I’m sitting at the kitchen table, scrolling through Facebook while the sound of Gargamel and Papa Smurf come from the sitting room, and the smell of chorizo pasta fills the kitchen. Well, just chorizo – there’s no pasta yet. Because if I put on the pasta, in ten tiny minutes I’ll have to pause Gargamel and Papa Smurf and call the kids in for dinner. And I’m not ready to deal with that yet.
Mid-term kind of crept up on me this year – is that how it’s been for everyone? I had my big book deadline just the week before, then a few days to come down from the high and get back to all the rest of the work I’d been unable to finish, and then suddenly it was Friday afternoon and the kids were off for a whole week. And someone asked me what I was going to do with them for the week – any camps or anything – and I had absolutely no idea. Winging it was the best I could come up with.
So wing it we did. I made a deal with the kids that each morning I’d get work done and they would play, and each afternoon we’d go out somewhere. This worked to an extent – not so much that they left me entirely in peace, but at least when they did come to ask me to join in a game, or squeeze mandarins to make orange juice, or make a real car out of a cereal box (one that actually drives) I could remind them of our agreement.
And it wasn’t conducive to work that requires any kind of deep concentration or silence, but I discovered it’s perfectly possible to do research and edit and send emails while people work on colouring their cardboard houses or go sledding up and down the kitchen floor on a folded up doll’s buggy.
And I’d love to tell you our afternoon outings included bracing walks up Killiney Hill and along Dun Laoghaire Pier, but no, we mostly went to the library, or out for coffee and cake, or back to the library.
I blame the weather, but in truth, it suited me to keep it simple, especially as it was after three by the time we got out most days. Overall it was a fairly pathetic attempt at mid-term, but I’ve talked it up and the kids think they had a great time.
And I think for the first time since becoming self-employed, I can picture a future where every school holiday doesn’t strike fear, and I know I can get some work done while they’re off – a bit like realising you can leave the house without a changing bag or take a day trip without a buggy, but multiplied by fifteen weeks a year.
Right now though, I’m at the end of my mid-terming abilities, and I’m ready for Friday night couch and wine and cheese and Graham Norton. I just need to put on the pasta. Nearly there. Winging it.