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Typical Day

Last updated on September 2011

Having seven children, ages 0 to 21 years, isn't easy in any mother's book, and being a writer makes it that much more difficult. But I am grateful to be at home with my children while they're growing up—even though that means taking five or six hours to write what would normally take me two or three.

Two of my children are actually out of the house now, however temporarily, both attending BYU. But with the recent birth of my daughter, things have become immeasurably more complicated.

I fall out of bed at 7:00 when my husband turns on the primary songs on the CD Player (thanks TJ!). I usually feel groggy because I stayed up late the night before with last minute projects or winding down after the children were finally in bed. Not to mention waking up to nurse my baby who sleeps well only when cuddled up to me (my fault, but we love having her in with us where she'll be until she's weaned). 

After song, scripture study, and prayer, I help the two youngest with their lunches and breakfast and any last-minute homework they forgot. I might have to help my tenth-grader with something as well before I zip him over to the high school. When I return, I need to help comb my eight-year-old's long hair and keep reminding her to hurry (she likes to dawdle). If I remember in time, I make my youngest son plaster his unruly locks with water. Then my husband takes them to school three times a weeks (a fifteen to twenty-minute drive each way), or they are picked up by their carpool. After they are all gone, I nurse the baby, eat, and then head to the computer.

First I answer important e-mails, do a little publicity online, and then it's back to work writing. And, of course, there are plenty of breaks to feed Lisbon. As I mentioned, she sleep best in my arms, and it's hard not to just sit there are marvel at the miracle of her, but she will tolerate the swing for brief periods of time. So there we sit in my office until I reach my goal.

I'm really blessed this year not to have a kindergartner to pick up halfway through the day, but I do have a baby in diapers and with a nursing baby I sometimes desperately need a nap, so that kind of makes up for it. Rarely do I answer the phone because then I'll never get anything done. (I have Caller ID to make sure the call is not from one of my kids.) Sometimes people come to the door, and only then do I realize that I haven't combed my hair or put on my makeup. Maybe I ought to post a sign:

DANGER
WRITER AT WORK
KNOCK AT YOUR OWN RISK!

If I finish my daily writing goal early, and it's not yet time to pick up my high schooler at 2:15, I'll go to my treadmill and try to get rid of some of the baby fat that somehow stuck to me after the birth instead of the baby. If it's warm, I'll go for a swim outside in my pool. But I have to confess that lately that hasn't been happening much. I'm under deadline and with the break I took during the last months of my difficult pregnancy, I am running behind again. Not sure how I used to have babies and keep up so well! So I just keep on working all day until I have to pry my hands from the computer to fulfill some other duty. (Don't be too sorry for me—I love it! And I do have my miracle baby to keep me balanced and grounded.) I'm sure I'll work in the exercise as soon as I buy some more seasons of something sci-fi to watch. Those are my favorite!

After exercising, it's time for a quick bath or shower—if there's time before getting my high schooler at 2:15. Then I may work at bit more until I have to pick up the others (two days a week) at 2:45 or until they arrive home with their carpool at around 3:30. Except that far too often, I also have to run errands. Anything from a visit to the home improvement store to driving to the post office to mail a package. The dentist office is a particularly annoying repeated event for my son in braces, and I know it's time-consuming, but someone has to go grocery shopping every now and then. SIGH.

When I finally do pull up at the school, I run my fingers through my hair and dab on a bit of makeup, just in case. (I've learned to carry an extra set in my purse.) About this time I begin to pray that there's no reason I'll have to go in because you know what? If I didn't get a chance to exercise—and that happens a lot—then it's likely I'm still in my pajamas! Well, so what? Isn't working at home in your pajamas part of the American Dream? Well, it is for this author.

It's home then, and time for chores, homework, piano practice, and more errands. On a good day, I'll I throw dinner in the oven, hoping my husband thinks about picking up bread and fruit on his way home from work. I try to read at least a chapter from the book I'm reading.

I usually have clean laundry . . . in several baskets around the house. I mop the entire floor  . . . only when my mother-in-law comes to visit—which unfortunately for my floor isn't very often since she lives in Europe. And I burn almost everything I cook. In fact, for many years the first thing my husband did when he returned home from work was to check the oven. My children have learned to like very well-done food. Now, with my busy schedule, there are too many times when I haven't even gotten around to putting anything in the oven. I'm so grateful for microwaves!

I have, by necessity, learned to delegate, and my children have learned to do their chores. Finally, after many years of perseverance, they're actually helping. (I even have a child assigned to the kitchen floor, and it gets done at least halfway, which is good enough for me.)

After dinner, it's time for brushing teeth and pajamas and family prayer. On some evenings I have speaking engagements, meetings, or book signings, but on most nights I hang out with my children. We used to read a lot together when they were younger, but now we are mostly occupied with activities and homework. But we all miss reading together a lot, so it's my goal to start again as soon as my baby is a bit older and doesn't need to nurse so often.

With the kids in bed, if not asleep, sometimes my husband and I, if we're not too exhausted or loaded with other things we must do (did I mention grocery shopping?), will watch TV. We like love shows like CSI, and anything sci-fi-ish. Lately we've been working our way through the Babylon Five series. We also like to eat ice cream all alone without any kids to feed or clean up after. Sometimes instead of TV or videos we might each read a book.

When we finally shut out the light, our newborn snuggled in with us, it's time for me to plan my next writing day. What direction will my plot take? What new twists will emerge? Before I sleep, I must know where I'm going. I'm drifting off and then I hear . . .

"Mom!"

Or my cell rings with a text from an older child.

Or Lisbon wakes up and decides it's time to eat or play.

Oh, well. That's just part of being a parent, and I wouldn't change it for the world.