My study can be a bit like Paddington Station. I do tend to leave the door open so my family walk in and out whenever they please. But, even if I shut the door they walk in and out anyway. I suppose, they all know that is where they will find me. In fact, I think they purposely wait until I am fully engrossed in a piece of writing before they walk in and interrupt me.
One of the other times they all like to congress in my study is when I’m on the phone. Yep, I can guarantee anybody who is in the house, not just the kids, will come into my study if I need to make a phone call.
Trouble is it takes ages for me to start to write and just as long to get going again when I’m interrupted. I frantically try to finish the sentence before I stop to see what they want.
I use to worry the reason they interrupted me was because I was neglecting my children and maybe I shouldn’t be working or being distracted by my PC when they are home, after school and in the school holidays, etc. But, I do like it in my study. I used to believe they would not be competing for my attention like this if I just switched the computer off, or made the phone calls whilst they were at school, or in bed. Maybe, it is a problem of working from home? Organising the time around the children is easier said than done.
I was re-reading the other day a book called, Detoxing Childhood by Sue Palmer . In it Sue made some very valid points about being a parent in the 21st century. I wrote a review of the book for Write Away many years ago. See: Detoxing Childhood.
In the book, Sue points out the latest addiction, which she termed ‘pigeon post’. This is where in any spare moments people think, ‘Oh – I’ll just go and check the email.’ Then once logged on may spend ages on their correspondence, quite forgetting the family. I do this all the time. I am addicted.
Sue Palmer compared this addiction to the experiments the psychologist, B. F. Skinner, did on pigeons. He found if you gave pigeons intermittent, unpredictable rewards, the pigeons would peck enthusiastically at a particular spot – even to the point some would peck their beaks totally blunt. Emails are my intermittent rewards. I am a pigeon and probably just as stupid as one in that I am not even sure I want to put it right. Getting emails makes me happy, especially if they contain good news.
I reassure myself by thinking back to when I was a child. I remember how I loved playing in the street, my parents never knew half the things I got up to, and I was always okay. In the same way, my now grown-up children are just as happy to be getting on with things on their own. Occasionally they just need to check that their mum is still okay.
So my top-tip today is if you are interrupted don’t try to finish the sentence just STOP! It is easier to get back into the flow if the sentence is half-way through.