One week after I became a mother, I started my first mom blog. Call it an insane hunch, but I had a feeling I’d have a lot to say. Kids provide a lot of writing material, don’t they?
It was also a dream of mine to write professionally, and since I’d just stopped working my day job full-time, this was prominent on my radar.
Making money as a writer in today’s online market was as foreign to me as raising babies. It was a similar learning curve to parenting – one step at a time; one day at a time.
Once my second child arrived, it became crucial to learn how to juggle motherhood and a writing career.
So, here are a few elements of my routine over the last several years that make it possible to juggle this lifestyle as a part-time writer (approx. 10 hours per week) and stay-at-home mother of two.
7 Ways I Juggle Motherhood and a Writing Career
Prioritize your values.
At the beginning of this whole journey, my husband and I sat down and discussed our priorities. Some may view these as boundaries. For example, we established this priority list in our home:
Our friends, relatives, hobbies, and errands fit in there, too, but this little list was our way of saying what we valued most. No matter what, our desire to glorify God came first. Family always trumped work. Career ambitions never compromised our family or our faith.
It sounds a bit on the nose, but when you have a powerful filter like this when big decisions come your way, it makes the choices much easier. Not only that, but I’m able to make unified choices with my husband since this plan was set in stone a long time ago. It’s not about “what he wants” or “what she wants.” It’s our family value system, and we both stick with it.
Schedule family time.
When I sit down with my planner to review my week, I make sure family time is written into my schedule. It may seem obvious, but when I commit it to paper, I’ve become much more intentional about that time. Translation, my laptop closes and my phone rests while I play with my kids.
Also, my husband and I established a routine of spending time together each evening. We sit and talk on the couch, watch a few episodes of our favorite show, etc. It’s not every night, but that time is protected for us.
Side Note: When I became more involved in social media for my business, the evening became an important time to respond to comments, questions, etc. My husband and I agreed on a measured pocket of time after the kids went to bed when I’d reply to my followers. We were still able to enjoy time together afterward without me interrupting it every three minutes to check my social media.
Protect days off.
I don’t do much work on weekends. That’s family time – especially Sundays. I’ve discovered the world will expect you to keep up the pace you’ve set for yourself. When I was blogging a bunch and posting on social media several times a day, I felt the pressure to maintain that.
However, when I took a chill pill and sliced all of that busyness in half, not one person messaged me on a Sunday afternoon saying, “Where are you?!” Sure my word count and platform grew more slowly, but I was present for my family and felt more balanced as a whole.
Set realistic goals – not just popular ones.
I once read a time management article that recommended the “perfect” writing schedule:
- Wake up
- Write for three hours
- Eat lunch with family
- Read and rest for two hours
- Network and answer emails
- Enjoy dinner and family time
This was written by a young dad with a stay-at-home wife who watched over their infant each day.
Now hear me out. I’m not putting down this dad’s idea because I think it’s stellar that he prioritized so much time for family, health, resting, working, etc. Seriously, it’s fantastic for him. But you can see the glaring holes in this plan if his wife tried it for a day.
There are a few (thousand) steps missing – namely the cooking, cleaning, and tending to the child. And as the stay-at-home mom, she knows this. We all do. It’s what we sign up for. I consider it a privilege and blessing to care for my children at home.
However, time management tips that work well for some people might leave me crumpled in a laundry heap sobbing my eyes out.
Instead, think about what YOU can realistically do each week? Here are a few examples:
- Wake up 30 minutes earlier than the children to write
- Write for one hour during a naptime or quiet time
- Keep a notepad handy or an app like Evernote to scribble down outlines and ideas
- Use Evernote’s audio feature to speak ideas into your phone when you don’t have time to sit down and write
- What distracts you when it’s time to write? Make sure you’re not burning that free pocket of time by checking your Instagram or watching Ellen.
Determine your best writing time of the day.
You’ll save yourself a lot of headaches if you study your own creative mind for a bit. Figure out when you feel most inspired to write. Not when you feel like answering emails or posting on Twitter. That stuff takes far less concentration than attacking a blank, white page.
I figured out after a day of cooking, cleaning, laundry, bathtime, wrangling kids into PJs, reading stories, brushing teeth, wrangling kids back into bed repeatedly, my brain is mush. I’m no good in front of a blank page after 8:00 PM. I know that about myself and I’ve accepted it.
You may be the opposite. Whenever it is, protect it. I thrive between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM. Even just a few hours of uninterrupted writing during that time is like ice cream on a summer day. In the evenings, I don’t feel disappointed when my word count remains idle. I close my day by picking up a book, working on my social media, replying to emails, hanging out with my husband, playing piano, etc.
Acknowledging these zones helped me feel much more balanced when it was time to mentally “clock in” and “clock out.”
Use time-saving gizmos.
Be sure to use apps, software, and techniques that save you time. There are so many, but here are a few I use:
- Hootsuite – I use this free tool to schedule my social media every week. It takes time to craft quality posts and doing that all at once saves me so much time.
- Grammarly – This free grammar checker is like “spell check” for the internet. It helps me catch mistakes on emails, Facebook posts, blog drafts, etc.
- Toggl – Do you work hourly for a client? Toggl is a great app that tracks your time and allows you to label each clock-in with the task you’re doing. At the end of the month, you can send the whole report easily to your client.
- Evernote – I mentioned this app earlier because it helps capture those sudden creative moments throughout your day easily. It syncs with your desktop to make it easy to access your notes there too.
- Hashtagger – Want to find highly relevant hashtags for your Instagram posts? Hashtagger is a great tool for doing so very quickly and easily.
- Canva – Create quality graphics for blog posts, social media, products, etc. I use the app for social media posts and love the convenience.
When times get tough, medicate with grace, rest, and chocolate.
Do you know what kills my creativity? Self-doubt. Disappointment with my shortcomings. Lack of energy. Wheel-spinning. I could go on.
That’s when you need to recharge your battery. Two years ago, I got so depressed I nearly shut my laptop for good. Finally, I spoke up to my husband about how I felt. I reached out to a mom friend and we swapped childcare with one another each week. I slowly learned when to simply REST.
I’m telling you, pausing to take a hot shower while your husband hangs out with the kids will do wonders for your morale. Dropping the kids off with your parents or a trusted friend and relaxing at a coffee shop while you write will feed your soul.
I hope these tips encourage you. Remember, one step at a time. One day at a time.
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