Tuesday, March 13, 2012

WRITE AT HOME MOM: Surviving Spring Break

USAToday bestselling author and mom to four, Mira Lyn Kelly, has got a plan for writing through break...

I knew it was coming.

Dun-nun, dun-nun…

Felt the lurking threat beneath the surface.

Dun-nun, dun-nun…

The building tension in the air.

I tried to write faster, frantically pulling toward the distant shores of a completed manuscript.

Dun-nun, Dun-nun, Dun-nun, dun-dun!

But here I am, still adrift, miles from sending that email to my editor—the one that actually has my book attached—when I feel that first blood freezing bump against my leg.


I try to keep typing, but there it is again. “Mom?”

It can’t be!! It’s 9:27am on a Friday!! What happened to the bus???

“Mom? I can only find the cap to my perfume--”
“Mom, I said I was going to play Linx Crossbow training, but he--”
“Mom? I’m hungry.”

I look at my keyboard, but there’s no escaping the certain knowledge that my happy little routine of barely good enough is about to meet a gory end.

“Mom, I’m bored.”


Yep, Spring Break has arrived.

Okay, so maybe the Jaws theme-song was a little much.

After all I love having everyone around the house again-- no schedules, academic frustrations, or homework. But it’s also a major disruption to my writing schedule, and with my MS running long and late, that’s not something I can easily ignore. Which means I’m going to need to find a way to be productive during break.

Yeah, yeah, I’m guessing the WAHMs with children who haven’t yet reached school age are all with the eye rolling and obscene hand gestures right about now, thinking “Oooh, big whoop. 10 days.” And a couple of years ago I’d have been right there with you.

But something’s changed in the year and a half since the last of the litter took their first steps onto the bus, and most of my old tricks don’t seem to fit with this new stage. For instance, there’s no built in nap to work around. The kids no longer go to bed early enough for me to write after. And when I mentally check out of some tedious activity for a brief visit WIPlandia…THEY KNOW!!

As frequently happens in parenting… it’s back to the drawing board.

So after much consideration, here’s the best I’ve got on writing through Break…

Working the early shift—5am, here I come. I don’t love getting up this early, but the extra hour or two of precious uninterrupted work-time before the first “I’m hungry” is worth a few late afternoon yawns.

Breaking it down—Okay, I know I said that one of the best things about Break is no schedule…but maybe I need to revisit that. By adding structure to the day, splitting it up to include some work-time after breakfast and then leaving the rest of the day for FULL ON MOMMYING, everyone knows what to expect and when. The kids have a couple of hours to watch a movie, fool around on the computer, build Legos or play video games. Whatever they like. I get a little more time in on the WIP, while still being available for squabble patrol (some things we just can’t get around), to answer questions and offer help for little things. But the kids know if they want me to help with the new Chemistry set…that’s something that has to wait a couple hours.

Notebook at the ready—I keep track of the ideas that come at odd times so when five rolls around, I hit the ground running.

Be flexible—So all of these little productivity plans are great, but the truth is, when dealing with kids, stuff happens. So I remind myself to be flexible. To do the best I can with what I can, and even when things don’t work out, to remember Break is fun. And, come on, this one only lasts 10 days… not like Summer Vacation.

Oh no…


Dun-nun, dun-nun!

Have any helpful tips to share? Drop them into the comments… Here are a couple more I picked up this month...

Dinner done quick: Biscuit Enchiladas – This quick and easy recipe is adapted from Weight Watchers Bubble up Enchiladas, and can easily be made with reduced fat ingredients. 1.75lbs browned, drained ground turkey; 10oz can enchilada sauce, 15oz can tomato sauce, 1 tube refrigerator biscuits (such as buttermilk Grands) cut into sixths. Combine and pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake 25 min at 350. Top with 2cups shredded reduced fat Mexican cheese and bake 10 min more. Let sit 5 min before serving.

Household Hint from Harlequin Special Edition author Lilian Darcy -– Plan the week's meals and write a grocery list before you shop. That way, you can plan something easy on a day that you know is busy (deadline, anyone?) or cook two meals in one night on a quieter day, so that tomorrow's dinner is already done. My meal plan is nothing fancy. It's the letters M, T, W, T, F, S, S scribbled in the bottom corner of the list, with things like "soup and garlic bread" or "spaghetti with meat sauce" scribbled next to a letter. When I've shopped, I tear off the corner of the list and stick it on the refrigerator with a magnet. Then, after I emerge goggle-eyed from my writing, I don't have to think, "What the heck am I cooking tonight?" I just look at the list and know that the ingredients are all there.
Daddy on Her Doorstep – March 2012

Please join me the second Tuesday of each month to share tips, advice, and experiences as we take a Write-At-Home-Mom’s journey toward a better balance.

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  1. I learned a long time ago to make good friends with 4 am. If I don't get my writing done before everyone wakes up ( or I have to go to work) nothing gets done.

    Good luck!! I'll be rooting for ya!

  2. I'm lucky enough that the kiddo still goes to bed early. Which works for me because I'm soooooo not a morning person. Good luck getting through, Mira!

  3. I too have four children. I tried getting up early but the little "loves" have a built in "mommy alarm" and they were all up with me by 5 am. So I work the bribery route -if they let me write for an hour, uninterrupted, then we'll have a dance party for half an hour or so. I also use the time when I am watching a movie with them to think about my next scene and play it out in my head so when the chance comes to write I know what I want to get down.

    Alexia Adams

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  5. Aimee, here's an early morning coffee toast to you...though as it's already five here, lol, I'm guessing your coffee is an hour gone by now! :-)

    Kristina, I used to be able to work at night, but now I'm just so completely shot by the time the kids go to bed. Brain Jelly. It's all about finding what works for you though!

    Alexia, mine USED to have the early AM radar too and it drove me INSANE! But now if I get up by five, don't put my slippers on until I'm downstairs, leave all the lights off except that little one by the coffee maker, and shut my office door behind me...I can get past them. I think it's just early enough to be beyond their waking window. Six...well, I'd probably be breaking up Roblox disputes before I hit my edits!

  6. I could never do the early shift - self-discipline only goes so far, and poor quality sleep in general means I'm always clinging to those extra minutes. But envy those who can set the alarm for 5 a.m. and stick to it. I'm thinking it would be a good time of the day for avoiding internet time-suck, too.

  7. I am in the same boat right now. Darling Teen is home for Spring Break. Her teen friends keep showing up at odd hours. I'm revising a Smex scene. Not good with teens showing up. Hubby has declared he's home through Sat. I just got news that is sending me to the beach (good but still have to write). I have a flexible schedule, but this is crazy. Oh, then there's promageddon dress shopping. Don't even let me get started. I don't have any solutions other than "sprint writing" which is 30 min at a time and up and down and up and down again.

    Keep writing. You'll get it done!!

  8. Lilian, lol, I envy those who can set the alarm for 4!! Thanks again for the great tip :-)

    Christine, I'm all about the sprints. I do #1k1hr on twitter, though I'm less about the 1K and more about the Hr. Good luck with Promogeddon!!