Friday, January 6, 2012

Children and authoring

(c) Kevin Patton
With four major textbooks in regular need of revision, plus countless ancillary materials, I spend a lot of time working in my home office.  And I have a 7-year-old.

Like many work-at-home parents, I struggle with the tug-of-war that happens when my boy and I want to play at a moment when I really need to be working.  Of course, 7-year-old boys are not very good at understanding deadlines . . . or the concept of "just let me finish this one task and I'll be with you."

One idea that helps give me a few extra minutes to finish up an urgent task before playtime has been to invite my boy to engage in his own writing project!

I have a spot in my office designated as "Luke's desk" . . . it's just one end of a work table where I often sketch out art concepts for my textbooks and manuals.  He's always been attracted to the piles of blank paper just screaming to be drawn upon with all the colorful pencils overflowing the "pencil basket."  And who can resist all the funky rulers and stencils that are piled next to the colored pencils?

When Luke asks me to play with him, and I can't do it right away, I ask him if he wants to "work on a book, too."  Sometimes he just draws some things on a few pieces of paper and I finish my task and off we go to play.  However, when my task takes a little longer, he's managed to produce a "book." 

In the photo, he's showing off one of his books, titled "All the Planits in the solr stem!" . . . his version of "All the Planets in the Solar System!"  It's just a few pages of circles of various sizes and colors, each labeled with a planet's name.  I helped him staple the edges and his book was complete.

Of course, I try to stop and play with my boy when he asks.  But sometimes, I really need just a few more minutes of work time, so I don't lose track of the threads I'm weaving together.  And this method lets me do it in a way that still satisfies his (and my) desire to do something "together" . . . until we get to some full-throttle Lego time.

By giving him his own workspace in my office, I think he feels less like it's a Daddy-only space. So the office becomes a less "separating" space.  And he loves the satisfaction of creating drawings and lists  . . . and entire books!

Have you found other ways to balance kid activities and home-office tasks?  Let's hear about them!

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