words by nerissa

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Archive for the tag “School holidays”

Do less and do it well

words by nerissa

Lots of sorting got done today

Once again, it’s school holiday time.

As someone who runs a business from home, this can be a tricky (and sometimes, frustrating) time. In the freelance writing game, it’s very often ‘feast or famine’ — either too much work or not enough. And for the first few years, it’s very tempting to say ‘yes’ to any work that comes your way, until you are well-established in your field.

As luck (or Murphy’s Law) would have it, my busiest times have usually been during school holidays. This has often meant a stressful holiday period, trying to balance meeting deadlines and holiday fun. It is further compounded by the fact that writing for a living isn’t as simple as sitting down for a few hours and ‘getting it done’. Writing often means needing to be in the ‘zone’ — feeling the inspiration and getting the words to flow freely, rather than trying to extricate them one by one. As a health writer, I also need time to research my topic.

As any writer would know, the zone isn’t something you can turn on and off. It’s either there or it’s not. Sure, there are things you can do to help you get in the zone, but with two noisy (and sometimes arguing) children in the background, getting there can be difficult. Even if you manage to find your way there, that magic place where the writing comes easy, can be shattered in an instant with the words “Mum, I’m hungry” or cries of “Stop it! Leave me alone!”

Really? You won’t believe it. Honestly, no sooner had I typed the words above, my eldest comes in and says “Mum, I’m hungry!”….so I’ll be right back……

(insert 37 minutes….)

Right — where was I? Oh that’s right, being interrupted!!

In the past, working during school holidays has meant early mornings, late nights and working across the weekends. By the time school term started up again, I was in need of a holiday myself. But of course, everything else that had been put on the back-burner while I was juggling work and school holiday activities was beckoning.

So these holidays, I decided to do something different. I didn’t take on any work.

words by nerissa

The art of cake decorating

Yes — I said ‘no’.

Instead, I am working intermittently while I can, on things that are not urgent. They are important, but not urgent. They also don’t require me to be ‘in the zone’ so much, which means that I can make the most of snippets of time that becomes available.

Tasks such as updating my website, planning out the remainder of my year, setting goals, learning new things that will have a positive impact upon my business, as well as building relationships with key people.

Quite frankly, it’s been great. I haven’t worked at night, or early in the morning. I spent last weekend attending a personal development workshop, visiting friends and sleeping in. This weekend we are spending time with more friends (celebrating the end of AFL season, to be honest!) and taking the kids to the Melbourne Show.

Instead of fitting school holidays (and the kids) around work, I’m fitting in my work around them. For the past three days, my son has been at a tennis clinic, and my daughter was occupied either watching a movie, playing with her barbies or at my parents’ house — so that’s when I worked.

This morning, the kids sorted out a plethora of books, pens, pencils and other ‘crafty’ activities that have been accumulating throughout the house, so I took myself off to the study to work. This afternoon’s activity was cup-cake making — something we all did doing together.

The great thing about my new approach is that I don’t feel guilt. No guilt about not spending time with the kids when I’m working, and no guilt about not working when I’m with the kids.

words by nerissa

What wonderful creativity

The other positive, is the quality of my work is a lot higher because I’m focusing more on what I want to get done, rather than how I’m going to fit it all in. There is also a lot less frustration, because writing deadlines do not exist for these two weeks. It’s an arrangement that seems to be working, and one that I will endeavour to employ in future school holidays.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the busyness of work and family life. It’s even more easy to be swamped by the juggle that is work and school holidays. One thing I have learnt however, is that sometimes we need to take something out of the picture in order to have more balance, more fun and less stress.

Sometimes we need to do less, so we can do it well.

And on that note, it’s time to enjoy those cupcakes!

Until next time. xx

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com


My secret fantasies…

Fifty Shades of Grey has a lot to answer for.ultimate fantasy vacation

Firstly, let me preface by saying that this type of book does not appeal to me. However, given that it was the most talked-about book last year, I felt the need to see what the big attraction was. Being a writer means that sometimes you just have to read what is current. A bit like journalists needing to stay up-to-date with current affairs, even if the subject matter isn’t really their thing.

So I read Fifty Shades.

Let’s just say that it was time I will never get back. Poor storyline (yes, I know the storyline was not really a focus in these books!), poorly written, cardboard characters and over-rated. Pretty appalling really. The author may sell a lot of copies, but she certainly won’t be winning any literary awards for her work.

Along with the fact that it is a poorly written book, it has given our men-folk the wrong idea about what women want. Most mums I talk to do not have fantasies similar to those in Fifty Shades. Call us boring or old-fashioned, but what most of us would like is some time on our own without any responsibility!

Two weeks of school holidays start next week. But if your place is like mine, the concept of a ‘holiday’ seems to get lost. There has been a lot of talk about the various activities my children want to do — all of which involve spending lots of money and driving kids around.

But what if a holiday was all about you? You didn’t have to consider anyone else’s needs, wants or desires — only your own?

That’s the kind of fantasy I’ve been indulging in. And after a little bit of research (the kind that involves chats to other mums over coffee or wine), here are the kinds of holidays that I think most mums would be happy to have.

The Relaxing Rest

Picture a well-appointed home on an isolated cliff somewhere overlooking the sea. Or maybe it’s a secluded island with crystal clear water. Relaxing afternoons ambling over rocks, swimming or walking through the countryside. Days spent wandering through quaint little towns, looking for gourmet delights for dinner. Sitting in front of a fire at night with a book and a bottle of red and some good-quality chocolate. And then tumbling into bed with lots of soft pillows, warm cosy quilts and the whole bed to yourself.

My school holiday reality: I may get the odd hour or two to read my book — in between operating a taxi service.

Gastronomical Greed

If you are like me, you enjoy your food. And this type of holiday is the one to take someone else who appreciates their food. So Jenny, my partner in crime — this is for us! Let me preface by saying that this is a fantasy holiday, which means we won’t get fat, nor will we feel sick at any time during this trip!

This holiday will involve lots and lots of eating — all of it prepared and cleaned up by someone else. Just a few of the places that come to mind include a cooking course in Tuscany, chocolate tastings, spending a weekend following some of Victoria’s wonderful food trails, having a private foodie walking tour, eating at hatted restaurants and wineries and just enjoying some fabulous company and great food. Oh, and the odd bottle of wine!

My school holiday reality: My husband will suggest we use our free pizza voucher – despite the fact it will make me feel sick.

Adventurous Activity

I’m not a hard-core thrill seeking person, so a holiday involving bungy jumping or parachuting is not on my list of fantasies. However, a walking holiday would be great. There are a few around, but my ideal is to walk from place to place, savouring the sights, while someone else carries all your baggage, and you end up in 5-star accommodation at night with 5-star meals along the way. What a great way to adventure! I would even be prepared to take the rest of the family on this one, as long as they pestered someone else for food when they got hungry.

My school holiday reality: A quick walk around the block before coming home to cook dinner for the troops!

Stylist Spending Spree

What girl doesn’t like to shop? But the problem is usually not enough money or we don’t know what to buy. Well, this fantasy has it all — a personal stylist, private jet (to take us to places like New York, Paris, and London), and a bank account that never runs out. Hey, I’ll even throw in the personal assistant to carry all your bags and then clean out the old stuff from your wardrobe when you get home. However, this fantasy will take time, so you’ll have to invest a week or two away from home. Are you in?

My school holiday reality: No new clothes for me, but I’m sure the Build-a-Bears will be getting new outfits!

Historical Hiatus

How wonderful would it be to wander about at your leisure and look at old buildings or civilisations and imagine how life was like. This trip is not really about focussing on dates and events, but taking the time to understand lifestyles, and personal stories of people who are no longer with us. Think Pyramids, Stonehenge, Machu Pichu, Petra, Great Wall of China and even Anzac Cove. Once again this would require time and money, but this is a fantasy, so anything is possible! And the children are welcome on this one. It’s so much better to show them history than teach it.

My school holiday reality: A discussion on what I used to do in school holidays, seeing as we didn’t have electronic games back then!

Rejuvenating Retreat

Ah yes! Time on your own to rejuvenate. Spa treatments, massage, meditation, gentle exercise, lots of healthy food, and plenty of rest, sleep and reading. Of course, as this is supposed to be a retreat, there will be no housework of any kind, or taxiing kids around to various holiday activities, cooking, refereeing arguments or laundry. All meals (which you can personally order) will be brought to you. No children or husbands allowed. Interested?

My school holiday reality: If I’m lucky, I might be able to have a bath without someone coming it to clean their teeth, ask where something is, or to complain about their sibling.

So there you are girls — a list of fantasies to think upon, while you get busy these school holidays.

And for you men-folk — a few ideas on what we would REALLY like to do.

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words by nerissa

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