Working as a writer is challenging enough. Compound that with starting a new business (The Good Copy, a writing studio, publisher and shop, which launched late 2014 in Collingwood) and having your first child, and your work is cut out for you.
We speak to Max Olijnyk about adjusting to life with a 10-month old, finding balance and thinking about getting a diary someday.
Broadsheet: What’s surprised you about being a dad?
Max Olijnyk: At first I was surprised by just how much I liked Fred. I knew I’d love him, but I hadn’t considered how likeable he’d be and how much fun he is to be around. He cracks me up all the time.
I expected it to be a lot of hard work, and I haven’t been surprised there.
BS: Give us a snapshot from the inside of your brain on the day he was born.
MO: I just focused on trying to do the right thing and to be supportive to [my partner] Rosie. It was a strange experience, and I never felt completely connected to what was going on. I hadn’t really wrapped my mind around the fact that I was about to meet our son. It was like the gravity of the situation made it harder for me to understand what was actually happening.
We had a plan for how we wanted the birth to go, but it went completely out the window when Rosie had to have an emergency C-section. It all happened really quickly – within an hour of rolling up to the hospital, I met Fred. I liked him straight away. I wrote about the experience on my blog.
BS: How has having your first kid changed your work routine?
MO: It’s changed things pretty dramatically, and I’m still figuring it out.
My job at The Good Copy hasn’t been affected too much, although I have to plan ahead if I’m going to work late. Planning ahead is something I’ve never been very good at, so I’m considering getting a diary. Maybe next year.
I work from home a couple of days a week and it’s been really difficult to do that with this hilarious, demanding little fellow in the house. It’s hard to justify sitting around thinking of cool stuff to write when there is always so much to do to help Rosie look after Fred. The work that has to get done still gets done, but it’s pretty much impossible to find the time and mental space for contemplating and playing around with ideas. I try to work at night after he goes to bed, but often I’ll be too tired to get too excited about anything. I’ve found also that, as a creative person, a lot of my focus and inspiration has naturally turned towards Fred, but it also comes from him as well.
BS: How is your social life different?
MO: I don’t go out as much. Fred has a set routine in terms of meals and sleeping, and we try to stick to that, although I do still go out with my friends every week or so, and Rosie does too, occasionally. I think, though, that we will be able to go out more as he gets older and also, I think my social life, which is geared around skateboarding, has been pretty much the same since I was in my twenties, so it’s probably about time it was shaken up a bit. It’s fun to take Fred out to stuff, but it’s definitely a bit more of an operation and not exactly spontaneous. Again, I’m not much of a planner, and it helps to book things in early. Maybe I should get that diary after all.
BS: What does he do that you think is hilarious?
MO: Rosie got a Jolly Jumper from her friend and Fred loves it. It’s like a bungy-jumping harness that you hang from the doorframe. One day I came home from work and there he was, dancing around in the living room, suspended from a rope, laughing and squealing with delight. It’s a really funny and joyous thing. It’s also very funny watching him eat, because he takes it so seriously. Oh, and he laughs at everything our dog Tess does, which in turn makes us laugh.
BS: Do you read to him yet? What kind of stories does he like?
MO: We’ve read to him since the day he was born. I think he enjoys the ritual of it, and looking at the pictures, but recently he’s begun to get excited at certain parts in a story. I pick out a couple of books before we start reading and hold them up so he can choose one, which is very cute. His favourites at the moment are the Meg and Mog books and Where the Wild Things Are. I love reading those ones too, which might have something to do with why he likes them.
BS: What’s his biggest milestone to date?
MO: There’s a new one every week! His latest thing is crawling, and also pulling himself up on the side of chairs and slowly twerking.
BS: Do you have plans for Father’s Day?
MO: No plans! I’m sure Fred and Rosie will pull something quite grand together.
Read more about Freddie on Max’s blog, Note to Self.