Thursday, May 29, 2008

Guest - Jennifer Fink

We have a guest today, Mamas!

So Tiff go put on yer bra, Kai get yer hair in a pony and let's welcome her! And someone tell Linda to git a wiggle on it because she's always off doin' somethin' or other.

Jennifer L.W. Fink is lives and homeschools her boys in Mayville, WI. She is a freelance writer who has been published in Parents, American Baby, Ladies’ Home Journal and more. Suddenly Homeschooling (HEM books) will be out in late 2008.

With four sons ranging in age from two to ten, my house is a whirlwind of light saber battles, pillow fights and Yu-Gi-Oh cards. Getting any writing done in such a testosterone-heavy environment is, uh, a challenge, to say the least. But it can be done. On a recent day last week, I conducted three phone interviews, nursed my toddler, made some last-minute edits to my Journal Sentinel op-ed, cooked three meals, considered teaching a writing class, hiked with the boys and wrote for three hours.

Freelancing with a family isn’t easy. It requires patience, devotion and time management skills. These tips, from my chapter, Living with Kids 24/7 in the soon-to-be-published book Suddenly Homeschooling, can help you get some work done:

  • Develop simple household routines. Don’t be afraid to involve your children. Your kids can help pick up their rooms, prepare meals and clean up the yard.

  • Use a master calendar to avoid scheduling conflicts. Be sure to transcribe your professional obligations onto the family calendar as well.

  • Take advantage of empty moments. Try transcribing for 15 minutes on your laptop while the kids play video games. Or take your notebook along and outline an article while you wait for soccer practice to end.

  • Get up before the kids or stay up after they go to bed. Many mom-writers find these quiet hours to be the most productive of the day.

  • Offer to trade childcare with another parent, join a babysitting co-op, or hire a teenage babysitter or pre-teen “mother’s helper.” Even just a couple hours a week of kid-free time go a long way toward meeting your professional goals.

  • Have realistic expectations. As one Mom told me, “Life with kids is very different. Be willing to accept the limitations that come with the territory.”

THANK YOU Jennifer, we kiss your feet, FOUR BOYS, PEOPLE!

(I have one, that's about enough!)


Carolyn Erickson said...

Wow, Jennifer. My hat's off to you!

I have one well-mannered daughter who goes to public school and find it difficult to write anyway. There is always something else to think about - did I send enough lunch money to school? When is that Parent-Teacher conference? Is little Meggy in her class a bully or just a nuisance? Should I make more coffee? LOL.

Your tips are great. I especially appreciate the one about adding your professional obligations to the family calendar. That's pure genius. It's such an easy, simple thing to do but can help avoid many potential conflicts and help family members know when you won't be available.

Carolyn Erickson said...

And thanks for sharing your wisdom with Mama Needs a Book Contract readers!

Serenity Now! said...

Carolyn, I was just musing this morning on my inability to send DRY swim clothes and towels with my son in the morning... he has swimming lessons with his class and is also taking other swim lessons on the side... so he has swimming Tues - Thurs and I rarely remember to take his wet clothes and towel out to dry... sheesh!