Writing while parenting small children is hard.
Honestly? Simpler tasks that require no creativity, like showering, are hard.
Sometimes I catch myself focusing on the negatives of the journey- the sleepless nights, my disaster area of a living room, another diaper going through the wash, the day’s plans out the window because someone’s sick again.
The joy gets buried in the details.
Today, I’d like to share some of the joys I’ve found in the balancing act of being a writing parent.
1. Treasuring Time
“I’m so busy!” I thought, back when I was single and childless.
Oh, if only I’d known the truth….
Granted, during those days when I ran on actual sleep vs. coffee, I bounced endlessly between teaching, music, volunteering and everything else. My schedule was full to overflowing.
This is the difference between then and now: I had control over my level of busyness.
When I didn’t get something done, (barring emergencies) it was because I chose to make something else a priority.
Once there was a baby on the scene, that semblance of control evaporated.
Oh, she was cute, a joy and a blessing that we treasured.
I just wasn’t mentally prepared for the fact that newborns eat every two hours.
EVERY. TWO. HOURS.
And between feedings are the diapers… and the housework…and maybe we should try to sleep…
I won’t go through the whole ‘learning to parent without going insane’ journey, but a journey it was, and it taught me a valuable lesson.
I learned to use my time.
Time with my baby was precious, and I wouldn’t give up those hours for anything.
However, when a spare minute materialized- she’s asleep! And I’m not holding her!- I learned to seize it and make it count. (Of course, then we went and had two more babies…worth it. 🙂 )
Those spare minutes gave me the title for my blog. I rekindled my passion for the written word during those stolen moments- moments that might have slipped by me if caring for my children hadn’t reminded me just how important and valuable they are.
2. Ideas, Ideas, Ideas!
On dull, gray, uncreative days, all I have to do is listen to my children play.
Elaborate plots and adventures full of twists and turns fill our living room, and I’m reminded of the excitement of story.
I’ve written before about the stories the kids and I create each year for Father’s Day. While I am the one who keeps some semblance of a plot, they’re the ones that keep the storytelling fun.
They keep me generating ideas and telling stories in another way too. I’ve found that one of the easiest means to stop sibling spats starts with the words, “Once upon a time…”
3. Reduced Risk of Over-Exposure to the Computer
There are all sorts of health risks associated with spending too much time on the computer.
Go ahead and take a moment to look them up on your favorite search engine if you don’t believe me. I’ll wait.
Ok, now that you’ve done my research FOR me (clever, huh?) I can tell you that being a writer who’s also a mom, my risk of all of those maladies is seriously reduced.
After all, the littles only let me stay online so long, and I’m a firm believer in the need for children to get outside and to make a mess somewhere that’s not in my house.
I’m forced to leave the screen behind, to play or move or find a new park for us to explore and get some exercise.
Parenting ALSO gives me the added bonus that I have a three year old chaperone to ‘force’ me to try out the swings and slides at the playground.
Breaking away from the screen for adventures rests, refreshes, and sometimes provides needed inspiration!
4. The Built-In Fan Club
My kids haven’t read any of the novel I’m querying, or any stories that I’ve written except for the Creative Writing pieces my class ‘published’ in 7th grade. (My grammar, at least, has improved a bit since then.)
Still, my eldest doesn’t miss much, and she was very aware of when I entered my novel in a contest in the fall of 2016. She watched me checking my e-mails, and occasionally, out of the blue, she’d tell me, “I hope you win!”
When I didn’t, and she found out, she was upset, even angry, for my sake.
It was a great teaching moment
We talked about how yes, I lost, but it was ok. I’d gotten feedback, and would make my story better. Someone else had just done a better job and won. (Modelling gracious loosing for my little girl was good for me too- it kept me from the temptation to wallow!)
She’s seen me keep at it, and, unknowingly, gave me some of the best encouragement the other day.
“Mommy, I’ve finally decided what I want to be when I grow up.”
“Really?” I quelled the temptation to tell her that, at 7, she’s not really running behind on this decision. “What are you going to be?”
“A teacher, AND an author.”
“Wow. Those sound like great choices.”
Yes, writing while parenting small children is hard some days, but then, most good things are.
There are many other joys, but I’ve rambled enough! Do you have any to add?
Many thanks for visiting!