Tag: Kids

Home > ArchivesTag: Kids

Balancing the Toddler-Mom and Writing Lives—Achievable or Myth? by Melinda S. Collins

November 28, 2018 by in category Guest Posts tagged as , , ,

Balancing | Melinda S. Collins | A Slice of Orange


Balance. My goodness, I have a love/hate relationship with this idea of having enough time for everything in my life—dayjob, daughter and hubby, keeping the home in a semi-state of controlled chaos, reading, writing the next great American novel. Oh, and taking time out for myself so I don’t lose my mind.


Every now and then I’m able to get into a good juggling rhythm. By every now and then I mean about every 1-2 months. Because, Murphy’s Law, if anything can go wrong, it will. Which means one can only wonder whether balance is truly achievable or just a big ‘ole myth.


Over the last few months, I’ve thought quite a lot about my own balancing act, and that lead me to first review the definition via Webster’s online:


Balance [bal-uhns] Noun


  1. A state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc.
  2. Something used to produce equilibrium; counterpoise.
  3. Mental steadiness or emotional stability; habit of calm behavior, judgment, etc.


While each of these definitions are on point, that last one is the epitome of my current life goal: creating a habit of calming behavior so I can have mental steadiness and emotional stability.


So now you may be wondering how the hell I’m going to manage that achievement, eh? I hear you. I have a job in the managed healthcare industry that I am very good at and really love (most days), a headstrong, energetic, and fast-growing two-year old daughter (read: stubborn, exhausting, and teething), a wonderful, supportive husband, a home I love but never devote enough time to its upkeep, and a novel I finished 2 years ago that needs heavy revisions so I can finally get it into the inboxes of the dozen agents/editors who’ve requested pages. Amongst all of that, I’ve got additional aspirations for furthering both my managed care and writing careers, expanding our little family (soon-ish), and getting my daughter involved in group activities. Whew! I may have been hit with a little anxiety just typing all that out.


So yeah, how the hell am I going to manage all of this? Well, luckily that wonderful husband I’ve mentioned has committed to my dreams in the same way I have, because in order for me to obtain the balance I need, his foundation of love and support will be invaluable (I’m also providing the same to him for his dreams). And because of that, I can confidently share my top five tips for balancing the writing and mom life while keeping your sanity… cause it’s not a myth. smile


  • Know your priorities. For me, family will always come first, no matter what. As long as my family is happy, loved, and functioning, everything else in my life is a bonus. This is where my dayjob comes into play as well, because my pay check greatly contributes to the roof over my family’s heads and the healthy, homemade meals they get every evening.
  • Goals are a non-negotiable. Without an end goal in mind, you cannot create a roadmap to achieving that said goal. Part of my 2019 goals includes making myself accountable to not only my family, but a critique partner. Next month I will send them my writerly goals for the first quarter of 2019, then I will sit down and create my roadmap for meeting those goals by the end of March. Then rinse and repeat for quarters two, three, and four. *smile*
  • Schedules are a necessary evil. Without a schedule, all you have are the destinations (goals). So in order to say you know how to achieve your goals, you need preplanned, dedicated, uninterrupted work time. For me that means every Saturday from 7am to 4pm is sacred. I work between forty and fifty hours any given week, and my boss will tell you that in that time I complete the work of 1.5 people. This means that during the week it’s very hard to do anything writerly unless it’s a simple beta read, because, let’s be honest, by the time dinner and bath time are done and the kid’s in the bed fast asleep, it’s nearly 8:30 and I’m t-minus one hour away from passing out myself. So as long as I have dedicated time to work on my writing, I can allow the chaos of family life to overtake my weeknights without worry.
  • A solid support system is key. In order to even stick to the schedule you’ve set, you need a support system that’ll not only make sure the toddler’s fed, changed, entertained, and safe, but also remind you they are sacrificing their time in order for you to have those few, precious hours. Lately my husband and I split our weekends: I have Saturday until 4 and he has Sunday until 4, after that time on both days we spend time with our daughter together. Each Saturday he’ll tell me to get my writing done, which is both a wonderful support and reminder that he’s counting on me to use my time wisely. And not just him but the critique partners who then take their time to review my work and provide invaluable feedback.
  • Be accountable to yourself, first and foremost. None of the above will work if you are not going to be accountable to yourself. After all, the main person you’re letting down by not achieving your goals is YOU. I’ve learned this the hard way, over and over again and, truth be told, I’m sick and tired of setting goals and never being able to check them off as complete, because I know that eventually what’ll happen is ten years will go by without a damn thing accomplished and I’ll be nothing but regretful and disappointed in myself. And that’s not the example I want to set for my daughter.




Celebrate. Every. Accomplishment.


When my kid actually follows instructions and puts away all the canned food she stacked throughout the kitchen? cheers REWARD.

When she lets me drop her off at daycare without a five-star, soap-opera-worthy dramatic meltdown. cheers REWARD.

And here’s my favorite: When she actually pees in her potty vs the bathroom floor? cheers REWARD.


Seriously. The reward system works, and it’s not just for kids. Even as adults, celebrating every accomplishment, no matter how small, sends a signal somewhere in our brain that then keeps us motivated to do more. To reach higher. To push ourselves beyond our limits because we can do this!


Because I need to drink my own Kool-Aid on this one, here are the writerly accomplishments I’m going to celebrate this week, as they will push me into the next project like nothing else:

  • I am a two-time Lawson Academy Immersion Grad. This means I not only participated and stuffed my brain with a ton of amazing craft lessons via online classes, but I immersed myself in those lessons for 5 days with Margie Lawson and small group of like-minded writers.
  • My second novel, Retribution, placed first in its category in the 2013 MCRW Melody of Love contest.
  • My latest novel, Case of Magic, has a dozen requests from the editors/agents I’ve pitched to at conventions.
  • My first venture into the short story world, One Night in December, will be released as part of an amazing anthology, Once Upon the Longest Night, on December 21st—the Winter Solstice, aka the longest night of the year. (How brilliant is that?)


‘Scuse me a second while I fix a celebratory cocktail.


Ok, so in closing… while I’ve been cooking on the things I need to do to obtain balance in my life, trust me when I say that it wasn’t until these last few weeks that my eyes were opened WIDE. Because of that, my drive to hold fast to these tips, follow and incorporate them every day has only grown ten-fold. And if I can make someone else’s life a little easier by sharing my hard-learned balancing lessons? Well, that’s a cherry on top of the messy cake known as my life. J



Happy writing! cheers

melinda | Melinda S. Collins | A Slice of Orange




Melinda S. Collins

Paranormal & Urban Fantasy Author


Buy now!




2 0 Read more

Dad Jokes: Part Two

June 18, 2017 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Java Plots by marianne h donley tagged as , , ,

Dad Jokes | Marianne H. Donley | A Slice of Orange

A few years ago (okay nine years ago) I wrote the following post for Father’s Day:

I collect Dad Jokes. These are not jokes about dads, but are jokes that dads everywhere tell little kids. Dad Jokes have three things in common:

1. They’re G-rated.
2. They’re lame.
3. You laugh anyway, even years later.

My own dad had a good supple of Dad Jokes starting with “What’s black and white and red all over?” His answer varied according to the age of audience, preschool or kindergarten aged kids got “newspaper” and older kids got “sunburned zebra.” Either way gales of laughter would follow, which fascinated me even as a little kid. Let’s face it, that joke is so old most children are probably born knowing it.

But that joke wasn’t the one that cracked me up. My favorite Dad Joke is (and this is really dating me):

“What”s black and blue, lays in the grass and goes ding-dong?”
“A wounded Avon lady.”

My bothers and sisters and I all went to Catholic school so a close second is:

“What’s black and white, black and white, black and white and black and blue?”
“A nun falling down stairs.”

I should note that we were under strict orders from our mom NOT to tell that joke at school. I am fairly certain that was an order my brother Michael just couldn’t follow, that joke spread though St. Ann’s like wild fire. This was well before the days of “zero tolerance” in our schools where everything a child says is examined for possible homicidal intent, so no one got expelled as a result. However, it has not escaped my notice that there is a more polite version floating around these days, but I can’t think “a penguin falling down stairs” would have the same humor impact on Catholic school children.

My husband has a pretty good supple of Dad Jokes as well. Our sons still laugh at both:

“Why does an elephant paint his toenails red?”
“To hide in a cherry tree.”

“How can you tell if there’s an elephant in the refrigerator?”
“There are footprints in the butter.”

Our daughter’s favorite Dad Joke was told to her by her Uncle Paul. I know if I just mention this joke she, at age 26, will start laughing. So:

“Want to hear a dirty joke?”
“A white horse fell in the mud.”

Why is this “Dad Jokes, Part two?”

Because now I have internet resources for you. I’ve listed my favorite joke (or two)  and then the link to the site where I found it.

What do you call a fake noodle?
An impasta!
From Baby Center’s  35 Silly Jokes for Kids 

What do you call an alligator in a vest?
An Investigator.

What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?
From Jokes4US Kid’s Jokes

What do you call a tick on the moon?
A luna-tick

What kind of music do planets sing?
From Funology’s Outerspace Jokes

What do you call security guards working outside Samsung shops?
Guardians of the Galaxy.

If April showers bring Mayflowers, what do Mayflowers bring?

From Mon Junctions 85 Silly Jokes for Kids (Which I guess proves that moms like dad jokes as much as dads do.)


Happy Father’s Day!

What’s your favorite dad joke?

Marianne H. Donley | A Slice of Orange



Marianne H. Donley makes her home in Tennessee with her husband and son. She is a member of Bethlehem Writers Group, Romance Writers of America, OCC/RWA, and Music City Romance Writers. When Marianne isn’t working on A Slice of Orange, she might be writing short stories, funny romances or quirky murder mysteries, but this could be a rumor.

3 0 Read more

June Traditions

June 1, 2017 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley tagged as , , ,

Apples & Oranges | Marianne H. Donley | A Slice of Orange

June Traditions

Graduations and wedding.  Strawberry stands close.  Corn on the cob stands open.

June bugs attempt suicide by flying into a patio door.  News programs announce grunion runs. Janet Evanovich’s new novel is sure to be on the book store shelf soon. June gloom weather patterns make it impossible to know what to wear each day.  Pick shorts and a tee, the clouds never burn off. Jeans and a pullover guarantee it will be ninety by ten fifteen.  The significant other always announces that the air conditioner will not be turned on until after the Fourth of July.  The kids get out of school.

June Traditions | Marianne H. Donley | A Slice of Orange
Ah, no school. For me, that was always both a blessing and a curse.  I loved the slower pace of summer days, kids making mud pies, decorating the driveway with sidewalk chalk, back yard sleep–overs, and the wide-eyed wonder of a child blowing bubbles.  I was less thrilled with sibling squirt gun fights that degenerated into all out bloody warfare in thirty seconds or less, other parents who assumed that because I was a teacher and therefore home during the summer I would leap at the chance to entertain their little darlings twelve hours a day five days a week for free, and those heartfelt words, “Mom, I’m so bored.”

No school for my kids rarely translated into no other commitments for me. I taught summer school classes, took graduate math classes and always had a novel on which I was working.  So how did I carve out time for writing with a job, graduate school, three kids, and a husband who traveled?

First, I insisted both my sons and my daughter did housework. They made their beds.  They vacuumed. They washed dishes. They scrubbed toilets.  Few of their chores were completed as well as if I had done them myself, but I learned to turn a blind eye to what I didn’t have time to fix and to ignore snippy comments from other adults.

Next, I let my children join inexpensive summer time activities. The PTA arranged a summer movie series for children, a juice-box, a small bag of popcorn and the movie all for a dollar.  Park and Recreation always offered swimming lessons, art lessons, piano lessons, gym classes.  I traded play days with other mothers.  But rather than drop my kids off and return to pick them up, I packed a lawn chair, a clipboard, sun screen and stayed.  I graded papers during swim team practice, completed non-Euclidean geometry homework during gym class and edited chapters of my very first book while my kids played in the sand.

I arranged my desk and computer so that I could see the back yard while I worked.  If they needed me closer, I handed them their own paper and pencils, pulled chairs up to my desk and had them write with me.  I got wild stickers and made a refrigerator chart. They earned a sticker for each book they read and could redeem the chart for a small prize from the junk store.  I bought books on tape like Treasure Island, The Hobbit, Tom Sawyer, cheap tape players with head phones and handed them out when I needed quiet time.  If I was truly desperate and they were truly bored, I let them watch videos, a huge treat at my house where the TV never turned on unless it was dark outside. I set my alarm for four and wrote all morning, something I still do today even though my children are out of the house and have children of their own.

So if your children are home for the summer, cherish them and those mud pies drying in the sun, but plan on carving out time for your writing. You are creative, and if you really want to write, you will find a way.

4 0 Read more

Copyright ©2017 A Slice of Orange. All Rights Reserved. ~PROUDLY POWERED BY WORDPRESS ~ CREATED BY ISHYOBOY.COM