Monday, October 13, 2008

Overdoing It

This won’t be pretty, but I must confess something. My nickname here on the Playground is Angel, but I don’t always have angelic tendencies. I tend to have a one-track mind. I’ll admit it (and my husband will back me up).

When I get started on something, I don’t want to stop or be interrupted until I’m done. If someone insists on breaking that focus, I tend to get, well, cranky. This is true whether I’m cleaning for an afternoon or writing a book over a period of months. Disturb me too often and not only am I grumpy, I’m very likely to give up on the task.

While this dogged determination helps me get things accomplished (positive), I often lose track and interest in anything that doesn’t mesh with my goal (negative). This issue was brought to my attention during my recent family vacation. Because we were away from home, I had nothing to focus on except my husband, my children, and enjoying each other.

That’s when I realized I’d been pushing them aside in order to accomplish my goals. I already had an inkling that when it came to writing, I could easily become a workaholic when things are flowing. You can’t tell it from my output, because I’m a slower writer, but if everyone would just leave me alone…

While we were gone, I rediscovered the smile that comes from watching my kids goof off. How much I learn about them when I actively listen when they talk, instead of just wondering when they’ll be done so I can get on with my current project. (That makes me sound really self-centered. Yikes!) The simple pleasure of teasing with my husband. Thinking deeper than just what it takes to get through my day on the surface.

The question is, how do I maintain a reminder of this truth now that we’re back to the daily grind? I don’t want to ignore them nor turn into a slacker. I want to maintain the positive parts of this trait, while letting go of the negative tendencies. Is that just a pipe dream? Anyone have advice for a balanced approach?


Coming Soon!
Tomorrow we welcome author Linda Wisdom as she guest blogs with us.


Problem Child said...

After a week at Disney with no email access, I'm feeling a bit cut off from the world.

But I'm there with you, Angel. Uninterrupted family time was important--even if I'm a bit over the family at the moment (too much togetherness and too little sleep).

Of course, now I'm very behind and must get some work done. I hope they're sick of me and want to be left alone because I have much to do :-)

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I think this is a tough one, especially with children who demand so much of your time on a regular basis. Women are often the family center, and as such get it from all directions as people demand attention, etc.

Can you set aside an hour or two a week of that kind of family time? I'd suggest a nice family sit down dinner with no television or other distractions, but I know you have a small child who probably doesn't think sitting at the table and talking is very fun. :/

Maybe just an hour together playing a game or playing outside? I guess I'm not the best person to give advice; I only have to deal with a hubby.

Playground Monitor said...

Lynn's on to somehting -- game night where you have pizza for dinner or maybe a movie night with popcorn. And then like PC said, maybe they'll get sick of you and want to be left alone. ;-)

It's a balancing act and not always easy. But I can speak from experience that it won't be long before they develop their own interests where they'll feel just like you and wish you'd go off and write so they can concentrate on their activity.

Glad you had a good time on your vacation. And PC too. Welcome back home!


Smarty Pants said...

You know, I think Little Man is getting to the age where you guys can all do something together like a family game night. (I lean more toward that and away from things like a movie or video game where you're together, but not really interacting.) It was probably harder to do when he didn't have the attention span or interest. Maybe on Monday nights you get pizza and do something with just you guys.

I think the key, though, is to make it special. Make it something that doesn't get blown off. Make it a tradition, then it will be something that not only bonds you all, but it will become something they remember fondly when they get older.

Setting aside this special time will make you feel better about the other times when you're busy. When you've got a million things going, its easy to say "go watch tv and leave me alone to finish this." It's not a crime. Things have to get done. Just make family time one of the priorities on the list and schedule it like everything else.

Liza said...

My sister makes sure she spends about 30 minutes a night with each of her girls alone. With her youngest it's snuggling in the bed an watching Dora, the older two it is normally while she is fixing dinner or helping with homework.

Playground Monitor said...

Since SP mentioned it, game night IS more interactive than just sitting and watching a movie. When our grown kids are home we often sit around the kitchen table playing Scrabble and have loads of fun. When they were younger, we wore out a deck of Uno cards. And I remember sitting in the floor with my mom, dad and sister playing Monopoly when I was a kid.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Some of the most fun I ever had with my inlaws was sitting around playing Uno and drinking wine (not that you'll do the wine part with the kids, LOL). But games, where everyone has to interact, are great. :)

Kathy said...

Welcome back, Angel and PC! :)

Angel, sometimes kids just want you to be there, observing their little accomplishments, whatever they may be. Sometimes, it's enough to just touch your arm while they watch t.v. or read a book. Sometimes a walk or game or conversation will do. Kids just want to know we love them. That's all! No matter what kind of attention we give, our presence in their lives is what matters most.

I know you. You've been doing a great job!! :D

Me, I've got to take the DH to the doctor today. He fell off a 20 foot ladder Friday afternoon and refused to go then. He spent all weekend suffering a backache, hurt wrist and terribly swollen ankle. :(

Angel said...

I think this is a great idea! We used to have game nights occasionally, but the kids were small and their attention spans weren't great. But they are definitely growing up. We bought the Uno Attack game and played it a lot while away on vacation. Little Man can even play on his own now (with just a little help).

Thanks, everyone, for the encouragement and suggestions!!! And for not making me feel like a horrible mother. :)


Angel said...

Kathy, Ouch!!!! Tell him to go right away.

Better yet, take him to the chiropractor. I went this morning for pain in my shoulder. Guess what? I have a moderate sprain in my trapeziod muscle. Just great.

Why do I feel like my body is falling apart these days? As soon as I get over one thing, something else comes up.


Anonymous said...

Angel, welcome back. And all the suggestions are great. Whether it's one on one time or just family time together watching a movie. My son & I did that many times just to spend time together (I didn't have a lot of money for entertainment purposes). Sometimes he & I would go to the airport to watch planes takeoff & land - free entertainment & time spent together. And yes, schedule like any other appointment that you may have.

B.H. Dark said...

Angel, thanks for the reminder about the precious things. I'm a workaholic when I'm into a book, too, but I'm not really a special-time scheduler; my husband's schedule is too erratic, and besides, I like spontaneous, everyday time.

What I do is sort of the opposite: I set myself an achievable work goal per day, and once that's done, I'm done. I'm available to play and to sing and to read the same book seventeen million times, or to watch crappy telly with the DH, or whatever. And enjoy it wholeheartedly.

(the Julie Cohen half of B. H. Dark)

Jolie said...

Wow, lots of great advice here today! I could use it myself, since I just recently realized how much time I'm actually spending away from my family when I'm in the writing zone, too. Unfortunately, now that I'm trying to spend more time with them, I'm not writing as much. But surprisingly...that's okay with me, because I don't want to look back someday and have regrets.

Maven Linda said...

The best thing you can do for your family, Angel, is have meals together. It's amazing the number of studies that show the simple act of eating meals together helps children connect to both parents; the boys are less likely to get into trouble, the girls are less likely to have an unwed pregnancy -- just from that daily, regulated tradition of eating together. I don't know the anthropological basis for this, but it could be that, back in the old cave days, families grouped around their own little hunk of meat, and somehow that gives children the secure sense of family they need to flourish.

Linda Winstead Jones said...

I have a difficult time finding balance. When I'm writing I don't do much else. That's NOT good. I tend to dive in and forget everything beyond the keyboard.
I desperately need to learn to divide my days more evenly. Balance -- balance --

My kids are grown so I don't have the same concerns. Love the ideas here! Meals and a game night. :-)