Children don’t share you with work

ImageI came to my senses this afternoon. I was in the middle of feeding my small son when I tried to respond to a skype from someone at work. Multitasking with a less than 1 year old does not work. As my attention went to less than 100% on the task in hand, manovering half spoonfuls of sticky goo past flailing arms into a momentarily open mouth in a moving face, a windmill hand struck the spoon and goo went impossibly far and wide. I punished him by leaving him to get a cloth. He punished me by breaking the legally enforcable occupational sound maximum and maintaining his tearful hubris for many long minutes. Time for an e-mail to my boss and colleagues to manage their expectations of the work deadlines I would be able to deliver on this week while I was being temporarily full time daytime parent to my youngest boy. Of course it was an email I wrote in my head and not on the keyboard at the time and even that mental distraction was noticed and commented on with extra clinginess. The lesson which I failed to observe properly with two older children is that young childrenrequire and demand full time attention and nothing less. If you give them less they will protest and you will both be stressed. If you let work or anything else intrude on your childcare then you will both be stressed. Your child will demand more attention. This ever tightening loop around your chest is called deviation amplification. The more you ignore your child the more they will do anything to get your attention. If you react negatively then it just cranks up their determination to get you focused on responding to them by fair means or foul. The alternative is simply to treasure and enjoy your child and give your whole self to them for the time required. The reward is the immesurable pleasure for both of you of being a parent and being a child.

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