~ By Patricia W. Fischer
4355. 4. 7. 6.
Those are just a few numbers in my day.
The first are the amount of steps I’ve managed to take by the time I’m sitting down to write this article (yeah, I’m trying to do that 10K steps/day thing).
The second are how many kids I have.
The third are the amount of children in my house right now and the last number is the average amount of sleep I get a night.
The last one needs to up and the third will decrease back to four within the hour.
I accept the daily challenge of parenting in fact, I welcomed it with open arms. In my pre-parenting years, I worked as a waitress, bartender, and then a pediatric/adult trauma nurse. I know chaos well, but in the ten years since I became a mother, I’ve also forgotten what it’s like to go to the bathroom by myself, the beauty of wearing something besides yoga pants, and singing a song that doesn’t have ducks, ponies, or wheels on the bus in the lyrics.
Are there days I want to pull my hair out and drop f-bombs over everyday things?
Absol-fing-lutely, but it’s all part of the parenting juggle.
Now add in that I’m a full-time writer and most look at me like I’ve lost my mind, but honestly, it’s a part of me I can’t ignore and put on the back burner.
If you’re like me, you know what I mean. It’s part of who you are, no matter if you’ve had nine hours of sleep or three. Whether the laundry is done or not.
That story simmers and bubbles under the surface and you must tell it or you’ll go mad (although some of the best people are completely bonkers) so how do you juggle it all?
Here are my seven tips to keep your family at least taken care of and your storytelling skills going.
(1) Accept that you’re not super human. It’s okay that your entire house isn’t clean at the same time and you haven’t cured world hunger. If the house doesn’t look like the aftermath of a frat party, your kids have been fed three meals today, and they have on clean underwear, it’s a good place to be.
(2) Don’t make meals complicated. Sandwiches are a perfectly decent dinner. Add a side of fruit or some carrot sticks with ranch dressing, it’s all good. Meals don’t have to be something major. Try to cover the four food groups as best you can and move on. I’ve served pancakes and cereal for dinner more times than I can count. It’s fine. My kids still love me and my husband thinks I’m fantastic.
(3) Keep it simple. Put tubs of Lysol wipes in easy to find places, in every bathroom, and under kitchen sinks. Every morning I wipe down the bathroom counters, the dining room table, and the kitchen counters with the wipes—it takes ten minutes max. They are quick and easy to use and store under most sinks. I give them to my kids to quickly clean their bathrooms and they love that their rooms are clean enough not to gross out their friends. This tip is about making life as easy as possible. We used to have a problem with dog hair, and I found myself always needing to hoover. This didn’t make life easy. I then read this great dog blog and decided to invest in an air purifier to clean up some of the dog hair. It made a big difference and certainly made my life easier.
(4) Make cleaning a game. I have kids ages 3-10. When it comes to certain chores, I give them the opportunity to win something. In the case of vacuuming, it’s a dollar. Each kid gets five minutes to vacuum downstairs and the person who fills the bin with the most dust and dog hair, wins. I set the timer so each kid has the same amount of time and it keeps me in check. Word of advice here: You shouldn’t be the only one cleaning your home, unless you’re the only one who lives there.
(5) Figure out what you can and can’t do with family home. Being a writer is also about PR, blogging, and writing the next book. I’ve figured out the only thing I really can’t do with a house full of active kids is the deep POV and serious editing. I can check all my social media sites, write up blog posts, and create a crappy first draft while I hear, “He won’t get out of my room!” time and time again, but when it’s time for editing, I need concentration. That’s what I save my alone times for. No social media, no email checks, no housework. That’s MY time and I use it to the best of my ability. Grab the moments when you can and use them to your strengths.
(6) Don’t underestimate the small increments in your day for productivity. Waiting for kids to get out of school and you’re sitting there for fifteen minutes? Take a notepad and write. Sitting in line at the bank behind a woman who’s making a large deposit in nickels? Write down some ideas and sketch an outline. Waiting at the doctor’s? Write down some dialogue that’s been sitting in your head. It all adds up.
(7) Make sure your spouse/partner knows you care about them. I’m not talking about wild sex every night, but sending a quick text, placing a kind note in their coat pocket, or giving them a big hug when they (or you) come home, can go a long way. The adult on the other side of this equation can start to feel left out with all we have to do in day. Make sure you carve out a few moments a day to let them know you see and appreciate them.
During my journey to be a full-time storyteller, I made several stops along the way to be a waitress, bartender, bill-collector, bank teller, clerk at Blockbuster Video, dishwasher, prep-cook, a wanna be crypto-zoologist, and finally settling in as a pediatric and adult trauma/critical care nurse for 10 years before starting my career as a writer.
Now, I spend my time in front of a keyboard, coming up with (hopefully) fantastic and entertaining stories to pay for my buying too many books habit and the endless cups of coffee I drink on a daily basis.