Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

If You Need Me Between 4 and 10pm…

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

If you need me between 4 and 10pm…and you aren’t my little kid, you gotta know… That’s her time. 

If it’s a social thing (in person or online), most days, she will be with me. If you need me alone, it’s gotta be before I leave work (so before 3pm) or after 10pm (when I am almost sure she will be asleep). Occasionally I can find an hour when she is doing activities. This is negotiable on her time, not yours.

If it’s a blurred line thing, like an unrecorded meeting to work on something with friends, or a Virtually Connecting session where I am not the main person, I can do it, but she might show up and you better not mind if she does. You will either like it or stay silent about it.

If it’s something formal, you really better not ask me to do it. You know why? Because she comes first and my wellbeing comes second. She comes first means I will not insist that she stay away from my screen for an hour while I do a webinar with you. I may need to make her something to eat during, take her to the bathroom, anything (usually there isn’t anyone else around to help). And I will not do a formal thing and risk looking unprofessional because I need to multitask childcare while doing your thing. There’s no reason to do it.

The worst thing you can ask me is to meet for 8pm for a formal thing. That’s the worst time because it’s around her bedtime. 

Best case scenario, I manage to get her into bed around 7-7.30pm, but there will be tears as she negotiates how many books to read and she asks for 6 and I give her 3. When, really, she has the right for 6. She’s even gone to bed early! And then i can’t guarantee she will be completely asleep by 8, so there will be so much stress for both of us.

Worst case scenario, I won’t get her into bed. I may or may not have someone to help care for her between 8-9, but because I usually allow her into hangouts while she is awake (and I am adamant on keeping this until she’s a bit older) she won’t usually understand to stay away. And she will show up. And I will feel uncomfortable. And there will be tension. And then when I am done, I still need to put her to bed and that will take some time (because past her regular bedtime). And then she’ll be asleep 2 hours later than usual. And that means difficulty waking up next morning. So both of us likely late for school/work.

So yeah. 

I’m not meeting anyone for anything at 8pm. And nothing formal between 4-10pm. 

I have had enough of these compromises. Until she is old enough to read to her own self in bed, I won’t do this. And even when she is older, she deserves some time with me to talk and laugh and play and cry and do whatever she wants. Or whatever I want.

2 Comments

  1. I’m happy to see your daughter pop in to hangouts! I brought my 3 yr old daughter to the Creative Commons fireside chat with David Wiley a couple weeks ago. I couldn’t have gone otherwise. I did worry people wouldn’t be happy to see her there, but everyone, as far as I could tell was happy to see her there.

  2. Carving out time is so important especially when dealing across time zones. Good for you!

    In my old role I had two periods of time that were non-negotiable: 5pm – 9 pm Pacific (for kids) and 1 am – 5 am Pacific (for sleep). As more of us are working globally respecting the boundaries of folks, especially the folks not in the dominant time zones, is an important form of respect (and sanity saving).

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