I started writing when I had an infant, a two-year-old, and a preschooler. I wrote throughout their school years, their teen years, their college/adult years, and now full circle when I am babysitting grandkids.
The (survival) skills you need to both write and parent change with each stage of your children’s lives. (Sometimes your biggest need is time or energy. Other times your biggest need is keeping your sanity!)
So between now and Mother’s Day, I want to blog about practical ways to combine writing and parenting throughout these stages. Just as beneficial, I hope I can show you some ways that your kids can be your best source of material. (Let’s start at the very beginning…)
Writing with Infants & Small Children
When raising babies and small children, FINDING TIME to write is the toughest ask. Try these ideas:
*Jot down story and article ideas when you’re forced to sit- waiting rooms, nursing the baby, etc.
*Prewrite. Think through your plot lines, article openings, and titles while doing non-think activities like cooking supper and vacuuming. You don’t have time to waste at the keyboard. You may only have ten minutes.
*Outline. When you sit down to write, you’ll know exactly where you are; you won’t waste time getting started.
*Keep writing supplies organized, in one spot, out of little ones’ reach. (For years I wrote in a small closet painted orange with a door on it for this reason.)
*Hire a sitter or barter with a friend to trade babysitting. I never did this, but I know others have. Use these uninterrupted blocks of time for serious writing. Save those other miscellaneous writing chores for those tiny segments of free time.
Turn Childhood Experiences into Writing
One such experience of mine with small children became an article for Farm Woman (later called Country Woman) entitled “Treasure This Day,” which was reprinted in Catholic Digest. It was a simple article about the joys and frustrations of gardening with a baby, a toddler and preschooler in tow.
Another book, For Every Joy That Passes, has a mother in it who runs a daycare in her home; many of my baby and toddler experiences went in there.
My published stories, articles and books based almost directly on my kids would take pages to list. Just be aware that your children–especially when you write for the juvenile market–are one of your best research sources.
(If you have a tip for busy moms of very young children, do share it below or on Facebook. Don’t assume that it’s too simple, or everyone already does it.)