When people ask what I do my immediate response is, “I stay home with my kids.” But, besides wearing all the hats that being a stay-at-home mom requires, I also have more on my plate…blogging and writing. As a freelance writer, I take on as many decent writing assignments that I can find and am constantly look for the next interesting opportunity. Anyone out there who is a freelance writer knows how time consuming this is on its own. Try adding two kids to the mix and it can be downright impossible some days. There are days when I think working like a “normal person” would be easier for everyone involved. Then I remember all the things my kids and I can do because I stay home. This usually keeps me grounded. That, and my writing.
So, getting back to the writing. How do you become a successful blogger/writer while staying home with the kids? Well, if I had the perfect recipe, I would definitely share it with you! I don’t. What I do have are some answers that can make it work and make it rewarding while making you some cash in the process. After more than three years at this thing, I’ve come up with strategies and ways of getting it done. Check them out:
1. The older the kids, the better. I can tell you it helps immensely that my kids are older now…ages 3 and 5. No more bottles or diapers. No more picking things off the floor and eating them. No more trying to climb every piece of furniture in the house. No more midnight feedings, which means more sleep. Yes, they still need your attention, but you don’t need to have eyes in back of your head. So, if you can get them to play independently for thirty minutes or so, you can get some work done. I tell my girls that I need a little bit of time to write and that means quiet time. This means no screaming or fighting. If they’re good, then we play a game or do an activity together when I’m done. Eight times out of ten this works! While I may not finish something I’m working on, the time I do get is better than nothing.
2. Write while they sleep. Although it’s great that my kids are older, it also means no more naptime. Naptimes were great to get things done, but not anymore. That means I wait until the kids are in bed. While I would love to veg out in front of the TV and get my Adam Levine fix on The Voice, there are many nights that that can’t happen if I want or need to get things done. Once the kids are sleeping, the second part of my day begins…blogging, writing, answering e-mails, etc. This is usually done till around 10:30. That’s when I get cozy in front of the TV and catch up on all my shows on DVR…that is until I fall asleep.
3. Set a schedule. I used to just write whenever I had some free time. If I had an assignment I would stay awake so I could get it done. That didn’t work. I was tired, cranky, and not a very nice mommy. So, I decided to buy a planner and map out what writing I wanted and needed to get done for the week. Seeing it on paper and designated to a day makes it easier and makes me feel more accomplished.
4. Ask for help. While it’s nice to be able to spend so much time with your kids, sometimes you need to ask for help…even when you don’t have a typical job. If you’re lucky enough to have a family member or a trusted babysitter, designate one afternoon or day a week when they will watch your child so you can get your work done uninterrupted. I did this more than a year ago and it has helped immensely. My kids know every Wednesday is Grandma day and Mommy’s writing day.
5. Put away the phone. This goes for “mommying” and writing. It’s one I still struggle with every day. For some reason, my phone has some weird hold over me…like if I don’t check me email, Facebook, or Twitter every hour or less I will miss something earth shattering. This obsession can be a major distraction while you’re writing. It’s also a big no-no when you are trying to spend time with your kids. I try to check it only a few times a day, but it’s so hard! I kinda wish I never got a smartphone. I never went online as much when it was just my laptop!
The main obstacle to writing and staying home with the kids is feeling like you are ignoring your kids while you’re trying to get your work done. You don’t want to plop them in front of a screen while you’re in front of yours. You need to find a balance that keeps the kids feeling like a priority and you feeling like you are getting your stuff done too. It’s definitely a work in progress!
If you work from home doing something else or are a blogger/writer, what do you do to strike a balance?