Tag Archives: housework

What the Monkey Would Have Missed

So. Sunday, and the great “social media sabbath” experiment.

Contrary to some people’s beliefs (*glares at husband*), I made it through Sunday without social media… almost completely. That is to say that from 9:00 Saturday evening until about 10:00 PM on Sunday, I sent exactly one work-related e-mail. We’ll come back to that.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the experience. Going a day without being “connected” is probably a regular thing for a lot of you, but for me, it’s really not. I’m on Facebook doing word sprints with writer friends, taking part in discussions on group pages relating to my work or my husband’s, talking to friends through chat, tweeting amusing things (okay, I find them amusing), and scrolling any time I have a spare moment, just in case something interesting/amusing pops up. I’m reading posts on KBoards and learning from other people’s publishing experiences, or reading blogs to keep up with news and friends.

Actually, we should talk more about that some day, because that last habit has been helpful to me, and finding a balance will be interesting.

But today we’re going to look at what I gained from taking a day off.

I put my phone away on Saturday after supper. I did allow myself one quick check at nine, just in case any last-minute messages came in from friends (nope), but for the most part it was a quiet evening. Since it was a Saturday, the kids had no homework, and we hung out. Normally I would have had my phone and been looking at that from time to time. This time, I sat on the couch, and my six-year-old brushed my hair while he sang me the theme song to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

Kind of nice to just be present for that.

On Sunday morning I did my 20 minutes of breathing, I had coffee, and I read a book. Not a whole book. I read another chapter or two of Mistborn, though, and it was good. I still got the urge to be distracted, and still wasn’t truly immersed in the story, but that’s totally my distracted brain’s fault. It turns out that Brandon Sanderson is, in fact, as amazing a writer as I had been led to believe. Though the length of the book still intimidates me (let’s just not discuss how messed up my reading attitudes and habits are right now, okay?), I started to relax and enjoy it. Progress!

After that I did some other reading for a friend, made notes and answered her questions, and fired those off without so much as glancing at other messages (really!). And while I was doing that, I focused on it, and I feel like I did a better and more insightful job because of it.

So the morning was pleasant, and reasonably quiet. Quiet as it can be with two kids running around (not to mention the dog wanting out, the cats needing the litter box cleaned out, the TV on, and someone playing something on the iPad), anyway.

I think I’d have gone a little crazy on Sunday if we’d been stuck at home all day. As it was, my husband was working and we needed groceries, so the kids and I headed out to the “big city” (45 minutes away) to take care of that.

We went to McDonald’s for lunch. I almost pulled my phone out while I was in line and waiting for the food to be ready. It’s a habit, right? But I went without, and it wasn’t at all painful. Good lesson.

Instead of using my phone while the kids went off to play after we ate, I read that book. A high stool in McDonald’s is not the most comfortable place to sit, but I read a few chapters, and the kids were happy to have extra time to play.

Grocery store, Walmart, dollar store, Tim Horton’s… Not to dazzle you all with the glamor of my lifestyle, but we made some stops. And then we came home.

I couldn’t work with the kids around. I’m not watching any TV shows right now that I could throw on while they were awake. Couldn’t sit and read blogs, or look at KBoards, because that would count as social media distractions under my rules.

So I listened to podcasts, and the house got cleaned.

It burns me to admit this, but with the phone and work put away, I found that I did, in fact, have time to do housework. I didn’t have an urgent chat going on that I had to stop to respond to. My hands weren’t busy typing. I didn’t feel like I was doing something important for my job by reading up on writing/publishing.

The house got tidied, the floors got washed, I threw in some laundry (not so unusual here– it NEVER STOPS), cleaned out the front hall closet and the messy corner in the dining room, and remembered to put a nice supper in the oven early enough that it was ready at supper time.

For the record, I would go bananas if this were my life every day. For that to happen, for me to even come close to approaching June Cleaverdom, I would have to stop writing.

The horror.

But I will grudgingly admit that laying off of the mindless distractions (and even the demonstrably valuable chats with friends who I love), as well as not working for one day, did give me some breathing space to focus on other things that I’d been meaning to do and never seemed to have time for.

What else would my monkey mind have missed if I’d been too distracted to just be present at home? A couple of rounds of Candy Land with the kids, which I actually focused on. More hair brushing and serenading. An evening of TV with my husband during which I didn’t pick up my phone once.

And a reasonable bedtime. Because guys, cleaning is exhausting.

I let myself check Facebook right before bed so that I wouldn’t be tempted to check it in the morning–I wanted to get straight to work as soon as the boys were out the door.

Know what I missed while I was away?

Two friends saying they hoped I was having a wonderful day and that we’d talk on Monday. A metric crap-ton of notifications, most of which were noise. One non-critical post about *mumble mumble*. Two notifications from people who thought I’d cheated when they saw a new post on my author page, and who were fully prepared to slap me for it.

I love my friends.

(But for the record, it was a scheduled post that I set up the night before, just to keep in touch. Ha HA! Don’t think I’ll bother with that again, though. I’d rather post when I’m around to respond to people’s lovely comments. I want to be authentic, not automated.)

Yes, I felt a little lonely without the people I’m used to chatting with every day. Yes, my brain had trouble focusing on just one thing at a time, and I itched to pick up the phone instead of washing the floors.

But I gained so much from taking a “social media sabbath.” I was more present with my kids and my husband. I got stuff done around the house that I don’t normally have time for. I was less tempted to try to get some work done, for some reason. I read a bit more than I normally would have. And miracle of miracles, I found that on Monday, I reached for my phone less. I focused on my work more. I was better able to separate computer/work time out from “taking care of the house” time.

That’s not to say I’m cured. But I’m definitely a work in progress.

 


ROW80 Update: Cat Legs Edition

First, the good news:

Image

Harriet’s got her legs back.

I hit 50,000 words on Thursday, thereby winning NaNoWriMo, and celebrated with a delicious box of Count Chocula cereal (thanks, Jae!).

I can’t call it official until I validate my word count, and we can’t do that until tomorrow. Until then, I’ll be on edge, waiting for every computer in the house to simultaneously self-destruct, thus thwarting my victory.

But still… feels good. 🙂

The bad news is that I haven’t got anything done since Friday morning. We have some people coming to look at things that need to be fixed in out house (yay!), but that means that we had to clean the house to make it presentable (boo). Most of it wasn’t too bad, but the kids’ areas (their bedroom and most of the basement) looked like they got hit by a toynado. I had to go into mean mommy mode and spend my days helping them. And then there were little, unimportant things like cooking, dishes, groceries, cleaning everything ELSE…

It’s left me in a REALLY bad mood. As torturous as writing is sometimes (and as good as I am about procrastinating), I do notice a change in my mood when I’m kept away from it for a few days.

If anybody’s going to screw up my writing schedule, it’s going to be me.

In any case, the weekend is almost over. We’re going to go do some Christmas decorating right now, before the boys go to bed (yay!) and watch the Grinch (boo).

What are you all up to this weekend?


Writer’s Guilt

(Dedicated, with love, to all of my passionate, creative friends, and my NaNoWriMo buddies who will be neglecting… well, everything this month)

I wonder…

If I weren’t a writer, would my children have fresh-baked cookies and beautifully decorated cupcakes to take to school on holidays, instead of whatever I could throw together at the last minute?

Would the laundry always be done, folded, and actually put away? Would the floors shine? Would every meal be made from scratch, would they be planned three weeks in advance and would nothing come from the freezer except for the lasagna I made and thoughtfully socked away for busy nights?

Would I have time to exercise for an hour a day, pilates and yoga and cardio, oh my?

Would I be more involved at the kids’ school?

Perhaps.

It’s quite distracting having these characters and random bits of dialogue floating around in my head. This thing that I do, that hurts me when I do it and hurts worse when I don’t, but that brings such joy when it all goes right… well, it takes up a lot of time, doesn’t it?

Time I could use for cleaning, for brushing, for scrubbing, for running, for ironing, for cooking, for planning and organizing and being the perfect wife and mom.

I must be a selfish person to want this time for my work. I must be a waste of space. I must not care, or want to give all of myself to my family.

But here’s the thing:

If I weren’t a writer, I would be a mess inside.

I would have dreams left untended, worlds left uncreated, voices left unheard and choices unmade.

I would do my best to look happy on the outside, but the world inside of me would die. Without this perfect space for my imagination to play, it would wither, and crumble.

And all of that extra time? I’d probably use it to stretch out on the couch and watch daytime TV. I might take up drinking as a hobby to quiet those voices. You never know.

I would resent every cupcake I baked, instead of taking on classroom challenges with joy when I actually manage to remember them. I’m not the type who sees housework as a blessing, who feels fulfilled by a clean home. When I write, I can do these things without hating them, because they’re not my job.

If I weren’t a writer, I would feel like a servant.

And if things got really bad, I’d go back to what I used to be before I started writing, before I let my imagination soar, before I discovered a community of people who share my dream, before I was able to cut back on the antidepressants.

Before I started walking the dog every day, because damn it, I’m worth taking care of.

I would be less than what I am. Less happy. Less confident in my skills and what I can accomplish. Less fulfilled. Less balanced. Less friendly and cheerful and encouraging. There would be less of me, and less to give to my family and my world.

I am a better wife and a better mom for having something in my life that lifts me up and challenges me, even if it hurts and disappoints and distracts and frustrates me sometimes.

So yes, there are dirty dishes in the sink once in a while. Maybe my kids take peanut-free candy to school on Halloween instead of prettily-decorated, Pinterest-inspired bags of home-baked goodies.

When I feel like I’m being selfish for taking this time, for writing these words and imagining these worlds, I will remember:

This is who I am. This is what makes me whole, and this is how I give my family more of myself.

I’m not being selfish. I’m being the best possible version of me.

—–

(PS- I feel like I should add that there is nothing wrong with being a person, male or female, who feels fulfilled by keeping a clean home, who finds creative outlets in decorating and cooking, who takes pride in sending those cupcakes to school. I admire that. Most days, I wish I could be like you. It’s just not me, and I’m done feeling guilty for not being perfect according to standards that don’t fit me. Much love to you all, whether you agree with these words or not. <3)


When The Cat’s Away…

…eh, you know the rest.

My husband’s out of town, gone to the big city (comparatively speaking) for the week for work training. This leaves me and the boys, one very sad dog, and three cats who couldn’t care less all at home together.

It’s chaos.

Not because we need The Man to keep us in line, of course. I just don’t care as much as he does if the house is a mess, and the kids being loud is something I’ve learned to tune out. As of supper time tonight, the living room was a wreck, the kitchen was a disaster, and the boys could barely find their beds… but I did find time to take a monster high Draculaura doll:

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… pop her head off, cut her hair, wipe her face off with acetone, and do this:

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…So at least I got something accomplished, right?

Right.

Now I just have to finish that, then wait a month for her hair to come in the mail so I can get her all purpled up. Boo.

Now, lest you all think that I’m a complete pig (which is untrue and unfair- I’m only half-pig, kind of anthropomorphic.  A Miss Piggy, perhaps), I will tell you that the house is now clean, and I even got the kids to help. For some reason, they thought it was a GREAT idea to have a race to see who could clean up a room faster, them or me. I say it was unfair because I had dishes in my room and leftovers to put away, but I don’t say it out loud. They cleaned up… so I win, anyway.

*insert evil laugh here*

So now the house is quiet. What to do? I went to the used book store yesterday and picked up a few things. I’m already 1/3 of the way through Valiant (the sequel to Tithe, which I just read and enjoyed). I’m a little disappointed that it’s not the same characters (I kind of miss Roiben, if not what’s-her-face), but it’s good. I’m impressed that Holly Black can write main characters I don’t like (not a big fan of “angry, angsty girls”) and still make it into a story that I can’t put down.

So I might settle in with that. Or with The Night Circus, which I’m also in the middle of (and loving it, even though it’s third-person present tense, which for some strange reason I have trouble absorbing).

Or I could actually re-write that one scene in my own work that’s just begging for it.

Or I could go to bed, because yes, it is only 9:00, but I woke up at [god only knows, it was long before dawn] this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. I’m doing surprisingly well, considering. Must have been the large Timmie’s latte and the 2 craptastic instant cappuccinos I had today.

If none of this makes any sense, blame the caffeine, ‘k?


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