Saturday, May 23, 2009

Summer's Coming - Juggling Kids and Writing

Hi all,

It's summer and the kids are home from school which leaves you even less distracted time to write. Guest author Virginia Williams shares ideas on how to find time to write while still keeping the children happy and occupied.

Happy writing


Summer's Coming - Juggling Kids and Writing

By Guest Author: Virginia Williams

Summer vacations are just around the corner, and if you’re like me, you’re wondering how you’re going to juggle writing while your kids are home for the summer.
I’ve been attempting to balance a writing career with kids for eight years now, and while it’s always a challenge to do the best I can for my kids and my writing, there are ways to make summer a little less stressful.
I’m not going to suggest babysitters, mother’s helpers or summer camps in this post—I imagine, if you’re reading this, you’ve checked out all those options and are facing a large chunk of unscheduled time at home with kids. Following are my ideas for making it through the summer while keeping your kids—and you—happy.

1. Designate one day a week as a non-working day. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but I find that giving myself one day to run errands and do chores around the house allows me to focus better on my writing on working days. Schedule in some fun time with your kids—maybe a trip to the ice cream store, running through the sprinkler, blowing bubbles—after everyone has helped with chores.

2. On your writing days, pull out a kitchen timer and set it for as long as you think your kids can manage without you. If you have preschoolers, this will probably be 30-45 minutes, though if you’re lucky, you might get a whole hour. Tell your kids that when the timer rings, you’re theirs. When the timer goes off, spend time reading or playing with them for 15 minutes or so (setting the timer again if you need to), then go back to work for a little bit longer. They’ll be much happier if they know you’re going to pay attention to them when the timer rings than if you tell them, “I’ll play with you soon.”

3. Never underestimate the power of cold, hard cash. I’m not talking big bucks here; coins tend to work for my elementary-school age child. I give her some extra, simple chores around the house: one recent chore was picking dandelion flowers out of the yard before they went to seed. For every flower she picked, she got 5 cents, and I got a little extra time to get things done.

4. Take a good, hard look at everything you do in a week, and see what can be eliminated, designated to a spouse, partner, or older child, or rearranged. Can you get up earlier to write, or stay up later at night? Take work with you to do while waiting for a doctor’s appointment, haircut or child pick-up. Eliminate those time wasters (and I know you have them! I sure do), like web surfing, online game playing, and the like.

5. Get organized. I am the queen of disorganization, but I find when I can get myself together enough to make a list of what needs to be done, I am much more productive. Every evening, I make a list of what I need to work on the next day. This eliminates so much wasted time, flitting from one thing to the next and ending the day feeling I’ve accomplished nothing. When I’m particularly organized, I prioritize my list into three categories: things that absolutely, positively must get done that day, things I need to complete in the next 2-3 days, and things it would be good to get to sometime (like deep cleaning the fridge).

I wish all you writing moms a great summer of writing and having fun with your kids! And, if you don’t own it already, I highly recommend you get Christina Katz’s very useful book, Writer Mama, from Writer’s Digest books (some of the tips I’ve mentioned you’ll find here). It is the book for writing moms (dads, too!) everywhere.

About the Author: Virginia Williams writes at home with two kids, two cats, and one very understanding husband. She is working on her first book, a memoir, and her writing website can be found at: Her blog,, is for parents who have lost a baby to stillbirth.


  1. I wake up at 5:30 in the morning. It's my writing "me time," and it seems to be working well. It's quiet in my house, and it's just for me. Thanks for all of the suggestions!

  2. Im a very early riser as well... if I wake up and its after 3, I get up. thats when I write...and there is a chance my teen age son will need anything at that time :)


  3. great tips!! I rarely find time to write now - and I don't like it at all. So I blog more! LOL...

    So ... I never did get around to answering your question about the One Lovely Blog Award - you can get it more then once, and you can choose to wait to award it back to others at another time. Just say something to the effect of "I was awarded this awhile ago but had just gotten one from someone else, so I decided to wait" type of thing :) Ya know... congrats on both the awards (even though it's the same one)

  4. Anytime I have a some time to myself is writing time. But I usually get it done when the kiddes are asleep!

    Came over from the MBC under 100 followers group. Come check out my blog!


  5. I know I told you once but I’ll tell you again! Thank you… you are an amazing follower!

  6. The wrist bands are up for pre-order!

  7. If I was a little better at suggestion #5, I'd have read this post a little sooner (lol). I think I'll try getting up earlier too. If I'm going to be awake at 4 o'clock in the morning, I might as well be productive.

  8. Thanks, everyone for stopping by and commenting! And don't forget to enjoy your summer!


  9. Thank you, Virginia. These are great tips, and I do so appreciate not being told to get hired help! I really like the idea of paying them to do chores. They love to help, and it will help me as well. Fabulous post.

  10. I'm so happy everyone likes Virginia's article! Thanks for all the great comments.

  11. These are such great tips!!!! I'm in the process of trying to write a book but I hardly find the time between the 4 kids, balancing household chores and everything else she mentioned in her article!! I love the idea of the timer...I'm gonna try that!!

    Thanks for the follow! I'm off to go find your follow widget now!


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