Tag Archives: kids

Writing on Summer Vacation: Day One

7:00 AM – Okay. I said I wanted to start writing at 7:30. But I need a shower… I can do this.

7:05 – I know I said no social media before work, but just a quick check won’t hurt. Huh. A reviewer needs a Kindle copy of Into Elurien. Guess that’s important, since she’s booked a date on the series blog tour. *sniffs self* Shower first.

7:30 – Definitely need to let my hair air-dry today.  Better to look like a frizzy purple buffalo than to spend another 20 minutes doing that (and overheating myself in the process). Speaking of heat, I know I had shorts here somewhere…

7:45 – Excellent. Everyone’s still asleep. *stomach grumbles* Dammit. Okay, invisaligns out, make a shake with greek yogurt to keep me full a bit longer (I hope), drink that and an iced coffee. I miss being able to sit and sip while I work. Brush teeth, invisaligns back in. Snap self in face with tiny elastic. Perfect.

8:05 – Okay. Writing. Annnnnnd the dogs want out. Might as well check Facebook quickly while they OH MY GOODNESS THERE’S A RUNNING APP WHERE YOU PRETEND YOU’RE IN A FANTASY SETTING AND GET TO GO ON QUESTS?!* I must investigate this immediately.

8:15 – Oops, forgot to put the laundry in. Better do that now if it’s going to line-dry today.

8:20 – Guess I should send that email.

8:30 – Annnd one kid is up. He’s pretty self-sufficient. They both are. My brain is a far greater obstacle than my boys are. It still doesn’t want to settle in and get this chapter fixed so I can move on to fresh drafting. Maybe I’ll warm up with a blog post, see if other kid wakes up. Then I can start after breakfast…

8:45 – (Now) This is my brain on trying to work. If you’ve read “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield, you know about resistance. I get it bad every time I try to start working. My brain is scattered, no matter what I do. Pomodoro sprints, meditation, visualization to get myself excited about writing a scene, planning, not planning…they help, but not much. On days like today, when my brain is fogged up and I’m recovering from Sunday’s migraine and the world seems to be moving around me at confusing speeds, it’s hard to start. I have zero focus. I’m scattered. My head feels like it’s physically stuffed with cotton. Possibly cotton candy.

The pink kind.

So what am I going to do about it?

I’m going to go make breakfast for Thing 2, I’m going to try to forget how much I wish I had a huge cup of coffee at my desk, and I’m going to publish this post, get my ass back here, put some music on, and work.

Maybe I won’t get the two hours in that I wanted today. Maybe I won’t get this scene revised (quite doubtful, actually, given the speed my brain is working at this morning). But I’m going to try. I’m going to prove to myself, to my muse, to my family, and anyone else who’s watching that I’m committed. I am doing this.

And step by tiny, painful step, I’m going to get through this draft.

Wish me luck.

 

 


Yes, I’m Happy About Back-to-School

I’ve seen a few comments recently from parents who are shocked by those of us who are happy that it’s almost time for kids to head back to school. If we don’t want the children around 24/7, WHY DID WE HAVE THEM?

I’m going to let you in on a secret: I love my boys. They are amazing people who surprise me every day in pleasant (and yes, not-s0-pleasant) ways, and seeing them grow and discover who they are is a gift. I am thankful for them. I think the world of them. I’ve got their backs if ever they have a problem, and no one had better be mean to them if they don’t want me to go all mama-dragon on their asses.

And also, having my kids under-foot all summer has been driving me insane.

Does that seem strange? Maybe it is, to some. I know people who want their kids around all the time, who always put the kids’ wants before their own. I have insane respect for parents who are committed to home-schooling, even if it’s not for me. I know parents who are truly sad when summer is over and school is back in.

Me? I look forward to getting back into routine. No, I don’t enjoy hauling their poor little butts out of bed every morning, especially now that the older guy is acting like a teenager about it. Yes, I wish school ran from 9:30 to 4, which would give us more time in the morning to wake up at a natural time. No, I don’t look forward to fights over homework. But I am excited about the rest of it.

I’m excited to hear about their friends, most of whom they haven’t seen for a few months.

I’m excited to find out what they’re learning, what they’re reading, and what they’re discovering. Last year they both had amazing teachers, and S’s grade 3 teacher did writing workshops with them. I hope this year will be just as good.

And yes, I’m excited to have time for my own work.

I know, it’s practically blasphemy in some circles.

I hardly get anything done when the boys are home. If I’m writing (or doing the necessary social media rounds, or chatting with friends who keep me semi-sane, or [redacted, announcement coming soon]), I feel guilty for neglecting the kids. Not that they’d let me, mind you. Interruptions are frequent, and it can be hard for me to keep my cool when an important scene is disrupted by talk of Lego. And if I say, “forget it, I’m not getting anything done anyway” and leave the office, I feel guilty for neglecting my work…

…and myself. See, writing isn’t just a job for me, and I’d be mighty disappointed if I was just doing it for the money. It’s what feeds me, what satisfies me. Some people get that from housekeeping, cooking, doing crafts with their kids or playing Mighty Machines on the floor. Those things all drain me. Yes, even the kids. I love the boys more than life itself, and we’ve had some amazing experiences together this summer:

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Brimstone Head, Fogo Island

But I do need time to be alone, to create, to be elsewhere.

When school is in, I’ll have that. I’ll be able to throw myself into my work and my obligations in that area while the boys are at school, and I can actually enjoy my time with them when they’re at home because I won’t feel like I should be doing something else. Instead of having my mind scattered between two duties at all times, I’m hoping I can compartmentalize and actually enjoy being in the moment with my family. At least, that’s my theory.*

And you know what? They like school, despite what they say when 7:30 AM rolls around.

So yeah, I’m looking forward to September. This year is going to be an experiment for all of us: it’s the first year both kids are in school full days (but still home for lunch, which is pretty cool), and the first year I have reason to treat writing like a job. It will be the first time I’ll have 4-ish hours a day to get my stuff done, and I’m feeling really good about the possibilities.

I love my kids, and I need time for my work. If that makes me selfish, so be it. I think my kids will be happier when they have my full attention at home, and I’ll be happier when I can work without distractions.

Maybe I won’t go this far…

But I’m pretty darned excited.

This post isn’t to excite anyone about back to school if you’re not feeling it. If you’re sad about it, I don’t think you’re crazy or anything. This is just to ask for a little understanding for the rest of us. We’re not bad parents for needing some time to miss the kids, and having time for ourselves might even make us better moms and dads during the hours we have with our families. We all love our kids, and we’re all doing the best we can with the resources we have available. We have different needs, challenges, and personalities. I just want to help us all understand each other a little better.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled shenanigans.

LAST-MINUTE EDIT:

I just saw this, and it is PERFECT. And ditto to the school-supply confusion. Doesn’t help that our Walmart ran out of everything three weeks ago, but that’s fiiiiine.

*I know, there are people who can do this no matter what, parents who work from home AND home-school AND take kids to activities AND garden AND have sparkling bathrooms AND eat organic vegan paleo yadda yadda… and I’m not there. I’m disorganized and easily distracted to the point where I’d look into diagnosis and medication if it didn’t affect creativity. My anxiety since I stopped taking antidepressants leaves me unable to deal with a lot of things. I can barely remember to thaw chicken for supper. Maybe by next summer I’ll have learned to juggle, but I just can’t do it right now.

 


Fun with Skedjools

Or shed-yools, if you’re feeling fancy. I’m not, particularly.

The kids are out of school for the summer! Hooray! I’m not going to get anything done! Hoor– wait a minute. Ack.

New challenge, then. I have a book to revise this summer. I’d like to have it out to beta readers by the beginning of September, which means I have a LOT of work to do in terms of re-writes and self-editing. I’m looking forward to the work. This story is rather exciting, and I hope that will help me focus.

But that’s hard with “Mom? Mom? Hey, Mom? Look at this! Mom? No, look again. MAAAAAA!!!” happening all day long. I need a plan. I need…

A SCHEDULE!

*groans*

I don’t do well with schedules. I’m easily distracted, and I procrastinate. Following a schedule feels like some kind of temporal/experiential oppression, and generally, I won’t stand for it. But if I want to have this thing out on time, I might need to make that sacrifice.

Hey. I got Bound out in spite of a flooded basement, an evacuation, and the destruction of my office. I can deal with a few kids for this one.

So why am I talking about it here? Because I need to be accountable to someone. Specifically, to you. I’m going to report back on this once a week or so. This could be inspiring, or just really entertaining for everyone but me.

Here’s a look at the schedule as I doodled it up a few nights ago:

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I can’t resist the siren call of glitter crayons. :/

Yep, that involves getting up early and working. I have no idea how this will work out. My brain already wakes me up between 6 and 6:30, but I usually doze a bit, day dream, plot noodle, and generally laze about until I have to get up. This plan involves, like… getting out of bed. And using my brain before 7:00.

Ick.

But my body clock also makes me crash by 10:30 most nights, anyway, so staying up late isn’t really a better option. Besides that, I have my biggest kid husband around a lot of nights, and I like to hang out with him when I can. He’s pretty cool. So this is what we’ve got.

In theory, this gives me 2-4 hours of working time a day (writing and social media), while still giving me time with the kids and time for housework and like… food and stuff. And adventures in the real world. That’s important.

—–

Schedule:

6:00 – wake up. Caffeinate.

6:20 – *write*

8:30 (approx) – kids up. Breakfast. Housework. Family stuff. Errands.

12:00 – lunch

1:00 – write (or social media promo stuff if the kids are around and not easily distracted)

3:00 – do stuff with kids

5:00 – supper prep, supper

7:00 – clean up kitchen, tidy, read with boys or on own

9:00 – kids to bed. Hang out with AJ or work if he’s not home

9:45 – prep notes for next morning’s writing

10:00 – bed

——

I’m hoping that few minutes of pre-bed prep will help me focus in the morning. Normally I have to spend an hour a few minutes finding my focus. I’ll let you know if this helps.

Added rules:

  • no e-mail before noon (so if you don’t hear from me, I’m not ignoring you!)
  • no facebook/twitter during work time (except for word sprints)
  • read at least 30 minutes per day

Obviously this is all subject to change. It is summer, which calls for spontaneous trips to the beach and the walking trail, overnight visits to the in-laws’, a wee vacation trip, and various other upsetters-of-schedules.

But I’m going to try.

Wish me luck.

Have any tips or tricks to share that help you get work done in the midst of distractions? How do you stick to a schedule without going insane? Please share!


#Simondegreen

I know, it’s too late for this to be a Mondegreen Monday post. In my defense, though, I never promised that I’d offer anything here regularly or on time. That, plus a crazy weekend involving province-wide power outages, burst pipes and 8+ hours of car rides on too much Robaxacet means that I get to post this now.

Sweet deal, I know.

My older son is like me in many ways. He spends a lot of time alone, in his own little world. He often pretends he’s a rock star, and he spends hours singing and dancing in the basement. He walks to and from school bouncing to the beat in his head, singing quietly to himself. Sometimes it’s his own songs, sometimes others he’s heard.

The kid loves music, is what I’m saying.

We were all eating supper the other night, and Simon started singing to himself.

“Maaaaan on a rug! Man on a RUG!”

After a few seconds of silence, AJ asked, “Do you mean ‘Band on the run’?”

Simon thought for a bit. “Maybe.”

It’s too late for me, now. The song is always going to be Man on a Rug. Thanks, Simon.


Manic Monday

First of all, thank you to all of you who commented, liked, or otherwise showed support last night when I mentioned my kid’s cough. It means a lot to me.

As many of you might have predicted, his cough was better this morning, because why would it stick around when the doctor needed to hear it? But we went to the ER anyway, a very nice doctor saw us, and the poor kid might have a lingering case of strep (even though he has no fever and is at this moment running around the yard yelling, “BUT SHE’S MY WIFE!”). So antibiotics it is to try to get rid of the itty-bitty pustules in his throat, and holy CRAP that’s a disgusting word. That’s going on the list, which you can still feel free to add to. Ugh.

What was I saying? Oh, right. So that took up most of the day, because the hospital is 45 minutes away, ER’s are busy, and then there was McDonald’s and the library. I was going to post something a bit more substantial today about why I don’t feel qualified to post writing advice, only personal experience and example, but my brain is too fried to do it. Basically, I’m an unqualified bum, and maybe I’ll expand on that another day. 🙂

Oh, speaking of the library, which should I read first?

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Well, That Was Quick…

Today, I mean. Probably because I slept a big chunk of it away after the Demon Headache dug his filthy claws into my cranium and reduced me to a quivering mess of stupid. That bastard.

On the other hand, today and tonight kind of can’t go quickly enough. I’m going to have to take my older son to the emergency room tomorrow to see if he can get a puffer or something for this cough he’s had for a month, which OTC medicine isn’t touching. Why the emergency room? Because right now it takes a MONTH to get in to see our doctor. She’s great, but I really can’t wait that long. The poor kid’s not complaining, but it’s getting worse, and he’s going to be missing school if it doesn’t go away soon. This happens every time he gets sick; his little brother’s cough goes away after a week, but S’s can last for three or more. It’s so unfair.

If you’re the praying type and would care to add healing and a restful night for my poor kid to your list tonight, I’d certainly appreciate it. 🙂


Valentine’s Day Bonus Post

It’s still wrong, but we’re really glad he at least tried to correct it:

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Writing and Parenting

I’ve been perusing entries on Write With Warnimont and came across a recent one that made me think- a post about limiting distractions while writing. Distraction is a huge problem for me, and he’s got some helpful tips. The last point he mentions is writing with kids around; I had a nice, long (practically novel-length) response typed up about writing with kids in the house, and I lost it.

I do that a lot, genius that I am.

So you can thank Mr Warnimont for inspiring this one…

*

Let me tell you what’s happening in my house, right at this moment. The TV is on, but there’s no one watching it. Why? Because I just sent the boys downstairs. Their dad is trying to sleep, I have a pounding headache, and they’re boys- they’re loud. I can still hear them, though. What I hear right now is the older one sing-shouting “RA-RA-RAS-POO-TEEN, AH BLAR BLAH BLAH RUSSIAN QUEEN” (or something, I don’t know the words), mixed with a lot of “OW, QUIT IT!” and screaming.

So typical snow day with a 7-year old and a 4-year old.

I love my children, I do. But I love writing, too, and the kids aren’t just distractions from it. They’re concrete roadblocks. Hang on a sec, somebody’s crying.

See what I mean?

And yet I write, don’t I? True, it took me two years to write, revise, and polish one novel (which had already been festering in my brain long before that), but I’m getting better with it. Also, I’m posting here fairly regularly, even if the dog practically does half of the work. So while I’m not a professional writer by any stretch of the imagination, I think I’m in a position to share a bit of advice on how I’m doing it.

1) My best piece of advice: Don’t have kids. Too late for that? Let’s move on…

2) Make writing a priority. I know, I know, easier said than done. It’s hard not to feel guilty about taking time for yourself when there are so many people wanting your time and attention. You might feel like you’re neglecting your family, but you need to take time to recharge yourself if you want to be at your best for them. Writing is my refuge. It’s how I get away from stress and problems, and it’s cheaper than a day at the spa (or taking up drinking as a hobby, for that matter). If you need a kick in the pants to do this, read on…

3) NaNoWriMo. I know, there are a lot of people who think it’s a bad idea, but I’m not talking about the quality of your first draft, here. I’m talking about giving yourself permission to make writing a priority. NaNoWriMo is official. It’s a big, but achievable goal, and it’s just for one month. The first time I did it (in 2010), I told my husband what I was doing, and he basically patted me on the head and said, “Whatever floats your boat, honey.” Kind of his general attitude toward my writing, actually… point is, I could ask him to watch the kids a bit more without feeling guilty, and more importantly I had a good excuse for writing instead of watching TV with him after the kids were in bed. After all, I had a word count to achieve! A deadline! And “it’s only for two more weeks” sounded a lot more reasonable to him than “I just have to get my imaginary people out of this dragon cave and into each other’s arms and rip them apart and nearly kill her and…” Get it? Without NaNoWriMo, I might never have given myself permission to just write, and to ask my family for that precious alone time. And it becomes a habit, which is also important.

4) Focus on the other stuff- I’m still bad for this, but I’m working on it. On days when I try to squeeze writing in during the day, I’m jumping back and forth between that, keeping the house clean, making meals, and playing with the kids (and letting the dog out, and letting the dog in, and letting the cat in who got out when the dog came in…). Then the kids go to bed, it’s writing time, and I still have dishes to do, laundry to move over, and tidying to do, because I was too unfocused during the day. If I can focus on the other stuff during the day/early evening and get it done without trying to fit my writing in wherever I can, if I can get it DONE, then my evening is just for me, a cup of tea, and my book… assuming my husband’s working nights, of course. Speaking of which…

5) Don’t neglect your relationships. This goes back to distractions again, and can be really difficult when things are going well in your writing. When you’re with your family, BE with your family. Don’t think about how you could be writing at that moment. Play with the kids, or read to them (I prefer reading, but sometimes it has to be trucks). Watch FRIENDS with your spouse and play Phase 10, or whatever it is you crazy kids do when you hang out. Get everyone out of the house together for a while, go for a hike, go to the playground. It’s time away from your work, but your family will be much more gracious about “sharing” you with your writing when they’ve already had their quality time with you. You’re important to them!

6) Get out of the house. When I’m at home, there’s always something else I should be doing, something to distract me. We live in a tiny community- no coffee shop to pop out to, not even a decent library branch to spend an hour or two at, but those would be good options if you have them nearby (you lucky thing, you). My current favourite trick is offering to take the car in every time it needs repairs. I can sit at the Hyundai dealership for a few hours and type, or if they have a car for me to borrow, it’s off to the library. The 45 minute drives there and back are great times to think, too, since there’s no one else in the car to distract me (um… just make sure you’re still watching the road, OK?)

7) Get help. Easier said than done for some of us; our closest family (geographically speaking) is my husband’s parents, and they’re an hour+ drive away. If you have family members close by, though, or teenagers who are willing to babysit for a reasonable fee, I say take advantage of it whenever you can. I am fortunate to have a husband who will keep the boys out of my hair for a while when they’re really driving me nuts, even though he doesn’t share my interests or really understand why I need to do this. He’s a keeper, that one.

8) Even heard of benign neglect? It’s not actually neglecting the kids; rather, it’s letting them do their own thing, to find their own fun, to work things out on their own without a parent hovering over them every minute of the day. Obviously babies need the attention, and can’t be left to fend for themselves, but it’s good for older kids. Be available if they really need you, but let them know that when you’re writing, they need to respect your space. Teach them to get their own snacks, and to help each other out with things. Teach them to resolve their arguments without hitting (and be prepared to step in when they do, anyway). Send them outside to play, weather permitting. This is all good for them! They need to learn to be creative in dealing with boredom and solving problems. It’s not ideal; I sit at the kitchen table or at my desk in the living room to write, and even when the boys aren’t hanging off of me and talking to me, they’re still around, still loud, and I still need to be aware of what’s happening. It’s better, though, and it brings me to my last point:

8) Writing through the distractions. This is what I’m doing right now, and do for most blog posts (since that sacred quiet time when I have the house to myself is strictly for fiction). You need to train yourself to do it, but it is possible. Yes, it’s annoying when you do have to get pulled out of your zone (which is why this doesn’t work as well for me when my mind has to be in another world), but at least you can get something done. I might be a bit snippier with the kids when I’m doing this than I normally would be, but we’re figuring it out.

So there you go. My little list of ways to get this thing done. Will these tips make it easy? Nope, sorry. If you’re like me, you will feel guilty every time you take time away from your kids. But it’s so worth it.

(Speaking of kids… I need to wish my Ike a super-duper 5th birthday today! Best Valentine’s Day gift ever.)


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