I used to carry a Field Notes with me every day.

I still have one (dozens, if you look in my second from the bottom desk drawer but let’s not count), along with some others, in a Maxpedition Fatty Pocket organizer (Amazon) as my around-the-house EDC.

And I wasn’t using it.

I didn’t use it. Having kids while being a stay-at-home dad (is there any other kind?) is tough. Wish I could sugarcoat that to any other writing parent, hoping there’s some trick, but there isn’t. There really isn’t. It takes a lot of work, a lot of collaborative effort with your partner, and a lot of active participation.

That’s a term from my teaching days. “Active Participation” means you teach a lesson with the express intent of making sure your kids are engaging on some form. This can manifest as group discussions, exit slips, answering  on a white board with dry erase marker, etc. Something that shows your kids are engaged and listening.

Writing with kids is like that. Nothing comes to you accidentally. Nothing just *happens* by mistake anymore. You don’t get to stay up until 3am working on your grand project without some serious forethought and energy.

And this Field Notes, this one in the Featured Image, is what’s going to help me get to that.

A sample page from not long ago.

For too long I wasn’t using one the way I was. The Bullet Journal method (talked more in greater detail here) is a popular form of journaling, and it’s a system I use a variation of. Every day that gets logged starts with the date and day in bullet form. Then, my water log. Yes, I’m one of those fools who likes to keep track of his water intake. It’s not just because I live in a desert. I’d argue it’s even more crucial now as a dad I forget to eat certain healthy foods on a regular basis.

Below that is the daily/weekly chore list. The feeling of doing nothing around the house, even when I was doing LOTS, was beginning to break my brain and make me feel like I wasn’t worth the time or love of my wife or children. This is an easy fix. All I did was start writing down what I did every day (not these days, as I’m still getting over a strained muscle in my lower back) and my mental health took a big upturn. The simplest changes can make all the difference.

Below that would be daily appointments/to-do things, assigned a time. Since we had nothing going on this day I just jotted some notes about changes I wanted to make to one of my Magic the Gathering Commander decks. Everything goes in here. Everything.

Then, it’s the work stuff. The writing bits I want to accomplish for the day.

That’s it. Simple. To the point. A nice reminder, as all journalistic endeavors should be, of what I’ve done and am doing.

I’ll still carry one of the weekly planner ones around, to look ahead and remind myself of upcoming appointments and birthdays. The layout was too small and didn’t allow me to write down everything I was doing.

And I do need to write down everything. My mental fortitude demands it, apparently. Feed the beast. Acknowledge what it’s craving and give it to it.

I need this. I need to know that what I’m doing is good, and what good I am actually doing.

Thanks for reading,

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