Naps & Toast & Rock 'n' Roll

One of my favorite quotes is by Henry David Thoreau and it goes like this:

"To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts."

Isn’t that just beautiful?

Thoreau could have easily been talking about writers like you and I when he wrote this because writers who work from home have a tremendous amount of freedom … plenty of opportunity to affect the quality of the day.

For me, a high-quality day includes the early part of the morning when I get to make breakfast for my two little ankle-biters.

My boy Callum turns four in a couple of weeks; his little sister Liv is almost two.

In the mornings, we lounge. And eat.

The kids' favorite morning menu item is Daddy's French Toast. And I never tire of making it, because we do it healthy style … organic eggs, homemade gluten-free bread (courtesy of my talented wife), a few other secret ingredients, and all topped off with a touch of pure Canadian maple syrup. (Yes, the maple syrup does flow like water up here in Canada.)

Yet, as good as the French Toast is (if I do say so myself), it's not the highlight of the morning.

The best part is what often precedes it.

My Home-School Secret

You see, as a music lover, I believe it's never too early to instill an appreciation for great music in young, moldable minds.

To give them a rock-solid foundation, you might say, something strong enough to withstand their inevitable exposure to the Jonas Brothers of tomorrow.

And so, in our home, I've instituted the Savage School of Rock.

It's a sneaky sort of home schooling, you might say. The kids don't even know they're being educated. And it's working, thanks to a full-immersion education technique I invented called "kitchen dancing."

It is exactly as it sounds.

Most mornings, usually before breakfast, the kids and I … we turn the speakers up and get on down.

School is in session, with the three of us grooving to everything from Joe Cocker to Jay-Z. (It's a diverse curriculum here at the Savage School.)

As you might expect with any school of rock, there are no rules. Woooo!

While dancing, Callum invents brand new moves every 15 seconds. I merely follow along.

This works out well for me, since copying the arm flails and leg kicks of a four-year-old disguises daddy's shortcomings on the dance floor quite nicely.

Liv (at 21 months of age, mind you) parades around bopping her head in time with the music and generally looking far more coordinated than I.

All of this can go on for half-an-hour. And, there's no sense of urgency for any of us to rush to sit down to breakfast because, well, there's nowhere else I need to be.

My office is one floor above, with a total commute time of eleven seconds. A little longer if my dog, Ringo, intercepts me before I reach the staircase to receive a free head-scratch.

I'm grateful every day that I get to watch my kids grow up before my very eyes. Grateful for the uncommon amount of time I get to spend with them. Grateful that, as a result, they prefer The Beatles to The Wiggles.

It's an unbeatable way to live. An unbeatable quality of life.

Thoreau buddy, I'm feelin' ya.

Afternoon Naps: A Priority

Working from home has always had a positive impact on family life here at Chez Savage.

Back when Callum was Liv's age, he had difficulty napping in the afternoons. It seemed the only times he would fall asleep was when he was in motion.

So for months, virtually every afternoon, I would stop work at 1:30 p.m., strap the little guy into the bicycle seat attachment on my mountain bike, and pedal all over the damn place trying to coax him to sleep.

Sometimes he'd conk out within 10 minutes; other times it took more than 40. But, it really didn’t matter. I had carved out an hour of time, mid-day, for this critical bonding ritual. I absolutely loved it.

And for our circumstances, this hour of personal time worked wonders for my whole family. I got some fresh air, exercise, and a mental break from work. My little guy got eased into slumber. And my wife (who was pregnant with our little girl at the time) used this downtime as a window to catch a much-needed nap herself.

The point is, thanks to being a freelance writer, I've always had the flexibility to create pretty much the perfect work-life balance that fits with my family circumstances.

Create Your Perfect Work-Life Balance

What about you? Would you rate your work-life balance as Fair? Medium? Poor? In case you'd like to improve in this area, allow me to share ONE important tip on how to improve your work-life balance.

Just one tip, with the hope that you will take it to heart and apply it.

It's one of the simplest — and best — pieces of advice I've ever heard on the subject, and it comes from my friend Jason Womack, master productivity coach and author.

Jason recommends you strive for creating a work-life balance that matches your wildest desire. His advice:

To explore and define what work-life balance means to you, carve out 60 minutes a week so you can go away from your work and think about your work.

Don't just do this once; practice this for five weeks to get a very clear understanding of how your work life and your personal life can exist in harmony.

That's it. I love Jason's advice for the same reason I love Thoreau's quote: Its beauty is in its simplicity.

Read Jason's advice again and realize: anyone can do this! But the truth is, the daydreams about your desired lifestyle feel that much more real if you are committed — I mean really committed — to creating a life on your own terms.

So, put your commitment to the test. Take me up on my suggestion that you follow Jason's advice. Open your calendar — right now — and set aside some time to think about your work.

Your idea of work-life bliss might not involve dancing like a fool to Feelin' Alright in your kitchen, but I know your own beautiful vision of a perfectly-balanced lifestyle is dancing around inside you, just waiting to be invited out.

So take time to get to know it, conjuring up as vivid a vision as you can. Really enjoy this exercise. If you give it the attention it deserves, you'll find it to be a powerful motivator that will help you make your own dream life a reality.

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Published: August 3, 2010

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