Look Ma, Two Hands

Several years ago, on a summer evening, I sat writing. My girlfriend at the time approached from behind and put her hands over my eyes, Guess-Who style. Her intent was playful but purposeful: The message was that I should stop working and spend time with her.

My playful response was to continue typing with my eyes obstructed, word after word, sentence after sentence, all mistake-free. How? Because I can type. I can type “correctly,” as in eight fingers on the home keys, adidas neo both thumbs over the space bar, eyes never on the keyboard, and so on. Why? Because I’m a writer, and that’s the efficient way to go about my business, of course.

My blind typing trick impressed her pants off — literally, I think (though that did me no good because I had a deadline, so kept writing all night).

I do have a point, even if it takes me 150 words to get around to relaying it: Despite the multi-tasking afforded by my one-handed-bottle-feeding trick (see “One Hand Left”), some tasks are still best performed with two hands. I can write an email while feeding the baby; I cannot write a chapter.

This led me to a recent epiphany that, when viewed in hindsight, should have been obvious. A key to better organizing my work-at-home-dad workday is that when I need to multitask, I should focus on tasks that actually are, by nature, better compatible with multitasking. Moreover (and this is the important part), I should save those tasks when I actually need to multitask.

An example is photo editing. (Yep, I’m also a photographer.) Culling a batch of images from a shoot can require considerable time, but in the digital world it’s really just a one-handed job. That’s a task I can work on while feeding the baby.

Another example is reading — emails, articles, et al. That, too, is a task I can complete while feeding the baby.

To edit photos or read while my daughter is sleeping or quietly entertaining herself with a bib is, in efficiency vernacular, a waste of time. During two-hands-available time, I should tackle tasks that require two hands: writing, researching, packing camera bags, cleaning lenses. During one-hand-available time, I should be photo editing, updating software, nike cortez conducting phone interviews, catching up on social marketing.

(During no-hands-available time — such as when changing diapers — I can think, which is a huge step in the writing process. Seriously. A majority of my writing time is spent just pondering possibilities. But during no-hands-available time, usually I just exchange laughs and smiles with my daughter— that’s a far more important way to multitask.)

This compartmentalizing of tasks has been kind of a “duh” moment for me. But at least the moment came, and now I have more time to type things like “duh” — which, when done with sound technique, requires two hands.

The Get-Out-of-Nap Routine

It may be long forgotten but it’s not hard to imagine that we all, as kids, had a get-out-of-nap routine. Lydia will do anything to avoid that time of the day when she has to lie down, stay still and be quiet; it’s the polar opposite of what a 4-year-old wants to do.

Lydia’s natural reaction is not to take no for an answer. In business I admire that philosophy, but at home it’s frustrating. Most days I eventually put my foot down, but today was different. Because today, in her own way, she told me how she views her world.

Lydia picked out a stuffed monkey and decided it was her baby. air jordan 14 Then she put it in a doll rocking chair. She put on a dress and told me that she had to go out to “bring home the bacon,” a term her mother uses when Lydia asks why mom is leaving for work. She asked me if I would take care of the baby while she was gone. Of course, I agreed.

She was gone for a couple of minutes before I tracked her down to check on her. She was at my desk, pretending to work. When she was done she took out a puzzle box and stuffed the pieces into her purse. “This is the money I made from working,” she says. “Now I have to go shopping.”

But first her little hand surfed into her purse and she handed me five puzzle pieces. “We have to save some of this money for later. Can you go back to watching the baby now?” She went off again.

A little while later she returned from her shopping trip with a basket of random items and asked if I would help her put on an apron. “Look at all this stuff I got for us, Daddy. I bought it with the money I made from work.” Then she began making lunch at her Kiddie Kitchen.

When we finished eating, she retrieved her baby out of its chair and hopped into her bed, a place she has refused to sleep for months. “Snug as a bug in a rug,” she says with a smile. “Don’t worry, nike zoom hyperrev Daddy. I am not scared to sleep in here.”

She understands that her mom leaves each day because she has to help provide for the family. She knows we have to make money to buy the things we need and that we also have to save some of it. She feels safe where she is and knows that someone she loves is there with her every day.

For a while it may have simply been a get-out-of-nap routine, but it worked — in many ways.

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

I’m easy. Change seldom ruffles me. Even with this new parenting job, the dire “your life is no longer yours” warnings mostly have rung unwarranted. I don’t miss much about my pre-fathering days, mostly because I don’t view my new responsibilities as anchors so much as I see them as different sails.

However, one thing I do miss is the mid-day power nap. air jordan 13 Slipping a bit of sleep into my schedule isn’t as easy as it was before.

I didn’t used to nap every afternoon (despite what my wife thought).  Sometimes, though — whether because of a bad night of sleep, or amid some work that was particularly mentally challenging, or “just cuz” — I would lay down for 15 to 20 afternoon minutes in order to recharge. The benefits of power-napping are well researched and reported, and I was somewhat a master of capitalizing on them.

But that’s not so easy while sharing the day with a baby.

One obstacle is that when Maggie is asleep, that’s the most opportune time for me to be productive. I can get much more done when my brain isn’t persistently aware that she could interrupt me at any second with a need that only the nearest adult can fulfill. When she sleeps, I can focus. Maggie’s naps are the marrow of my workday.

Moreover — and maybe this is just a first-time-parent thing — the usually unflappable me is disquieted by the notion of sleeping while Maggie is awake. The caveat to that fear, of course, nike kobe 9 is that it exists only during the day. I don’t know how often Maggie wakes during the night, while my wife and I sleep, and lies there for minutes or hours drooling and watching shadows on the ceiling. I’m sure it happens, but I don’t lose sleep over it.

During the day, however, if I try to nap while Maggie does not, then I can’t close my eyes for more than 20 seconds without being jolted by a deep-seeded paranoia that I am leaving her defenseless from the terrors of daylight.

I have researched this a bit and found a plethora of polarized opinions. Some parents and experts claim that sleeping while the baby is awake is reckless; others say that as long as the baby is secured (such as in a hazard-free playpen) then my midday napping is just as safe as through-the-night slumber.

I’ll do more research, and I’m open to hearing advice. In the meantime, I’m pouring another cup of coffee.

One Hand Left

Though it may seem contradictory compared with my recent post “Formula for Success,” a repeating delay in my workday has been having to feed Maggie.

I don’t mind feeding her, of course. I understand that it’s necessary — if she didn’t eat, she wouldn’t poop, and then what would we do with the closet full of diapers? I’ve also heard that eating is related to growing, so I suppose that’s a benefit to be aware of.

And I certainly enjoy the benefit of bonding. air jordan 12 She has a need, I fill it, her trust in me is reinforced, and she looks into my eyes for 15 minutes as if I were the most useful person ever. (She knows nothing about how much I’ll ruin her life when she’s 13.)

However, another reality exists: Sometimes Maggie needs to eat at a time that isn’t convenient for me. Perhaps she’ll be hungry when I’m writing, or researching, or doing a phone interview, or preparing an estimate that needs to be delivered immediately lest I lose a chance at securing a new client. In life overall, Maggie and anything she needs are my priority, but minute-to-minute, sometimes I just need to get something else done.

Throughout my 41 years I’ve learned that occasionally my mind knows a solution exists even when I can’t identify that solution. In this case, I knew there had to be some trick for me to feed Maggie a bottle and hold her with just one hand, leaving the other hand available for me to be somewhat productive.

Yet nothing I tried worked. For a few days I laid her on my lap and held the bottle with one hand, but that quickly led to rapid reflux and increased spit-up problems, resulting in the laundry bin filling at an alarming rate. I faced the same problem with laying her in the bouncy seat. She can’t sit up yet, so any other seat would also not suffice.

One morning Maggie was outright wailing to be fed, but a work deadline was about to slip away. She was so upset that I wouldn’t be able to focus on my work even if I did choose to ignore the crying (which I wouldn’t do anyway, but that’s another conversation). That’s when the epiphany came: What do parents of twins do? In order to double-feed, they have to be able to feed and hold with one hand, right?

So I searched for a twins-raising website, and found the answer. The solution, which seems obvious now, is to sit Maggie on my lap with my arm wrapped around her torso, and with that hand hold the bottle to her mouth. free run 5.0 +3 femmes For parents of twins, that allows them to feed both babies at once; for a work-from-home dad, that leaves him with one hand to type.

I’m sure other oOne-Handed Feedingne-hand feeding techniques exist, and I’d love to hear about them in the Comments section below. Until Maggie is capable of reliably holding her own bottle, I’ll surely be able to use the further advice.

Fat Gym Rat

I will always be a gym rat. As a child I spent my summer days and after-school hours at the Carter Community Building, a wonderful gift to the town of Lebanon, New Hampshire, and to budding rats like me. As a high-school and college athlete I could pretty much always be found on a field, court or weight room. Today I coach high-school football and basketball (many times with Lydia by my side), so I haven’t strayed too far from my roots.

I love athletics, but dieting and exercising for the sake of looking better was never my thing. If I wasn’t training to compete then it all seemed meaningless. I rarely felt out of shape, but when I did I’d jump right back into a routine and be right back to normal.

However, once our bundle of mass destruction arrived four years ago, exercise time was replaced by family time, chores, company work and trying to get sleep. Fat and happy became fine with me. I invented many late-night sandwiches that were sure to be a hit at the restaurant I’d open someday.

My mindset was that I have a fantastic wife, beautiful new child, air jordan 11 great friends and family, successful start-up company and I live in a beautiful place. What else was there?

The answer was my health, but I didn’t get it yet.

When my hair turned to grey it didn’t bother me. I figured maybe I’ll go for the George Clooney look. Then one day my friend’s wife told me I looked like Taylor Hicks, the former American Idol singer. She didn’t mean the clean, polished Hicks we know today, but rather the pudgy, chunky version. The message was well received. I dusted off the scale and stepped on. Wow! — I had gained 30 pounds in a year. That was the halfway point; I gained another 30 after that.

I had expected to gain weight, but what surprised me was the myriad of side effects. Joint pain, snoring that led to lack of quality sleep (and I wasn’t getting much sleep in the first place), longer periods of recovery from sickness, and many other side effects started to dig away at my health and productivity.

Finally it hit me. I recalled a conversation with an older friend many years ago. “You have a responsibility to your family and your business to be healthy,” he had said. “If you do walk down the wrong path, nike kobe 9 elite gs expect it to take the same amount of time to get back.”

The next morning I turned around and started the long journey back. A year later I still have a long way to go but I am more than half way home.  I focus daily on diet, core flexibility and basketball, which all keeps me healthy, happy and a better reflection of my former fit self.

Fortunately Lydia is a ball of energy and she loves to play chasing games, and that helps, too. I get to simultaneously stay fit and bond with my daughter. Moreover, she gets a better role model for maintaining physical health.

Maybe someday Lydia will be a gym rat too.

The Singing Fool

I am a world-class bad singer. Any accurate note I hit is accidental. My rhythm isn’t bad and my sense of timing is nearly impeccable, but my singing voice sounds like a palm rubbing against a wet chalkboard, though more pitchy. I could probably, with just a little effort, become the first professional non-singer — I could surely get listeners to pay me to just be quiet.

However, one person in this world loves to hear me croon a tune. That person is, naturally, my 4-month-old daughter Maggie.

In defense of Maggie’s taste, please remember that air jordan 10 she doesn’t have a significant baseline to place me on. I am, really, only the second best singer she’s ever heard live. (Her mom, a former professional musical-theatre actress, would win a vocal competition against a choir of angels.)

So I embrace this time when my baby is so young and so inexperienced, before she roams the world to hear the seven billion voices better than mine. Right now, my singing can instantly make her smile or giggle or lull her to sleep.

I find this a valuable resource at least a few times a day. I first began singing to Maggie when changing her diaper, a hygiene experience she hated in her first weeks of life. The songs were my way of distracting her a bit from her disdain of nakedness (a preference I hoped she’d hold onto throughout her teenage years).

Then the singing became a way to soothe her in the cranky moments before sleep. Like many babies, Maggie gets upset about growing tired, and she’d rather cry for half an hour than close her eyes. Though she’s normally collected and cool, when tired, she can wail with the noisiest newborns. She’s a high-soprano crier, which can make it hard for me to focus on work — or hard to focus on anything at all.

But if I sing a song or two, she smiles, quiets, puts her head on my shoulder, and drifts to dreamland. “Wonderful World” and John Denver’s “All of My Memories” are surefire inducers of calm, as is her free run 4.0 v3 femmes newfound favorite relaxant, Journey’s “Open Arms.”

The benefit for me is that I can get back to work faster, and get back to tranquility for a little while, too. All I have to do is take a ten-minute break and stretch my crackly vocal chords.

But don’t let my work face fool you — the benefits stretch much further than that.