Saturday, July 7, 2012

Summer Writing and Family Fun: Finding a Balance

I know I'm not the only writer out there who is now battling the opposing demands and siren songs of both their writing career and their family time this season. Also pulling me away from the computer is a never-ending list of summertime activities that you just can't put off because, well, it's summer.

Here are my biggest challenges and time-sucks right now:

  • LONG days...literally. With the sun coming up at an ungodly hour and not needing headlights until around 10 pm, the days just linger on, demanding that we fill them with activities well before and after usual quiet times.
  • Kids home from school. With them around all day long, I certainly can't get into an uninterrupted headspace. Plus there are also other people's kids hanging around all day and evening now. 
  • Summer camps. Basketball camp, tennis camp, volleyball camp, summer swim club for the oldest and lessons for the youngest. Dance classes. Library events. I swear I'm driving them around more now than during the school year.
  • The Great Outdoors and other summery stuff. A yard that needs cared for. Ditto with the garden. Doing BBQs and going to friends'--invitations seem to come out of the woodwork in the summer. Going to the park for the day. The coast beckons, as do the mountains. So much to do...and such a short season to do it in.
  • Annual trip to the Midwest. This is a minimum of 3 weeks, what with the distance being 1700 miles one way. Lots of driving days, visiting with people and tired, excited kids to wrangle.
 It's taken a concerted effort to make any progress on anything I need to get done. Here are a few things that I've found to have made it all seem a bit easier:

  • My Google calendar. I can add to and edit it from anywhere since it's a widget on my phone every time I turn it on, it's on my computer and I can share it with hub. I literally schedule everything on it, from kids' activities to exercise time to editing for the day job to writing time. It's a great visual and helps me mentally prepare for especially concurrent or consecutive activities. Plus the reminders chiming at me (particularly for exercise and editing) help motivate me to actual get them done!
  • Help from hub. From fixing dinner, to arranging rides to things, to just letting him take the kids and do summery things while I get some work done, relying on his offers to do things (and then backing away and not micromanaging!) has freed up a lot of time. 
  • Letting household things go. So the house doesn't get vacuumed this week. Or the bookshelves are dusty. If it's not an immediate need, I've been trying to prioritize. I'd rather watch the neighborhood kids and mine put on a puppet show than file paid bills. The papers will still be there when I can get to it, but the kids grow up fast.
  • Delegating. The oldest one has long been able to feed herself, so now at times I have her feed her sister. She also mowed the lawn today and was very proud of herself. They both help with the garden. They know what they need for each activity and they're responsible for making sure they gather, wear and pack whatever's appropriate before we go. At the start of summer vacation, I told them they have two jobs this summer--keep things picked up and create their own fun. So far so good!
  • Making computer time count. Less social networking, guest blogs, and keeping up with my feeds. More editing, writing...and editing and writing...and so forth...with minimal "fluff" time.
 So what are your summer challenges? Any helpful hints you've found that work to keep you on task?


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