March 7, 2011

But I Have Small Children

Finding time to write can be difficult, but even more so when you have little ones who need your constant attention. I know mommies and daddies have very little time so let me get to the point and share some practical ideas for writers with young’uns.

1. Give yourself permission to survive. I don’t care what anybody says, sometimes you just don’t have writing time. I remember when my first child was born. I’d been through a horrendous labor that zapped all my strength and my baby didn’t like to sleep. It took weeks before I could walk across the room without collapsing. It took a full year before I even felt tinges of normal returning and it took two years before I had the mental energy to think a creative thought. At some junctions in life, surviving is enough.

2. Take advantage of naps. Forget about cleaning the house. It can wait or the kids can be your “helpers” later. Use nap time to tap into your creative side.

3. Put God first. If you have to choose between spending time with God and writing, choose God. Filling up is more important than pouring out. Besides, you will accomplish far more writing with God’s help than without it.

4. Barter for some writing time. Do you have a service you could offer someone in exchange for a few hours of babysitting? Can you swap kids with another mom? I used to trade kids once a week with a friend. One afternoon I’d be the babysitter and the next week I’d have free time.

5. Reserve special toys as treats. I have a love/hate relationship with Playdough. I always hated to clean up after the kids played with it because it was in the carpet, stuck to chairs, and stuck to the bottom of their socks. But Playdough was also my friend. I only allowed the kids to play with it once in a while and I made sure they had lots of colors and all the accessories to go with it. They would stay at the table for hours creating masterpieces, thus freeing me to focus on other things.

Choose a few special toys, things the kids dearly love, and reserve those for times when Mommy or Daddy need to write.

6. Include the kids. Supply them with paper, crayons, a pretend keyboard and let them “write” too.

7. Decide if it’s your hobby or your business. If writing is a hobby, then assign it that place in your life. It’s the thing you do to relieve stress, but it’s not something that should usurp your priorities or take over your life or your children’s lives. If it’s a business, then you’ll have to get very intentional about scheduling time and getting help so that the kids aren’t shortchanged in the equation.

8. Snatch the time. Seize whatever writing time presents itself. Be ready at a moment’s notice to write. If your spouse takes the kids for a walk, if they suddenly become engrossed in an activity, if a sleepy child goes to bed early—snatch it!

9. Be fully present. If you are with the kids, be with the kids, not in a creative stupor. If it’s time to write, then write. Don’t feel guilty or rehearse your “to do” list in your head. Engage.

10. Don’t put the kids on hold. Writing can wait, children cannot. This time will pass quickly. When the kids are grown I promise you won’t look back and say, “If only I’d spent less time with those doggone kids and gotten more writing done!” But you will regret it if their childhood is lost while you stare at a computer screen. Keep everything in perspective.

Editing to say this post wasn't supposed to appear until next Monday, but here we are. I guess we'll get back to the "it" factor in the next post!

Since we're on a roll of changing topics, let me say that my friend Bethany is offering one of her eBooks, Taming the Paper Monster, at a 20% discount. Who couldn't use a resource for cutting down on paper? Just go to her website and click on eBooks to find this treasure.



The Director said...

Oooh, good word. Thank you :)

Amy @ ARock4Him said...

Two more thoughts...1) weave the writing in with the living...see the life around you and jot it down as life happens (Ann Voskamp talks about how she does this so well, and it's become my practice); and 2) if it's a worship or a *must do* like breathing air, or like exercising, build in the time. Each day is unique in its own right and so having a cookie cutter plan doesn't always work. Be flexible. Be ready. And be willing to have God show you what He wants you to write about.

Clare said...

Thank you for being so real. Writing is something that I love, but right now (and maybe not ever) it is not my job. God has definitely called me personally to make my children and my husband my priority at this juncture. Thinking of it as a hobby, and not something on the endless "to-do" list will hopefully help me to get things in line.

Mindy said...

Thank you for the great post - a much needed reminder for this mama of two!

Richella said...

These are very good ideas, Bonita. Honestly, though, sometimes I think I got MORE done when my children were smaller than I do now. Maybe I just slept less. I wonder??

Jennifer said...

Some helpful ideas, Bonita, thank you.

Rambling Heather said...

Wonderful post! Thank you for sharing your heart on this topic, it was much needed here!

Angi said...

Your blog fascinates me. It's hard to stop reading it! I enjoy it every time and have included you in my list of favorite stylish blogs if you are interested.

Anonymous said...

I really needed to hear this! Thank you for sharing your tips. My kids are 6, 4, 2, and 7 months. I want writing to be my job, but for now I think I need to allow it to be a hobby.

DJ said...

Thank you for the great ideas. They help me find and maintain perspective and balance with writing and the rest of life.