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.