1. MustWrite
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    MustWrite Member

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    Writers with young kids, how do you do it?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by MustWrite, Feb 3, 2013.

    I am the mother of two kids under 4. I have to write for my sanity, but usually my only chance is to write late at night when I'm falling asleep.
    By that time I struggle to get my ideas together, remember scenes, etc, mainly due to chronic sleep deprivation I think [which is pretty common with all writers i suppose]
    I often try to write while the kids are doing an activity but their interruptions make me so frustrated, I don't get much done. Of course, anything is better than nothing!
    There must be other people out there with young kids, do you have any ideas?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    What about early in the morning, before the kids are up?
     
  3. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I hear you. It's hard. Especially for editing, I need a large chunk of uninterrupted time. I have an 8 year old and a 3 year old and my 3 year old goes to daycare 3 days a week. So I have to write mostly on those days. But even those are hard, because I end up having to do so many other things that I don't have time to do on the other days when he's home. (My 8 year old was easier to take on errands and such. The 3 y.o. makes everything very difficult.) When they're home, I'm constantly interrupted and it is very frustrating, as far as writing goes.

    Sometimes spouses are willing to take the kids out for a chunk of time while you stay home and write. (I, unfortunately, don't have this situation, but I know of others who do.) I try to use whatever time I can get. I found a writing group on meetup, where writers get together to just write, after talking some. But unfortunately, it meets on one of the days when my 3 y.o. is home, so that doesn't work for me. But maybe if there's one in your area (the one I found is on meetup, so maybe you could search that site, or ask at a local bookstore or library?) If you could either find a group like this, or get your spouse to agree to watch the kids, or maybe even get a babysitter for a couple hours, once per week?

    I wish I had some more solid advice for you. All I can really do, though is commiserate!
     
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    My wife and I raised two children with developmental disabilities, one of whom has autism. It was actually harder as they got older, especially when my daughter reached puberty - the combination of autism and raging hormones is not pretty. Writing was the way I stayed sane and reminded myself that there was another part of my life to take care of. I would sometimes take sick days or vacation days and use them for writing. It was never enough, but it was something.

    The good news for you is that it won't be that long before they are in school at least part of the day. Until then, you may want to try Cogito's suggestion of early rising. If that doesn't work, you might also try something a friend of mine did years ago when he was a law student - he would go to bed at 8:00, sleep until midnight, and then get up and study. He'd work until dawn, then have breakfast and go to class. You could at least have a few hours of solitude for writing, then go back to bed until it was time to get up with the kids.

    Best of luck.
     
  5. Em_Anders
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    Em_Anders Member

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    I have a toddler who is close to turning 3, and honestly, if I didn't have to work full-time, or take full-time college, I would be able to get so much done! My kid knows to leave me alone and watch his cartoons or play with his toys when mommy's doing 'homework' (most of the time anyway), but I understand a small kid making things difficult to get accomplished- my son isn't nice all the time. What I do is take a notepad with me into work and when I have an idea, I jot it down and carry on about my business. Maybe you can do that too, if you aren't already? Or write on your breaks/lunch? I've also started using the voice recorder on my cell phone to get ideas out while I'm driving (I drive 1hr to work/1hr home everyday) and that has helped tremendously! If you don't have the voice record option on your phone, I suggest getting a little one to take with you for your car rides.
     
  6. Lunatia
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    Lunatia Member

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    I sympathise, it's tough. I have a little baby getting close to nine months now and I know it will only get more difficult from here. I do what I want to do (which should be writing but mostly ends up being some other activity) when my husband can look after him or when he's sleeping. Do you have family close that can babysit every once in a while?

    Best of luck. :)
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you can write for the rest of your life, but your little ones are little and with you for only a comparatively short time... so write during nap time, while they're at school/day care, before you go to sleep, or before they wake up, in the tub and on the john, and don't let writing eat into the time needed to love, nurture, and raise your children who, as far as they know, were born to a mother, not a writer... save having a 'writing schedule' for later...

    i speak from much experience, as a mother of 7 who waited to write 'seriously' till all but 2 were grown and gone... and then, while still putting the last two first, arranged my life so i had time enough to write 'full time' and still be a full time mom...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  8. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    also, try keeping a journal so you don't forget those ideas and scenes.
     
  9. henmatth
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    henmatth Member

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    Any work-at-home parent has a lot on their plate. Raising kids and writing doesn't go hand in hand. As a family of seven- between homework, cleaning, chores, playing, and bathing... I have pretty much no time left to write. But here are a few tricks of the trade that I've learned.

    Set toddlers aside with a box of new toys: Give your kids a box of fun 'special toys' that they only get to play with when you're writing. The change of play items will keep them entertained for an hour or two- which can be a lot of time when you're writing! I usually switch out toys every week or so to keep them excited about 'Mommy's alone writing time'.

    Write in the bathtub: Sounds ridiculous, but I bring a notebook in when I bathe. It's the ONLY minute I get to myself. And I do some of my best thinking there.

    Keep a notepad for brainstorm ideas: In case you're in the middle of something important and can't immidiately sit down and write out a great idea- keep a notebook to write a quick overview of your idea so you don't forget it. This has saved a bunch of my ideas- especially during 'pregnancy brain' when I'm constantly forgetting everything!

    Make homework time- writing time: Remember this as your kids get older. Between sports, extra curriculars, and school- time is precious. So when all of your kids are sitting quietly after school doing homework, sit quietly with them writing.

    Honestly, it's hard to find time. As a parent of a fairly big family my husband is my savior. When I can pass some time onto him I will. We share everything- including kiddie care. We both work at home, which helps. But having someone else there (a mom, friend, babysitter!) can make a huge difference.
     
  10. MustWrite
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    MustWrite Member

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    Thank you everyone, some good ideas. I definitely need to do the notebook idea; as my husband says I no longer have a memory- I have a forgetory.
    I like the early idea, maybe even the real early one, obviously staying up late doesn't work as my tired brain slows down and I'm glad to get 100 words down!

    I've just put my 3 year old back into daycare 2 days a week- she was being bullied and I took her out for a while- but the 2 year old is so demanding! Also I'm finishing our house extension, helping my parents on their farm, starting mums horse business, trying to keep our little gallery open some of the time, some day I might even get some painting done.

    Mammamaia, You are so right and I don't want to cheat my kids or myself out of that time. I need to go back to pen and paper and write when I can, the toilet might work but I don't have a bath and though I read in the shower I don't think I can write there!

    Balancing time with partners/spouses, kids and all the other demands is tricky, I don't want to get selfish about it but I have such a strong drive to write. Sometimes it feels more important than eating and other such mundane things..
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    then your only viable alternative may be the middle of the night...
     

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