It’s no secret that I’m a stay-at-home parent. My kiddo is a toddler – he’ll be four this winter – and sometimes, it feels like he’s a part of the universal ploy to keep me from completing anything. Of course, he’s not the only thing: as a stay-at-home, my job revolves around keeping my house running: laundry, cleaning, groceries, minor cooking (my spouse loves to cook, so I’m only responsible for the meals my toddler and I eat during the day), etc. Unlike a “regular” job, I don’t get a complete, responsibility-less break – even right now, though I’m sitting on the couch writing this entry, I’m waiting on a load of laundry and keeping an eye on my toddler.
So, how in the world do I find time to write?
- First and foremost, I try to treat writing like a job – if I can find the time, I have to do it. If there’s something I can put off for 30 minutes to an hour without the house burning down around me, I’ll write instead. If my toddler says he’s hungry, but I know my husband will be home soon, Kiddo gets a small, minimum prep snack. If I can put off cleaning something while I’m waiting on the laundry, I do it.
- I am a huge fan of “baking”. The meals my husband likes to cook are often done so on the stove or over an open flame, which requires decent if not nearly-constant supervision. On the other hand, I have no issue with putting a package of chicken thighs in the oven for a few minutes. If I need to bring something to a party, it’s usually a dessert, though admittedly that’s so I can use the baking time to get ready, but the idea’s the same. Baking = multitasking. My mother should be so proud.
- I’ve given up trying to be “the Pinterest parent”. I love my child, but he’s nearly 4, and pretty self-sufficient – he doesn’t need me planning out all of his days with these cute little activities. I may do one or two a week, but the rest of the time is “keep yourself busy” play, with cars, foam swords, books, or even (*gasp*) the Xbox. He’s watched us play Skyrim since he was born, and while he doesn’t quite grasp questing, he loves dungeon-crawling. He also likes playing Forza and WWE 2k15 (and idolizes John Cena), and it usually gives me 30 minutes to an hour of quiet time. Also, if it’s nice out, but not extremely hot or muggy, I take Kiddo outside and let him play in the yard while I write on my laptop. He has fun, I get work done, we’re all good.
- I’ve learned to take interruptions in stride. It’s easier for me to do what needs to be done instead of getting upset, staying angry through my reason for interruption, and sitting back down while still angry (and therefore fuming instead of trying to get back into the writing mood). Things happen. Bathtubs end up overflowing, Kiddo needs to eat, the pup needs out, someone knocks on the door, etc. It doesn’t make sense to get angry at the unpredictability of life when it doesn’t do a thing to change it.
- If I absolutely need to get something super important done, I wait until someone else can watch Kiddo. This could be waiting until my husband’s available, or sending him off to his grandparents’ homes. I did this a lot when I was editing LA BASTARDA, because it was so hard for me to get back into the groove.
- If I’m unable to do any of those things… Then I don’t write. I know this kind of goes against the first thing I said (about treating writing like a job), but ultimately, I’m a stay-at-home parent first. No matter how much I’d love it, writing isn’t actually my job. I have a house to run and a toddler to wrangle, play dates to attend and there is always, always – always – laundry to do. Writing doesn’t make me any money at this point in time, and perhaps if it ever does, my tune will change and I will base my life around writing. Until then, I’m all about planning ways to write around the rest of my day – the things I actually need to do.
So tell me: How do you make time for writing in your day-to-day life?