE CAREER.
Little babies make the world go round. They give you unconditional love; when you see that smile of pure joy they greet you with during the first months of their life, it’s enough to lift your spirits and to make your heart soar. Babies are also time-consuming and quite expensive. So how do they stimulate your career? I am often asked the same question: how do you manage all that with three children?! Simple. Those same children are huge stimuli for career advancement and for realizing one’s potential. Once you have a baby, you become a parent, the person fully responsible for another human being. Take a simple situation. You are out of money, so you spend your last dollar on a burger or something equally nourishing and healthy. Or you drink tea and dream of better times. You cannot do that when you have a baby. Babies need to be fed at regular or irregular intervals; you cannot tell them they have to wait until your next pay-check. What’s more, when an adult is hungry their stomach growls; when babies are hungry, they can maintain that yell for the whole night! Sure, all a newborn can do is eat, sleep, perform the most primitive bodily functions and yell its head off at unpredictable times. Well, as the old joke goes, if you couldn’t walk, talk, had no hair no teeth, wouldn’t you yell too? Babies are like little birds that open up their beaks when they see their parents fly around; something needs to be plopped down into those waiting open mouths several times a day. And there is no such thing as a free lunch. We have to earn enough money to feed the children and pay the rent.
Contrary to popular opinion, there is always some free time left daily. You are an educated person, maybe you even have a degree already. If you don’t exercise your brains, you’ll be bored and irritated. Think, see what you can do. I have always done a lot of writing and translating, all the activities that can be easily arranged from home. In addition to my full-time job and full-time family responsibilities, I have translated about forty novels, all of them published. That’s a good source of additional income. I also wrote literary reviews for several weekly and monthly publications. Later I progressed to creating lesson plans, methodological articles on Internet in Education, Teacher Refresher – Training Courses, International Projects. I stopped counting after 200 publications. There is private tutoring; I never did that simply because I don’t like it, and because I am a full-time teacher. If you work at a lab, tutoring may be a good distraction from your daily job, and a nice supplementary income. Open your mind to any opportunity.
The family schedules are arranged around the children’s regime, and the children adjust to any schedule and house rules fast. I still work best at 6-8 AM, because that’s when I used to do it when the kids were young. Since they were born into it, I never had any problems with leaving my work around. All that paper, all those reference books with numerous bookmarks, all my files, never meddled with, never touched. My writing desk was always off limits, period. How can one achieve that? Once that tiny hand tried to reach the top and grasp something, I would repeat, “No, no, no” until it sank in. All it took occasionally was 102 times, repeated in the same firm patient voice. On the other hand, following the family maxim, Babies need your attention NOW, I taught myself to work in what I mentally dubbed “steeplechasing style”. To wit, I could always stop whatever I was doing, deal with any issue at hand, and then return to the same spot, the same idea, never losing the thread.
We could quite decently exist on our regular salaries, both achieving our Ph.D.’s rather early in life. But we wanted more for our children, so we worked hard. There was never the question of, Can I do it? It was rather, How fast can I do it? If you complete your thesis in one or two years instead of three or eternity, your boss will notice it and consider you a good candidate for advancement. Your income rises, you become more flexible. True, you get more responsibilities at work. That’s where real family planning comes up. You have to discuss and to decide who does what when.
Children learn by example. When they see their parents working, they take it as a given and know that people need to work to live well. If parents take part in a contest, publish an article, make a presentation at a conference or an event, children feel that they are part of it. “Go for it, Mom!” is a phrase I often hear from my kids. It is a huge mutual support system.