Sunday, December 20, 2009

On Being a Mom and a Writer

I recently joined the WD Writing Mother's group and felt instantly comfortable. This was a place that I could definitely belong. When I first decided to take my writing seriously, I decided that I would need a separate mindset from the roles I play at home. There are many. I'm sure I am not alone and mother's out there can understand. From being a mother of four (ages 17, 13, 7 and 1) to being wife, homemaker, and working outside the home, it is easy to forget yourself.

I had a hard time when I started thinking about what is best for me. Guilt swept into my mind. How could I think of me when I have a household of kids? How could I think of me when I need to make sure they are bathed, fed, ready for school etc? As a mom, and a young mom at that, I didn't know what it meant to be me. I began learning first about myself, then justifying to myself why it is important for me to take care of myself, not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, spiritually. If I don't take care of myself than who is going to do it? If I don't take care of myself than who will take care of my kids when I finally lose it? I am not a single mom, and my husband offers help, but even then a lot falls on me, In my household anyway. I developed strategies that have helped me to fit the things I want to do--write. It's not perfect, it's a work in progress, but it's a start.

WRITING TIME: Let's start with time. There are only twenty-four hours in a day. It's not enough time! Perhaps not to do everything you would like to do. But we need to start thinking about what you need and what you want. I would like a maid, a nanny, a bigger house, a higher salary, a vacation... I could go on and on, but what I need is organization, structure, consistency, and perseverance. Through these needs I can ultimately achieve what I want. And remember this is about your role as a writer. So get out your planners and write it down.

STRUCTURE: I first began by viewing my writing as a part-time job. It's something that is not an option. I began structuring my day around that part-time job. I recruited my kids and my husband and we made a plan. Keep in mind that change is hard for everyone. The kids, or my kids, were not too happy when they were given a plan of chores. So be prepared to be consistent in the structure that is agreed upon. And so it began. During the day I worked outside the home. From the moment I arrived home, I was on mommy duty until I put the little ones to bed and then I was off to my part-time job. I decided to write at night because it worked for me. I tried doing it before the workday but found that I had to stop even if I was engaged in the writing and oftentimes couldn't go back to that mindset. At least at night if I'm writing a given scene and it is flowing smoothly I don't have to stop until I'm ready. When do I sleep? I do, really. I get enough sleep that works for me.

SUPPORT: My husband and children are not the best supporters of my work. They don't read my materials and oftentimes I'm defending my writing more than I care to admit. I found outside support. I have my sisters, who have helped in being my beta readers. I have found communities on-line. I think having a support system is very important and there are some out there. Find a group your comfortable with and stick to it. I have found that aspiring writers are very friendly people. And some are in the same boat as you.

FAMILY TIME: This is a big one for me. I don't ever want to neglect my family for my writing. Never. And so I really had to be creative with this one. I've learned that sitting beside your child watching television is not spending time with them. Though they may think it. And yes, you should know what your children are watching. I don't watch TV. Quality time is the key here. And so I am always in conversation with my kids. While cooking, I'm walking the baby, talking with my kids, etc. That is multi tasking in action. And I can focus on them by looking at them. I know we look at our kids all the time, but because I'm juggling so much I have to make sure that I am looking into their eyes while I talk and while they are talking to me. Something that small is very important so they know you are paying attention. And I am. I also have found that board games are fun. The other night I was playing Scrabble with my two oldest, while the other two were asleep, and I hadn't laughed like that in such a long time. Kids are most creative when it comes to making up words. We had a blast and I'm still cracking up. So Scrabble is a must for my family. My husband will be joining us next time!

STRESS RELIEF: I saved the best for last. For me, stress relief is the quiet moments I get when I am at home. It’s sending the kids with grandpa for a while. Reading a book, listening to music, walking on my treadmill is also relaxing. I also read the "Self Confidence Formula" (page 10) . I have laminated bookmarks with this Formula and every chance I get, I read it.

Good Luck with your goals and I hope this helps!

3 comments:

  1. Your approach really works. I'm using that approach too. Well, slightly different, perhaps, but still, the principles do apply.

    My personal favourite is the Stress Relief. The time I spend alone. I love to go for a stroll in the neighbourhood, alone, every day. It helps me relax, and also, often while I'm walking I come up with new ideas for my writing.

    Family Time is a big one here too. We always - always - have at least two meals a day as a family. Together. I hate, absolutely hate, boardgames, so I'm not doing them, but I love to read. So I read to my 11 year old, who still loves being read to by Mum. It's also The Perfect Way to make sure she goes to bed on time. Late for bed means no reading.

    With the 16-year old I have my weekly evening out in town. It's lovely being out with her, drinking tea and talking about our art and writing.

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  2. Thanks for sharing Leah. I think every little bit of time we have helps.

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  3. Wow...does this resonate with me! My kids are 8, 5, and 3, and I also work full-time, outside the home. I get it. Big time! You've expressed this so beautifully...both the problem AND the solution! Thank you!

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