Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Working, Parenting and Following Your Passion
My kids were home all last week for spring break, which just happened to be the week after I received notes from my agent on my second book and notes from my editor on my first book. With deadlines looming and a stir-crazy eight year old - thanks to lousy weather that kept her inside most of the week – and a thirteen year old begging me to feed him McDonalds and take him to Blockbuster every day, I couldn’t wait for a routine week. I thought many times, how in the world do stay-at-home parents stay home with their kids and still manage to write? Or refrain from running away to Mexico?
Yet, as I was getting ready for work Monday, I realized this whole writing and being a parent thing is hard if you work outside the home, too. I’m very fortunate in my job, so I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining. Far from it. I work three days a week outside of the home, which leaves me two days during the week without anyone except the dog to interrupt me, but that still isn’t enough some weeks. So, how do you work a job, parent your children and write? For that matter, how do you work, parent children and do anything besides working and parenting?
There are lots of great tips out there on how to be organized to make things run smoothly and make your life sparkly-great so there is no need for Calgon-Take-Me-Away days. You won’t read any of those here. Instead, I’m making a list of things you may have never considered.
Samantha's fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants tips for working, parenting and following your passion:
1. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices.
TELEVISION: I gave up television for the most part. There are some shows I watch on occasion with my daughter, but otherwise I don’t care. I don’t miss TV, but there are times I stare dumbly at people when they’re discussing the latest shows.
SLEEP: I’ve also given up adequate sleep, but sleep is overrated, as is the ability to concentrate and not bump into things. (Come to think of it, maybe the dumb stares can be traced back to sleep deprivation rather than shunning the latest television shows.) But really, who needs to remember their children’s ages when strangers ask? They are just being polite. You could say 102! What do they care?
2. Lowering your standards isn’t all bad.
HOUSE CLEANING: Hey! My kids are wicked healthy thanks to adequate exposure to germs. I mean, it’s not like I feed them dirt, but a little messiness isn’t going to make them sick. In fact, my son wishes he could be sick and stay home from school almost every day, but he rarely is.
DINNER: Meals don’t have to be a complicated affair. There is nothing wrong with serving raw vegetables, fruit and buttered bread with a main course. And sometimes pizza delivery is a lifesaver. Just tip the driver well. Gas prices are outrageous! (Which reminds me of a deal one of the pizza chains offers for a free delivery program where you get your pizza in two days! LOL! I’m hoping that is a typo. I’ll stick to the old method of paying $1.25 to get my pizza today, thanks.)
3. Don’t be afraid to play hardball with the school nurse or your kid.
MALINGERING: The first two times the school nurse called to suggest I pick up my son from school because he didn’t “feel well” I grilled her on his symptoms. Sorry, but not feeling well is too vague. I wasn’t going to rearrange my entire work day to pick up a child who says he doesn’t feel well and wants to stay home from school every weekday only to have a miraculous recovery on the weekend and a recurrence starting around bedtime on Sunday evening. By the third call, the school nurse was prepared, and presented a good case for me to come get him. Now we just need to work on her accepting that twenty minutes is a reasonable time to come pick up my child. We might get there before he moves on to high school.
INDEPENDENCE: Making your kids help clean the house or make their own sandwich doesn’t violate any child labor laws. I checked. (Just kidding.) But it is okay for them to contribute to the well being of their family and to learn to take care of themselves. It doesn’t make you a bad parent if you don’t cater to them all the time. Because even if you treat them as royalty, it doesn’t mean anyone else will. And that’s just setting the kid up for disappointment and a disgruntled spouse.
4. Keep a sense of humor. When you’ve heard your child yell “Mom” so many times in a day that you answer your cat’s meow, you have to laugh. Just don’t tell anyone why you’re laughing.
5. Count your blessings. I have many in my life, but two of my greatest blessings are sleeping snugly in their beds as I write this blog, secure in the knowledge they are loved. No matter how tough the job, I would never give up being a parent.
If you’re a parent, what do you find the most challenging about parenting? What do you find most joyful about having children?