Saturday, August 29, 2009

How I Survived My Kids’ Summer Vacation

Girl on a red carpet--Felice Casorati (1883-1963) Well, school started back this past week here in North Carolina. I have to admit in many ways I was glad. Don’t get me wrong—I love my children and love spending time with them. But it’s the guilt. Oh good Lord---the guilt!

Moms and dads usually feel guilty no matter what. I think we all firmly believe that our kids will be in therapy years from now talking about us. And we can’t avoid guiltt—if we spend too much time with our kids, they’re not developing meaningful relationships with their peers. If we don’t spend enough time with them, then they look at us with their little doe eyes.

Usually, the children’s summer revolves completely around them. Actually, our whole lives usually revolve around the kids. But this summer was a different. Mama had a book to write and one to promote.

Some of you might be writing with preschoolers or babies at home, so this advice will apply to you all the time. I was right there with you a few years back.

Writing with children:

Go on an outing—the kids and your manuscript. If your kids are older, the park, skating rink, bowling alley, swimming pool, etc, work out well. If they’re younger, try one of those indoor playgrounds with inflatables.

Bring a friend for your child. Or more than one. They’re much happier if they are on outings with a friend or two. And they’re more inclined to let you get some work done.

Plan some dedicated time with your child to play one on one. This time can be either before or after the time that you need to get some work done. Here’s the deal with this time: you need to be completely focused on your child. No thinking about anything else. You play Monopoly, read a few books, whatever they want to do with you---and then you explain you are going to spend X amount of time writing.

Quiet time works for everyone. Even my older child (12) needs time to unwind in the afternoon. My kids unplugged for a while with a book or played quietly in their room while I worked on my laptop. When I had a toddler, I’d put her in her room and give her books. The rule was that even if they couldn’t sleep, they had to “read” (look at pictures.)

Host playdates. I know—this sounds like more trouble than help. But usually (this depends on your kid and the kids you invite over), my children disappear to hang out with their friends. It’s the perfect time to write.

I did end up feeling guilty still---of course. But I managed to balance family and writing pretty well over the summer. And I developed some survival skills that will serve me well next summer (when I’m working on my November 1 2010 deadline.)