How to Accomplish Something Even When you Are Suffering From Kid Fatigue

It’s 6 AM. Your bundle of joy is bouncing and blowing bubbles. Your eyes and mind hate you for spawning this thing, because they are tired, and want to go back to sleep. For a moment, you agree with them.

You’re suffering from Kid Fatigue.

Kid Fatigue is the step right before “Can’t Take It Anymore!” and right after “I Need a mimosa and Game of Thrones, stat!”, where you finally, briefly, privately admit that your child is a giant asshole sometimes. Maybe you want some time for yourself right now, but you still aren’t willing to call in the favors of grandparents. It is a facet of the job that all parents deal with eventually.

But you also don’t want to add Guilt Ridden to the mental suffering you are going through, so you start trying to figure out how to still write that novel or figure out how to start that business. If you had no rosy cheeked monster here that needed your every iota of attention at all times, this problem would seem easy- you would Just Do It.

That is the core strength of being a productive parent. When you arrange time, you can get it done quickly. You have to.

So the problem is finding the spare time that you can arrange, and time is scarce already. What time you have you want to spend on extra sleep, or being a vegetable, or maybe pretending like everything is OK.

The trick becomes adapting to a “burst mode” work model. You will never get that hour of uninterrupted focus and concentration, but you will get 3-4 ten minute periods in that same hour. You can’t spend all day at a coffee shop, but you can plant the laptop on the arm of the couch and type out a story in between stopping an innocent baby’s unwitting suicide attempt.

Burst mode means breaking up tasks into smaller, bite sized chunks, then attacking those chunks as fast as possible.

Adapting to this style is a challenge, and it will end up becoming your go-to for any type of work after you adapt. At my job, I routinely handle more volume of work than my peers, as I only spend about 15–20 minutes on each issue, not an hour or more like they do. I do not handle in depth issues as well, but I touch on more a day. This also means I’m great at picking up the house quickly, but I falter when I try to do a deep clean.

So toss out the notion of “maintaining” focus and reject advice that tells you that you just need to wake up early to get it done. Tell that well meaning friend that you are already waking up early, thank you very much. If I don’t break my focus then my son is going to eat a ball of unknown floor cruft. Adapt to a burst mode style, and get it done quickly across smaller pieces.

Or give up and succumb to both kid fatigue and failure. Your choice.

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