home contact sitemap polski

Translator Mum

My little son was born with his hands on the computer keyboard. Well, almost. The amount of time I spend on my laptop – translating, researching, learning, broadcasting, socialising, listening to music and radio, telephoning, playing, killing time, managing, organising, living – is just too scary to think about.

When Kasper arrived, I often found myself typing with one hand while holding the sleeping child on my lap with the other. Having fairly long fingers helps with AltGr+2 (=@ on the Polish keyboard) or AltGr+a (=ą) key combinations. I challenge you to have a go if you haven’t tried it before…

But it wasn’t until Kasper was 7 months old that I embarked on a large translation project and announced with a big bang being back in business. On Mother’s Day (UK – 22nd March) and with the project nearly finished, here are some thoughts on being a new mum and a freelance translator – trying to manage without additional childcare.

Translation Super-Mum

You need the following ingredients:
1. one determined translator mum
2. one cooperative infant
3. one patient partner
4. one translation project that better be worth it
5. one good project manager (if applicable)

So you are a determined translator mum. Accept that from now on the concept of free time does not exist. As a new mum this is probably nothing new – what free time? you ask. Ha! That free time you have just started to recoup in the evenings with your baby’s newly developed sleeping routine. If you follow the advice literature, your cooperative baby (round 6 months) now goes to bed around 7pm and, apart from a late evening feed, sleeps through the night until morning (‘morning’ in baby talk means anything between 3-7am).

So the deal is – you can work from 7pm as long as you can keep your eyes open – but remember this routine must be sustainable – you can’t kill yourself staying up till early hours as that will have a knock-on effect on your productivity the following day.

So, let’s agree that 7-12pm is doable – 5 hours of work, then 6-7 hours sleep if you’re lucky – also sensible. The day belongs to your baby and their routine – feeds, walks, playtime, so don’t try and do too much. Don’t feel guilty about not doing any translation work, and take a nap during the day (while your cooperative baby naps) to charge your batteries a bit. If you think a regular full time working week is 37.5 hours (5 days x 7.5 hours), then you get near this if you work 7 days x 5 hours= 35. The extra 2.5 hours you make up during the weekend, when your partner takes the baby for a walk and to visit the grandparents – and voila – this proves you can theoretically squeeze in a full-time workload into a mum’s day.

Now, the patient partner comes into play. They must be patient as your shared ‘quality time’ is out of the equation. Those nice evenings cuddling up in front of the telly after a whole day of baby talk and potato pure (in mum’s case) – they are on hold for the duration of your project. Your partner needs to show a lot of understanding and help out as much as possible with your baby in the evenings/early mornings and weekends. If they are willing and able to help – then you are a lucky translator mum. I count myself as one – and am very grateful for it!

As for the translation project and the project manager – the better conditions they offer (interesting topic of translation, decent pay, reasonable deadline, good communication style, professionalism, etc), the happier you will be to be back at your desk every night! Thank you Benny for being my James Perfect.

It feels really great to be able to achieve this and feel to be back on the professional arena without missing out on your baby’s development. It is definitely a shared effort and a compromise, but remember that every project has an end date and hopefully you get a chance to relax and take a deep breath before the next job comes up.

The alternative is to move to a country with free childcare!

So that’s my recipe. It is ready to serve!


2 Responses to “Translator Mum”

  1. Kasia Says:

    Thanks for the recipe. I’m grateful to you for sharing your insights with me, at least I can brace myself for what lies ahead… in not so distant future. And you still find the time to blog. Kudos!

  2. Allison Says:

    Great post Alicja! But uh, just wait until he can walk……..;(
    I worked with a playpen in my office for ages –

Leave a Reply