Sunday, June 14, 2009

SRS: A Smackdown Host's Call for Guidance (in other words HELP)

All right, all! I know I'm not the only one.

It's looming. Big time.

No, not the end of the Summer Revision Smackdown.

The end of the SCHOOL YEAR!

How will you handle it?

Will you cut back on work? Push ahead, just as usual? Schedule many summer camps? Give up? Keep the TV on...the kids in a daze?

I sort of feel like I have only one option, to start working from home--with distractions. This is a task that I find immensely challenging, even when I don't have the interruptions of..."Mommy!" and the shrill scream of two sisters going at it. Oh, yah! And they require food.

I turn to you, smackdown friends, any advice about how to make this work? My smackdown goals are important to me. Personally, I don't do well in the wee hours of the morning (before they're up) or the late night hours (long after they are asleep). So what do I do?

And, how about suggestions on how to make the home office more appealing. The key word is "home" since it's not only mine to use. Perhaps I should cover the walls with a licorice reminder that the whip needs crackin'!

Any and all ideas welcome (okay, more like desperately needed). Or if you would just like to commiserate, I'm here for ya (with ya).


Molly Hall said...

Oh man, do I get it. I have two little ones and and am always trying to find ways to juggle, rearrange and balance things out. I find sometimes I wake up in the morning thinking... my writing time is 11 hours away...

This is not always helpful.

One thing my husband and I did (we started it during NaNoWriMo) is put my writing time on the family calendar. This is usually evenings and weekends so, I'm guessing is not the kind of idea you're looking for. But! The amazing thing is, during the month of November, we found 78 hours for me to write. 78 hours! So, it's possible.

One thing that works with my story-loving five year old is to say, "Let's having writing time!" It isn't perfectly distraction-free. But, while the little one is sleeping, she will sit with me and draw a story (or10) or "type" on her toy cash register, or fill out a "book" that is blank paper stapled together. With enough art supplies thrown in front of her, I can get a good solid hour.

And - if I really need it - I have no problem with sticking in a Backyardigans video for a while. Hey, they're happy!

I look forward to hearing other people's ideas!

Good luck!

Martha Brockenbrough said...

It's really hard. We're not doing much in the way of summer camp this year. I do like the early-morning working hours, but I have enough deadlines that I have to work when my kids are awake, too.

I consider unsupervised time--with limits, of course--one of the treasures of childhood. Our kids don't get enough of this, and it comes at a huge price. If kids don't have to figure stuff out for themselves, they never learn these skills, and they look to other people for permission and instructions. I think this is especially bad for girls, who often aim to please. When I was a high school teacher, I was discouraged by the number of very bright students I had who couldn't function without assignments.

So, my plan is to have some structured time with my kids where we'll read, play games, practice math and music, and hang out at the beach. Then there will be unstructured time where I do my work and they are expected to figure out theirs--whether it's art, writing stories, reading, blowing bubbles, digging in the garden. Afterward, we all report on our highlights and lowlights of our efforts.

My kids do squawk at each other from time to time, but they also are excited that I am "typing," as they put it. And they produce quite a bit of creative work on their own/water the flowers/take pictures...

They'll be fine. Better than fine. They'll get the gift of self-reliance, which is HUGE.

holly cupala said...

I'm with you, writer-mommies! My lovely (but sadly quite temporal) solution is to employ my family...until they have to go back to their home two states away.

Molly, my four year-old sat down just the other day with a stack of paper and drew O after O and said, "Look, Mama, I'm writing a book like you!" And I'm so glad you joined us for the Smackdown!

Martha, excellent advice about structured versus unstructured time. The trick is to be conscious about it. I say, let's have some structured shopping time. ;)

Cuppa Jolie said...

Molly - How great that your husband is so very supportive! And the accumulation of hours is very impressive.

Your totally right, Martha! And I do feel fortunate that the girls are an age that they do great with unsupervised time. I'm also really lucky that my set-up will allow me to even keep an eye on them if they are doing something outside. But, I'll definitely be adjusting to getting the work done at home. I've been spoiled with my coffee spots serving as my office!

Holly - Too sweet about your little writer. You'll be collecting book after book soon!

Kim Baker said...

It's a little counterintuitive, but as the kids start sleeping in, I'm going wake up a couple of hours early to get some work done in the wee hours.

I like Martha's encouragement for unsupervised time, too.

I think I'm going to have to buy a coffee maker just for the shed.

Erika Parker Price said...

I have a ton of revisions to get done so I hired a babysitter for one day a week. It makes me super-productive knowing its the only day of the week I have to get large chunks of work done.

I love the idea of calendaring the time too - we have to priotize it to make it work.

Next week, my family is going to be at Fish Lake. My husband is training every morning for the STP bike ride, so I found a local church camp for my kids to attend. Three hours every morning - then we can all play together in the afternoon!