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Ask Alex: Do You Let Your Kids Play With Knives So You Can Write?

by Alex Iwashyna

in Ask Alex, Writing and Blogging

If you want to ask me something, DO IT! CLICK HERE.

Ask Alex:

So what do you do with your kids when you’re writing? [I mean besides letting them play with knives and run in the street when the TV isn't on.]

A question from Meredith of Bueno Baby who not only takes fantastic pictures on her blog, but is Ms. February in the Blogger Body Calendar 2012!


I write 6 days a week. On a good day, I come up with an idea, write it down, edit, format, find pictures and post it in 2.5 hours. Don’t ask me about the bad days. Okay, fine.  On a bad day, it can be a 4 hour endeavor with much wringing of the hands and lamenting.

I usually have 6-9 pieces due every week.

I have a 4 year old and a 2 year old.

My children overlap in their schooling 3 mornings a week from 9-12. Which translates to writing 9:15-11:45 if I write near school and take no bathroom break.

My husband gives me 8 hours per week to write while he takes the kids. He works 4 days per week most weeks so I take 5 hours on his weekday off and 3 hours on the weekend.

So that’s 15.5 hours if I don’t eat, pick up the phone or sneeze. My children have a bedtime of 7:30 p.m., and I usually have 3 evening a week free, and if I want to get to sleep on time, I have to finish by 10 p.m..  I never finish at 10 p.m.. Also, if I don’t want to lose my mind, I need at least 1 of those nights to stare at the wall.

That’s another 4-6 hours +/- wall-staring.

I also run the This Blogger Makes Fun of Stuff website and part of the social media, help out at the Blogger Body Calendar, facilitate the Nobody Told Me Mom’s group and its social media through Commonwealth Parenting, and teach the Art of Blogging at the Visual Arts Center each semester for 8 weeks. I also tutor in WordPress, field pitches from companies, pitch to companies and the like.

Basically, I work my butt off, I’m always behind, and I pray everyday that God will remove in me the need to sleep.

I don’t use television or any trick to be able to write while my children are awake and in my care. To be able to cook dinner, answer a phone call, or respond to an email or three?  Yes. But for some reason, I can’t schedule writing time when I’m the only person home with them.  Maybe because I didn’t go to medical residency to be home with my children.  Mostly it’s because, once I start writing, I can’t be interrupted without wanted to kick the interrupter. And I don’t like kicking kids.  (Disclaimer: I’ve never kicked my kids. This is a metaphor that could be taken literally by idiots.)

This lack of time and ability to write without specifically carved out time is also why I am rearranging my projects. I can’t be the mom, wife, friend and writer that I wanted to be and do all this in 20 hours. And in any free minutes, I’d rather write than anything else.

So… I went from content manager at Blogger Body Calendar to co-creator, adviser, jump-in-when-needed person. I am stepping down after as the facilitator and social media person for the Nobody Told Me mom’s group that I created. I will be there April 26th and again May 24th, but after that I will be handing the class over to the capable hands of the Commonwealth Parenting educators.

These decisions were difficult and uncomfortable but painfully obvious.  Even before I did the math for this piece.

What I do with my kids when I’m writing? I say no to amazing projects so I don’t have to do anything but play with my kids when they’re home. I may be able to squeeze some work on a quiet afternoon here and there, but I don’t want to HAVE to do work every afternoon.

I hope that by focusing on my family and my writing, the rest of my world will fall into place. Or at least I will get a little more sleep.

PS. I didn’t finish this piece on time so I had to edit and format during N’s nap and E’s TV time. Also, I may be letting things go, but I’m also slowly looking for new freelance writing opportunities that align more with my career path. I am not perfect in my concern for family or time or sleep or work.  I want it all.  CAKE AND EATING! But I am willing to settle for the big purple rose and call it a night. Right after I finish this post.

Thanks to Bueno Baby for kicking us off.  If you want to ask me something, DO IT! CLICK HERE. Also, I’m linked this post up with Momma Made It Look Easy and you can too.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

AKeo April 15, 2011 1

Raising children the way you want to raise them certainly means sacrifices. Whether it is social life, career, etc. But once your kids are older and you have more “free time” (haha, yeah right), then you can do all the more.
For some reason I signed up for an online class to help me expand my career. It’s the first week and I’m already late on assignments because I have no time, or I refuse to give up my family time. Oops!


Sarah April 15, 2011 2

And people think that bloggers have nothing but time on their hands!
It’s difficult to balance projects as a parent– for anyone or any circumstance– and I am happy to hear that you’ve been able to strike some work-life balance!
Sarah recently posted..In which I confess my belief in ghosts- and embarrass my husband slightly


BuenoBaby April 15, 2011 3

Wow, your response was so thoughtful and in depth! I honestly had a couple of little mini realizations about my own scheduling and balancing while reading this piece.

[Also, working through potty breaks made me laugh out loud!]

Thanks for being so honest and forthcoming. Can’t wait to ask you a bunch of random, awkward questions about your sex life!
BuenoBaby recently posted..Photography project idea and giveaway!


Adrienne April 15, 2011 4

What about the drugs? You forgot about the drugs – sedatives for the children, amphetamines for you.

That’s how I deal with things. Of course, I’m not nearly as productive as you are, so I think I’ll have to start skipping my bathroom breaks. Bummer.

(Disclaimer: I’ve never given my kids drugs just because I wanted them to leave me alone, nor do I partake of anything stronger than coffee and ibuprofen. This is a metaphor that could be taken literally by idiots.)


Suniverse April 15, 2011 5

The first time I left the girl and her friend home alone, I said, “O.k., just behave and don’t touch anything.” And then I came home, they were safe, and I said, “O.k., now go ahead and do the dangerous stuff, like run with scissors and play with knives,” and they started chanting, “SCISSORS AND KNIVES! SCISSORS AND KNIVES!”

I am a parenting genius.

PS It’s amazing how much time a full day of school will free up.
Suniverse recently posted..Wouldnt Life Be So Much Easier YES!


Jennifer April 15, 2011 6

Wow. I think I’m tired. And I definitely need to come back and read this again.
Jennifer recently posted..Share Your Awesome


Megan (Best of Fates) April 15, 2011 7

I now feel as though I’m suppose to be editing far more than I do. And I’m glad you’re giving yourself a break – just as long as you don’t leave us!
Megan (Best of Fates) recently posted..Why Not Have My Own Variety Show


Maggie S. April 15, 2011 8

Sounds like you have a wonderful life(I peeped your I am page, too). I found you at Jennifer’s link-up.


Katie April 16, 2011 9

ok so…this post is making me feel like perhaps I am a crazy person for wanting some freelance stuff or a paying writing project on top of my full time job.
Katie recently posted..a story- an announcement or two- and a giveaway


Yuliya April 16, 2011 10

This is so great to see..I am always trying to figure out a way to write more and work it into my day. But until this kiddo starts preschool I am not really seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Yuliya recently posted..Saturday Surf and Turf


Dolli-Mama April 17, 2011 11

Thank you for a look into your work/home life ballance. It’s always nice to see how someone else does it.
Dolli-Mama recently posted..Hubbys real name!


ck May 2, 2011 12

I also aim for total computer shut down when my kids are home, but sometimes I find myself distracting them with the purple rose, just to finish something, or so I can write down an idea before I forget it. And then pray that 5 or 6 hours of sleep will be enough, since I get up before they do to have my “writing time.”

Somehow, as hard as it is now to find time, I bet it will be equally as hard to focus when our kids are grown and we have nothing fighting for our attention.


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