My daughter's "first books" during one of our school holiday projects
Over the two-week school holiday, I found the trick that had been eluding me for the past year. How can I balance working at home with spending time with my 4-year-old daughter?
My usual technique would be bouncing back and forth from my computer to her room all day long. So I would do some writing or other work, then rush into P.’s room to dress Barbie. Do more work, then hurry over to read P. The Cat in the Hat. More work, and then back to my daughter’s room to invent stories in which we starred.
Each time, little P. would make kewpie eyes and I would feel incredibly guilty about tiptoeing back to my office. I wasn’t being fair, expecting her to play alone, I told myself. It didn’t matter that she had plenty of toys and literally was about 10 feet away from me all day long. Randomly, I would take her out in the neighborhood, but that didn’t seem to help either.
And then, I decided to try a new technique. Every morning, I told her about the fun activity I had planned for the afternoon. On a rainy day, it would be painting or some sort of arts and crafts project. On other days, it would be a trip to a museum or the movies.
I found that with one really good activity on our afternoon agenda, she didn’t mind playing on her own in the morning. As for my work, I ended up being more productive this way than by jumping back and forth all day long.
And I ended up having a lot of fun too: visiting our local aquarium and a natural history museum, mixing paints and watching childhood movies that I wouldn’t have made time for otherwise.
As it turned out, balancing work and childcare—at least during this school vacation—was child’s play.
Happy New Year everyone!