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We’re Crunch Time Parents, Aren’t We?

  • 4 min read

Have you ever experienced ‘crunch time’? According to the Cambridge dictionary, it is “a point where something difficult must be done.”

“He plays well without pressure, but can he produce at crunch time?” This is an example sentence suggested by the Cambridge English Dictionary for the expression ‘crunch time.’ I looked this word up because my husband told me about the game developers of Cyberpunk 2077. For the final release of the game at the beginning of December 2020, the developers had to ‘crunch hard’ to get it finished, with some reported to have been working up to 100 hours per week on the project. In particular, in the gaming industry, ‘crunching’ has, unfortunately, become the standard to meet a release date.

The road of video game development and marketing consulting is long and hard

My husband, himself, used to work as a game developer. He knows crunches only too well. As an employee, it often happened that the team had to do extra shifts on the weekend at the end of a game development phase. These crunch periods could actually stretch over several months.

The road of video game development is long and hard. But if you look at other industries, you can see similarities: I also had to crunch as a consultant in a marketing agency. Those were the times when we made a lot of pitches to acquire and keep customers. We spent long evenings working on presentations and developing ideas. Sometimes there were only a few hours between finalizing the presentation after midnight and checking in on the plane in the early hours of the morning. On our flight back home, we were already thinking about the next deadline for the next presentation.

When you crunch, it isn’t easy to switch off in the evening

It’s common sense that being overworked and stressed impacts our mental as well as our physical health. For example, when you have to crunch, it isn't easy to switch off in the evening. If you can’t find peace in the evening, it’s harder to fall asleep. Sometimes it took me hours to fall asleep because I was going over the presentation in my head. When I finally fell asleep, the alarm clock would ring again a few hours later, and I would get up and continue. Studies show that this vicious circle of brooding, restlessness, and sleep deprivation over a long period can lead to cardiovascular disease. Anxiety and depression can also result, further fuelling the vicious cycle. But when my husband and I have been in such terribly stressful phases in the past, we’ve gritted our teeth and kept going, always keeping in mind that the phase is limited. It will end. Then we can relax and recover.

Coming from this partly exploitative working world, and knowing that we had already managed many ups and downs in our working lives, we thought that we would also manage the first exhausting months with a baby in the same manner.

Months later, I can say: Yes, we have managed the first months with a baby. But how?

How have we managed the first months with a baby?

We feel as if we are living in a permanent crunch time. At the end of the pregnancy, I was looking forward to the birth of my baby, but I quickly realized that the following sayings were justified: “enjoy the togetherness and sleep in” or “enjoy the calm before the storm.” Yes, our baby is a real bundle of energy. He came into our lives like a whirlwind and has turned everything upside down.

We feel as if we are living in a permanent crunch time.

We’ve reached a new level of crunch time that doesn’t just last a few days, weeks, or months. Many parents also tell us it can last for years. We move from one phase to another. One milestone follows the next. And so we can no longer say: In x number of days/weeks/months, we will have made it. Then we will take a relaxing weekend, sleep late, watch Netflix, cuddle on the couch, do something good for us — because we don’t know what awaits us or when.

And so we can’t get rid of the feeling:

For us parents, it’s always crunch time.

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