This post about Parenting is a guest post by Angel Bosques, writer and mother of 3. Check out her profile below!
When I was a little girl, I could only dream about being a writer. It seemed unfathomable. I spent countless hours inside the tiny closet of the even tinier apartment I grew up in reading book after book, dreaming of the day my name would be on one of those books. Now, I’m a mother of three rambunctious children, have a full-time job, and desperately finding myself wishing for that tiny closet again.
I can’t help but think sometimes that I should just give up the dream; at the rate at which I’m actually devoting my time to writing, I’ll never get anything done. Between pampers, schooling, homework, actual work, dinners, laundry and keeping my sanity, my writing gets way less attention than is optimal.
I know I’m not the only one out there. Kids or no kids, busy lifestyles can keep us from writing as much as we want. So, find your hiding spot, take a break, and keep reading for my tips on how to maximise and prioritise your writing time!
1. Find Your Reason For Writing
I know, right? The reasons should be obvious, but I find everyone’s motivation to be different. Some just love to write, others want to make money and be famous, as if it’s that simple. My reason is, for me, the most important reason: my kids. I want my kids to have everything and anything. I don’t want them growing up like I did, spending too much time wondering why we had so little, or had to struggle so hard just to get by. Whenever I find time getting away from me, I sit down and think of who I’m doing this for. It makes it easier for me to skip the much-needed naps, or the free time I finally have to play a game on my phone for a few minutes.
2. Buy a Planner
While it may seem redundant (finding the time to write a list that will help you manage your time to write words), I find it so much easier when I have a schedule in mind. I feel disappointed in myself when I don’t adhere to it for simple reasons, and I hate scolding myself, therefore, I stay on point. Of course, with two toddlers and a newborn, my schedule is lax, at best, but I keep a routine in my mind. There’s no need to plan the month ahead; take ten minutes the night before, and plan the day ahead of you. It’s doable, and you will thank yourself later. Make your goals realistic, and KNOW YOUR LIMITS. Don’t pile everything on. When you see your tasks written down, it’s much easier to see where writing time fits.
3. Give Yourself a Writing Deadline Daily
There are days where the kids can keep themselves busy and I can write a whole chapter. Then there are days where the kids just want all the attention in the world and will stop at nothing until they get it. Regardless of which day I’m facing, I give myself a writing goal that I know is impossible not to stick to. Right now I’m writing a book of poetry, so I will tell myself that every other day I will come up with a new poem. That gives me two days time, in case one day is particularly busy or I’m not feeling too creative. When I’m working on my novel, I give myself the goal of a page a day. When you can do more, feel free to do more, but when you can’t, completing a simple goal of a page a day can help you feel accomplished.
4. Tire the Kids Out
As an adult, and a mom no less, I know I have way more stamina than my kids do. I know the old joke goes that we are getting too old, and where in the world do kids get all this stamina from. But the reality of it is: we can outdo them any day on staying awake. On Saturdays, I just so happen to be off from work and the kids off from school. I dread these days because keeping three kids busy and trying to write seems like a recipe for disaster. So I plan these days ahead of time. I will take the kids to the park, the zoo, for ice cream, or anywhere I can to get them to expel energy. It seems like I’m burning valuable writing time by being out all day, but actually they nap longer after fun days and sleep harder through the night. This gives me prime writing time. Sure, I have to lose sleep, but with no distractions, I fly through my writing and get it done in half the time.
5. Keep a Writing Source Available At All Times
I cannot stress this enough. I always have my phone handy to write down ideas. They’re like little outlines for the things I write later. This way, when I’m busy at work, or playing puzzles with the kids, when an idea strikes, I jot it down before I forget it. Later on, when I’m in my writing time, I just look back at what I wrote and I’m off like a bolt of lightning. It saves me plenty of time instead of sitting there either trying to recapture a fleeting idea or staring at a blank screen hoping something will come to me.
6. Make Time For Self-Care
It may seem like all the tips I gave is about making time for everything besides writing. Just like you need to spend money to make money, you need to spend time to make time. Everything in my life is about time management. It’s the only way I get through my days. When I don’t manage my time, everything flies of the rails and I have my off days, which turn into off weeks.
Writing is about creativity, passion, and imagination. If you’re stressed or forcing it, you won’t come up with your best work. If you feel too tired to skip that nap, take it. Eat a good meal. Play a round of Candy Crush. My best work comes to me when I feel relaxed. Forced work will only waste more time, because when you are finally clear headed, you will have to double back and fix it, losing valuable time.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help
I’m one of those people who hates to ask for help. Correction: I detest it. But one thing I learned with parenting that applies to writing: it most certainly takes a village. When I can hand off my son to his father, I jump on the chance. When one of my parents wants to spend time with the kids, I encourage it. I’ll even ask when I feel they haven’t really brought up some quality time with them for a while. Not all of us have the opportunity, of course, but asking for help comes in many different forms.
The day to day as a parent is ridiculous on its own. Add work into the mix, and it gets outright chaotic. But we are artists, and I say, trust your art. If you know to your core this is what you want to do, nothing can get in your way. Parenting and writing is all about management and self-care. The next time things get crazy, take a break, get some ice cream, and let yourself recoup. Kids get older; we just need to take it one day at a time.
If you have questions for Angel about juggling parenting and creating, comment below!
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Angel Bosques is a U.S. Army Veteran, currently working on her book, while wrangling three children under the age of five. She is interested in beating the stigma of Veterans with PTSD like herself. With the time her kids don’t monopolize, she likes to read, play video games with her partner, and bake.