How to Write When … You Have Kids
-This is the second post in our monthly “How to Write When …” series. The first post in the series was How to Write When … You Don’t Feel Inspired.
All writers have to fit their writing in around other things in their life. The vast majority, at least when they start out, have a day job, studies, or some equivalent.
Writing when you have kids, though, can be a particularly tough challenge.
Raising kids takes time. It’s not just the time you spend playing with them, reading to them, and cuddling up to watch a film (time I definitely don’t begrudge!) but also the time spent preparing meals, cleaning up after meals, doing laundry, getting woken up in the middle of the night, and more.
It’s no surprise, then, that writers often struggle to find time to write around family life.
As I write this, we’re two weeks into the coronavirus lockdown in the UK. Whether you’re in the UK or elsewhere in the world, you might – like me – suddenly have school-aged children at home full-time.
It’s definitely not easy.
Whether you’re going through a temporarily even-busier-than-ever period with your kids, though, or whether you’re trying to figure out how to fit writing in around normal life (which is hard enough!) – these tips should help.
Co-Ordinate With Your Partner
I’m sure that plenty of other families right now, like ours, have a complex hour by hour plan of the week so that both adults can fit in some focused work around childcare duties.
But even when life’s relatively normal, you need to co-ordinate with your partner in order to make enough time to write.
(If you’re a single parent, you may need to rope in your parents/siblings/friends to help out with providing some childcare.)
Is there a time slot in the week that you’d like to use for writing? Can your partner (or a willing family member or friend) take the kids during that time?
Please don’t feel guilty for wanting – and making – time to write. Just make sure that your partner also has time for pursuing their goals and interests too.
Consider Getting Paid Help
I know this isn’t an option for everyone – but paid help can be really useful in freeing up time to get some writing done.
Are there any tasks that you don’t particularly like doing (and/or aren’t particularly good at) that you could get someone else to do, in return for money?
That might mean paying for a cleaner or gardener; paying for a tutor for your kids; paying for meal kits or meal delivery; or even paying for a virtual assistant who can tackle admin tasks for you.
If you can’t afford paid help, are there people you could swap favours with? Or could family members take on some extra chores to help you free up more time for writing?
Try Writing Early or Late in the Day
I love to write in the early mornings. It’s when I feel naturally energetic and focused – and it’s also a real treat to be able to write in a silent house before everyone else gets up.
When my kids were very small, my youngest used to wake up at 5am pretty much every day (sometimes earlier) so early mornings didn’t work for writing. If that’s the same in your house, you have my sympathies.
Late in the evening can also be a great time to write, once the kids are in bed and the rest of the day is behind you.
Expect Plans to (Sometimes) Go Awry
When you’ve got kids, things aren’t always going to go to plan. Whether it’s a broken night or a broken toy, things are going to happen that disrupt your carefully laid writing plans.
The only real solution here is to block out extra writing time. That way, if one of your writing sessions doesn’t happen as planned, you’ll have a “catch up” slot at a later point in the week.
At the same time … don’t give in to the idea that there’s no point trying to write because it never works out. I know how it can feel that way, but stick with it. Even if you only get 30 minutes instead of an hour, you’ll still have written something.
Don’t Feel Guilty About Taking Time to Write
When you’re a parent, it can sometimes feel like you should be spending every possible minute with your children. But there’s nothing wrong with taking some time to write. I know, personally, that I’m a much nicer parent when I’m managing to get enough time for myself and my own goals.
Please don’t feel guilty about taking time for your writing. It’s not selfish or self-indulgent. It’s not a waste of time. It’s something you enjoy and that fulfils you. It’s meaningful. And you deserve to have time for it.
If you want some practical tips (not just for parent-writers) on squeezing more out of the writing time you do have, take a look at my post 17 Ways to Make the Most of Your Writing Time – Even When It’s Limited.
Finally … when you have a bad writing week or a bad writing month, don’t give up completely. Set small goals, get as much support as possible from other people in your life, and keep making time to write.
I’m Ali Luke, and I live in Leeds in the UK with my husband and two children.
Aliventures is where I help you master the art, craft and business of writing.
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