On Radio Silence, Balance, and Parenting

It’s been nearly a week since I’ve posted on the Here I Go. And the reasons behind it get to the very reason I am writing this blog in the first place – to talk out loud my fumbling attempts at learning how to be a professional writer.

My kidlets are on their Spring Break. A week and a half of no school, which roughly translates into as much time with no writing getting done. So far, we’ve gone to 1 museum, 3 playgrounds, and the public library, and spent some time riding bikes, blowing bubbles, and hitting a whiffle ball around. Good stuff.

Important stuff.

But what about writing?

I know of other writers or Work At Home Parents (I hate the acronym WAHP, it’s awkward and doesn’t spell anything. I firmly believe any acronym worth its salt needs to spell something cool.) who are able to keep up a steady flow of work with their kids in the house or home from school. They have a home office or some such that is off limits, and the kids know and respect that.

I trust that when my kidlets are teens, that’ll work somewhat well. But for now, when they are both in the single digits age-wise, it flat out doesn’t. So, I can’t just sit at my desk writing while they tear up the carpeting, climb the walls, and jockey for dominance of the iPad. I manage zero ability o concentrate, and no words hit the page.

Case in point – this the third day I’ve sat down to write this blog post.  First time I tried, kidlet2 came running into my office every 5 minutes with some Lego creation she’d made or doll she’d dressed up in the wrong clothes, excited to show me.  You don’t put up a wall to that stuff.  Not when you’re the only adult in the house.

Besides, even if I could manage productivity in that environment, what kind of Spring Break is that giving them? After a winter cooped up in the house, on the first few days of actual warmth and shining sun, am I going to make them sit inside going even more stir crazy as I tinker at a short story I have no assurance will sell?

This is where I need to strike balance. I need to be able spend time being an engaged and nurturing parent, while also treating my job as just that – a job and not a hobby.

Now, you may be wondering – what about your wife, the sugar-mama? She’s doing her part too, but just because the kids’ school is on break doesn’t mean that the university she works at is on break too, or even if it were, that she doesn’t have deadlines to meet and tasks to accomplish as well.

So what is the magic formula for prioritization? Seriously, I’m asking. I’m freaking out over lost productivity from a week and a half, but I’m staring down the barrell of a two and a half month summer vacation, and as things currently stand, I see next to no writing getting done then either.

I know there are other options, play-dates and babysitters and the like. And sure, those work for 1 day at a time mini-solutions. But for now, the only solution I really see is making the best of the situation at hand until the kidlets are old enough to do the job of taking care of themselves – going to friend’s houses unsupervised, weekend jobs and the like. Maybe at that point, I’ll be able to work solidly through the breaks.

For now, I’m enjoying wearing the Dad Hat full time for a few days, and leaving the Writer Hat on its peg. Just for a few days though.

Here I Go,
Matt

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About Matthew Shean

Matthew Shean is the author of several forthcoming novels and myriad short stories. He received his Ph.D. from the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences in New York, NY, and spent 20 years as a research scientist throughout the northeastern United States. He now lives in Long Island (against his will), with his loving family and disdainful cats.
This entry was posted in Blog Musings, Work-Life Balance and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to On Radio Silence, Balance, and Parenting

  1. This isn’t going to be a great answer for you, but I am aware of at least one WAHP who did in fact keep the office off-limits with single-digit age children. He accomplished this by having a nanny. Every day.

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