Journal: News & Comment

Thursday, February 06, 2003
# 3:43:00 PM:

Being a writer, editor, Web guy, drummer, and dad

Permalinks to this entry: individual page or in monthly context. For more material from my journal, visit my home page or the archive.

Rachelle Redford, a writer and editor with Write On!, wonders how I manage my day:

You're a stay-at-home Dad, musician and editor/writer. How do you juggle these often-conflicting roles? [...] Do you have any tips or insights through your experiences that you could pass along?

I don't actually spend as much time writing, editing, and drumming as it may seem. My wife and I are very lucky that she's home pretty early from work and my parents live nearby. Once a week -- like today -- my two girls (3 and 5) spend the day with their grandparents and I work or meet with clients. When I have large projects underway, my wife and I also set aside time in the evenings or weekends for me to work on them. Similarly, when she has a lot of marking or preparation, we set aside time for her.

I find I'm often at the computer after everyone has gone to sleep, and may be up until 1 a.m. or later. But I charge $50 an hour (plus GST), so a little work goes a long way.

Sleeping through the howler monkeys

Sometimes I can even work when the kids are home -- it's sort of like those people who work in the jungle and get used to sleeping away while howler monkeys siren away all night long outside, or those who live near train tracks or major roads. You learn to filter out distractions, and to get back to work quickly when distractions are unavoidable. If my girls are playing or eating or watching TV, I sit at the computer we have upstairs in the TV room and check e-mail, update my Web site or one of the others I work on, or do small projects. If I need to read stuff or do paper markup, I do that then, or in bed at night, or after dinner. I might bring along my Palm organizer (with mini-word processor) or papers when we go to the park or the McDonald's Play Place. I squeeze anything in when I can, and track my billable time in 15-minute increments.

I used to work two days a week in a part-time permanent job while my mom took my daughter (and, later, daughters), so I've been doing some sort of juggle like this since late 1998, and in this arrangement since early 2001. It's getting easier and easier as my kids get older. This fall my oldest will be in kindergarten and my youngest will be at playschool two hours a day twice a week, so I'll have a few whole hours to myself during the week! Wow.

Well-meshed schedules

My music schedule generally meshes well with my wife's. My band doesn't play often, but when we do, it's in town and the money is good -- I get about 40% of my income from it. We're also not a "creative" band in that we don't write songs and never rehearse. Some of the other guys in the group do that in their own, separate projects.

Generally, we play Fridays or Saturdays, maybe twice a month or more often during Christmas party season. My wife is home before I need to leave to set up around 4 or 4:30, and she stays home while I'm out and return at 1 or 2 or 3 in the morning. She lets me sleep in the next day till 9 or 10, and I let her sleep in other weekends.

By the seat of the pants

If the band or my editing work requires more of my time, my mom and dad, or my in-laws, can often take the kids on short notice, sometimes even overnight. Or my parents can take the kids for a couple of hours before my wife gets home, or if I need to go to a meeting on another day.

I'm also lucky in that I write and edit pretty quickly, and seem to be able to survive averaging about seven hours a night of sleep long term, often less in short bursts.

It's always a juggling act -- usually improvised by the seat of the pants -- but I still spend the vast majority of my waking hours (and the sleeping ones, for that matter) with my kids. The rest is just a sideline, merely one (or two) that makes me money. While my paid work is fun for me, little of it is very creative, so I can just crunch down and do it without needing the extra rumination time that truly creative endeavours do.

And then, as part of updating my Web site, I just take responses like this one and slap them right up on my weblog. Easy "content repurposing..."


Journal Archive »

Template BBEdited on 29-Apr-2010

Site problems? Gripes? Angst? - e-mail
Site contents © 1997–2007 by Derek K. Miller

You may use content from this site non-commercially if you give me credit, under the terms of my Creative Commons license.

eXTReMe Tracker