I was just asked this question on Thursday by a friend of mine who is writing a book, “How do you juggle being a mom and writing a book? Any good tips?”
Funny, because I get asked this all the time and thought it would be the perfect topic to start off the week.
Ask any mom with a side business, blog, or hobby – and she’ll tell you that in order to keep your sanity you need to prioritize, organize and makes some sacrifices. It’s very simple but easier said than done!
For me, I set aside specific times for writing so that it doesn’t interfere with my family time. My kids nap and have quiet time from 12:30 to 3:00 every day. That is my time to do business stuff, blog, and write books. All other time throughout the day is reserved for taking care of my family. After the kids go to bed I squeeze in my workout and a little reading – but it’s important that I reserve the evenings to spend time with my husband.
By sticking to this schedule everyone stays happy and I feel in control. HOWEVER, I must admit I have been guilty of not sticking to the schedule when I get caught up in a great idea. On days like this, I am glued to my computer, my kids are still in their PJs and they are helping themselves to the fridge and pantry – which means a giant mess in the kitchen. Not to mention on days like this my phone seems to ring off the hook and beep with endless text messages. By the time the kids are in bed, I’m too tired to exercise and I feel mentally exhausted which makes for one big headache.
Overall, I think when you’re kids see you constantly on the computer or phone they feel neglected and you end up feeling guilt ridden by the end of the day – I know I do.
So, here are some quick tips to help you juggle writing with parenthood:
Make a Schedule and Stick to It!
Set aside no more than 2 ½ hours a day to do your writing. I have found that anything more than that is too much anyways and I end up needing a break from my computer screen. If the time is up and you feel you are on fire with your writing and need to keep going – allow yourself an extra 15-20 minutes tops. Quickly type your ideas out so you can get back to them the next day. Then you don’t have to worry about forgetting them.
Do Your Writing When You Have Alone Time
You don’t want your spouse and kids to resent your writing because it’s become your number one priority. When they are in the room, they should be your priority. Besides, it’s hard to write when you have distractions and it’s easy to lose your temper at your kids or spouse when they cause you to lose your train of thought or interrupt your flow. It’s just best to write when you have alone time. If that means turning on a movie, giving them quiet time in their rooms or sending them off on a play date – they won’t mind if it’s a part of the daily schedule. Kids do well with routine and it’s good for everyone to have a break. If you are consistent with your schedule this will work just fine. If you are not, your kids may have a hard time with it.
Don’t Make Writing Your Only Focus
If you eat, breath and sleep writing it’s easy to let it overtake other areas of your life. I have found that it’s good to turn that part of my brain off during the day and only allow it on during my writing time or when I’m alone such as driving, in the shower, etc. Sometimes I have to force myself to enjoy a good movie , bakes some treats or even paint my toenails – because when I have a good idea for my next chapter all I want to do is write. But by taking time for myself to enjoy other things I tend to be happier which makes for a happier mom and wife.
Make Small Sacrifices
If you have a super busy schedule and it’s hard to find the time to write you may need to make some small sacrifices. Giving up some TV time, cooking quick meals, or getting up early in the morning are all ways to add some extra time for your writing. It may even be that you only have time on the weekends to write – that’s okay. Writing is something that shouldn’t be rushed; a good book takes time.
It’s very possible to be a mom and an author, you just have to set guidelines for yourself and your family and stick to them. Remember also, that it’s okay to take long breaks. I sometimes will skip an entire week if needs be. If you ever feel guilty – listen to those feelings and don’t ignore them. Take a break and tend to the things that are more important. Don’t sacrifice a clean house and happy kids for the sake of finishing a chapter – it’s just not worth it. Write during designated times and make sure your family is aware and okay with those designated times to avoid conflict. Overall, if you stick to these tips I’m confident you’ll be able to find a nice balance between being a writer and being a mom.