Finding time to write with kids and Popsicle underfoot

Photo credit: redcargurl

Some of my kids have already finished the school year, the remaining ones will finish tomorrow. Summer has officially started.

And that means that I will reluctantly move into my least productive time of year with regard to writing. Between shuttling the kids to and from swim team practice, being interrupted because they want to know if they can go over a friend’s house, watching movies as a family in the evenings, and having to stop my work to give a driver money for (yet) more Popsicles, it starts to wear on you and it definitely breaks any train of thought.

I don’t know about you but without dedicated focus, I can’t write.

During the school year I get a good 4 to 5 hours of writing time each school day. When I shut the door to my office it stays shut until the kids start coming home in the afternoon. No one interrupts me (except of course for the dogs who announce the arrival of the mailman.) and I get to write to my heart’s content.

But not so when school lets out. It’s always the same and yet every summer I go into it with great hopes and expectations. Every year I think, this is going to be the summer when I really get things done. This is the summer I’m going to write that manuscript and get those large national articles out because when you think about it, Summer is the best time of year to write – I don’t have to put on layers of fleece and I don’t have to wear those Bob Cratchett gloves to keep my hands warm, I just have to be and think and write. Couldn’t be easier right?

Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my kids and I adore the fact that I have a job flexible enough it allows me to attend swim meets and impromptu ice cream trips, it’s just that I also like being able to contribute something to the world. I like being able to write.

And if I go too long without writing I tend to get cranky. And when a writer ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Let’s just say you probably don’t want to meet me for the first time toward the end of summer vacation when I haven’t had the time to accomplish what I hoped I would.

This summer, though, I am determined to change things around. My kids are older and among the 6 of them we will have 3 extra drivers this year. The girls have figured out how to entertain themselves by playing with each other, neighborhood kids or inviting friends over. I don’t need to be around mu kids all day long. They’ve learned how to be independent. How to take care of themselves.

This is one time when it feels good not to be needed by my kids.

This summer I plan on setting up a schedule for writing. On the weekdays I’m going to pack up my computer and head out to the local library for 2 solid hours to work exclusively on my manuscript.

I’m going to keep a list of goals for the day and for the week. I’ll be checking this list as often as my kids will be opening the refrigerator door.

When the kids are downstairs watching the Disney Channel, I’m going to go upstairs to bang out an article or a blog post. Divide and conquer. If I take a few steps each day by the end of the summer I should be at my goal.

In short, I’m going to put my needs, not above, but certainly equal with those of my kids. I’m going to count too this summer. They’ll be happy that their mom is contributing and I’ll be happy that their mom is contributing. Win-win.

With a little bit of luck and perseverance, who knows? Maybe this WILL be the summer I finally get that manuscript out.

How are you going to make sure you continue writing once the kids are out of school?

***

Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens).

[tweetmeme source=”wendyenthomas” only_single=false]

9 thoughts on “Finding time to write with kids and Popsicle underfoot

  1. Thank you, Wendy! I too find staying with my creative process especially difficult during the summer. This summer my plan is to facilitate and practice parallel creative time with my daughter where she is actively and independently engaged in her creative process (music, art, writing) and so am I (art, writing, music). Best wishes to you for a sweet, peaceful and creative summer!

    • Isabella,

      Sounds like a good plan you have there. Keep us posted as to how it’s going. Summer is such a tough time for those of us with kids, we want to be with them and yet there is work to be done.

      Wendy

  2. Oh, Wendy, I can so relate! Why is it that when the family is busy, it’s we mommies who end up sacrificing what we love? My children range in age from 3 to 14, and it’s my little guys who demand much of my attention. This summer, I’m planning on relying more on my older children to pitch in. I’m also trying to organize my house a bit more so that I don’t waste precious writing time looking for that pair of swim goggles or this missing library book.

    Here’s hoping you are able to achieve your goals this summer!

    • Tonya,

      We must be on the same wave length, with my second oldest going to college in the fall (that still leaves us with 4 left at home) I plan on doing a house purging. Less clutter means less energy (as you pointed out) and it also means better focus.

      Something that has worked throughout the years is a team concept for our kids. The older ones help with the younger ones (breakfast, lunches, homework, driving). They all realize that we are in this together and (for the most part anyway) pitch in.

      Keep us posted on your progress, perhaps we can all inspire each other throughout the summer.

      Wendy

  3. Wendy:
    There is only one occasion where I was able to write with a child. It was so rewarding. At the time, I couldn’t relate my story or any part of it to someone of that age, so I jumped into her head and became totally engrossed with her ideas. She improved and enjoyed the time and the “time off” helped me to climb a few road blocks.
    Thanks—lovely piece
    Jaye

    • Jaye,

      Thanks for the insight. You are so right about road blocks, after so many summers of not being able to write perhaps I need to take a closer look at exactly why I am blocked. Maybe it’s not the kids, maybe it’s just that my body wants me to get out in the sun more. 🙂

      Good luck to you with your writing this summer. May the creative gods smile upon you.

      Wendy

  4. Wendy,
    I know just where you’re coming from, though I have to admit to being envious of even your two hours a day. 🙂
    This is a battle that I usually feel I’m losing, but I still never give up. There are so many stumbling blocks, but even the smallest steps towards my goals can keep me going for a long time … even when there are long stretches of inactivity between them.

    Like you, I’m trying to enjoy my life for what it is today. Right now. And right now is a really special time with my young daughter, so I’m drinking that in and not letting the internal guilt of unfinished work mar these brief hours. There will be time to write at length later, and I chip away bit-by-bit today. Everything in its time, right? This is a wonderful time for me to be putting the story together in my head – gathering all the bits and pieces that will eventually come together.

    Today is my daughter’s last day of school. I’m already looking forward to the fall, but – until then – I’m also ready to enjoy what this season has to offer. 🙂

  5. Do I sympathize with this? Hmm, let’s see…as I write this comment, my kids are screeching and playing tag…right through my office.

    I suppose I ought to get off the computer and pay attention to them, but the truth is it’s been this way since my daughter finished kindergarten in the middle of last week. Summer just isn’t going to be my productive time of year for a while, and I just need to accept that. Sigh.

    But I’m trying to remember that this IS the time I get to spend with my kids away from crazy schedules and before they really don’t want to spend time with me anymore. And even though I’m itching to get back to that manuscript that so desperately needs revision–well, it’s not going anywhere. It will be there in September.

    Now can someone remind me I said that in about a month when I’m climbing the walls because I haven’t gotten to write for more than twenty minutes at a time in weeks?

    Happy summer!

  6. Pingback: I’ve got 30 minutes to write this post « Live to Write – Write to Live

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s