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A Freelance Mother’s Plea


I have been excitedly reading all the interaction on our blog so far. It is great to see so many people reading our posts and putting in their own thoughts, opinions, and ideas. In her original welcome post, Lorna mentioned that we are likely to get as much assistance from our readers as we are giving, and it seems that her prediction is so far coming true.  

While I don’t want to make you do all the work, I would love to hear some ideas about what you do to engage your children in a way that allows you the freedom to get some work done. My daughter is soon turning two; as she ages, I was hoping that she would grow more independent, leaving me a little extra time for work. However, I am finding that she actually requires more of my attention and direction than ever before. 

I have started coming up with ideas to keep her engaged in about 20 minute increments so that I can really focus on small bites of work. Some of them work better than others, some are educational, some are downright bad parenting, and some of them are actually just acts of desperation on my part. I would love to have you add to my list! 

  1. Kiddie CDs: I can’t explain it, but she loves to hear music sung by other children. I have so far avoided those horrific Kidz Bop CDs (you know, the ones that have little kids singing wildly inappropriate songs from popular radio), instead opting for compilations of simple silly songs from my own childhood. The more and more I play them, the better she knows the words, so she loves to just dance around and sing along.

  1. TiVo: I record all of her favorite television shows on our DVR. They all run about 20 minutes long, so I let her watch one every couple of hours (yes, sigh, that often). She is enthralled by them, so I am pretty much guaranteed some time to myself.

  1. Painting: I make my own washable finger paint for my daughter to use. This was great for summertime, since I let her do it outside and get the mess everywhere (despite being washable, it can still stain fabrics and upholstery). I’m hoping we can reign in some of the chaos to make this a practical winter activity as well. I got the recipe I use from ThriftyFun.com, but Amazon sells some great Crayola versions as well.

  1. Stackable blocks: We have a set of old-fashioned wooden blocks that my daughter loves to stack up and knock over. I get her re-interested in them every day by adding something different for her to stack them with: books, empty CD cases, empty cardboard boxes, or even pots and pans.

  1. Stuff that makes noise: You name it–if it makes noise, we own it. We have harmonicas, drum sets, plastic trumpets, irritating pianos, and maracas. She is great at making as much noise as possible, and I am great at tuning it out.

  1. The dog: I have trained both my child and my dog to play fetch with one another. Sometimes my daughter throws the ball and sometimes she’s the one going to get it. Either way, the two of them practically cancel each other out when it comes to running around after fuzzy little tennis balls.

  1. Other kids: Speaking of canceling each other out, I have discovered that my nephew, who is one year older than my daughter, can entertain her in ways that I will never comprehend, and usually I am forbidden from joining in the fun. My brother and I alternate watching the kids once a week or so; some days I will watch them both for a few hours and some days he will. Either way, I am able to get work done when the two of them are together.

  1. Bath time: I have been known to give my daughter upwards of three baths a day. No, she’s not that messy; she just loves the water. She will splash and use her bath crayons (these are my favorites ) for hours if I let her. On days when I really need to get work done, I can just plop her in the tub, plug in my laptop, and sit on the bathroom floor for as long as my back will allow.

I am slowly training myself to write in short bursts of time. Although I continue to be the most productive when my daughter is either sleeping or being taken care of elsewhere, I love it when she and I can spend a whole day together but I am still able to cross everything off my to-do list. I would love to get my hands on some more educational activities (especially literary ones–once a writer, always a writer) for her to do independently. As parents, what do you do to get the time you need to get down to business?

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    On September 27th, 2007 at 6:39 pm, Melissa Garrett said:

    Your list sounds a lot like mine!! I’m lucky that my two oldest kids are in school, but I still have an almost 27-month-old at home who requires almost constant attention. I do all my work at the dining room table, so I usually bring out a supply of crayons & paper, books, favorite toys. I also let her have free-reign over our plastic container cupboard in the kitchen and pull up a chair to a sink filled with water. We do a lot of singing and dancing plus a fair amount of Noggin (she loves Little Bear and The Upside Down Show). My work seems to go in short spurts, too. Projects usually take twice as long as they should, due to having to stop and start. As much as I love having her with me, I am looking forward to preschool twice a week - six free hours to work!!

    On September 28th, 2007 at 4:13 am, deep.thought said:

    That made me smile, by the end of the article I this comical mental picture of you at your keyboard typing away creatively and behind you there’s your daughter, the dog, a ball and whole heap of wrecked musical instruments.

    Thank you.

    On September 29th, 2007 at 11:46 am, Tamara Berry said:

    I laughed out loud when I read your reply about the wrecked musical instruments. Nowhere in the blog posting does it mention the musical instruments being destroyed…and yet, they are. It’s so great to hear from parents who know exactly what I mean, even when I don’t say it!

    On September 29th, 2007 at 12:02 pm, deep.thought said:

    My two boys are a little older now (10 and 16) and the dog left home ages before my eldest started discussing flying the nest. However the old adage about ‘been there bought the t-shirt’ springs to mind.

    Thank you for the memories and making me smile.

    On September 29th, 2007 at 11:49 pm, Deb said:

    An after school mom’s helper can be a lifesaver. I wasn’t WAH at the time but had 4 from newborn to 6 years, so when my husband was on TDY we would have one of the girls come in so I could be “off the clock” at home for a couple of hours.

    Yes, it was a hire, but I was home so pay was 1/2 sitting rate plus snack. I was a block from the school so they walked to the house and I drove them home. Well, one was a driver and I did offset her gas money. (My daughter uses a form of this to pre-train her new sitters.)

    Maybe this is something that works as one facet of your solution which will have many alternatives. Good luck.

    On September 30th, 2007 at 11:21 pm, Joe Cheray said:

    I am fortunate that my son is now in school full time. Although I do still only have staggered hours that I can get actual work done, as I am also carrying 14 hours this semester, but somehow I am managing two blogs, my son, a message board,a main web site and the Blog Mastermind program. When do I find time to sleep I do. I just learned to finally manage my time wisely and to dovetail when and if at all possible. Him being at home on the weekends is a mixed blessing I let him be is own movie chooser and let him have run of the TV we don’t have cable so all he has is his movies and his video games and toys.

    On October 2nd, 2007 at 10:08 pm, Dana Prince said:

    I have often let my 3 year old ‘wash’ tupperware at the sink. I also pulled his colouring table beside my desk so that sometimes he ‘works’ while I work. HE does crafts while I write :)

    Sometimes I get ten to fifteen minutes by giving him a spray bottle of water and a cloth. He’ll wash the cupboards and kitchen floor and spray all my houseplants with them, lol.

    When all else fails, we make a deal that I’ll read two stories and then he gives Mommy some work time or we’ll go outside for an hour and then I’ll put a movie on for an hour so we both win.

    Once, it was really hot out and I turned the hose on in the back yard and draped it over the upper deck so he could run under it. I sat with a pen & paper off to the side in a lawn chair writing an outline for a project so we both got outside and I got some work done too :)
    Great post, I think I’ll feature this one on my blog this week through some link love :)

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