Friday, 27 September 2013

Parenting and the ‘antisocials’ at the conferences

This time around we headed all family to a conference at Cambridge. Having a child with us meant that we did look for outside accommodation, since Cambridge colleges are not really meant for families with children. And I do understand, if the people preparing their conference papers at the last minute or trying to get a good night’s sleep before their big day would feel short-changed with the happy shouts of our early bird Number One Son at six o'clock in the morning...

Our life has been so busy with me dislocating to Sweden for a year and Archaeologist Husband keeping the everyday in England running with the school runs, hot evening meals and such like – not to mentioning trying to sort out his work space in the new house – that we had not even remembered to sort out the babysitter we had considered, when we first discussed being in this conference together. Even if it would have been nice to discuss with our colleagues during the candlelit dinner in the college, we had been thinking more about a dinner for two in the city, but in the end we were happy just to oversee that Number One Son got to sleep properly and ate sandwiches and sipped wine while whispering in our hotel room.

Naturally, the socials in the pubs and discussions at the dinner table are part of the conference experience and networking, but as a parent you have to balance all aspects of your life and sometimes prioritising family moments to the networking opportunities. This does not mean that you do not network. No, it just means that you network quicker and in a more decisive and planned manner than previously. Pauses between the papers and the coffee breaks, they become the prime moment for a parent to network. You stop lingering around the edges and walk directly to the people one needs to meet and discuss with. You cannot any more wait until the wine loosens up the inhibitions of your inner wallflower during any of the evening dos, but you have to use your time effectively and speak and act up during the daytime.

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