Passing on the Storytelling Love

Our four-year-old loves to read before bed. Reading has been baked into his bedtime routine since he was a baby. He takes a bath, brushes his teeth, gets his pajamas on, picks some books, and then we snuggle up to read.

I always let him pick the books. I tell him how many we have time for, and he makes the picks. He usually goes through phases of reading three same three to five stories ecru night for a couple weeks, until a new set is chosen.

I usually read to him. He loves hearing each story told in a certain cadence. He asks questions about the words he hears and the pictures he sees.

For a while, I tried to teach him basic reading as we went, sounding out the letters of simple words like “dog” as we read. He was not into it. He would just like to be read to, thank you very much.

He tells fantastic stories to himself as he plays, and he tries to tell us about his imaginary party house we have yet to see.

A couple months ago, I was worried that he would be slow to pick up reading on his own. After talking about it with my wife, I realized that was a premature idea.

For one, he’s still too young to really grasp reading on his own, without being a prodigy. And two, my mom read too me every night before bed until I was much older than he is now. Maybe 10? And even once I started reading too myself, I read a lot of the same books over and over.

The Redwall series, various Calvin and Hobbes collections, Animorphs, probably some Roald Dahl.

I didn’t pick up The Hobbit until I was 12, and I didn’t expand my reading list much beyond what was assigned to me in school until I was in college.

I was a late bloomer as a reader. And the four-year-old might be, too.

I’m cool with that. It may just give me more time to read with him. And the chance to share some of the novels I loved as a kid.

He loves stories. He loves hearing them told, and he loves telling them, even to himself. I’m just here to listen.

Steve D

The Alternate Timeline Work Schedule

After years of food service and now years of office work, I’ve become increasingly convinced that my most effective work day caps out at six hours.

It’s not that I don’t want to work for eight hours — not any less than most 9-5’ers. It’s more that I find it difficult to be 100% focused across an eight-hour work day.

My mental energy tends to peak around six hours, and then flag. I usually end up taking a late break, powering through morning meetings and a couple of big to-do list items before I feel my attention span slip.

So I try to take a break, meditate or exercise or just get away from my computer for a bit. Then I return to my desk and see what I can get done in the remaining hours of the afternoon to clock my average eight. Obviously, there are days when I get caught up in something and work longer, and there are days where a life priority needs my attention.

Six hours.

I sometimes wonder what my daily routine could be with a six-hour work day instead of eight.

I would want to start at the same time, get the kids to daycare and jump straight in.

Then I could work a full shift with limited breaks — a few minutes here or there to refill my coffee, et cetera — and logoff with a couple hours to spare before I picked up the kids.

Some days, I might lounge in relative relaxation. Most days, though, I would tackle all the second shift priorities that I otherwise compartmentalize for most of the day:

  • Laundry
  • Dishes
  • Cleaning
  • Exercising with a real routine
  • Appointments for the doctor, the eye doctor, the vet, the dentist, the mechanic
  • Dinner prep
  • Grocery shopping
  • Yard work

Needless to say, that is far too many things to do in a single two-hour window, but across a week’s worth of six-hour work days? I could get a lot done.

Then I consider my alternate day job, the one so many are chasing or pretending not to chase.

Writing. What if writing could be my job, six hours per day. Six hours of dedicated writing, or world building, or publishing logistics, without the guilt over spending so much time on a hobby, or the anxiety over not spending enough time doing the things you enjoy.

That would be my schedule in an alternate life. I’m not actively chasing it, and frankly, I’d be content with just a six-hour work day.

Life has endless priorities as it is, and it feels like balancing them takes just as much effort as actually accomplishing anything.

I’m curious — who out there has a non-conventional work schedule? Part-time? Stay-at-home? Professional writer? How does the balance shift for you?

Steve D