As a mother and business owner, let me be the first to say that finding time to write can sometimes feel impossible. I am attacked by mom guilt when I make writing a priority and when I'm being a good mom, I'm attacked by writing guilt and fear I will never finish my book.
So where is the balance?
Do I give up on writing until my daughter is grown and out of the house? Do I make writing a priority and let my family deal with it? Of course, no one can answer this for us. We have to make these choices ourselves. But I can share with you some truths that I've come to believe and that I use to shape my writing life and find that elusive balance.
1. Don't wait until your kids grow up to pursue your writing dream.
First, chasing your dreams will show your kids the value of passion and commitment. Our kids learn best by watching what we do not by listening to what we say so pursuing a dream like this is a powerful example for them. Second, there will always be a reason not to write. When your kids are grown, you will be busy with something else and then who knows, maybe you will have grandkids, and so it goes. If you don't make room now you may never make room. So give yourself permission to start a writing practice now.
2. Know that there are seasons in your writing life.
Yes, pursue your writing dream no matter what, but adjust your expectations. If you are a mom of littles, set a goal for yourself that you can accomplish. Maybe you only write 200 words per day. Maybe you have a set time to write (nap time, bath time, etc...) and on the days when that doesn't happen, neither does your writing. Whatever system you have, be gracious with yourself and remind yourself that this is not forever. It is just the season of life you are in right now.
3. Having a writing practice is a form of self-care
We have to take care of ourselves if we want to care well for others. My writing practice gives me purpose and focus. It fills me up and when I shut my laptop after a writing session I have more to give to my husband and daughter than I did when I sat down.
4. Something is better than nothing.
I have spent large amounts of my life not writing because I couldn't have the writing practice I wanted. I wanted two hours of peace and quiet in a perfect environment. It was impossible and so I didn't write. Imagine how much progress I would have made if I'd just done a little bit consistently? Even if I only wrote one paragraph a day I'd certainly have a completed draft by now at least, if not a few completed drafts. Don't let the image of a perfect writing practice prevent you from having a writing practice at all.
Of course, all of these ideas are great and inspiring, but how do you actually do it? When? Where? You want practical ideas so you don't have to think not emotional fiddle-faddle. I hear you loud and clear. Here are some ideas you can implement immediately:
1. Write during bath time. Set up your kids in the tub with toys, bubbles, or whatever they need to stay busy. Then sit in the hallway where you can see them and write until they are ready to get out.
2. Write for a set amount of time (or a set amount of words) as soon as the kids are in bed (or as soon as dinner is cleaned up if you don't have kids). Don't do anything else until you hit your goal (and make the goal pretty small--ten minutes or a couple hundred words). Then you can visit with your spouse, watch tv, or do whatever you like doing to unwind.
3. Use the Sleep Cycle app to find the best time to wake up and consider waking up early. (This is not for everyone, I know, but it's worth putting out there because it can make you insanely productive.)
4. Schedule one day a month as your writing day--put it on the calendar, hire a sitter, do whatever you need to do and then go to a coffee shop for several hours and write.
5. Write with paper and pen instead of a laptop and see if this opens up writing opportunities for you. Can you write while waiting to get the kids from school? At the park for ten minutes? At dance lessons?
6. Consider making writing time something the whole family does (this will probably work best if your kids are a bit older). Maybe after dinner everyone pulls out their writing tools and works on their book for half an hour. Maybe after lunch you set up your little ones with coloring books while you write for a bit. I've found I'm more likely to write if I find a way to do it while my daughter is still awake instead of trying to fit it in after she is asleep.
How do you fit writing time in as a parent? Share in the comments! We need all the ideas we can get! ;)
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