There’s nothing that grabs my attention like a blog about how an author manages to write at home when her children are awake. That’s right. Awake. There are plenty of articles that talk about writers who are able to wake up before the crack of dawn (yeah, this isn’t one of those articles) or writers who are able to stay up and catch Stephen Colbert’s monologue on her writing break (yeah, this isn’t one of those articles, either) because that’s when the author’s children are still snug in their beds dreaming of the house that gives full-sized Hershey bars or some other wonderful scenario that stirs a smile. If the children are in bed, they cannot disturb the writer. There are plenty of articles about writing in coffeehouses or libraries or other locations that aren’t in the home (yeah, I’ve written blogs like that but this isn’t one of those articles, either). Yet I was starting to think about next week. All four of my kids will be under one roof (collegiate Kath who will be studying for finals, high school sophomore MJ, and twin 9-year-olds Cupcake and Chunk) and my husband is working full time with the promise of Thanksgiving around the corner along with my in-laws. So what’s a writer and parent to do, a writer who wants to make time to write and craves time to write, short of waking up early or going to sleep late?
Close the door?! This is the advice I’ve heard most often over the past six years. Close the door. Put a sign on your door that shows your children you’re writing. Well, first of all, if you are the parent of an infant or toddler or young child, I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS. You can’t close the door on them. My children did not know the meaning of the word nap, but for writers who have children and can only write at home and if your children do know the meaning of the word nap, I highly recommend writing during naptime. Cleaning the house can wait. However, my children are all out of diapers and should understand a closed door means that mom is writing. I’ve tried the “closed door” approach, the “wearing a hat and don’t disturb Mommy unless there’s blood or a broken bone” approach, the “put the earplugs in and hope for the best” approach, the “locking yourself in the bathroom” approach. They all fail miserably. The kids walk in, they laugh at the hat, earplugs only block out the first 90 decibels, and the dog whines outside the bathroom.
If you can’t beat them, join them. This doesn’t mean that I give up writing or that I let the kids win. It means I’ve learned how to write with the television on (yeah, I’m that mom) or with the Wii on. I know that Wild Kratts (thank you Martin and Chris) and other PBS shows provide 25 minutes of writing without commercials. I know some of you are thinking my kids have won because they don’t respect my time in my office. While there’s a small spark of truth in that, I like knowing my kids want to tell me we’re out of apples or MJ put enough peanut butter on his sandwich to feed a small army or they love me. I already know I’ll try this office approach at least once next week and Cupcake and Chunk will open the door anyway, followed by Kath coming up the stairs and telling them blood is supposed to be oozing out of every pore to disturb me, and then I’ll bring my laptop downstairs. I’m a write-at-home mom. That means I’m a writer and a mother. And since I’m not a four AM riser or a 1 AM crawl into bed writer, that means I’ve learned how to write with Chris and Martin in the background.
Are you a writer with kids? If so, how do you write while you and your kids are home together?