Friday, March 19, 2010

What Do You Do?

The other day my teenage son came home from school with this story: “So I was in my Financial Literacy class, and our teacher had us each tell what our parents did. I said my dad is a pilot and flies all over the world. Everyone thought it was neat. Then my teacher asked what my mom did. I said my mom is a writer, which is alright, but every morning she gets up and makes me and my sisters a hot breakfast before school. Kids were like, 'Your mom makes breakfast every morning?' And I was like, 'Yeah. Every single morning.' And everyone thought that was the neatest thing of all.”

This, of course, made my day. (Especially coming from a teenager!) While writing is my lifelong passion, my kids and spouse are my lifelong loves, and they come before all else.

That said, there are so many different things in life that need our attention. My dear friendWindy Aphayrath comes to mind. She works this crazy job where she travels all over the world, she writes captivating YA novels, and she's a wife. She's also a mom to two little girls. Her daughters are well-behaved, well-adjusted, and completely adorable. Somehow she manages to fit it all in. (I suspect she never sleeps!)

Elana had a wonderful post about this phenomenon called Wearing Many Hats. And for you writers who are also parents, these posts on the QueryTracker Blog might interest you:



Also, Maggie Stiefvater has a post on why it's important to be more than just a writer.

What about you, dear readers? What jobs do you do besides writing? How do you find time to balance it all?

~Suzette~

49 comments:

Stephanie L. McGee said...

I'm not as busy as everyone else, but I do work and go to school. Those are really the main hats I wear.

I have a lot of down time I seem to waste procrastinating what I really should be doing.

No time now, though.

Elana Johnson said...

Dude, my kids would love you! I used to make a hot breakfast on Sundays. That's kind of fallen away.

I teach school. I have two kids. A husband. A life. I try to live it, forming my writing around it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

:)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Thanks for the two links. I'll definitely be reading them both. I teach high school English, have three kids and a hubby, serve on my church education committee, teach Sunday school, and am part of our state's curriculum revision team. Ugh! :-)

vbtremper said...

I spend most of my non-writing time taking care of 2 little boys and a puppy. The puppy is the most frustrating. Luckily, my husband is pretty self-sufficient - he even cooks! I also manage my mom's website, and teach afterschool French classes. You know, when you need to get something done, you just do it.

On Dr. Seuss' birthday, I was volunteering in my first-grader's classroom and his teacher asked me in front of the class how many times I'd had a book rejected. Um. That was embarrassing. Hopefully the class learned that there's more to writing than publication, and that anything worth doing takes hard work and lots of time.

Thanks,
Vicki

Corey Schwartz said...

Well, apparently, I spend a lot of time checking email, because once when my daughter was under two, she was "reading" a book to herself, and realizing that she had an unwanted audience, she said, "Mommy, go check your email."

Bish Denham said...

I am awed and humbled by all the people who have families, jobs, and are writers. I am, shall we say, retired and I can write whenever/wherever I want. All of you who are juggling many hats, I bow, in admiration.

Bethany Wiggins said...

I have resigned myself to the fact that there is never time to do everything. And when you do one thing, you're sacrificing something else. So I pick my priorities and try to stick to them.

Portia said...

This is a great topic. Married, unmarried, with or without kids, we're all balancing a lot. For me, it's two little ones,a marriage, and a freelance career. Then I'm always trying to squeeze out more time for my fiction.

In my experience, we're all convinced someone else is doing it better. Maybe we should give ourselves credit for all that we do. :-) Pats on the back all around!

lotusgirl said...

I'm a mom. I homeschool. I'm in YW and do lots of random stuff.

My mother used to do the hot breakfast thing every morning except Sat. when we had cold cereal. (It was her day off.) I still marvel at her dedication in doing that. It was before early morning seminary. Whew. I hate to think about what time she actually got up.

Amy Jo said...

Those links were great -- thanks! I'm a full time English teacher and a single mom, so finding time to write can be challenging. The best time for me is when my boys are asleep. I'm lucky because they go to bed at 7pm because they have to wake up at 6am so I can get to work on time. (The downside is they're awake at 6 am on the weekends too.)

Mary McDonald said...

I work full-time as a respiratory therapist. I have a nine year old daughter and two sons, ages 21 & 23. My daughter gets oatmeal or toast for breakfast, that's what she wants.

Since, at the moment, I'm the only one working, as my hubby and one son have been laid off, and the other son got out of school and hasn't been able to find a job, I do not feel the least bit guilty making them do the housework while I take time for me. My husband has a photography business, so he does that too, and I have to admit, it's nice that he's around to deal with the school stuff more than I am. I hate doing that. lol I sure wish this economy would improve though.

Suzette Saxton said...

WOW, you gals are AMAZING! What diverse, full, lives you live!

I must admit I cheat on the hot breakfast thing. Well, maybe not cheat, but use a trick to keep me in line. This is the "schedule" we follow:

Monday: Muffin Day
Tuesday: Toast Day
Wednesday: Wonderful Day
Thursday: Thereal (cereal) Day
Friday: Fruit Day

They get an egg each day, and I try to round it out with fruit, etc. We have done this schedule for 2 yrs and the kids are wild about it! (Although we had to change Weds from Weird Day b/c they didn't like the weird food at all.) My kids always know what day of the week it is by what is on their plates in the morning.

Usually, my husband cooks on the weekends.

Crystal Cook said...

I'm with you my kids and husband come first. So there are two things I do, I'm also a portrait artist, and a writer. I just try to keep up with life, there is never enough time, but I'm glad that I have at least some time to do things that I love.

Laci said...

I'm a wife and mother of 3 kids. To help bring in money, I'm a cosmetologist (hair stylist).
I too make breakfast for my kids every morning. We sit down Sunday afternoon and I let them pick what day they want what and mark in on the calendar so I can be prepared.

John Sankovich said...

Well I don't make the kids breakfast unless they get up at 5:30am with me and that like never happens. My oldest daughter who is in school, get a breakfast from there, while my younger ones, my wife makes them.

We don't even eat at the table most days as its covered in my wife's craft stuff. We try to make a hot breakfast on Sunday's, but most days its just a breakfast drink in the morning for me and I'm out the door.

I would love to have this, but neither of my parents did this, nor my wife's so its sort of not in our genes I guess. Good for you guys. If I worked later maybe we could do something like this.

Brenda said...

Breakfast is one of those things in our house that's such a crap shoot. Soon-to-be 5 yo (as he reminds me constantly) gets to eat cereal in front of the TV. Gasp. It's the only TV he gets all day, though, so my standards aren't that low. Other than being a mom, I work part-time for a huge global company doing program management. Some programs require more management than others, so the time involved in that is variable. Otherwise, I try to walk the dog, talk to my husband and sleep sometimes. I do like the idea of weird food Wednesdays. May borrow that one.

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm a teacher which gives me lots of time in the 2 summer months, and next to no time for the rest of the year. :) I tend to spend 50 - 70 hours per week on the job. I do quite a bit during the summer too (I'm a little obsessive!), but I can do that when I feel like.

I have a hubby, 2 kids (teens) with their assorted buddies who like to hang out here, a house to clean and a never ending pile of laundry. :)

I write late at night with tv or iTunes droning in the background - when I can stay awake anyway!

Angie said...

Great story. That boy is such a sweetie. You're such a great mom. I don't know how I balance it all. I just live and it all seems to come together somehow. I try not to stress too much. I know when to say no.

Kristi said...

I'm a clinical psychologist and life coach but since my kiddos are young, I only do private practice one day a week. I cut way back after having my second child. I'm also on 2 committees at my son's school and volunteer once a week -- I'm happiest doing a variety of things because I get bored easily. :)

OfficeGirl said...

Well, Im glad you ask. I am an office manager. Do you know what the suicide rate is for an office manager? Well, it's not super great. Don't worry I don't want to commit suicide. I have two animated childern under five and a fiance. Everyday has something going on. I don't really have time to write but thats where work comes in.Since I am an office manager, everyone assumes I'm typing out spread sheets when I'm really plugging away at a manuscript. Shh, don't tell anyone.

AchingHope said...

I work at retail (The Horrors!!) and I'm at school. I'm also involved with a local church youth group. I'm not really sure how I manage to survive. ;)

Man, you are so organized with food. I am impressed.

Jackee said...

I want to wear a thousand hats, but I admit I have a hard time juggling the ones I have.

The trick is priorities, as you so beautifully point out.

And breakfast IS the most important meal of the day. :)

Cheree said...

This is a great question. I'm a waitress as well as at school full-time, and I'm a sister. Doesn't sound much but when I'm the oldest of three and one's at uni, the other's in year 12 then I spend a majority of time helping with assignments and proof reading essays.

Christina Lee said...

wel.. how much time do you have--JK!!! I have a weekly newspaper column and a on-line jewlery business--plus my family and all the social networking sites... phew! Tired just talking about it. LOVE that your son said that. When we went on vacay last week my son (age 5) told his teacher that his mom was taking a break having her words and picture in the newspaper. Precious!

Jen said...

Balancing is tough and I don't even have children!!!

I work full time, sometimes longer than 40 hours and then come home tired but must do the chores necessary to move along my day and then find time to write, which isn't always easy!! Nothing compared to most out there!

Crimey said...

I tip my hat to the writers who are juggling a full job and kids. I don't have kids and I have a hard time managing my writing time. It just goes to show you have to be organized, that's all.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Before I was a writer, I was a drug rep. I became a stay-at-home so I'd have time for my kids. (she says as she's typing and they're downstairs watching tv). I don't know how Windy does it 'cause I couldn't balance it all. The balance was heavily weighed toward the company I worked for. There was no time to write. That was the only fantasy in my life. I didn't even have time to read a book. Sad, huh?

I'm still having trouble balancing everything. And an addiction to Tweeter doesn't help. But at least I'm happy now and so is my family. :)

Great post!

Lydia Kang said...

Hmm. I'm a part time doc, got three kids and a hubbie. I think I can say I'm a part time, hot-breakfast making mama too. I make a lot of time to write because I just looove writing.

Doreen McGettigan said...

So nice to know I am not alone..I have 5 grown kids; 10 3/4 grand kids, 2 terriers a husband, a homeless woman who I have been trying to place somewhere for a year, work as a victim's advocate, serve on a board, chair a large fundraiser event, work with elderly that are homebound, try to free lance write and just finished a non-fiction book on the murder of my brother..just typing that makes me tired...I do all of my writing either very late at night or very early in the morning..

SB said...

oh your kids are so lucky to have you there in the morning and when they get home. Being a mother and balancing it all? such a difficult, guilt-inducing ideal.


not too serious i hope

Bethany Wiggins said...

You guys are amazing! I guess all of these comments prove that where there is a will, there is a way. Talk about an inspiring group of people!

G said...

I work a 8 to 4:30 job in state government, and do my writing, both story and blogs, at night and on the weekends.

I also do a little writing by hand at work during my break times as well.

Karen Akins said...

Great links! I think the thing I've had to learn writing with a toddler is to be flexible and lower my expectations. On the days I **think** I'll have plenty of time to write, I end up spending an hour cleaning puke off myself.

Oh, wait. That was tonight.

Carolyn V. said...

I am a mom, a student, a writer and the giver of clean laundry. Sometimes things slip (like no clean socks last week). It is work, but all worthwhile.=)

Tracy said...

Wow, the only time I do a hot breakfast is when I'm making it for supper. My husband would love to start his day like that (his mom was an early-bird and did huge breakfasts in the morning), but I don't think my kids would know what to do with that!

I've got 5 kids, ages 7-13, homeschool the oldest, and can barely keep up with household chores and notes from teachers! I sneak my writing in whenever I can, but there are times when I go for long stretches without having time to put something down. My brain is always on the go, however, so it gives me opportunity to work through plot and character issues. I think it really helps when I do get around to the writing.

I really don't know how working parents manage, but I guess everyone just does the best they can, right?

Kara said...

I always felt I had very little time to write, but I guess I have more time than most. I work two or three days a week. My commute is about 40 minutes, and I use that driving time to plan and plot (often out loud- I wonder if people in the other cars think I'm singing, talking on my cell phone, or just plain crazy?).

The days I don't work, I rush through my errands and housekeeping (I'm not a good housekeeper anyway, so it doesn't take long), then write until I hear the school bus come rumbling down the street.

I also purchased one of those tiny netbooks, specifically to bring with me when I take my kids to soccer practice. I can get in a good hour of writing while sitting on the sidelines several times a week.

Jennifer Walkup said...

great post! and great compliments from your children! i write YA fiction and also am a mom to two young boys (1.5 and 4). I work part time and am also a wife. yes life is busy, but full and rich at the same time! and i'm impressed about the hot breakfast every morning!

A. Grey said...

I work full time on a six hundred acre estate caring for 30-odd horses who range in age from just born (no, really, we just got two babies last week) to 30 years old. I also have three horses of my own, along with a contrary donkey, demon chickens and numerous other animals.

In short, I lift heavy things a lot and occasionally take free flying lessons from bucking horses. :)

Y.F.N. Palindrome aka Hannah said...

My day job is the only thing that saps my time and energy. It pays the bills though.

I also have The Man to entertain every now and again.

I'm horrible at time management...mostly because I'm the ultimate procrastinator! haha!

Nikki said...

Hmmm. You make me look very bad. I'm a writer, and my 10 year old son makes ME a hot breakfast every Saturday. Is that close enough? (Oh wow, I'm realizing I had my 7 year old son make the breakfast - biscuits - this morning. I'm slipping.)
Um, I DO get out of bed on weekdays to see them off to the bus stop.

I think I need to stop reading your blog. It makes me feel insecure about my parenting. ;D

Suzette Saxton said...

I loved learning more about you all! What amazing, talented people. I believe I've responded to most of your comments via email (if not, check your spam)or commented on your blogs (set you blogger profile to make your email public so I can send you stuff.) Everyone except poor Nikki, who has neither blog nor email listed.

So Nikki, you are a great mom! I love that you are fostering independence in your kids. I think if my young ones were older I would do the same.

Suzette Saxton said...

Okay, found one more commentor I couldn't reach. Kara, sounds to me like you are doing a famous job! good for you for writing at soccer games!

Myrna Foster said...

Thanks for the links and for sharing your weekly breakfast schedule. My kids would love that.

Nichole Giles said...

I'm with Elana. I admire you for the breakfast thing. At our house, when I do make breakfast--well, in the morning--my kids still prefer cereal.

But you might be proud to know that I made breakfast today after church. Hey, no one said waffles and scrambled eggs were just a morning meal. =)

I have four kids. A husband. A very large and exhausting extended family. Other people in my life who matter. It's a tough balance, but I've discovered that as long as I learn when to go with it and when to lock myself in my room, it works out. Not always, but it's the best I can do. Thanks for the links!

Sheri Larsen said...

Suzette,
Thank you for the great post. Conjures lots of thoughts. I am the mother of four kids who--long ago--gave up a dancing career to raise them, take care of a terminally ill parent...blah... As I'm sure you know, the list is endless. I started writing again only two years ago. Having other writers to converse with and hearing their individual journeys makes mine so much brighter. I feel a part of something bigger. Thanks for sharing. (Pss...I used to do the breakfast deal, but my husband took over a year ago so I could get up and write or study earlier. Yeah, he's pretty cool.) LOL.

Christine Fonseca said...

Great post. Given that I work a 60 hour work week, have two kids, etc, etc, etc...it has a lot of meaning to me. Christina Katz sorta coined the term Writer Mama and talks a lot about balancing it all together. She has helped me stay in balance a lot!

Rhonda said...

Wow. Everyone leads such interesting and busy lives! I'm a slacker by comparison.

I have one step-daughter who is almost 18 and she is not with us full-time. In my day job, I'm the administrative assistant at a local church. Some people think that would be a fairly easy, low stress job. Those people would be wrong. I do the bulk of my writing during the evenings and on the weekends.

Solvang Sherrie said...

Great story :)

I'm not sure how my kids would describe me. But now I'm curious. I'm going to have to ask them!

Marjorie said...

I cannot get past thinking about a school that has "financial literacy" classes. I was a teacher for 34 years and I taught... arithmetic.

I am now a retired teacher and I work on my two blogs: one is a memoir and the other contains interviews.

And I am a stand-up comic. I perform in comedy clubs in NYC. And for a while I did volunteer work.

I balance it all because I am 63 and I live alone. I have nothing but time in my retirement. I can do 10 things and still have more time. And this is not such a good thing. It's an issue with many women who are alone and who no longer work.