August Days: Lazy Yet Anticipatory

This time next week, my daughter will be back in school. The last lazy days of summer are winding their way past us.

Gone will be the days of sleeping in, reading for hours, spending afternoons in the park, and taking long evening walks as the sun lingers in the sky. Play dates, vacations, and excursions to interesting places and events will be replaced by early bedtime, homework, and normal extracurricular activities.

Also gone will be the days where writing time is scarce and schedules are a fantasy. As much as I cherish my summer days with my gal, I will be relieved to have my structure back. I work best with a routine, and that is brought home to me every summer vacation.

I have several projects I am dying to dive into, but I need some concentrated time to do the necessary revisions. I also have some non-writing projects that I have let slide over the summer that I want to re-energize.

The end of summer is always bittersweet. A time of enjoying the easy pace of summer and time with my girl, but also a time if looking forward to a return to productivity and focus.

Do you look forward to the end of summer?

My Writing Season Has Begun

DSCN3173My daughter went back to school last week—full day for the first time ever. I did exactly what I had planned to do her first two days back—whatever I wanted! I napped, I read, I just relaxed.

Now, however, it’s time to get some work done.

I’d like to set some sort of schedule for the school day, a schedule that incorporates exercise, work, and what I call personal projects. Personal projects are things like photo albums or listening to music or doing genealogy—things that are necessary, that build up over time, and slowly become overwhelming if not attended to.

I have often lamented the inherent imbalance in my life since my child was born. I would either spend all my free time writing, thus getting behind on my personal projects, or divert to some of the personal projects, which then allowed my writing to languish. So I am hoping, with 6+ hours of child-free time 5 days a week, I can now find some sort of schedule where I can move both sets of projects forward at the same time, and thereby not feel the pressure of having so much undone work staring at me.

So one of my goals this week is to sketch out a weekly schedule and see how that works. I know things will come up that derail it from time to time, but I am a person of routine. I like my routines. I think that’s one reason this past summer was so wearing on my nerves—I had no routine for my work.

I purposely left my schedule as loose as possible because I wanted my daughter to have a “free” summer. We had karate and swimming, but the rest of the time was unstructured play or trips to various play places or to the park or play dates. It was great for her, not so great for me!

Now school is here and we are all routinized again. I look forward to my writing season and can’t wait to see where it takes me!

Do you have a writing season, or is your routine the same all year round?

Life Transitions

The one thing about life is that things are always changing. Even if you never change your routine, you are still aging every day and eventually that will change the way you live. Change means transitioning from one life stage to another—maybe it’s just a small change, maybe it’s a large one.

Most of us find transitions hard. It would be great if every transition in life could be completed as seamlessly as paragraph transitions in a well-written book. Unlike paragraph transitions, however, we don’t have the luxury of going back and revising it until we get it right. We just have to muddle through as best we can, often with a great deal of angst and worry. Face it, life is always a rough first draft.

Anyone who has children will tell you that the only constant is change—especially the early years. As soon as you’ve gotten used to one routine—eating, sleeping, playing—the kid changes the rules. I am experiencing that right now.

When Toddler started school in November, I suddenly had 6 extra hours on my hands. A wonderful boon! AND she still napped in the afternoon, so I was assured of approximately 2 more hours a day to work. Altogether, it added up to about 20 hours a week—not bad.

Until two weeks ago, when my daughter decided naps were no longer needed.

There went about 14 hours of guaranteed work time—poof!

So we’ve been transitioning, she and I, as to how I can still get work done while she’s awake. We’re trying the “quiet time” route, where I still put her down for a nap, but tell her if she can’t sleep she needs to play upstairs for a certain amount of time. This is only half-working.

She stays up there for a while, but not as long as I want her to. I am going to try a visual timer so she can actually see the red disappearing. Then maybe it won’t seem so long to her. But, I have been letting her come down with the understanding that Mommy is working and she will have to play by herself.

That first week saw lots of conflict—her wanting to involve me in everything, me telling her I couldn’t. Watching her hurt face when I said it, and it nearly breaking my heart. Not to mention I was exhausted. I admit right now that I would often catch a nap while she napped. I’m a night owl, I work best in the evenings, and I would always push a little later than I should because I knew I could get a nap in during the day. Now that I couldn’t, I was snappish from lack of sleep.

This second week has been better. Toddler has been much more content to play on her own for a while, either upstairs or down. She seems to be grasping the idea that Mommy will play with her LATER (delayed gratification is hard for Toddlers!). That it’s not a forever exile. And I am making sure that when I do play with her, I give her my total focus, since she deserves me to be completely THERE when I am with her. I’m also trying to get to bed earlier, so I’m not so tired.

So, we are working it out, we two. Stumbling, bumbling, clashing, but managing. This transition has been anything but smooth, but I know someday it will settle into a new normal.

And just as soon as we get used to that, our normal will change again!

How do you deal with the disruptions in your life? Especially where kids are concerned?

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