So, schedules are important.
They’re powerful motivators to help hit deadlines, help push through moments where writing is the last thing you truly want to do, and also, schedules just help get your butt in the chair. (Once in the chair, the writing part is a heck of a lot easier. Forcing yourself to sit for a set amount of time, even if only 15 minutes, means you’re gonna start typing just so you’re allowed to get up again… and it’s amazing what can happen in those 15 minutes!)
But… fitting a schedule in to my day, even if I’m only shooting for 15 minutes, isn’t exactly a cake-walk. Not with my busy life. Not when I’ve got kids needing attention and turning the switch on high when it comes to my mommy-brain.
So, I needed a plan. And because I’m a list person, well, I made a list.
I started out with stuff I wanted to happen:
Play!! with Kate. With Eric.
Working out (getting rid of this last bit of baby fat is gonna do wonders to my overall calm and happiness).
Then, I looked at each of these and asked myself how I could make these happen. And, of course, problems I might run into.
My list and I worked out reasonable ways to reach these goals (at least, they so far seem reasonable), and then brainstormed around potential problems.
The process sort of went a bit like this….
I’m a morning person and my creative energy is best in the morning, but I can’t write when my kids (or at least Eric) are awake and demanding attention. Ok. How about waking up before them? Is that possible?
Hey, maybe 5am is possible. But to wake up then means I need to be in bed by 9pm.
I won’t get much time for myself and time with Sean, then. Hmm. That’s definitely a problem area. A happy marriage is key to surviving our children’s baby/toddlerhood. Maybe we can have easy dinners with less dishes to clean up? That’s possible.
Also, early bedtimes mean no evening movies or TV shows, at least very few and not all the time.
But I like those shows and while I can cut back, I don’t want to fully give them up.
So… why not incorporate this downtime into my afternoon siesta before the usual bedtime battles and frayed nerves and overtired eyes take control of my two munchkins?
Hmm. Maybe that would work.
Of course, afternoon TV shows means Kate and I will be battling for the remote since she’s under the impression that the giant TV is her personal viewing screen for all things Tinkerbell and My Little Pony. (Then again, she’s three. She thinks that about everything.)
So, I fiddled with this list. And the problems I might (read: WOULD) run into.
I can’t say I came up with solutions for everything, but I didn’t think I would either. Part of being a parent is being flexible (perfection leads to madness… the kids don’t give a damn about ‘perfect’). Besides, right now my first step was just to give something, anything, a try.
Step two was just as important as the first: getting Sean on board.
Actually, that’s not so much a problem. He respects my writing, the work I put into it, and almost as important, he understands my writing business still exists even though my main job is currently raising our children (while the writing gathers its fair share of dust).
Still, the talking part is important. Really important (see again my above note about a happy marriage). I needed to communicate to him just how important this was, how I needed to get some kind of schedule going to make this happen, and find out if he had any thoughts or concerns.
So, we got the talking part down, no problem.
The real problem?
Yeah, that’s relying on him to actually get up early to watch the kids so I can work on the above goals.
Sean’s not a morning guy and doesn’t move well or fast or have much coherent thought really, before a certain time (unlike the kids and I). I respect that. I respect his need to sleep, so I decided to give this a go, at first, without resorting to bugging and shoving him out of bed. Hence my decision to wake up at 5am.
But we also needed to be on the same page – which was getting me an hour of quiet time before he left for work.
And that’s when it dawned on me that this schedule, this goal for my writing and self-care, just about me.
I mean, to make this work, for it to have a chance at working, I couldn’t go at it alone. I couldn’t shoulder everything, all the responsibility, by myself.
I needed everyone on board.
That included my husband.
And little baby Eric.
Which is where I hit face-first into that wall of parenting and just how damn difficult this is going to be.
Trust me, my kids have an opinion when it comes to my writing. Or reading a book. Or talking on the phone.
Even as I write this, Kate’s having a meltdown in what Sean has lovingly called her ‘crying castle’ (one of those fold-up Frozen fort-type castles). Seriously. The second I try and ‘work,’ Kate suddenly decides she is absolutely starving and any delay, any mention of ‘waiting,’ means the world will end. Whether it’s food, attention, or just… I don’t know what, just something.
Hence my soon-to-be-first-attempt at fiction writing while everyone is still sleeping.
But I also realize that Kate’s giving me her opinion. She’s telling me loud-and-clear, what she thinks of Mommy’s schedule and attempt at working. She’s doing it all too, without using words.
Eric’s right there with her. He has his own opinions and his own thoughts and there are times when Daddy holding him will simply not do.
To be honest, I only have the vaguest idea how to make my schedule, and the opinions of my kids, work.
A lot has to do of my awareness of them.
A lot has to do with flexibility.
I have a feeling it’s going to be a ton of forgiveness and letting go on my part when I can’t get that time in, at least on a regular routine basis. Meaning, I can’t get upset with myself (or the kids) when the schedule to write or just take a breather doesn’t happen.
I know each day will be like a new start.
There will be writing streaks in there, days where I’ll be plugging in the writing, word-by-word, just like I know I’ll have long chunks of stops when I need to deal with this parental roller-coaster. But to make this work, to make the writing and the parenting part work together, I need to listen to my family, my body (because getting a handful of hours of sleep – thanks, Eric – won’t cut it).
I also need to listen to my writing voice. The storyteller inside me.
Right now that voice is working hard to come out. All I can do is set the stage as best I can, write a sentence. Then, write another.
And then, stopping when the kids need me.
Because that’s how I’m going to make this parent-writing thing work. I think, anyway. All I can do is try, adjust, then try again.
(And maybe, catch up a little bit on my sleep. Maybe.)