Ten Days Until a Pretty Exciting Announcement.
This is probably the hardest thing for a writing parent. I face it all the time. You want to go out of the house to write, and drink coffee you didn’t make. You envy those writers who can just head off to the library, or small restaurant, or Starbucks, and just spend hours writing their stories. Just them, their laptops, and a big mug of Pike Roast.
That’s not a luxury you’ve got when you’ve got little ones in tow. Sitters are hard to come by. And if you’ve got a day job, it can be really hard to argue that you have to spend even more time away from your family. If nothing else, that’s a hard sell for your co parent.
The thing is, sometimes I need that time, especially in rough draft mode. There is a reason why coffee shops are such a popular place to write. Sometimes the dishes are too loud, and I can’t hear myself think. That’s when I pack my little monsters up, and take them on a writing trip with me. This was especially true when there was just one little monster, and I was a single mom with no co parent at all. After eleven years of trial and error, I’ve discovered the secrets to a successful writing trip with the kids. You’ve got to remember three basic rules.
1. Whatever you are doing, your younger kid wants to do too.
2. Your child will be hungry,thirsty, too cold, too hot, or whatever is least convenient at that time.
3. No matter what, kids get bored with anything.
So the problem becomes how to correct for those three rules. Here are my biggest weapons; a good location, a good time, and a well stocked bag.
Some coffee shops are great for kids. The two in my town know my monsters by name, and are constantly telling them how big they’re getting. I even get a discount on cookies when I bring them in if this one nice barista is working.
This is not going to be the case for every coffee shop, especially if it’s near a college. Just like you’re there to work, others are there to do the same thing. Or to have a first date, (wanna make sure they use protection? Sit a screaming child in the next booth!), some are have a grown up play date. Some people are just trying to snag a quiet lunch hour. I know this might be hypocritical of me, but it really pisses me off when I get a chance to go somewhere without my monsters and there’s a kid throwing a fit. It’s that I just got some grown up time, now I’ve got to deal with someone else’s little monster.
If you’re wondering if your favorite haunt is a good place to bring the kids, consider these three things. (Yes, three is my number of the day.)
* Do you often see other kids there?
* Do they have a kids menu?
* Are there booster seats available?
If the answer is no to at least one of those, this is not a child friendly establishment.
Now, the library is great for a writing outing. There’s a children’s section that is often stocked with picture books and quiet toys. Some libraries have free wifi. And there’s some great writing resources right there.
The park is also a good place to settle on a nice day. Honestly, if you’re like me, you could use some sunshine.
The point is, be realistic.
This one might be a no brainer, but you’ve got to consider two things with your timing. What time of the day is your child most likely to tolerate playing by himself quietly for an extended period of time, and how long is that going to realistically be?
That’s fluctuated as my monsters have gotten older. When my one was a baby, and still fit in her car seat, oh that was a breeze. She’d play with her hanging toys, or I could rock her. If I was editing, I’d read my stories out loud to her.
Then she got a little older. The best I could hope for was forty minutes, at home or out and about.
Now that they’re older, I can get a good two hour writing session in. Any more than that, though, and I start hearing, “Are you almost done? We’ve been here all day!”
As for good timing, you know your kid. You know when they’re likely to be hyper, and when they’re fussy because they need to sleep. I even know that one of my kids is an introvert, like me, and gets worn out when she’s around people. She, and I, need time alone to charge our batteries. The point is, don’t ask more of your kids than they are capable of.
And Finally, a good stocked bag.
Two of them, actually. One for the kids and one for you.
Now, we’ve already discussed what should be in your writing bag, here. Let’s talk a little bit about what you should pack for the kids. This is the big thing that makes this possible, by the way. My monsters will tolerate any place so long as we’ve got our bag.
To make your very own writing bag, you will need-
* Anything that would normally go in a diaper bag, if your still in that stage.
* Some extra cash, because your kid will want the most expensive thing on the menu.
* Something for your child to pretend that she is ‘writing too,’ with. Pens, a notebook, a pretend computer. That sort of thing.
* A quiet, age appropriate toy. I like building sets for this. And here’s the secret. This is not an every day toy. Not something they can play with whenever. This is a ‘we only get this when we’re on a writing trip toy.’ That way they don’t get bored as fast. (Remember rule #1)
* If your kids are old enough, an MP3 player.
* Coloring books.
* A book that they can read themselves. Those interactive touch and feel books are great if you’re little one isn’t a reader yet.
* Snacks that do not require you to help open or consume them.
* Video games. The monsters outgrew their LeapFrog, and I gave them my old DS.
* A sweater. Remember, a lot of these places are air conditioned, and kids get cold if they’re sitting still.
To make it easy, I’ve even created a nifty printable for you! It’s designed so that your kid can help cross things off. You can laminate it, and use it every time, too. You know, environmentally sound and all.
Writing Trip CheckList! Download.
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