I have a confession to make: My six-year-old is far more popular than I am. All through kindergarten he’s been asked on more playdates than all my other kids combined. Now, in case you are not up on “playdate etiquette” it is considered proper to reciprocate a playdate invitation by extending one to your house within a week or two of the first said playdate. Not super complicated, right? Wrong. I stink at this part of the playdate tango and I choose to blame writing.
On days with no afternoon activities I pick up my kindergartener, run errands, eat lunch and then put the two youngest down for some “quiet resting time.” This is my magic hour (or two) where I can write or edit or research or catch up on all the other odds and ends of my writing life. There are other times I work writing into my day but this beautiful barren tundra of quietness is the one time I didn’t ever feel guilty picking up the computer and getting lost in a story.
At the beginning of the year I diligently tried to keep up with the boomerang invites after playdates. This is my third kid. I should be better at this by now, right? Uh uh. Very not good. Soon I realized I couldn’t keep up with it all. I was actively querying at the time, working on a new book not to mention doing all the other stuff life always included like feeding my children and (sometimes) cleaning my house.
Then in February I signed with my wonderful agent, the lovely Marlene Stringer and I decided I couldn’t fool around anymore. I needed those uninterrupted hours and if I was going to take my writing seriously then I needed to preserve that time in my day. Soon, I found my self giving long winded explanations as to why I couldn’t do after-school playdates anymore. I’d say stupid stuff like: “It’s not that we don’t want YOUR kid over, I just don’t want ANY kids over… I mean….I love kids…but not more kids…” By the end of the conversation the moms would look at me, glossy eyed, not sure if I was making up a huge story or just giving up and becoming a neglectful parent.
Then, one day last month, a new mom approached me after school. My son had played at her house a few times over the past weeks and it seemed like another invite was on the horizon.
She started with a classic line: “We’d love to have a playdate with Thomas!”
I responded: “Sure what works for you?”
Next, she should’ve mentioned the date and time she was thinking of but instead there was silence. Uncomfortable pause, then playdate mom put her arm around “Little Jimmy” and said: “We want to know why you never have Jimmy come over to your house.”
Oh no. Awkwarrrrd. I’m sure my face went red because it felt hot and I lost all ability to put sentences together in any understandable order. I immediately went into explain mode. I got half-way through my “It’s not you it’s me” speech when the mom held up one hand and said, “Oh! I get it. You work from home.”
It took me a second to register what she was saying but when it sunk in I realized she was right. THAT’S what I’ve been doing. Writing a book, editing a book, writing a query a synopsis, querying agents, working with my agent to prepare for submissions, outlining a new book, creating a synopsis and query for the WIP and writing it—YES…I DO work from home!
When someone finds out I write the first thing they usually ask me is, “When do you find the time?” I used to explain that I write during naps or at night or while the kids are engaged in an activity, but what my chat with this playdate mom taught me is: I don’t find the time, I MAKE the time. Like other people that work from home, I have to discipline myself, set goals and find a work/life balance that is appropriate for me and my family. Sometimes I look at the stories I’ve written and can’t believe they came from me. That’s when I know the minutes of writing I fit in here and there, the hours of work I’ve wedged into my already packed life were worth it. Now, I can proudly say—Yes, I work from home and I love it.
My writing buddy