Blogs by Pamela C Labud
7/18/2005 3:23:15 AM
Things you can do to avoid you least favorite chores, or how to balance a busy life and a writing career.
Well, for me the work week is over and I'm finally at home for the next three days with nothing on my calender except for cleaning the house, doing laundry, and getting the kids ready for the upcoming school year.
Wait, did I say I have nothing to do? I must be crazy.
For the moment though, I'm hiding in my office at 6:30 in the morning and trying not to look at the house around me. My kids are sleeping and my husband's at work, so at least for a few moments the world is mine.
Working a full time job and raising children, as a lot of you can testify, leaves little 'me' time. You know, long hot bubble baths are out because of the traffic that increases in and out of the bathroom making it look more like Grand Central Station than place of privacy. Even the dogs gather at my door like it's a movie and they have front row seating. Sheesh.
At least when said children are in school I do have a few hours of peace. Of course, that's when all of my external family members call to say 'You're not doing anything but writing, could you..."
I tried writing full time for six months. I stayed at home, home schooled my children, and cut back on spending so we could afford it.
The truth is I worked harder than ever before, mostly because I couldn't work in a 'messy house.' Also, since I wasn't working I felt guilty about not doing something and I jumped whenever said relative called. Of course, I never considered writing as doing 'something' either. Like my mom said, "It's not like you're working, or anything."
Like I said, I must be crazy. I like working outside the home much better.
Yes, the house is messier, but on the up side, the kids are happier, (because mom's not such a grouch all the time), and we have enough money in the account to splurge for a meal out every now and then rather than sitting home scraping pennies together to let them run after the ice cream truck. Basically, a win-win situation.
Does my writing suffer?
Not a bit. The truth is, because I know I only have limited time, I'm much more focused with my writing goals. I know I have a deadline, that I have obligations, and save for last year during three hurricanes, when I was rushing to get things to my editor, things are good. I have in the last two months completed one major project and have started another, writing no less than fifty pages a week. I'm already 100 pages into my next book. In short, life is good. That means I'll have the first draft of a 400 page book in 8 weeks.
Does my family mind housework avoidance? Mostly, no. As long as there are dishes to eat out of and clothes in the basket, they are extremely happy. I think that they know if the fuss about it, they'll be pitching in and helping.
Of course, my kids and husband have chores, but most of the time it's more work for me. Still, I have a standard to uphold. Everybody pitches in.
My advice to fellow writers? Simple, prioritize what you need to do. Definetly feeding and cleaning children and animals are at the top. Especially younger children. (though I've tried to teach them, the dogs can't seem to get the hang of cooking in the microwave, either.)
Oh. And if your child is fifteen, mom doesn't need to pick up their socks.
Then come dishes and laundry. Regardless of what your mother may have told you, let dusting and floor care and major cleaning go to one day a week. The house will survive until the next week. It may not be pretty, but hey, if it offends your family members, then they can clean it up.
Also, I'm a poor hostess. Absolutely no one is allowed in my house that doesn't understand above policy and even those that do are expected to give ample advance warning their arrival. Company policy.
Newsflash!!! Husband and children can pitch in and help with chores. They may not like it and may express their opinions very vocally, but tough cookies. We're all in this together, folks.
Lastly, my family reaps the benefits of my work. It's true! Any books I publish will have their names somewhere in them and they will be thrilled to see it and show it to their friends. Also, a portion of any money I get on said book we get to use for them. For my first big, (not that big, but you know, more than, say the price of an ice cream cone,) advance managed to do repairs on my husband's truck and secure a game boy advance. I'm hoping the next advance will help pay for a nice little get away for family. We earned it!
In other words, don't be afraid to reward yourself. Maybe even hire someone to come in and help with the housework. It'll be worth it. Like McDonalds used to say, "you deserve a break today." You'll be happier for it.
That's it for now. I'm on my way to cook breakfast and do a couple of things before working on my word count. Oh, and I also do quite a bit of story building while I'm cleaning or driving. I've gotten some of my best ideas shuttling the kids to and from school. Go figure. Manual, mindless tasks, do free up the psyche. Don't worry about those messy cabinets, open up your thoughts to how your hero is going to seduce your herione, or vice versa. You get the picture.
Happy reading and writing! Pam.
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More Blogs by Pamela C Labud
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