Thursday, July 09, 2015

Sharing the studio with kids - Part 1: Babies

This should be easy, right? Looking back now, it is in some ways but still far from what I've ever imagined it to be. 

So, I had my baby and I started working after 4-5 months when I was actually able to tell day from night again. I delved right into a huge commission which was the children's atlas by Carlton press. I was a bit nervous about it, but it went very well!

Here's how I did it:
J was happy to spend her days in a sling (a Manduca baby carrier), which made things easy. In there, she could feed on demand and doze off whilst I went for a quick walk around the neighbourhood before settling down for a few hours of uninterrupted work.
My studio had already been moved to my home during my first pregnancy, due to constant nausea which wasn't very nice on a 30 minute drive through London traffic.
For us, this worked and saved time and I like to have quick spontaneous sessions of creative work in between house stuff and baby things.
Staying flexible with working hours and getting used to the fact that there simply isn't any time left to reflect endlessly on unnecessary things anymore also helps. 
On the plus side I've gotten better at time management and efficiency whilst at the desk because quiet time is so precious and runs out quickly.

10 things I've learned and found useful:

1. Have a little sketchpad and pen on you at all times because you won't have time to go and sit down and find these things when an idea strikes you.

2. Also get sketch apps for phone and iPad! And notepad apps! (Like Inkpad Notepad)

3. Try to stay productive or at least in touch with the outside world via social and professional networks like fb, LinkedIn.

4. Have your phone on you at all times so in case you get trapped under a sleeping baby on a sunny summer's day you can at least write blog posts and things like that (maybe in airplane mode if you're worried like me) 

5. Get a soft style baby wrap where baby sits up higher and won't wake up when you sit down to work. Learn how to back carry so baby won't be in the way of the keyboard when she's getting bigger!

6. Still visit inspiring places like nature, museums, other countries etc.
Baby groups are an exciting new world full of baby yoga, post natal sling dance, baby swimming, baby massage, baby music, baby book club, messy play, soft play, sensory play and baby signing. We enjoyed those, but balance is important, too. 

7. Baby monitors are not an evil surveillance tool but are actually really helpful. After all, I got most work done when J was sleeping at night.

8. Don't fall into the trap of buying every kind of 'putting down baby' equipment. It's such a misconception that babies would happily sit or lie on a baby gym, baby bean bag recliner or swing next to you for a reasonable amount of time so you can get work done.  
Although I have heard of babies who apparently did just that, but that's the exception.
In my experience, sticking with baby wearing would have saved time and money as we always came back to that.

9. Be brief with unnecessary things.

10. Relax. And enjoy. Don't take on every single project. Because babyhood passes quicker than you can make sense of in your sleep deprived mind anyway, and after that comes toddlerhood!

Did I forget something? Sharing The Studio with Kid/s - Part 2: Toddlers will follow soon!


Nikkita said...

Hi Christiane,

I've been following you for awhile but don't think I've ever commented. I love your illustrations (and have enjoyed many a desktop calendar from you over the past couple years)! I also work from home as a graphic designer with a now two year old. I could so relate to your tips, and they were a great reminder since I'll be expecting another one at the end of the summer. Thanks for sharing

Christiane Engel said...

Hi Nikkita!
Thanks, I'm glad you find these useful! yes, i also need to remind myself of those things, it's easy to forget!
Congrats on your new pregnancy!! How exciting!