Many moms dream of staying home with the kids while they’re young. After all, as the expression goes, you don’t get those years back again—something I’m learning all too well as the mother of a 5-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter.
Yet, as emotionally rewarding as being a stay-at-home mom can be, the pay is dismal. And after awhile, your brain begins to rot. Therefore, creative types might want to look into freelance writing and editing to help keep the brain sharp and bring in some cash. But how do you find content services that need your talents, juggle multiple clients, and actually sit down and create with young children in the house?
If you were in the writing life pre-kids, you may want to work your existing contacts to let them know you’re now a freelancer. You can also apply at websites that hook writers up with clients. If you’ve got existing clips of your written work, now’s the time to show them off to potential clients so they can see what you can do.
However you get them, once you have clients, it’s time to get writing. But what do you write about? Your life as a stay-at-home mom is rich with material to pitch content from. Or you may get assignments directly from clients.
In my career, I’ve written about a multitude of topics. Sometimes it takes some mental juggling to move from one assignment to another. The key to making multiple clients and projects work is using organization tactics, such as to-do lists, project management apps, and timelines. The same cork boards and post-it notes you use to keep track of your kids can also be used to organize your work.
Freelance writing is a flexible career choice, so how you approach the actual mechanics of sitting down to write will depend on your personality. Some writers are pluggers—they work until they are done and don’t do well with distractions (raises hand). If this sounds like you, you may do better working when your children are napping, after they’ve gone to bed, or when they’re parked in front of their favorite TV show. In other words, write when you won’t be interrupted with kid stuff.
If you find the occasional interruption doesn’t disrupt your output, you can try working with the kids underfoot. For older kids, explain that Mommy is working and needs to concentrate. If possible, your partner can help keep the kids occupied while you write as well. With younger kids (and let’s face it, with older ones too sometimes) you may have to do some mom duties while trying to write. Again, if you can get back on track quickly and smoothly, this should not be a problem.
Ideally, you would have a home office—a place you can make your own, where you can have quiet and privacy when needed. But you probably don’t have a spare bedroom anymore, so I’ve found a great home base to write is setting up my laptop on the dining room table. When company comes, I can put away the computer as needed.
Any other tips on balancing the writing life and small children? Feel free to share. And happy writing!
Christine D is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.