One of the toughest parts of being a WriterMom with young kids was figuring out how to get my work done. Here are some of the things that worked best for me.
When do you work?
I could wait until nap time, but with more than one kid, even nap time for one was play time for another. I could wait until all the kids were asleep, but with three kids by the time they were all asleep and I’d cleaned up whatever messes were still left from the day, I couldn’t think straight – let alone write. I could get up early. And I did. But let me tell you. There is nothing more disheartening than getting up before the sun, only to be greeted by a little guy in footie pajamas who cannot believe the incredible luck that you are awake now, too.
I”ve read about moms who locked themselves in the attic. I’ve read about moms who wrote outside in a locked car. I’m sure there have been moms who write while hiding in a closet, down in the basement, out on the deck… But how can you really concentrate and focus when you know those little guys are up to something?
Then there are the moms who hire a babysitter. The thing is, once you’re paying a sitter, you don’t have the money to pay for a place to write. That leaves you with the library, which works well most of the time. Or a coffee shop – which depends on the day and who’s there.
Last but not least are the moms who set out a picnic and a video for the kid and go their quiet spot with warnings that unless there is blood or protruding bones, they are not to be disturbed. Only to have the oldest come to the door and mouth, “Does it count as an emergency if …” [WHY do kids think if they whisper or mouth the words – or even use their own version of signing – that it is less of an interruption than using their actual voices?]
How do you get work done?
- Plan out a bunch of things at once in a marble notebook. (Your best chances of being inspired to write when the opportunity arises is compounded by the number of options you have available to you.)
- Write a bunch of openings at one time. Carry these with you in that same marble notebook. (Once you’ve picked the topic, you will have a running start to productivity. You’ll already know where you’re heading. You just need to sprint while the going is good.)
- Keep your laptop charged and invest in a lap desk. You can sit in the back seat and type away as you wait for — whatever. Alternately, invest in a dedicated word processor that runs on batteries. (This way, you don’t first write by hand and then have to enter it into the computer. You can just transfer it. I mean, let’s face it. If you had the time to handwrite it and then type it in, why would you be sitting in the back seat of your car, working like a fool?)
- Invite the kids in. If you have a deadline on a project that you worked yourself to a frazzle to get, then give the kids a seat in the room – literally. (Put a little table with chairs and art supplies in your work space. Tell them they can come in and work with you, but it’s a quiet day. Smile at them frequently. Hang what they create on the door. OR, bring in a portable DVD, put a quilt on the floor, and have them watch a movie – with headphones – while you work.)
- Let them know you appreciate their help with this. One way to do that is to have a DONE DONE DONE party when the work is done. (It can be an ice cream party, pizza, going to a movie, taking a walk, running around outside together. The main thing is that they are included in celebrating with you. [When things used to need to be submitted by snail mail, my kids would come to the post office with me. When we got back to the house, we’d do a Happy Dance and break out a snack for a long chat at the kitchen table.]