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Catie Wilkins on the 'pram in the hall' effect

It is possible to be a freelancer parent who works from home or does flexible working, but it can have its disadvantages...

‘That’s so great you work from home,’ said lots of people. ‘You’re so lucky. Must be really easy to fit round childcare. You must get loads done.’

‘Yes.’ I felt obliged to say.

Nothing gets my creative juices flowing like listening to my baby cry at a babysitter, before inevitably abandoning my work and investigating what’s up; getting quite scared by the rash on her legs; then essentially paying someone £10 an hour to come with me to the chemist then the doctor, by which time the rash has, of course, vanished.

Cyril Connolly said the pram in the hall is the enemy of the creating good art. But he’s wrong about this, it’s not: It’s very much the baby. (The baby in any room, will do that). The pram has little-to-nothing to do with it.

In fact, I would venture to say that, if there’s a new baby in your house, and your biggest inconvenience is that there’s slightly more clutter in your peripheral vision, I don’t think you’re doing your fair share of that child’s upkeep.

‘How’s the writing going, Cyril?’

‘Oh. Great. I find I’m able to just tune out the screaming infant, the real problem is that we didn’t get a Maclaren.’

‘Um… Cyril, are you sure this isn’t a classic displacement thing? Like when writers tidy their whole house rather than face a deadline?’

‘No, it’s definitely the pram in the hall. I’m going to try putting it in the living room. I think it might be less distracting in there. Or the kitchen. It might look quite good in the kitchen, now I think about it.’

‘Maybe you could hire a babysitter? I bet you’d get loads more work done then.’

‘Well, that’s all well and good until someone gets heat rash.’


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