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Saturday, June 09, 2012


Writing with the Kids Home

As summer temperatures heat up, some writers heat up as well, typing like mad until they have to go back to their day jobs as teachers. Yet there are many other writers whose writing comes to a halt because they are Moms.

Maybe it’s because my family needs my income. I’ve never said, “I can’t write because the kids are home.”

If you’ve used this excuse, I’ve got something to say. If you genuinely want to write, it is possible even with the kids home if you are willing to follow these four steps.

Commit. The first thing that you need to do is commit to writing even when you aren’t home alone. You are a writer. Writers write. You are not neglecting your children by writing. You’re a Mom not a cruise ship activities director. You do not need to fill their every waking moment. They will survive on their own for short periods of time and they will learn to amuse themselves. Commit to the idea that you can write even with children around. This step is essential. Repeat it until you mean it. I am a writer. Writers write.

Talk the Talk. Lay things on the line for everyone involved. Explain that you are going to write. Because this is work, it is not optional and they must give you this time. Period. All requests during work time will get an immediate NO. Snacks. Movies. Swimming. The park. No, no, no, and (do I need to say it again?) no.

Help Them Find Something to Do. If your kids are used to sailing along with you as activities director, they won’t amuse themselves with grace or dexterity. Ask them what they plan to do while you write. A movie or the Playstation almost always work. Maybe they’d like to read or play a game. If your kids are particularly clever, they may announce that they are bored. You can’t say no to that, but you can always bring out the Jar of Joy. This is a sarcastic name for the chore jar, the perfect anecdote for boredom. Ask my son.

Do It. Decide how long you are going to write. If you normally don’t write with the kids home, this is going to be a learning process for everyone. If you have younger children, start with a shorter time, maybe 15 minutes. Set a timer and get to work. Don’t check Facebook. Don’t pop over to your e-mail. Write.

How do I know this will work? I’ve been writing since my son was an infant. He gave up naps at 3, but I didn’t give up writing. Why? Because I’m a writer and I’m not neglecting anyone if I take the time to do it.


Author Sue Bradford Edwards blogs at One Writer's Journey.

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Anonymous Kirstie said...

This is all so true. I wrote a 65,000 word novel earlier this year in the space of 5 weeks by finding and MAKING the time to write, all without neglecting my (then) 14 month old son. Admittedly I used the tricky method of getting up early, staying up late and writing during naps (his not mine), but if you are determined enough you can and will find the time to write.
I will definitely be stealing the idea of the Jar of Joy for future reference.

1:16 AM  
Blogger Sally Ferguson said...

Writing can still happen if you're not in front of your screen. Journaling, daydreaming scenes and sketching outlines can happen at the park or beach!

12:36 PM  
Blogger Sue Bradford Edwards said...

So true! If we don't spend some time pre-writing, we end up wasting so much of our writing time.

But, like Kirstie, we do need to remember to set aside actual writing time.

Some days, we will manage more than others but we do need to try.


6:45 PM  
Blogger LuAnn Schindler said...

So true! My youngest daughter and her children are with us this summer while she searches for a place to live after starting a new job. When the 2-y-o wants grandma's undividied attention, I sit him down on my office floor and give him something to do - color, books, toys - until I am finished. And, I always make a point to let him know that grandma has writing deadlines so he can play and have fun while I work. It almost always works!!

6:25 PM  

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