Many parents, especially new parents, do a lot of research. I know Stacey and I have each done our fair share of that with Jax. She spends a lot of time researching ways to make him healthy premade meals among other things. Since Jax is getting older, he is moving away from puréed food, baby food and is starting to eat “normal food” I guess you could call it. He is also at that stage where he is putting himself to bed and sleeps through the night 95% of the time now. Which is completely awesome!
My research has been centered on time management. You may be asking yourself why. Well, last winter semester was a tough transition with Stacey and me both in college and working. Now, add my writing into that and it made for a very busy schedule. I tried doing homework and writing while I was home alone with Jax and it did not work out very well. At that point, he was still not sleeping through the night usually. Last winter semester was probably my worst ever in the 4 ½ years since I had been at GVSU. I won’t say how bad but it was appalling.
I need to have a certain amount of focus and concentration when I am doing my homework and even more so my writing and that won’t change. For me, those require two very different modes of concentration, two different trains of thought. Now that Jax is older and more mobile, he doesn’t sit so idly by while dad is trying to do work (if he ever really did). I cannot blame him.
He wants to play and wants attention and that is where it’s gotten hard for me over the last few months at least. I didn’t want and don’t want to be one of those dads who are so focused on school and my fledgling writing career that I ignore my own son. I don’t want his first memories to be of me with my face buried in books or hidden behind a computer screen.
College this fall semester played out a little differently than what I had planned and there is still the writing. How do I make time for it? Where do I make time? How do I fit it all in along with the needs of my family? How do I not fail at everything in an amazing and spectacular fashion? A few months back while researching I found a blog written by another author who is also a parent to two small kids, twins in fact who were like 2 or 3. His advice on time management for writing was,
“Find the path of least resistance in a 24 hour period.”
For me now that is at night. I work better at night anyway and always have. With Jax on his schedule and Stacey usually asleep, the hours from 12:30 am to 3:30 or 4 am are the only time that I have just for me. It is the only time I can truly concentrate without interruptions on MY work. Do I feel bad about that? Yes sometimes. But I also realize it’s the only time I really have unless I just give up. Those hours are MY path of least resistance where I have to cram in as much writing related work that I can (school work also if I have that) into a short time frame. I only have 4 nights a week where I can do it. This leaves me with only 14 stable hours a week to write and build my business, my life, and career.
The interesting thing is most authors spend at least twice that amount of time on their writing and writing-related work if not more during a week. I would kill for 30 hours a week for my writing but 14 hours is all I have for sure. I have to take what I can get. Sometimes I might get another 2-3 hours during the week If the writing gods are feeling generous.
During the days when I am not at work and I’m home with Jax while Stacey is at work that is HIS time. That is OUR time. That is HIS time to spend with his dad and MY time to spend with my son. Even if I am sitting on the couch and he is in his play area with Frozen or a Preschool Prep video going we still talk, interact and growl at each other when we are not walking around and playing. I don’t just ignore him. I could be selfish and find a sitter or call a relative to virtually raise my kid for me while I work, but I hate it when parents do that.
In the evening when Stacey is home is OUR time together with Jax. After he goes to bed that is our time to eat dinner, cuddle, and watch a movie, Chopped or MasterChef together since we are into those shows right now. For as much writing and writing-related work that I have to do I need and want family time. Uninterrupted family time. Which was another bit of advice that I gleaned from another writers blog which said something along the lines of,
“Family time is family time. Writing time is writing time. Each deserves its own uninterrupted space without one interfering with the other.”
I am doing my best following this advice because it’s the most sensible advice I could find for someone in my situation. When other guys are out at the bars, hanging out at coffee shops with friends or playing video games at that point in the night I am in the garage writing or sitting at the kitchen table doing homework with abundant coffee. Why? Because that is where I would rather be and I think, that is where I need to be if I want to succeed at this and improve our lives. My social life (if you can call it that) can wait until I sell a few books I guess. This is a business and I have to put as much focus on that business as I can; even if it’s only 14 hours a week. I can get by with 4-5 hours of sleep.
So please allow me my 14 hours without judging or making me feel bad. It is all the time that I have to work on the only thing that makes me happy professionally. It’s all the time I am allowed as a dad.
So my fellow writers who have little ones running about. How do you handle or manage your time?