Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Meet Joe

I'm trying to stay away from my computer a little more this week since it's spring break in my neck o' the woods. (I didn't say I was doing a good job at it; just that I was trying!) Anyway, tonight I have a guest post from a fellow writer, stay-at-home parent, and friend from high school. Meet Joe. Then check out his website!

My name is Joe Konrath, and I'm a stay at home dad.

I'm fortunate that my career--fiction writing--allows me to be home full-time with my son, whom I love dearly and whose name escapes me at the moment.

My wife (I think her name is Maria) owns her own dog walking business. That means she's out all day, leaving the household in my care. So I'm responsible for the cooking, the cleaning, and helping our child with his homework, while also working as a novelist with seven published books.

What's my secret? How can I balance being a good father and taking care of everything that needs to be done around the house with a lucrative career in the arts, while remaining happy, healthy, and stress-free?

The answer is simple: I cut corners, do a half-assed job, and let things work themselves out. Because unless someone is bleeding so badly it doesn't stop after forty minutes, chances are I'm not really needed.

Here are my tips on how you can shirk as much responsibility as I do and still have a happy, healthy, somewhat stable child.

Tip 1: Make the children become self-sufficient. One of my favorite photos of our son is from when he was three years old, making himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, his face covered with a good amount of each. A close friend of mine, also male, told me, "How can you make him do that himself? Are you so lazy you can't make a sandwich for your kid?"

Yes. Yes I am that lazy. But that's not the point. Why should I make him lunch when he can do it himself? What is that teaching him? Especially when he can plainly see I'm checking my ranking on Amazon.com for the fifth time that day?

My son is now eleven. He gets up and ready for school by himself, and as been doing that since Kindergarten. He makes his own breakfast and lunch. He also makes dinner for the family once a week, without any help from me, though I am nearby shouting helpful advice such as, "Don't burn yourself" and "Get the steak away from the dog and rinse it off, Mom won't know."

Tip 2: If you're able to tune your children out, they quickly learn problem solving skills without you. These are skills that carry on into adult life. Skills such as putting on their own Band-Aids, basic grooming, laundry, and homework. Especially homework. I think I'm going to print up some T-Shirts that say, "I Am Not Google." I bet a lot of parents would buy them.

Some tricks for tuning your kids out include: feigning sleep, pretending not to hear them, typing something at your computer when they walk into the room (this only works if you're a writer), and turning the tables by asking them what time they're making dinner tonight.

Tip 3: Bribe them. Sure, learning responsibility helps build character and makes your kids into functional, well-rounded adults, but chances are they won't go for it unless they get an allowance. I currently pay my son nine-hundred and eighty dollars a week.

Tip 4: Show them and tell them you love them. The more my son is able to help himself and take care of things around the house, the more quality time I'm able to spend with him, because I'm not locked into doing all of these things myself.

For example, we just spent 18 hours together, father and son bonding while playing Resident Evil 5. Videogames gave us a chance to address some important family issues, such as: How many bullets to the head does it take to drop a zombified alligator, why we need to take turns holding the hand grenades, and how it was his fault, not mine, we lost that last boss fight because he was too busy opening crates to find extra health while I was getting chewed on.

But, Joe, you may ask, what about house cleaning? Didn't you say earlier that you're responsible for the house cleaning?

I am responsible for it, and it's totally my fault that the house cleaning doesn't get done. Usually my wife gets so sick of living in a pig sty that she spends her day off cleaning up. She's usually vocal about it, too, interrupting whatever videogame I'm playing with my son.

How rude.


JA Konrath is the writer of the Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels series of thrillers, each named after a drink. The sixth, Cherry Bomb, comes out in July. The books are equal parts humor and suspense, sort of a cross between Janet Evanovich and James Patterson. He's also the author of the horror novel, Afraid, written under the pen name Jack Kilborn. Afraid comes out March 31, and Joe insists its the scariest book ever written. But if you're a parent, there probably isn't much left that can scare you, so you should check it out. You can visit Joe at his website,http://jakonrath.com/.

And check out my review and giveaway for a Peek email/texting device HERE!


Jen said...

ROFL! That is hilarious. So nice to meet your friend, Joe, Dawn! Thanks! :D

Feisty Irish Wench said...

I have a friend that was just utterly amazed that my daughter was making her own PB&J's at age 4 (now 6). Her 9 year old son (now 11) can't even do that. Of course he COULD if she handed him the stuff to make it and left him to it. I let the kids serve their own plates in preschool, because it develops motor skills too. Yes, I'm a slacker mom. I only do it because they need to learn these life skills themselves, and the earlier the better. That, and I have blogs and message boards to read. Did I mention the teen boys do their own laundry too?

JA Konrath said...

Thanks for having me, Dawn! Love your blog.

Here we are, both from the same graduating high school class, and we both end up being published writers. Life is funny, isn't it? :)

Looking forward to your book. You're more than welcome to guest post over at my blog any time.


Michelle said...

And here I thought it was YOUR Joe that was going to be doing the post... and I was mildly surprised.

This? This cracked me up. It's pretty much the male version of how me being a SAHM would go. Except that I'd have to give up on the living in a pig sty because my husband wouldn't notice.

I think I have another couple books to look for when I head the library to get more books for Mister Man :)

JA Konrath said...

@ Jen - Nice to meet you, too.

@ Feisty - I also taught my eleven-year old how to drive so he can do all the grocery shopping. I have him wear a fake mustache so the police don't pull him over. :)

Anonymous said...

I think I just peed my pants. Dang it.

Mum-me said...

Yep, Joe sounds like a typical man.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious friend Joe! LUV IT! I've been considering teaching my 6yr old to drive so he can do the grocery shopping - i've already had extenders put on the car pedals -never thought about the mustache! thanks my plan is almost fully cooked.

Dawn- forgive me for being late to the party, but... you know I still can't figure out having your posts sent in the rite format to my email.:-0 grrr.

I knew your book was coming out... what I wasn't aware of was that it's April ...next week!!!oy!

So...you are having a book signing, how exciting. I'm sure you have seen the write up on their site "Come meet the next Irma Bombeck, Dawn Meehan, mommy-blogger, as she talks about and signs her new book, "Because I Said So." the next Irma- yowza!

Should I just buy my book there so you can sign it? If I buy it from Amazon it may not arrive in time and then I'd have to stalk you for a signature - not cool. Tell me what to do.

I have about 1/2 brain cell left -it's mid week spring break week here too.

You da' best!

ShellyBlake said...

woo hoo - I love Joe!! So cool ya'll know each other - what a small world!!
If you haven't read Joe's books - go out & start reading them - he rocks!!

Jodi Dolbel said...

Theres alot to be said for cutting corners... and it does make a more self sufficient child. I never got out of bed to get my kids breakie... If they were old enough to get themselves out of bed, they were old enough to get breakfast too..
My son is 18 and gets up at 3.30am everyday to do mail sorting and delivery as a postman.
Can you imagine if i had of babied my child and got up and made him his breakie everyday, i too would be waking up at that hour of the morning!!!
IM long sighted!!! See, i saw that problem when he was a year old and i dealt with!! LOL

Rae_Momto2 said...


Anonymous said...

Dawn, great special guest.
Joe, when your "Google" shirts arrive please put me down for 2, size L.

Anonymous said...

Joe is great!!!
A male version of you Dawn - too funny!!!

Luwanna said...

LOL!!! SO Great to meet your friend! I needed a good laugh this morning, Thank You! :)
I'll need to go check out his books, now, too.

Aky said...

Hi Dawn

Thanks for introducing us to your friend, that's another blog I'll have to add to my list and another author I'll need to chase via Amazon.co.uk !!

Talking of which, am SO excited to have just had an email from same Amazon.co.uk telling me that they have now dispatched my order placed with them in March - YOUR BOOK IS ON IT'S WAY TO ME!!! Yay! All the way to Lancashire, England - how excited that little book should be heading it's way to the land 'oop North ....

Really looking forward to it
Aky x

Fearless Mom said...

Wow, you went to high school with Joe Konrath? I was reading his blog long before yours. He has one of the best blogs out there about writing. He is quite the one for stirring up controversy in the writing world. Go Joe!

Anonymous said...

I'm another one that thought your guest Joe was YOUR Joe.

Love the entry! I am definitely going to look for the books on my next trip to Border's. Definitely!

Beth in MI

Anonymous said...

When are we going to hear from Joe M. I was disapointed it wasn't him.

Anonymous said...

I loved this post. fabulous. I will be checking out Afraid...sounds great. Yay a new blog to check out. Great job Joe.

dramamama said...

I want an "I Am Not Google" T-shirt!! NOW! :)

Swanny said...

What a small world. Dawn, I just had your blog recommended to me by a friend from church (Vicki Smith). And here I am stumbling by while following Joe's blog tour. Great post and I love your blog!

JA Konrath said...

@ Ellen - You can make a mustache easily with a warm chocolate chip.

@ Shelly - Thanks!

@ Ray - I can't be a hero, because that sounds a lot like work. :)

@ SisterSara - Thanks! You're a female version of Dawn! I mean, other than Dawn...

@ luwanna3 - I suggest stealing my books from the library. You get them for free, then the library has to buy a replacement copy. Win win.

@ Aky - I love England, but I have some problems with the language barrier.

@ Fearless - I love it when fans cross-pollinate. Except when there are allergies.

@ Beth - A little known fact is if you rip the cover off a paperback book, it's free. Ask any bookseller.

@ Danga - Thanks! But you have to sign a disclaimer, stating I'm not responsible for nightmares...

@ Nicole & Dramamama - I also am going to invent Velcro underwear, but I'm afraid they be ripped off.

@ Swanny - I know the reason you're stumbling, you poor guy.

Megan said...

I also thought we were hearing from your hubby Joe! I was kind of excited! I mean your friend Joe is a great writer, but why not let hubby Joe say a few things one of these days?

SSO- If asked, would you go on Dancing With the Stars??

Rick said...

Maybe the reason he can't make a sandwich is because he's drunk on his own fiction.

pmerry said...

Yay! I am always looking for new authors. Can't wait to get his book from the library. Thanks for sharing him.

Tiffany said...

Thanks Joe for the laugh! Thats just too funny. I will now have to check out your blog and your books - thats okay though my toddler is totally into his "shows" so he won't notice the extra time!!

Dawn - Amazon has imformed me today that your book is on its way!! Can't wait to read (and blog) about it!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for introducing us to Joe, Dawn. He seems like the male counterpart of you! He's very funny! I'm going to check out his website.

Hope you're hanging in there during spring break! Tomorrow's Thursday already!!

Donna in PA :)

nutralady2001 said...

For a minute there I thought you meant YOUR Joe LOL

Jennifer Foster said...

Great post!

faithlessone said...

Love it!!

Kids are so lazy these days. They need a bit of self-sufficiency training.

Dawn - I GOT THE BOOK!!!!! It's sitting at home waiting for me to read it. :D

Anonymous said...

Hi Dawn- You are the coffee of my day. I am like the others who thought this was your Joe-would love to hear about some of his trials looking after the six wonderful kids.

Vicki from Nova Scotia

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry it wasn't your Joe.

Anonymous said...

Love the parenting advice, Joe!
And what a great blog, Dawn. I found you through Joe's blog tour -- I'll be back!

leaner said...

Wow! I love his writing here so much, I immediately put one of his books on hold at my local library. If I like it, I am buying them all!

Neasa said...

I want one of those T-shirts! Brilliant, brilliant post. Made me laugh out loud!

Amelia Antwiler said...

What a great thing to read first thing in the morning!!

It's soooo nice to meet Joe. He sounds like a great guy to know. His post here on parenting has been an inspiration.

Another thing that is valuable to teach them is where the ice packs are. Ice can help so many wounds. Ice packs are just as valuable as bandaids around here.

Great thoughts.

Unknown said...

This is just hilarious. I don't think I'll be taking this approach anytime soon, but I know my husband would if he were the one home with the kids all day.

Wanda said...

Dad's ROCK! I'm sure mama's everywhere are envious of your wife!

Cute post!

Jess said...

Awesome post! Joe is my new idol. Maybe I should teach my four year old to make his own sandwiches since his idea of feeding himself involves getting himself an ice cream sandwich from the freezer while I'm talking a shower! Well, it is a step in the right direction, right?

I just downloaded Whiskey Sour to my Kindle -- I can't wait to read it. I'm a huge Janet Evanovich and James Patterson fan, so your books sound right up my alley. And if not, at least I can delete it!

Lisa Noel said...

hmmm, it's my husband, without the writing skils

JA Konrath said...

Thanks for the kind words, everyone. Besides the Google tees, I'm also printing up shirts that say "I Got Screwed By MapQuest."

I'm taking orders now...

Lauren Wayne said...

Oh, my, this was so hilarious. I have to share this with my husband. We're always trying to figure out ways to be lazier parents, and we're counting the days until we can put our almost 2-year-old to work in our home business and deduct it from our taxes. We've already gotten him carrying things places for us and taping boxes shut. (That's why we have kids, right?) I'll have to go read your books now!

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