parenting · balance

Naptime Productivity

I have days when I rock ‘n’ roll during naptime.

There are two boys under three in my house. Once the second kid’s eyes are closed (or, in the case of the two-year-old, once he is safely stowed away in his room, rolling around on his bed talking to himself), I race downstairs and I immediately engage in a preplanned naptime activity. Usually, this means writing a blog post. Lately, it has meant packing for trips. Sometimes I spread out note cards on the floor and I work on my novel.

The important thing is that I immediately get going with something productive. And, to be clear, I have a pretty broad definition of what is productive. Sometimes what I want to accomplish is watching a soccer game or taking a nap. But even relaxing activities require some prep on my part – like queuing up the game so I don’t get distracted by dishes or limiting my morning caffeine intake so that I can crash while the boys sleep.

Then there are other days. Days when I’ve been so busy running around after the boys that I haven’t given any thought at all to what I’d like to accomplish during naptime. That never feels as good to me.

Those unproductive days end up being okay too. Things get done or else they don’t, and it’s always just fine. But I’m still amazed at how much planning it seems to take just to be a functional human and adult compared to my spontaneous twentysomething self. That girl liked to not plan anything, and it was delightful.

It’s the middle of the afternoon as I type this, and it’s naptime – and it’s one of those naptimes that I didn’t fully plan out ahead of time. I did make arrangements to go for a run while Tamara got Jonas down for nap, so that got done right away. Since I got back from running, I’ve kind of been puttering around – straightened up a little, wrapped a baby shower gift for a friend, read a few pages of Fleishman Is In Trouble. While I love being productive, I also enjoy puttering around. It’s relaxing, in a way, to have a piece of my day that’s a little bit aimless.

Today, I rate my naptime productivity at about a 6, because I wrote this ENTIRE blog post (woohoo!) and ran for thirty minutes. No dishes were done, but you know what? I recently retook the Enneagram test and it turns out I’m a 4, and we’re really bad at getting things done if we’re not feelin’ it. So it could not be helped, clearly.

This post makes me laugh, because it’s as aimless and meandering as a naptime full of puttering around. In Typical Kerriann style, I am going to seize control and turn it into a list of tips for Naptime Productivity right now:

Step 1: Plan ahead! Typically nap time is not long enough to allow for spontaneity.

Step 2: Keep your commitments. If you decided to spend the kids’ nap time reading, don’t let the dirty laundry boss you around.

Step 3: Be realistic. It is RARE for me to write an entire blog post during a single naptime, and my blog posts are pretty short. I feel better when I make a goal like Read a little of my book rather than Read three chapters. Because Edgar and Jonas have no idea how many chapters I’ve read when they decide to pop open their eyes and start Mommying me.

Step 4: Give yourself permission to NOT be productive. Though I haven’t done it much lately, I love napping when the boys nap.  I do feel like Step 1 is EXTREMELY important if you want to nap while your kids nap; you need to be mentally and physically prepared ahead of time so you don’t end up too wired or stressed to nap.

That’s all I’ve got, and I can hear Jonas starting to babble. Time’s up!

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writing

Butt In Chair

I did it!

This week, for the first time since summer started, I used my two kid-free days to work on my novel! WOO HOO KERRIANN!

Whew. It feels good to celebrate! Especially since it was surprisingly hard to actually sit down and get some writing done. It should not have been surprising; I’ve listened to many writers talk about how hard it is to get the work done, even when you have a great passion for writing. There are so many distractions, especially when you’re writing from the living room of your untidy house.

I’d been growing increasingly nervous that I wasn’t going to get any writing at all done this summer. With vacations and day trips and sick kids, it just wasn’t happening. I had already drafted a blog post with the title It’s Okay If My Novel Doesn’t Get Done This Summer. 

But then this week, I got my butt in the chair (a la the #AmWriting podcast with Jess and KJ) and I wrote 8,000 words in two days. Now, this could have been even better, for sure. I am hoping that my ability to write more and longer and better will grow as I stick to my writing routine.

BUT – I did it!

One of my goals is to work on the novel every single day, even if it’s just for five minutes. If I don’t work on it every day, then every time I sit down to write, I have to pull myself back into the story. If I work on it every day, it’s easier for me to dive back in when I actually have a good chunk of time to work on it.

I don’t think the entire novel will get drafted this summer, but I am eight thousand words closer to my goal and I’m relieved.

Onward!

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balance · writing

What Gets In The Way

We can’t solve the problem until we figure out what gets in the way, right?

So, the problem is: I’m not getting as much fiction writing done as I’d like to this summer.

Here’s a list of what’s getting in the way:

  1. Ugh, amazing vacations to the beach! Quality time with family and beautiful sunny days swimming and splashing. SO INCONVENIENT.
  2. The Women’s World Cup. How dare these incredible women play such a fantastic tournament when I’m trying to write? Why didn’t they just get eliminated in the Round of 16 so I wouldn’t lose valuable writing hours cheering them on? RIDICULOUS.
  3. Lots of reading about parenting. I’ve been reading Peaceful Parent Happy Kids to try to be more patient, playful, and peaceful with Edgar, and I’ve been reading The Sleep Easy Solution to try to help with Jonas’s sleep. How am I supposed to grow as a parent AND grow as a writer simultaneously? It’s clearly never been done before. IMPOSSIBLE.
  4. Adorable children with summer birthdays, requiring a moderate amount of housecleaning, party prep, balloon buying, and gift wrapping. Those three-year-olds and their SMILES and JOY.
  5. Wonderful friends who want to hang out and do fun things together. Yes, these are great times and good memories, but is there an increase in my daily word count when I hang out with friends? NO THERE IS NOT.

The bottom line is that I am having a fantastic summer with the boys, Tamara, extended family, and friends. My writing is sometimes on the shelf, but I’ll take it off as soon as I can. I’m typing this from my local Starbucks, where I’ve been for several hours already, so that the dirty dishes in my sink aren’t staring at me as I try to get some writing accomplished. In a few hours, I’ll take a break from writing to read The Sleep Easy Solution, because it’s okay for me to make space in my day for my writing, reading about parenting, and all the other things.

WE GOT THIS.

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mindfulness · presence

Vacation Kerriann

Tamara, Edgar, Jonas, and I spent four glorious days at the beach with family at the end of June.

One of my favorite things about a vacation at the beach is the way I constantly lose track of time. We spend the morning swimming and wading and building sandcastles, and then someone ask what time it is. They ask it casually, because it really doesn’t matter at all. And when they ask for the time, I realize that I have been so relaxed and caught up in the moment so I could not guess the time accurately if my life depended on it.

I love it when I lose track of time. For me, it’s a sign that I am fully present in the moment, and being present is something I am constantly trying to improve. It’s easier to be present on vacation, because you’re not distracted by the responsibilities of work or a household. And I noticed that for me, it is DOUBLY easy to be present at the beach, because of one unintentional great choice that I make the majority of the time when I’m going to the beach: I leave my phone behind.

It makes such a difference when my phone is not within my reach.  On our first full day at the beach, we spent our morning enjoying the sunshine and the waves. At one point, I thought that I’d like to take a picture of Edgar and Jonas playing together in the waves. I realized then that I had not brought my phone down to the beach with me; it was in our bedroom at the beach house. I would love to say that I did this on purpose, so that I could enhance my mindfulness practice, but I didn’t. I left the phone up at the house because a) I don’t trust myself to have my phone in my pocket or my bag when there’s lots of sand and water being strewn about, and b) Vacation Kerriann forgot that phones are things we sometimes want close by so that we can take photos, send witty texts, or scroll mindlessly.

I love Vacation Kerriann for that. That girl rocks.

I realized this summer that a beach vacation encourages mindfulness and presence in a way that some other kinds of vacations do not. When you’re at the beach, often your agenda is simply this: Wake up. Whenever you feel like it, stroll down to the beach to frolic. Whenever you’re hungry, eat something. When you’re tired, go to bed.

Sigh. Incredible.

We’re home from the beach now (boo!), and Everyday Kerriann is in charge. She’s doing what she does – listening to podcasts and cleaning the kitchen while the boys play, losing her temper occasionally, unskilled multi-tasking.

Vacation Kerriann is watching her, though. VK is making sure that EK enjoys her kids and maintains the playful + peaceful vibe she strives for every single day.

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goals · presence · writing

July 2019: Monthly Goals

The summer is off to an incredible start. It’s been joyful, fun, and refreshing.

I am definitely stressed about achieving my writing goals. We spent the last week of June at the beach, and I only wrote one day while we were away. I did a lot of other great things – I read the new Elizabeth Gilbert book, I spent time with family, I exercised a lot. But I did not write, and I want to make sure that I am making my writing a priority.

I was strategic about my first week of July. I’m spending two days at the beach with my sister’s family, but I’ll be back in time for my boys to have two days at day care so that I can get a significant amount of writing accomplished. I hope! I am extremely nervous. I’m hopeful that I can muster up the self-discipline and the creative juices to get things done.

My goals for July 2019 are about two things: getting my writing done and being present with my kids. Here’s what I’ve got:

  1. Write a little or think about the novel a little EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes!
  2. BE PRESENT. Play with your boys and give them your focus. To do that, you need to make sure that you’re being intentional with your time. That means giving yourself a little time to get grounded in the morning, enjoying your “evening adulting hour,” and being intentional about the times when they do NOT get your full attention. (“Mommy has to do the dishes now. Would you like to play in your room while I do that?”)

I’m nervous, for sure. But, as I said, this summer has been off to a great start, so I have reason to feel optimistic. Let’s do this!

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Uncategorized

All The Things (June 2019)

This summer is off to an amazing start.

I’ve been getting lots of exercise, and I’ve been really happy with our plans and adventures for the first five days of summer.

When I looked back at my June goals, I noticed that I had not made much progress with my plans to have early morning grounding activities and an evening adulting hour. And, as always, that is okay. My goals are there to guide me, not to make me feel bad.

Here are all the things for June:

Things I’ve Been Reading: Currently I am on page 5 or 10 of about 6 different books! I think the number one contender for my attention is City Of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, which I just scooped up from the library yesterday. I just finished Recursion by Blake Crouch, which was good.

Things I’m Nervous About: Writing! I got some good work done on the novel last week, but bringing the novel back into focus just reminds me of how much work I still have to do. It’s not just the writing – it’s thinking through the entire plot and deciding about what’s going to happen and when it will happen. I want to work on it a little every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. But that can be really difficult!

Things I’ve Been Watching: Rewatching Seasons 1 and 2 of Veep. Also the Women’s World Cup!

Things I’m Grateful For: Seven years of sobriety, a beautiful start to my summer, a healthy family, a great new book to read, and a good night’s sleep in my future tonight.

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writing

Nerves

On my first official day of summer break, I found myself sitting on the floor of my living room, with a folder full of notes on my potential novel, my laptop, a pen, and a fistful of looseleaf paper.

It was TIME. The boys were at day care. After a busy school year and several months of no fiction writing at all, I now had time to sit down and focus on drafting my first novel.

And then – the nerves hit.

I was excited, and energized, and optimistic. But also so, so nervous! When you have actually carved out the time and the space in your life so that there is room for pursuing your goal – THAT IS TERRIFYING.

Because what if I try to write my novel, and I can’t do it? Or what if I write it, and it totally sucks?

OH BOY.

I actually have told a fair amount of people that I’m going to be using my solo hours this summer to write. Which I’m glad about – it’s given me some accountability. If any of these people happen to ask me how the writing is going, I want to be able to report something other than “I’m too distracted by laundry, dishes, and texting to focus on my writing.”

I feel motivated, too, to write the adoption-themed novel I’ve been daydreaming about. Especially since I read a novel recently that was so adoption-negative that it made me want to cry!

I know that I can’t let nerves get in the way of doing my best work. I just have to keep my head in the game and my butt in the chair, as they say on the #AmWriting podcast. Only in my case, my butt will be on the floor, apparently. On the floor, surrounded by notes and scribbled pages, my flip-flops kicked off and my laptop front and center, a cup of coffee close by.

LET’S DO THIS!

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