I’ve considered counting how often my four-year-old asks me to look at him during the day. It doesn’t matter if I’m working on a 10,000-word article or dealing with clients via Skype about brochure writing services. Whether he’s drawn his 507th Tyrannosaurus Rex or he’s dropped his SpongeBob toothbrush in the toilet, again, I dutifully drop everything to attend the grand event. This does not always bode well with my work schedule, as you can imagine. However, I’m not the only parent out there in Writer World who juggles having a work-at-home job and a stay-at-home child. For anyone who struggles with finding a peaceful balance, here are some tips on how you can be successful at both.
First of all, own what you are doing as a write-from-home parent. Your job is allowing you to be the parent you feel you should be while you are fulfilling your career goals. Give yourself full credit for choosing the path less traveled and for standing up for what you feel is right for your family.
The Daily Cycle
One of my biggest issues is finding a balance with spending quality time with my child and with focusing on writing during the work week. I’ve created a cycle of writing for 30 minutes, after which I take a 10 minute break to hug, dance, draw and build with my child. After my baby-break I get back to the writing desk. This keeps me in touch with my kid while giving my brain a moment of imaginative play. I personally think this is essential for keeping me going throughout the day. After my little guy gets too old for playtime, I’m considering keeping some of his toys just so I can continue with these creative breaks.
People Pleaser? Please.
I don’t have time to please everyone, and neither do you. So, don’t beat yourself up when you have to take time off from writing to spend focused time with your child, and vice versa. Sometimes priorities, such as play dates and publishing schedules, cause havoc in my daily cycle. At these times, I improvise. For instance, if I need an evening focused on writing, I schedule a special mommy-son date later in the week. You want to see the latest cartoon movie out this weekend? Let me work on this tonight while you stay with Grandpa and we’ll do it. Children have radar that tells them when they are being ignored. I try super hard not to let that happen, and you shouldn’t either, unless you want the Wrath of the Wild Child to be unleashed on you.
As for writing, it’s my job. I treat it as such. It keeps the water flowing and food in our bellies. If I get heck from adults who wonder why I can’t say “yes” to every request, since I’m at home all day after all, I remind them that I am the bread winner. Just because I knead my dough in front of a omputer screen doesn’t make the bread any less valuable.
Join the Club
On a final note, you aren’t alone. There are thousands of other writers out there who are working from home with screaming toddlers and sassy teenagers. There are writers who have made it through to the other side and lived to tell about it. So will you. One day when your children are grown and you are struggling to make enough noise in your house to overcome its creaks and groans, you’ll long for these days. Well, maybe not long for them, but you’ll sure as heck be proud of yourself for making it.
Miranda B is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.