Adventures in Writing: the Mom Years, Part 1

428301_10150627759396985_593286984_9447964_571828259_nI was recently asked to offer some tips on balancing writing and motherhood for an workshop a writer friend was teaching. I started writing when Hannah turned 4 and began preschool. My older boys were all in school (ages 7, 11, and 13), and we had just moved to a new city so it seemed like something fun to fill my days–LOL–if I’d only known!

My four are grown now, and I am closing in on my fiftieth published book. We all live in different cities, and I am so proud of the people they have become. And yet, as I pondered my friend’s request, is it too cliche to wonder where the time went?

Here are some of the things that helped me to write books and raise kids:

–Use a timer. It helped to keep me focused on writing to know that I didn’t have to keep checking the time to be sure I wasn’t late to pick kids up, start dinner, or whatever. It also gave me a little incentive to race against the clock and see how many words I could get in.

–Get your priorities straight from the beginning. Write them down. Hang them in a prominent place. Repeat as necessary! Any time you’re asked to do something, be it home room mom or even just to bring cupcakes, weigh that against your priorities. Where does it fit? Can I manage it without taking time away from more important priorities?

–This one is related to the prior but important enough to warrant a separate tip. Make eye contact with your children. Set aside a time–for me, it was when they walked in the door from school–and really do a “relationship check” to see how things are and how they are. Here’s the important part of this: close down your computer when you do this. Make a habit of shutting the lid on your laptop or setting your monitor to sleep mode. You may believe you are 100% focused on your child, but if your computer is open, they don’t get the visual of that. I recommend this for husbands, too. Give them that moment…those five or ten minutes or whatever they need. Then you can go back to work. Multitasking when it comes to relational things is dangerous. Don’t do it.

More next week!

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3 thoughts on “Adventures in Writing: the Mom Years, Part 1

  1. Good advice, Kathleen. I didn’t have any priorities, any balance, any goals or anything for the first twelve years, until our son left home to join the Army. Looking back, it would have been easier and better in every way if I’d had some sort of organization.

    I especially like the last one. I’ve heard a lot of writers joke that they told their kids, “Don’t bother me unless it involves blood or fire,” and I know some who actually were that rigid. How sad is it for someone who writes about relationships on a regular basis to let their own slide in favor of computer time?

  2. I love the timer idea. I’m not so bad staying on task when I have nothing else scheduled for the day, but otherwise, I tend to use future events to excuse myself from writing for that day.

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