Combining Writing and School-Age Kids

Yesterday we talked about how to Combine Babies and Bylines. There are challenges galore when writing with newborns and babies in the house. At that stage, we usually daydream of that magical day when the kids will be in school and we’ll have all those uninterrupted hours to write.

Yes, it is easier to write when kids are older, but not necessarily easy. You still need ways to be there for your family while making time for quality writing.

One place I found a ton of helpful advice when I was starting out was the book above: How to be a Successful Housewife/Writer. It always helps to learn from someone who practices what they preach.

Wearing So Many Hats

Life is hectic at this time, with chauffeuring kids to baseball and ballet. You may also work full- or part-time. More demands are made on your evenings and weekends. At this stage, the key is to be flexible and disciplined.

*Write wherever/whenever you can. I finished an entire novel by writing in the orthodontist’s waiting room, bleachers during basketball practice, and the doctor’s office while my daughter got her weekly allergy shots.

*If you work outside the home, write on the bus if you commute. Use a voice activated tape recorder if you have to drive. Write during your lunch hour. One time I worked as a receptionist in a dental office to make ends meet. I took my laptop to work with me and wrote during my lunch hour–and got a surprising amount written. And there’s always pen and paper.

*Go to the library to write some evenings or weekends. Grab a few hours of peace and quiet there. (I still do that–to make myself stay off email and work!) If you can concentrate in a book store or coffee shop, take your writing there for a couple hours.

*If your days are free while your kids are in school, limit TV, Internet surfing, volunteering, and lunches out. You must CHOOSE writing and choose it first whenever possible, before other activities. When helping at your kids’ schools, volunteer for ONE activity at the beginning of the school year (e.g. help with the Christmas party) instead of becoming room mother or some job that takes many hours per month. (Remember: more than one school-age child multiplies the requests for volunteering.)

*When working at home, use an answering machine and voice mail. Kids learn to remember their own homework and lunches if you’re no longer available to run forgotten items to school.

Turn Experiences into Manuscripts

Much of my early publishing success came directly from parenting school-age kids. I wrote articles like “Telephone Safety” for Jack & Jill. I also wrote novels like The Haunting of Cabin 13 (children’s choice award winner) after camping with my school-age kids in Backbone State Park in Iowa.

Parenting school-age children doesn’t have to mean choosing between your family and your writing. Try combining them instead. This age group provides you with rich material. Make flexibility your watch word, and you’ll be able to juggle both.

My children helped me be a better writer–and writing daily helped me be a better (happier) mom!

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