Tag Archives: schedules




These days it’s crazy easy to pack our schedules. To fit in two and three outings a day, an art class or two, and heck, why not stop at the park with friends because, you know, it’s a good chance to get energy out (for our endlessly moving kids) and what’s a few three or four hours of fun before bedtime?

And it’s not just a packed physical schedule either, but mental ones as well. Like for me, every moment of free-thought time and filling it with audiobooks or podcasts (a favorite pastime for me while driving) or if I’m desperate for a TV show and story, propping up my laptop on the counter during the ridiculously, time-consuming process of cutting veggies and washing, I swear, the endless supply of dirty dishes (to the point where I had no idea we actually had that many dishes!).

Well, turns out, all those events and outings, and stuff my brain’s chewing on, that’s kinda a lot. And it really starts to add up.

Not that there’s anything wrong if that works for you and your family. But what I’m learning is that time at home is critical, especially for my family.

We’re a bunch of introverts.

If I schedule both weekend days with socializing everyone is getting ready to have their own personal meltdowns and not just the two-year-old (he just gets the distinct advantage of it being, mostly acceptable, to stomp and cry and scream). So, I already look at my schedule with more awareness than most folks. Yes, I could have swimming with friends the same day as we have a play date at another’s house… except I’m gonna be exhausted, and yes, my kids will be having fun (but exhausted, and hence, cranky)… but then I still need to handle those pesky details like bedtime and teeth brushing, and of yes, you kids do need to get fed three times (or more) a day.

Then, of course, there’s my goal of being a patient and empathetic parent with my kids. They’re constantly moving in and out of their own BIG emotions throughout the day. If I’m barely hanging on by a thread, it’s a good chance I’m probably gonna lose it and yell (and then immediately regret it).

And yet, even with my awareness, I still make mistakes.

Or maybe not mistakes. Really, they’re just choices.

Sometimes I am quite aware of what I’m walking into and what situation I’m setting myself and the kids up for, while other times it’s a straight-up opps! And then other times, I still push us a bit more.

Maybe it’s a once in awhile thing, like visiting dear friends up in Montrose one day and the next have my three-hour hair appointment, which while wonderful and desperately needed (I got some super cute pink highlights, by the way), it also meant I was socializing for three-hours and I’m now freakin’ exhausted. Oh, and it’s not like I can go home and kick up my feet. Nope. I’m full aware that I’m on kid-duty because poor Sean has dealt with a distraught Eric because his mommy abandoned him in his complete and total, utmost need. Meaning: I left him… at home… alone… with daddy. a complete and total toddler tragedy, yes? Anyway, soon as I walked in the door I told Sean to check out and take a nap. He needed it.

But the point here, is we need downtime. Your family will certainly have different mileage than mine, all four introverts that we are, and for us, we need that downtime with a capital N!

Every week I almost feel like some kind of battle-planner, marking in the large events, from going to Disneyland or the Aquarium or driving through downtown LA to visit my parents or friends. The next day needs to be like nothing. Maybe we can handle a short afternoon stint, like swimming and invite some few friends over (certainly something physical for the two-year-old). Or, maybe not. And really, if I want to do stuff like playing board games or reading or art with my kids, especially Kate, well, when’s that actually going to happen if we’re always on the go? If we’re always up and about?

Plus, I still got those damn dishes to do.

And the endless snacks for all these outings to get prepared, along with the backpack and Eric’s necessary change-of-clothes (I bring several). Then there’s me, doing this crazy (or, it feels crazy at times) gig of trying to run my own writing and publishing businesses, and I’ve got to get those things in the schedule too.

Turns out, there’s only so many hours in the day. Even more important, there’s only so much brain computing power this mommy-me has.

By the end of the day, I’m shot. Just, done. Brain’s working on its low emergency mode and to do anything creative at all? Or heck, even read a book? Wow. Sometimes that’s a feat! And do some giant mental exercise of playing a board game (and against Sean no less)? Yeah. Not happening.

So… downtime.

It’s critical. Probably more so for my family than yours, but I think we when we find ourselves on the go so much, visiting with all these wonderful, exciting people in our lives and all the opportunities we’re continually faced with, all the choices we have… and I think we actually start missing out.

On the little things.

Like cuddling on the couch with me on my laptop getting in this blog post, somehow managing to type with Eric sprawled on my lap watching Wall-E and Kate, pressed against my side, asking for my help as she does the puzzles in, “My Monster Can Read” app. Or when Kate sets up her board game, Unicorn Glitterluck from HABA and says to me, “Mommy play? Come here, Mommy, play.”

I need to be able to close my laptop, with no worries or stress — what I was working on can get done later (because I’ve scheduled downtime into our week meaning I can get it done later), and then, just play with her. Then play again because she had such a great time, and now Daddy’s up so we can all play together!

We’re starting to move into art because Kate’s interest in this area is growing, and this is part of the self-directed, homeschooling journey we’ve chosen for our family, to follow their interests… so I certainly can’t ignore her when she’s giving me this big ol’ hints in bright pink My Little Pony drawings, now can I? Or when Kate starts writing out numbers as her auntie rolls a bunch of dice for her Dungeons and Dragon character (hmm… I guess we’re gonna start those game sessions early so Kate can join in too!).

And it’s not just about Kate or Eric either.

It’s me too.

When my brain is stressed, trying to gauge the timing of everything, the endless little lists that need to be complete before I can walk out the door with my kids (teeth? clothes? shoes? hair brushed… well, no one will notice and we’re seriously running late). It’s overwhelming. So overwhelming that I can’t possible be creative at that moment.

And that’s what I need to start protecting, as well as making time for.

Being creative.

Or more to the point, daydreaming.

I used to be so good at this day. Boring day at school? Boring office job? Oh man, I had the coolest, craziest adventures going on in my head. But it also helped me fall into the stories I was writing… thinking about the characters… hearing their distinct and personal voices.

I know darn well that I need this quiet. If I want even a shot to tell a story I need to give myself the quiet time to simply let my creative voice come out and play. I need to turn off the podcast, because while informative and fun, I need to be bored. Bored enough to start hearing and seeing the story come to life.

And I’m really, really bad at this part.

I mean, there’s so much I want to do and so very little time I actually have, and this whole daydreaming thing? Oh, it’s so easy to put it off as “less important.”

Big ol’ sigh right here.

Which is about when I get stuck on a story. The words flowing out my fingers ground to a halt. I mean, sure I can keep typing, and with every darn word it just feels wrong. Like the story is starting to spiral in some direction that I can’t see, or even where it needs to go.

That’s one of my first clues that I’m missing something. That I lost the story or the character did something that they wouldn’t have done. Or I didn’t jump to the right place in time.

All I’ve got is this feeling, this creative gut-thing and it’s little (quiet) red-flashing light.

If I’m to busy, if my brain is overwhelmed and overworked, I practically miss it. Then I have to go and cut about 7,000 words of the new novel and redraft cause I was kinda missing the real important character emotion in there, or, at least the one that this particular story needed.

But, I’m learning.

Really, I am.

It’s taken a lot, of trying and trying again. And I’m constantly looking back at my weeks and days, looking at everything I’d like to accomplish and just what I and the kids can realistically do. Also too, that I need to be flexible. Sure, I’ve got some staples, like every Friday I host a Nature Day outing that’s open to all ages of homeschoolers, and while I used to never miss, I’m feeling the need to be flexible again. To go to Disneyland with Grandma or some friends (especially when it’s a hit-or-miss with people showing up). But that means I can’t stick in a whole lot in those mornings (or expect to do a whole bunch when we get home). I usually get in my fiction writing for that day and that’s it. So, Thursday can’t be over packed with outings or visits, or as I’ve learned, even short Disneyland trips (we tend to not want to move much the day after).

I just got a new scheduler that allows me to pencil in the week’s activities and goals. It gives me space to write and I can flow through the week, even write in times for when something needs to start and can it, really, fit in? That’s helping. It helps too to see across the top what my goals are cause if I fill out the whole box chances are, I’m not exactly being realistic.

Like I need to start getting videos of Kate and Eric to send to our speech pathologist. I’ve got a 2-week block to get it done, and it’s important. It also takes a lot of time. I can plan for that now. I can go with the flow if one day it doesn’t go well (or the actual video got messed up).

But I think the biggest part is really looking at yourself, at your family, and being aware. Temperaments, energy levels, driving time and do you honestly have enough time to make dinner from scratch and get everyone to bed before the sun actually rises and you’ve got to start the process all over again? And how about your own daily movements, hmm? Do you have time during the week to get in your hour-plus yoga session or go rock climbing?

I think this goes double for us homeschoolers.

I mean, there’s so much we can do! There’s so many opportunities, places to visit, classes to take, and why not jump into as many as we possible can?!

Well, you can.

And then it will either work for you and your family, or it won’t.

Or you’ll find yourself craving some of that quiet at home. Of maybe just taking the afternoon to bake some cookies, letting your two-year-old playing in the flour, measuring out cups to his heart’s content (and knowing full-well that’s not going in the batter if you actually plan on making, you know, actual yummy tasting cookies). Or perhaps cracking open some books, sitting and reading and seeing if your kids come wandering over because they want to cuddle and be read to.

If we’re constantly on the go, constantly moving, how can we allow for these quiet times when the real magic can happen? The real special connection when it’s just you and your kids.

Or, for me as well, me and my creative voice?

We each need some amount of the quiet, of this downtime, and it’s really, really hard to see it for how valuable and how precious it is. And it’s hard to look at the schedule and start saying “no.” Start crossing off visits or memberships (because then you feel this need and responsibility to use it).

Allow yourself, and your family the quiet, and then just wait and see what kind of magic happens.

Because really, it’s something truly special.

Like noticing that Kate had drawn butterfly and rainbow marks from Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash (if you don’t know, they’re My Little Pony characters). At that moment, I had no idea how well Kate knew them, even picking out the exact colors from the chalk to match the character’s colors (and without looking to double-check). And yet, when I stopped moving, when I gave us all this moment of quiet, I got another glimpse into her amazing little mind.

This, right here, is why we homeschool. This, right here, is why I’ve chosen to be a parent — and this particular kind of parent.

And I’m so glad to have paused long enough to see and experience this joy with her. (And then she asked me to take a picture and send it to Daddy, which, we did.)

So, think about your busy, busy days and remember to sometimes pause and see just how many rainbows and butterflies your young one is dreaming up.


The Introverted Parent


Society, at least from my point of view, doesn’t really give a shit about us introverts. You know, those people who get incredibly exhausted being around others, who feel completely drained when they go to big group gatherings, the kind of people whose idea of a day off (or heck, a vacation) is staying at home.

That’s me.

Actually, that’s my whole family.

Sure we spent four wonderful hours on Saturday, socializing and catching up with long-time friends and their adorable kids (in which everyone had a fantastic time), but throw in two hours of driving (thank you, downtown LA) and for the rest of the weekend, each and every one of us, were fried. Fried. From me and Sean, to Kate and Eric.

We’re introverts.

Going out and having fun means we need time to re-center ourselves, to settle in and fill up our cups. The day after a fun, socializing event, we’re in front of iPads or playing video games or reading books or coloring. Sure Eric might be sprawled across my lap (he usually is), since that little boy needs constant connection, but he’s also doing his own thing and he doesn’t want interaction. The same with Kate too. I jokingly tell Sean I’m never alone because I’ve got one kid pressed against my side, the other on my lap, each of us lost in our world but still having this connection.

We each need our own space. We all need quiet, this alone time to recharge our batteries, to refill our cup (or throw in your favorite description here).

The point, is we each need this time to refill our well of energy.

Now, you might be reading this and thinking, “So what? You’re different. You need to time at home, what’s the problem?”

Or, maybe you read all that and you’re nodding your head going, “Wow! I know exactly what you’re talking about.”

The problem is society, and pretty much anyone with an opinion on parenting. Think about it for a moment. Think about all the stuff you’re supposed “to do” to be a good parent, to help raise healthy, happy kids. Constantly engaging with your child, through play or talking. Lots of one-on-one interactions. Lots of play outside. Parks. All the feeding and care associated with such outings.

Oh, and make sure they’re having healthy, whole foods and none of that drive-thru crap. Which, of course, means the endless cutting of vegetables and bucket-loads of fruit (while at the same time praying your toddler doesn’t get into too much trouble, or if you’re living in my shoes, he doesn’t take that moment to poop on the floor because he knows darn well you aren’t watching).

There are some of us, who, for that day I just described, can’t do that.

Like really and truly, can’t.

We’re not built that way.

Some of us can’t go out to endless events, art classes, park days, and on top of that, have one-on-one play dates (or go to school, if you’re the schooling family). Oh! And let’s not forget two different outings in one day, each lasting hours each.

There are some of us who, when we stumble into our glorious home (sometimes with upset, crying kids cause they’re also are low on energy) all we want is to collapse on the couch and drink a glass of wine.

Or two.

And yet… as a parent, I’m constantly bombarded with messaging all around that I’m not doing enough — that what I’m doing isn’t good enough.


What about the book time and reading together?

What about sitting on the floor, playing one-on-one?

What about the speech play for Eric? Did we have enough physical play? Did he get outside enough to run around?

Well, what about Kate? She’s Miss Constantly-Wants-to-Socialize.

And guess what’s that means? Going out. Together. And me using energy resources to help her and guide her, while running after Eric and making sure he steers clear of the street (not kidding, park days usually clock in a good mile for me).

Oh yes, and let’s not forget the message that screen time is bad for kids. That we will damage our kids if they’re watching too much TV or playing on the iPad or whatever. Now, you can totally have your own opinions about this, I’m certainly not judging you or your family or your values, not at all. What I’m saying though is we’re all different and we all have different needs. And can we please, at least for the moment, lay off of putting all this blame and guilt on people who are just exhausted? Parents who, truly, are trying to their best??

For me, by the end of the day I’m bone-tired exhausted.

After an outing I need my kids to be quiet, to give me some peace and quiet, even if it’s just so I can get together dinner. It doesn’t matter that all I want is to call it a night and go to bed at 6:00 with the kids. But what’s hard is constantly hearing the critical voices in my head, whispering that I’m this bad parent because they spent how many hours playing games or watching movies?

Guilt. Shame.

I swear, it feels like I’m constantly fighting them. Constantly fighting this message that I’m not doing enough. How, pretty much every day, being Super Mom isn’t enough (or Super Dad, whichever parent or caregiver is at home).

On top of the usual parenting challenge course (I swear, sometimes I feel like those little dogs running through those competition-obstacle courses), I’ve decided to be the main speech partner for both of my kids as well as homeschooling them. At this point in our life, the homeschooling part is literally just playing and living life. We’ll color and paint, play some board games, but it’s really following Kate’s lead and where her interest is (like making word hide-and-seek books).


It’s the one-on-one time that’s challenging.

Playing board games requires Godzilla-Eric to be napping (or Daddy around and keeping his little hands from grabbing the scissors Kate’s using for her word books). Or with Eric, the speech play means Kate needs to be engaging in her things and willingly to leave us alone for a few minutes.


Well, for the speech part, Eric needs one-on-one time. Time where I’m able to pause, give him a chance to think through what I’m doing, what my words (or actions) are asking of him. He needs time and space to do this, which for him means comfort and a feeling of safety…

And the minute I start engaging and playing with him, as I’m laughing or clapping when he puts the shape into the puzzle box, Kate comes running over because she wants to play too.

Cause, we’re having fun.

Which is all well and good except, again, Eric is a “need-my-space” kinda kid. He gets frustrated when she starts putting her grubby hands on his shape pieces. And his only mode of dealing with frustrations is, no surprise, crying and trying to hit her.

It’s not going well.

Or I should say, it’s not easy.

Kate has needs (she wants to play too!). Eric has needs (translation: leave me the heck alone; I want to play with Mom. By myself.). And then me, well, I have needs too (oh please, just give me five minutes of quiet).

For us, all of those needs are also tied to our energy. And how much we have (or often, don’t have).

Because we’re all introverts I really need to have my awareness keyed on the energy pulse of each of us… myself, the kids, Sean too. In the situation above like I just described with the puzzle box, and while this is true of all kids, it’s especially true of mine (who are both introverts and late-talkers). I need to set back and see why the heck this situation (Kate’s interference, Eric’s frustration) is happening in the first place.

Kate wants interaction and play of her own. With me.

Eric wants the same… but without Kate butting in and doing the puzzle for him.

Well, okay then.

Let’s just add that to the energy schedule as well as shopping at Costco and farmers market. Oh, yeah, and we’ve got Grandma coming over that day too.

It’s a constant juggling act and one I’m slowly starting to accept (and internalize), is going to look different compared to everyone else’s. The life choices we made (homeschooling, speech play) as well as the ones we didn’t get to choose (introverts, late-talkers), all that means our home life will look different than most of the families out there.

There are choices we need to make, like screen time or only one outing a weekend (or day), that fit us. That fit our needs.

And really, parents, we need to start accepting that for our kids to be happy and whole, we have to be happy too. We need to start taking care of ourselves, to start putting our needs in there too. Because we can’t be patient and kind, can’t be centered and present if we’re constantly on that edge of exhaustion. We’re gonna snap and yell and whatever.

Our needs matter too.

And for you introvert parents out there, who know exactly what I’m talking about, you have double-duty because society as a whole doesn’t understand us. They like the people who are constantly chatting and socializing, going out and all these grand adventures… well, that works for them and that’s fine. But it doesn’t work for us.

And it’s okay.

But all of us, truly, we need to be in tune with our kids and their energy. It’s really a juggling act, of checking in with ourselves, checking in with our kids and our spouses. Like how on the Saturday we saw our long-time friends, I made the choice to let Sean sleep in while I went to farmers market with the kids (which means I’ve got a wiggling Eric in my arms as I try to pay or stuff the food in the stroller). It’s stressful for me but I did it because I knew Sean’s needs were greater than mine… if we were to survive the day. I also did the driving (it’s also too stressful for him). But the second we got home? As soon as the kids were in bed?

Oh man I went to bed.

I checked out.

Cause that’s what I needed.

Being a parent is hard. Being an introverted parent is even more challenging. We need to monitor our energy levels and that of our kids. For those of you introverted parents with extroverted kids, those kids who thrive on all the outings and socializing, oh man do I really feel for you, and how you’ve really got to be aware of your own self-care. (Truly, you guys are amazing!)

All I’m trying to say here: is it’s okay to be different. It’s okay to be a different kind of family because all of our needs our different.

We need to care for our kids, and we need to care for ourselves.

So if you find yourself getting hit with all those messages… that you’re not doing enough… that you’re not good enough… keep in mind, a lot of those messages are geared towards an extroverted world.

And guess what?

That’s not me. Or my family.

We do what work’s for us, what makes us happy and whole, and that means we can’t be wrong.

All we can do as parents, day in and day out, is our best. To simply try… and even if that means our world and our life look different than everyone else’s.

We try.

And then the next day, we try again.

Let’s Get This Year Started: 2017 (My Goals as a Parent-Writer)



Well, January’s over and I’m crazy happy because the urge to write has bit into me hard and good. And it feels great.

I mean… it will… once I start writing. Which actually means… when I start sleeping again.

Okay, I’ll back a minute here about this strange thing of wanting to write (really, really wanting to write)… and not being able to. For now, though, I’ll start from the beginning (or the sorta beginning). You see, to survive the holidays and our crazy mess of birthdays and events (which, pretty much, makes up all of December, plus a bit of November and January thrown in as well), I had to walk away from the writing.

There really wasn’t a choice.

Not with my just-turned two-year-old son. And not sleeping. And all the teething.

Seriously. There were just too many days that started for me at 4:00 a.m. and I had to, somehow, get through the day with my two kids (and not kill them). Okay, not that I would actually kill them (I truly, truly love them), but running around like a raving, angry banshee was not the kind of parent I wanted to be. And some days, that’s exactly what it felt like.

So, for December, I put everything on the hold. Except the kids and holidays.

I, sadly, hung up my writing streak of 160 days (yeah… you heard that right… 160 days of writing, straight, even with my two young kids).

Now, however, I’m raring to get going.


Because… I still have a two-year-old. My cute little angel, who, even right now, is attempting to single-handedly take down the gate surrounding all of our electronics and game consoles. I might also mention that I’m a month into potty training. Which, while it’s going well, it was also pretty crazy (yep… had a couple of those banshee moments, trust me). Just imagine that the diaper is gone completely and I’m watching Eric like a hawk to catch all the pee and poo until he learns where it belongs. Ok. He knows where it belongs but actually using it like he’s supposed to… well… he’s two. And stubborn. Very stubborn. He’s also a late-talker like his sister, which means I get no nice verbal warning like, “Pee!” or “Poo!”

Fun times.

Yet here I am at the start of a new year (okay… sorta start) and am thinking about getting the writing going again. Part of me is like, “you’re freakin’ crazy.” The other part acknowledges that I need to do this. This is one of those core, self-care pieces that I need to keep going.

Yet… still. Goals? For this year? Stuff that might be even slightly in my control. Slightly?

It’s almost laughable, but heck, I’ve done this before. The writing and having a two-year-old part. And I’ve got a little mantra that pretty aptly defines the year I’m facing:

The year I won’t sit down.

And considering Eric is now capable of climbing up the barstools to get to our kitchen counter, and is even more capable of pushing said-chairs to the counter to get to the stuff he’s not supposed to get (after we, so smart that we are as parents, moved those stools away from the counter)… yeah. It’s gonna be interesting.

Somehow though, somehow, I’m still gonna get words written. Specifically, fiction words.

How do I know this? Well, heck, I actually looked back at 2016 and added up my totals, and it was pretty darn amazing considering the hurdles I faced. A house move, Kate still not trusting in her voice and there I was, just a mom, beating back the world with my mighty stick, and…. oh, yes, that’s right. Just having two young kids fits the bill.

So, in 9 months of writing I wrote…

29,121 words of nonfiction

89,449 words of fiction

Also, I completed 7 online workshops (6 weeks each) with Dean Wesley Smith and WMG Publishing. (I did not count all the fiction words from those assignments, and there were a ton.)

Wow. Crazy, right? I’m shocked. But there it is. And it all happened because it was just me, writing away bit by bit. Some days I got an hour, most others anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes. Some days it was only 5 minutes.

I saw 2016 as the Year of Learning. It was also the Year to Restart My Writing. I certainly hit on both accounts. I’d really wanted to amp up the publishing front, actually deal with some of those god-awful covers and blurbs back when I started this venture in 2012. Yeah. That didn’t happen. But boy, boy did I learn a ton about being a writer with two small kids, especially having one with language delays and the other just learning to how crazy-fun it is to get into everything.

And really, if you’re a parent you know darn well that the first year of a baby is way easier than toddlerhood. Light-years easier. So, I had a lot of false starts throughout the year, with me trying something new (or even the same thing, again and again), until I figured out how to write with my kids around. And really, this is a question I need to figure out since we have decided to homeschool. Yeah, it’ll get easier as my kids get bigger (and way, way easier when Eric actually puts his poop in the potty instead of running to me first and we do a funny rush-over to get him there in time). But really, I still needed to figure this out.

And I am.

Piece by piece.

If you’re a parent of littles and you have this crazy-ass dream of being a writer (or anything creative, really) and that, regardless of how little you’ve slept in… I don’t know… five years… you still want to write. Well, here are a few tips and lessons I’ve learned along the way. (And I’m sure these will only continue to be refined and tried again and adjusted and flat out thrown-out as the month, or heck, weeks progress.)

Here’s the thing: when it comes to fiction, I truly, truly need to be away from my kids. That’s when my subconscious actually comes out, when it feels safe enough to dive into a story, to lose itself with the characters.

I will also say, that this isn’t forever. In fact, with Kate I managed to write in the next room while she was watching her all-time favorite movie Frozen or when she was playing the WiiU and jumping on those little mushroom-like dudes in Yoshi’s Woolley World. My point: if she was sufficiently occupied and not trying to climb into the cupboard to get the (no longer) hidden chocolate, I could write. But with Eric, as young as he is, forget it. I need to be alone and away from that kid to keep from triggering all manner of my mommy-senses.

Now, when it comes to nonfiction and learning, I’ve got a lot more leeway. I mean, I can keep going with this blog even though I’ve already been interrupted seven times since I started writing this. Which is great because it can mean that my precious alone time is reserved only for fiction writing.

So in 2016, I learned I needed to be away from the kids. I also learned that I’m a morning person and if I have any dream of writing, this is when it’s gotta be (by the end of the day my mind is zombie-mush).

How about you? What are your sort of parameters?

Once you’ve got your baseline, whatever those are, these little pieces that simply need to be in place for you to make writing happen, you come up with the next bit: a plan.

Easier said than done, I know.

I worked it out with Sean (ok…. make this eight Eric-led interruptions now… sigh) where he watches the kids for an hour and I leave the house.

That’s right. I grab my laptop and head outside to sit by the pool (or on rare days where it actually rains down here in sunny CA, the common area of our complex). I’ve got my headphones to drawn out any annoying sounds, and I’ve got the clock.

This has been huge for me, a real piece of the puzzle that I was missing. It’s allowed my subconscious to feel safe again with the storytelling. And it worked, because I kept getting the writing in, even on days where the last thing I felt like doing, was writing. It wasn’t always easy, but words were written.

I’ve also come to understand another critical piece I’m still missing: time to just think. Time when my mind is free to come out and just have fun with ideas, to live with the characters… what might happen next? What kind of world would that be?

That part is still a struggle for me because there’s simply so much clamoring for my attention. Any downtime I have, any ounce of quiet, and I have this need to fill it with something… from listening to podcasts about publishing or health or board games, or watching a TV show while doing dishes because it’s one of those rare moments where I can do something for me.

The idea of just thinking and letting my subconscious have some fun, it’s not nearly as powerful as those other distractions. I’m still working on this and it’s one of my big goal areas for this year (giving myself time to think, and really, to daydream).

But really, it’s also a matter of recognizing myself and putting a finger to my own creative pulse.

If I’m feeling overwhelmed and stressed and my resources are low, this is not the time to expect myself to easily slip into this creative-thought stage. But maybe if I can’t do that, instead, I can grab one of my research books on the west and Butte, Montana that I love to read. And maybe just reading those books will start sparking some thoughts, take some pressure of this need to create and by doing that, oh look, there’s a story idea peeking it’s head out…

And that’s how I’m going to handle 2017.

Get a goal in place. Get a plan. Then, be flexible… and more often than not, sideways. I need to focus on what I can do (rather than what I can’t).

What I can do: write every day. Even for five minutes.

This daily goal became so so so powerful for me. On days where I was sick and just plain exhausted and wanted to melt into a pile of mush… it actually pushed me through and got me to the keyboard. I’d always heard of the power of streaks but I’d never thought it could conquer the utter exhaustion that (often) comes with parenting.

Certainly parenting a toddler.

In addition to a writing every day, I actually have a goal of writing for one hour, five days a week. I say five days and not every day because that would be totally unrealistic for me these days and I don’t want to get discouraged. In fact, I’ll schedule it out on the calendar for an hour, being flexible, depending if we’ve got a Disneyland trip planned or driving up to visit the grandparents or friends. This is not a hard and fast goal because the last thing I want is to feel shame or guilt. In fact, the only reason I’m committing to an hour is because, darn it, I’d like to write some projects this year!

Like a novel.

I really, really want to write another novel. That’s been a challenging one for me, mostly because my subconscious is very wrapped up in my kids and keeping them safe and alive (and, to be honest, standing up for them to develop and grow at their own pace and not what society has deemed ‘normal’ and ‘appropriate’). In fact, the last novel I wrote was when I was pregnant with Eric. Granted, I’ve written some long-ass short stories in 2016 that are really more in the novella length, but a multi-character novel? Haven’t done that in two years. And those are the stories that are more my natural length.

So, I want to get to writing that again.

I sat down and did some math, figured out how I can actually, physically, make this happen. I estimated 100,000 words is a good length for me. I also want to write a couple of short stories. And do these blogs. I know that my usual pace is 1,000 words an hour, so I went and did the math for the year, for each month (and because I’m expecting life to be what it is, I’m scheduling only for 10 months), and then broke it down further until I got to days… which came out to 500 words a day.

And you know what? I can totally hit this.

I see that number and I know it’s doable. Some days will only be five minutes of writing, but it will hit my daily writing goal. Other days I’ll pound out 2,000 words because the story’s gripped me and I can’t type fast enough.

I’ve also got plans to do more online workshops, to keep the learning going and have even signed up for two Oregon Coast workshops… and bringing the kids (and another adult) with me.

And if I fail? If I don’t make it out to Oregon or I don’t hit this overall goal of writing 200,000 words for the year?

Wow, will it still be a success because any writing with young kids is a success.

I’m gonna keep trying, I’m gonna keep plugging away because as I’ve learned, when I write, I’m happy. I’m a whole, more complete person. And that means I’m a better, more patient, more compassionate parent.

Because first and foremost, who I am is a parent.

I am a mother.

That is my primary job and role and it’s one that’s 24-hours and I love it. Yet somehow, I still want to keep the writing going. I still want to be a professional writer. I want to be a healthy person who eats real food and gets plenty of movement. I’m also the primary speech partner for my kids. You heard me, both kids. We may not do something structured and routine, because that doesn’t work for our family, but I’m still aware of the work, weaving it in throughout our normal lives.

So I’ve got a lot of roles, a lot on my plate (and we haven’t even talked about my publishing business, one which I hope to at least get going by the end of 2017). And I’m still just one person. There’s only so much I can do when I have two young ones getting into all manner of fun.

But here I am, looking into 2017, and I’m going to do what I can. I’m going to try and then try again. I’m going to get up and keep going. I’m going to keep learning and keep writing.

So in addition to The Year I Won’t Sit Down, this will also be: The Year of Writing and Learning.

Whether you’re a writer or artist, or some other business dream you’ve got cooked up in your heart, something that you still want to make it happen in between the pauses in parenthood… what kind of year will you have?

Create your own pauses.

Don’t wait for those moments to come to you. If it’s important, find a way to fit it in. Trust me, you’ll be happier for it.

For me, I’m excited. I’m ready to get going. I’m ready to tell some stories.

(Or I will… as soon as my days don’t start at 3:30 in the morning.)

A Schedule and Kids: HA!



That’s right. The title of this blog is straight-up laughter because, if you’re a parent with kids, whether one or two, whether they’re 15 months or 15 years, you know darn well that there IS no schedule when it comes to kids. I mean, if you send your kids to school or daycare or some other similar type of structure, sure those places put a schedule on the kids but when it comes to you, the parent, kids pretty much laugh at this schedule-idea-thing.

And after laughing, they turn and give you a mischievous grin right before your 15-month dives his hand into the trashcan and then you’re sweeping up coffee grinds and potato peels with one hand, and with the other, trying to keep the kid from eating said grinds.

And that’s pretty much what kids do to schedules.

It’s like you’re finally ready to head out the door and someone decides at that moment they need to use the bathroom. Or, they already did and you just got a whiff of the diaper.

This is my life circumstance right now. Yours will be different (especially if you have a 15-year-old… yours will be much different than mine). And within the chaos (because it sometimes feels that way), I’m still pursuing my writing.

And this illusive idea called a schedule.

You see, I know… straight-up-know, that having a schedule is powerful. Powerful when it comes to being productive. It gets you to the chair or easel or whatever it is that you’re pursing. It’s like that extra push when it’s the last thing in the world you feel like doing… but you have a schedule and it’s easy to follow that schedule. Like, it takes a huge piece of the distractions away and following the routine doesn’t require the same amount of dedication and willpower that flying-off-the-cuff can require.


It sounds great. I want one…

Except, again, see life circumstances.

For the past year I’ve been struggling with The Schedule. Struggling because life throws one curveball after another. Struggling because even though my writing makes me a better mother, there were times when I couldn’t write. When I was worried and fearful of Kate and her speech. When Eric decided that me sleeping was a silly idea and proceeded to wake up six times. Every night. For six months.

But I kept going and kept taking a crack at this schedule thing and I finally, finally feel that I’m on the right track. The really funny (ironic?) thing is it doesn’t look like much of a schedule at all. In fact, the ‘schedule’ is this flexible, moving, living thing and it follows one goal, one goal:

To write.

Every day. For at least 15 minutes.

It doesn’t matter how tired I feel. It doesn’t matter how much I *don’t* want to do it.

I write.

The husband knows this too. He knows how important the writing is. He knows how much better I feel and – this is important here – he knows he needs to help when life circumstances (AKA kids) don’t allow the writing to fit snuggly into my schedule.

My goal is to wake up at 4:30 in the morning, just enough time to drag myself out of bed, make some coffee and get in an hour of writing before the house starts waking up.

That’s the ideal, perfect world.

Some days this totally happens and I’m seriously ready to run a marathon. That time I have to write, recharges my batteries. My energy is clear and shining. I’ve gotten in the alone time I personally need to function.

Of course, there isn’t such a thing as a perfect world when you have kids.

There are days (like today) when even if I’d gotten up at 4:30, the kids wouldn’t have let me write. (Which is when the husband steps in… he takes them for an hour before going to work and I lock myself in the office. Or, if an hour isn’t possible, it’s 30 minutes. Or 10.)

But the very, very important part is that I write.

I write.

That is the only piece of The Schedule that must happen. I write. With no kids around. Which is critical (for me) and I’ll explain. I’ve been slowly reading through a book by Jerry Mundis, Break Writer’s Block Now!, and something he wrote really struck me. It had to do with affirmations and changing your focus from the negative to the positive. But it was one affirmation, which I then immediately changed the words to reflect my life and my issue:

It’s safe for me to write.


This was my issue. This is what I’d been struggling with for a year. It felt like every time I’d sit down to write or even read stories… I’d get interrupted. I’d have to turn off the story in my brain and be mom. It never mattered what I wanted; I needed to be mom. The more this happened, the harder and harder it was for me to let go and just dive into a story. It became harder and harder to see my characters and where they wanted to take me next.

My subconscious just… shut down that part of my brain. Shut off the part that was trying to tell a story. It was no longer safe.

That’s when I realized so much of my struggle with writing and telling a story had to do with my subconscious and this constant focus on my kids and our home. But… I still felt the urge and need to tell stories. It was there… but I couldn’t (wouldn’t?) give my subconscious the time it needed to tell those stories. It’d start writing again and putting aside that time, but then life got in the way and the writing, the safety to tell a story, went away again.

And the story stalled.

Even if I kept typing new words the story wasn’t right because I couldn’t go deep enough to myself where those stories lived.

But I keep at it. I keep putting in the time, keep making even those fifteen minutes as a priority… and you know what? The stories are coming back. And even more than that… my schedule, while fluid, really does exist.

I spent several hours this week thinking about productivity, thinking about my goals, and The Schedule. I listened to others on podcasts who talked about using the calendar or following David Allen’s, Getting Things Done (which I’m ordering as soon as I write this blog)… and I realized I can do this. But only if I work at it, only if I prioritize the time that have, and when I have it (because that part there isn’t always in my control). I’m reorganizing my morning routines. I’m saying no to play dates or events that are in the morning, when I’m most productive and focused (unless they’re what I call ‘field trips’ and require an early morning/most of day outing… and I’ve got one or two days set aside for that).

I realized that even me, with my two kids, can have a schedule.

And if I wake up early to get the writing in, and Kate (and Eric too) wakes up before any child or other human should… that’s okay. I have another ‘work block’ I can get the writing in (when Daddy’s watching the kids). Or, when Eric’s napping (electronic devices can be real lifesavers when entertaining 3-year-olds). And worst case? I muster up that fifteen minutes when the kids are in bed and I’ve kissed Daddy on the cheek as he walks in the door, and I hit the computer.

But… all the opportunities are there. In a schedule. I can hardly believe it.

It’s a schedule that works for me, in my life, in this ‘season’ that our family’s in. It’s flexible, because that’s what I need. And already I’m feeling lighter and more in control. I have time too to fit in projects from re-designing my other poor outdated websites and publishing research, to paying bills or making the weekly run to our farmers market. I even know the best time to make the phone calls to friends, who I’ve been neglecting because it just wasn’t ‘the right time to call.’

And the really, really cool part?

The story that I’ve been writing away at, redrafting and restarting since the start of the new year, is finally nearing the end. It’s taken way, way longer than it should have… but I’m also recognizing this just might be my process for this particular world I’m playing in. But hey, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s only, only because I gave my subconscious this time, to help the writing feel safe again.

Safe enough to tell a story.

And it’s this schedule, as flexible and fluid as it is, that’s giving me the chance – and opportunities – to make the writing happen. Not all days will be perfect… I mean, I just spent a two nights camping in a trailer with my little ones, two grandparents, and a dog… let’s just say that the kids and I were lucky, lucky, to get 4 hours of good, solid sleep.

But, I got in the writing in. It wasn’t much that first day, only eleven minutes, but I felt that little dip as my subconscious went down and touched the story-part of me. And the next day? Well, I’d gotten better sleep and just stayed up… after Eric woke me at 3:46 in the morning. But it worked. We even drove back the 3 hours that day, and I still managed to get the writing in… a full hour of it too!!

Hot damn, does that feel good.

It’s a wonderful, wonderful feeling and that feeling is carrying over to the other, very important part of my life:


But finding a schedule that fits you, that fits your family and this season that you’re in… if you’ve got young ones that require a lot of attention and care, or older ones who need less of you, or heck, even moved on out of the house… finding a schedule really is key. It’s going to take some adjustments and trial and errors… actually, a lot of those… but every time you’ll get closer. You’ll start pinging on what works and what doesn’t, and somehow, if you keep at it and keep moving forward, you’ll find what works.

Because even us, parent-writers, yes, even we can have a schedule.

Who knew, right?

Workshops, Holidays, and Two Small Kids



I’m right smack-dab in the middle of a pretty darn advanced writing workshop, and while I’ve had a few moments of panic, the usual oh-crap-I’m-never-gonna-get-this-done kinda feeling… but, for the most part, its been the opposite. I haven’t been stressed. I haven’t turned in an assignment at the last hour, squeezing out that email right before midnight. And yes, I’ve still got the two kids and the regular, never-ending house chores and required family feedings.

Somehow, I’m doing okay.

In fact, I’m doing pretty darn good.

Actually, I’ve mostly felt this tremendous excitement to really be getting down into the depths of writing, to study from absolute masters of storytelling like Stephen King and Lee Child (who then so eloquently demonstrate how very much I have to learn… which I haven’t a clue how I’m gonna make that happen any time this century… or at least until Kate starts driving, at which point that’s a whole another stage of worry).

Somehow, though, I’ve carved out this time for myself. Somehow, the whole family’s on board and giving me this chance to just lose myself and my thoughts to my craft. (Actually this translates to dear hubby who graciously takes the kids while I lock myself in the office for two hours as I try to figure out the different assignments and afterwards, I get the comment, “If I was the stay-at-home Dad we’d only have had the one kid.”)

But you know, it feels good to take care of myself again.

And this might sound silly, but for me writing is just as important to my health and happiness as exercising or nutrition or heck, even laughing. That’s what writing is. It’s a core piece of my own mental happiness and boy do I feel it when parenthood has forced me to shelve it for these looong dry spells. Which is also okay, because that needs to happen. My main responsibility isn’t being a writer, it’s caring for and raising my two kids (who also then give me fodder and a shit-load of ideas whenever I get the quiet to squeeze in the writing).

But… when I give the writing, the learning, a whole six weeks of intense focus?

Hot damn, I feel like I could climb a mountain.

Okay, not really, but it feels like just about anything is possible. And I’ve totally managed this on only a couple hours of broken sleep and a stupid cold that’s running its course through the whole family. Oh, and we’ve got that Thanksgiving thing too. At our house… which is why even though this post was written last week, it ain’t going up until the week after.

Which really brings up the question: how the heck am I doing this?

I mean, I just found out that a bunch of people in my workshop didn’t turn in the last assignment, and it was only a study assignment, not an actual writing one.

Seriously, folks. Man up. Or woman up. I think I only got three hours of sleep, total (being sick is so fun), and here I am, writing this blog post while simultaneously keeping an ear out for Eric, who’s desperately trying to find a way to hot-wire the baby gate to open and climb up the tantalizing stairs while Kate works out her My Little Pony puzzle for the 100th time.

I haven’t missed turning in a single assignment. Not for this workshop, and not for the one I took in September either (also six weeks).

So… how did I do it? How can you do it?

This is definitely going to be different for each parent-writer out there, and it’s definitely dependent on how old your kids are, but awareness is what you’re striving for.

Awareness of your schedule, your kids and their temperament, and your temperament.

This is something I learned from the September workshop. Scheduling matters. It really, really does. And that’s not to say I’ve gone and blocked out X-amount of hours for Wednesday or Friday, but it required me to look at my life, and my family, and realizing what was possible… and what would send me over-the-edge into crazy-town. And when you’ve got kids, you also need to be constantly aware when they’ve had too much (because no one likes a crying, screaming, tantruming kid in the middle of a mile-long Costco line).

You see, before even signing up for this workshop, there were a couple days where I looked at my schedule and knew I’d need help (Thanksgiving, anyone?), so I arranged for babysitting.

Also… I told a lot of people no.

I cancelled a Disneyland trip with Grandma, which was fine since Kate ended up with a fever and wicked cough that day. I also prioritized my outings with friends… should I go to our regular park date in the afternoon or the morning outing, because that pumpkin pie ain’t gonna bake itself. Not to mention that I’ve decided to completely drop Kate’s speech therapy and am doing the brunt of the work myself because I didn’t have enough going on, right?

So far, though, it’s all working. The choices I’ve made are working.

For now.

It helps too that I’m constantly learning – and I’m not just talking about writing here, but parenting. I’m learning what’s working and what isn’t (like that beast called a ‘schedule’). Oh, and being flexibility is huge. HUGE. If I wasn’t flexible, yeah, forget the workshop and any sort of writing altogether.

But you know, I’m also asking for help from the family, and believe me, that’s not something that comes naturally. But I am, and I’m learning just how human I am (you know, not super mom). I’ve got my amazing 95-year-old grandma staying with me, helping with Eric (boy does she love playing with the baby!) and chopping vegetables (a huge life-saver). Boy, do I strive to be like her when I grow up. I’ve also had people come over just so I could nap.

But the other thing here, and the most important part, is persistence. And patience. Oh, and a willingness to learn… which I guess is three things. But persistence is key. Not kidding. I AM going to keep at this. I AM going to keep finding ways in my schedule to watch these instruction videos, to take notes, and ask (or beg) a family member to help.

Me and my writing aren’t going anywhere. Sure, there’s that dusty time on the shelf while we adjusted to having Kid #2, and then with the scare and worry over Kate not talking, but I’ve always found my way back to the writing. And now, I’ve found my way back to learning.

And like I said earlier, there is so much I have to learn and I can’t wait to keep moving forward. Even if my forward is so much slower than everyone else’s, but… I’ll get there.

And while it (often) feels like I’m barely getting the work done and there’s another five (or ten) things left to do on my list, I’m forgetting the most important piece: I’m awesome.

What I’m doing, caring for these kids, helping them learn and grow, spending 3-5 hours a week on this workshop while just getting back into something resembling sleep… that’s impressive. So is finding the time to build new friendships for both me and the kids with our local homeschool group. And now also being Kate’s main partner on her speech journey.

I bring this up because I don’t always see that, don’t always see the accomplishments.

Okay. I never do unless someone points it out.

My writing mentor, Dean Wesley Smith, once told me how impressed he was that I’d stuck with the writing these past three years and that I’d kept it fun. Then, last Sunday, my hubby told me the same thing.

He was impressed.

It’s so easy to see all the things I can’t do or can’t get to, and I’ve realized how important it is to see what I can. And I’m impressed too. Really, really impressed. The fact that I’m giving myself the time and opportunity to study my craft and then to realize… Wow! I guess I’m still a writer even with these two cuties and no sleep. In fact, I’m still growing, still improving in my craft from when I got serious back in 2010… and that realization is so uplifting.

You see, right now, my job is as a parent.

A facilitator for my kids’ learning and growth.

I’m not going toe-to-toe with other writers I’d started coming up with (nor should I compare myself to them – which, to be honest, can be hard when the writing only comes in short bursts these days). But even though I’m a parent first, that still doesn’t mean I’m not a writer. I am, and even with the little bit I can do… I’m still getting better.

Still learning.

It might only be these little bits, especially with family birthdays and Christmas right around the corner, but I’ll take whatever I can get. Or should I say, whatever I can make happen because it’s only gonna come from me.

And perhaps even most important, is remembering to enjoy the time I have right now with my little family. The writing will always be there, but these moments, of Eric stuffing his face with his first Thanksgiving sweet potato or Kate practicing her newest word, ‘hi’, are only gonna happen once and I don’t want to miss it.

And that makes all of this feel so worthwhile. Worth trying and seeing what I can do. I’m glad to give myself this patience and dedication instead of just putting the writing in a drawer until ‘the time is right.’

The time, really, is right now.

How Flexible Are You?

I’m actually not talking about whether or not you can touch your toes or do a good upward dog pose in yoga. I’m talking about how well you can (or can’t) go with the flow. Change plans. Adjust.

Oh, and not have a complete brain-melt or a stress, panic-induced sweat because The Plans Changed.

In many ways, that about sums up parenting.

(The constantly changing part, not the stress part – though there are definitely days when we get out fair share… or not so fair share, of stress.)

Actually, the first time I came across this idea was when I used to train Kung Fu. (Most people don’t know this, but polite, quiet, understanding me is also a black belt.) The first philosophy I was taught (and about the only one I remember) as a baby white belt was about being flexible, to be strong but bendable. To not be brittle and dead. Sure this relates to the actual physical function of kung fu and body movement and all that jazz, but I’ve continued to see the direct correlation throughout my life, especially in both my writing and parenting.

Certainly to parenting.

Honestly, I think flexibility should be labeled one of the Virtues of Parenting.

So much of my life revolves around being flexible and it’s the days where I can’t be flexible – crazy exhausted, no sleep, appointments that actually require me to be at a certain place AND on time – when I feel the stress.

Those are days when I end up calling my super-important support network and ask, “Is it to early for wine?”

Or chocolate. Or ice cream.

When I’m not flexible, I become more controlling. And the more I try to control my kids, especially Kate… well, let’s just say the crazier my life becomes… and just as important, the unhappier Kate is. And me, too.

Oh, man. That control aspect is huge and the longer I’m a parent, the more I’m around other parents, the more clear this becomes. From a friend who tried to control her baby’s nap and feeding schedule to the parents at the park. I mean, seriously. Kids climb up slides, Parents. Let them. That’s what kids do. Leave ’em be and let them figure it out. You’ll be surprised just how careful the ones going down actually are – and the kids going up? Yeah, they think it’s GREAT fun to have someone ‘crash’ into them.

They’re also laughing. And happy. Even this tall, 8-year-old boy who holds Kate carefully as they reach the bottom (and after he’s ‘crashed’ into her too).

It’s part of their play, of their world. Not mine.

And I’m sitting back and just observing. Enjoying. Watching. Seeing if I’m needed by Kate… or, not. I watch as one angry, older dad is clearly looking around for me to reprimand Kate for again ignoring his demands that she not climb up the slide and go around like she’s ‘supposed to.’ He finally gives up trying to find me, trying to control Kate, and stomps away.

Why was any of that needed? The need to control? The anger that came because he wasn’t listened to?

I’m going to leave this park whole and happy and full of joy, and he won’t.

I think it’s this idea, to live my life as a more flexible person, that’s making me a better parent. I’m not perfect (see the above list that could and often does require chocolate), but I’m trying. I’m learning. It’s something Kate actually taught me. I could either listen to her cues, her moods, or I could fight her. Every. Inch. Of. The. Way. That’s not to say she runs the show or we never do things she doesn’t like, but we usually find a middle ground. If I see how tired she is, and since I know her I also know the tired will turn into massive misbehaving, I’ll change the plans. We’ll go to a park instead of errand shopping.

I mean, let’s face it, we want our kids to be happy. Often times happy means reading our kids and their moods, assessing the situation, and then setting up a new situation that leads to happiness. (On the flipside though, if you wait for a ‘perfect’ situation, you may never get out of the house.)

But truly, nothing warms my heart more than my kids and their giant, whole-face smile. You know the kind. That smile. The all joy, all love, all happy smile. I naturally want to change and adjust circumstances and life to make that smile a bit easier to shine out.

And, no surprise, this same idea holds true for me and my writing.

Having rigid, difficult-to-meet goals, means stress. Telling myself to write, every day, at this point in my life will lead to massive failure. And unhappiness. And stress. Telling myself to write even one short story a month will do that as well.

Stress because I won’t/can’t hit the goals. That I’ll fail. That by choosing not to write at my special allocated, carved-out time means I’m not serious about being a professional writer.

It’s a real slippery slope. The more stress I feel, the more negativity I put on my writing, the more I’m ensuring I will fail.

But if I change that mindset, just shift it, even a little bit….

I can find success. Even if it’s small.

Just the other day, while crazy-tired and looking at my writing time, I knew I couldn’t write for an hour. Instead of giving up, tossing in the towel for that day, I stopped and asked myself, “Can you write for 15 minutes?”

The answer was yes.

I could do that.

And, I did.

By getting in that writing, that very small snippet which didn’t even reach 200 words, made all the difference. Instead of being cranky all day, I was recharged and happier. I was a wholer person (though still tired), and a better mother. I allowed myself to be flexible with what life was throwing me and because I did, I found success.

It was teensy, tiny success, but that’s how I finally finished a story I’d been writing for months. It was only the second one I’d written since Eric was born, but I did it. It was 30 minutes here and there, sometimes with a one or two week break in between sessions. But, I did it. It’s also no longer a short story either, coming in at 12,000 words.

But because I was flexible, mentally flexible, and allowed myself to say, “No today’s not a good day to write,” it took away all the extra stress. It allowed my writing to be my fun, enjoyable time.

It allowed me to finish one story, and like today, to start on another.

As parents, we definitely need to roll with life punches and surprises because our kids throw them at us daily (or, on a really bad day, by the minute – yeah, you know those days). I mean, just the other day I knew I couldn’t even squeeze in my 15 minutes because the kids wouldn’t let me. It was one of those ‘every time you sit down I’m going to cry or whine or need help’ and if I’d tried to write I’d end up frustrated and mad. So, I just said, “Not today.”

And that’s okay too.

If you stay rigid against all those surprises kids like to hand out, it’s just going to wear you down. It’s going to make you unhappy and frustrated and angry, and once you’re down that road it’s hard to pick yourself up and do an about-face (trust me, I’m very much speaking from experience here).

But you know, it’s also okay to have those days too.

No one’s perfect, especially us parents.

We need to forgive ourselves for the short-tempers or when our minds are on the never-ending lists and we forgot to take a moment to simply be with our kids. Just like, if I look back at my weekly writing logs and see dozens of blank pages.

It’s, okay.

That’s another part of being flexible. Just accepting and moving forward. Try to do better tomorrow. To do the best that you can in each moment. Little bit by little bit.

Which is actually true too about touching your toes and stretching. You need to practice pushing those muscles to stretch a little bit further, to get a little bit more flexible. The more you practice, the better you get. And the better you get, the happier you’ll find yourself.

And everyone likes a happier parent.

Especially our kids.

The Keyboard Battle

This morning Kate and I battled.

Not kidding.

It was literally a tug-of-war over the keyboard. Okay, maybe not literally, but pretty damn close.

It was a battle over my attention.

I sat down to get in my thirty minutes of writing. Thirty minutes. That’s right, you heard correctly. I asked to be left alone for thirty minutes.

To which Kate said, “Oh, Hell No.”

The battle then began. Every five minutes, she was there. Pulling at my hands. Bringing me her empty water cup (never mind there was another cup with plenty of water on the counter). Oh, and my favorite… tossing her special Lady pillow, her blanket, and her Bunny on my chair, behind me, so she could climb and cuddle right there.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to write.

Every time I said, “no,” (or, shit, said anything), she’d go into meltdown mode.

Which made me angry.

I mean, this is my time, my thirty minutes of mommy-self-care. Not to mention I’m dealing with this kid for 24 hours. Caring for her, comforting her even when she wakes me up an hour after I finally fell asleep because she was thirsty, and she now can’t leave me alone for thirty minutes??


I get it, okay?

I get that this moment, she wants Mommy. But you know, Mommy wants Mommy too and this is the only time during the day I’ll get it. (After the kids’ bedtime doesn’t count since I’m falling over from exhaustion and that is just not the time for me to write.)

(And so you know, this bit doesn’t have to be about me, the mommy. If you’re the primary caregiver and you’re the dad trying to find some much-needed, daddy-care-time, feel free to switch the word to ‘daddy.’)

Now, Kate’s still young.

She’s turning three next week (which is crazy and scary and awesome all-in-itself), and I know this is part of the learning process. In fact, it’s going to be a looong learning process because she is so young. But I want to help guide her and teach her this. Because it’s important. For me.

Mommy is still Mommy, but Mommy is also a writer. And when Mommy is writing, Mommy should be left alone… unless hurt or bleeding or something else equally dire. Actually, I picked up that tidbit from a Nora Roberts talk I heard years ago at a Romance Writers of America Conference, and instantly added it to my own ideas of being a parent-writer and how the heck to make it work. (Now, I could be an awesome journalistic and do a bit of Google searching to find out which conference, but seriously, I’m a mom and I’m typing this out as fast as I can cause Eric’s making his grumbling, fussy noises that he needs to be picked up… very, very soon.)

But I liked the goal, liked the idea behind what Nora Roberts was talking about.

When it’s time to write, it’s my time.

It’s My Keyboard.

Not Kate’s. Not Eric’s.


Especially when I’ve already taken the time to get her morning snacks and water and movie ready. And yes there are many out there, parents and professionals alike, who are fearful of screen time. But seriously, movies are great at keeping young kids occupied so I can sneak in these minutes of writing and self-care. So I can take this time for myself.

My thirty minutes.

Thirty minutes that became 316 new words in my story. And you know, that was an incredibly hard fought 316 words. Actually, when I look back at my usual progress (you know, before I had kids) that low number is actually frustrating. I used to manage twice that amount.

But… I got it in.

I got the writing in when I was tired, when my brain was still fuzzy from needing sleep, and when I simply knew, right from the moment Kate got up, the writing today was going to be a battle.

But… I got my words in.

I even had a few moments when my creative voice took flight and I got a deeper glimpse of the story I was trying so hard to tell.

I got a glimpse of fun and why I was trying and working so hard to write again.

But now my daughter needs her attention, needs a long hug while on my lap.

I’ll give it to her… while doing my best to let go of the lingering anger and frustration from that keyboard battle.

I’m not perfect. I’m certainly not a perfect parent, but I’m trying. So I’ll see if I can pull a page from Kate’s book at how easy it is to forgive, to move on, and still love unconditionally and without pause.


Just thinking about her and her smile. About how she sees the world, even when she doesn’t have words and in many ways, honestly doesn’t need them…. and already it’s made me feel better.

Kids are something else.

Even if we battle from time-to-time. And I think that’s okay too.

Now, though, I’m gonna go give some hugs, sit on the floor, and play. Get in a little mother-daughter time before Eric wakes up and just enjoy what this is all really about… seeing her smile, seeing that bright, light shinning through her when I sit down to play.

Because that too, is part of my own self-care.

Everyone’s Got an Opinion: Schedules Part 2

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:

Write fiction.

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 Kate.

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.)

It’s All About the Schedules: Part 1

I’m writing a series of blog posts about schedules, how to set one, and how the heck you make one work with kids (especially the super young variety). Actually, it didn’t take me long to realize this topic wasn’t going to fit in one post – mostly as I started trying out one schedule, then another, and another… not to mention when my kids decided to change the game out from under me.

So. Here’s to a series of posts about figuring out schedules, writing, and finding some measure of success when you’ve got zero control over the schedule (and demands) of your kids.


So, I want to write again. Like, seriously. The urge is there. It’s got me hard and now all I need is figure out… how.



That one word is the big million-dollar question for all us parent-writers out there, especially those with the super-tiny humans that consider schedules downright laughable. In fact, my little Eric would flat-out baby-giggle if I tried to put him on a sleep schedule. And a feeding schedule? Laugh in my face.

Actually, he’d cry and wouldn’t stop until his needs were filled, but you get the point. He’s his own person and with very real, very exact demands. It’s my job to follow them and damn whatever artificial schedule I impose on him.

Kids like their routine.

Their routine.

Not mine. Mine is completely bendable and flexible to their whim, at least for the next several years.

And truthfully, that’s the way it should be.

I mean, I signed on for this role when I decided to be a mom. I’m cool with that (on most days, if I’m being honest here).

But, I still have my own needs and dreams, and if I feel the writing urge again, it’s my subconscious telling me that we can make this happen – so long as I play by the rules and times and allowances my kids set. (All of this is kind of funny since I’m actually writing this post with one hand, rocking a baby with the other, and somehow not getting hit by falling shoes as Kate plays in the climbing structure above us.)

I’m fighting off the last bits of an annoying cold and I haven’t slept in what feels like days. Kate’s also finishing off this cold, since I only get sick when one of the kids are sick – I think that’s the golden rule of moms everywhere.

And yet, there’s that writing urge, telling me it’s time to keep moving forward.

To keep telling stories.

In fact, I’ve got this short story I started last week, a whole 500 words (woohoo!) and I’m pretty psyched about it.

But, now here’s the tricky part, how am I going to get into the swing of things again?

Since I’m me, I thought a checklist was in order. Checklists help me see all the simple details right and clear, and these days, right and clear is the only way my brain can process things (more sleeep please).

So, first step to getting back to writing: the desire.

Clearly, I want to write again. No problems there. Check that one off the list.

Second step: Sleep/energy.

Okay, well, that one’s a bit tougher, but hey, if I’ve got the urge so I’m gonna say I’ve got the energy. The subconscious, creative voice is pretty awesome and telling me when I’ve got the extra juice to tell stories, so I’ll follow my gut on this one. (Note: I completely accept this step will vary by day, by hour, by minute even… but I’ve got to start somewhere, right??)

Third step: A schedule.

Okay. This is where I keep getting hung up, so I’ll take this step-by-step.

First, I needed to know a bit about myself as a writer (and you can fill in this part about yourself). I know I’m a morning person. I write better in the mornings because I have energy, and if I have energy, I can be creative.

No energy = no creative juice.

I also know I do better when I’ve got a schedule. Whether this schedule goes by time (8:30 a.m. my butt is in the chair) or event (after a browse of the internet and 2 cups of coffee). So long as I’ve got a schedule I have an easier time of being accountable, being consistent, and getting back into the swing of the writing.

And yet, here’s the problem….

Two. Young. Kids.

With their own schedule. Each.

Chances are, they’re on different schedules (because they simply cannot both sleep well the same night, right? That’s another rule of parenting, I’ve discovered). And their schedules? Yeah. Every day it’s different.

I accept that. I’m not going to fight their nature as little kids, and hopefully that’s gonna help my mood and attitude (read: not be angry when things need a changing up as they inevitably will).

So the first thing I need as a parent-writer is flexibility.

And forgiveness, because I know darn well there’s going to be days when I can’t write.

As I said, the last thing I want is to get mad at my kids for interrupting me (can you tell that’s happened before?). Writing might be part of me, but so is being a parent – in a much deeper, core-reaching way that writing can never touch.

Still, I want to respect both, while still being true to both.

So here’s to step one and figuring out this elusive beast called a ‘schedule’….