I can raise my hand to the first two questions, but not the third. Why? Because I had the extreme blessing of being published before I was married and before any children entered the picture. Of course, now, I wonder if I was crazy to pursue this dream so early. I wonder if I’m going to be able to handle the dual demands of an infant and toddler (and perhaps more than one baby) along with my writing and home business.
I married 2-1/2 years ago and earlier this year gave birth to my now 8-month-old daughter. Little did I know just how challenging it would be to write with a newborn and now an infant in the house. And not only just write, but write on a deadline and meet the demands of a full schedule of revisions, galleys, marketing and blog touring. In fact, I had a book due (Patterns and Progress—releasing this month!) one month after my baby was born. And while I did everything I could to get it finished before she was born, that didn’t happen. Thankfully, I have a gracious editor who is also a somewhat new mommy and understood. :)
That’s not all, though. Writing requires your full attention, and with a newborn, my attention was quite often zeroed in on the baby. Even as my daughter started growing and becoming a little more independent or started to develop a routine and schedule, I still found myself thinking about her, watching her, or doing things while she slept to prepare for when she awoke.
It’s a true blessing to be able to stay home with my daughter and write. So many milestones occur in the first year, and I love that I’ll be here to see them. But, it didn’t take long for me to realize I couldn’t sit back and do nothing but watch my daughter grow. Life didn’t stop, and I had to keep going.
My husband often watches our daughter to give me some uninterrupted time in front of my computer. When that happens, she’s out of sight and doing great. I might miss the very first time she does something, but I won’t miss it every time, and when I do see it, it will be new to me.
It’s been a struggle, especially when all I want to do sometimes is sit and watch her or play with her or even hold her. But a few things I’ve learned along the way that have helped (and are likely not new discoveries for a lot of you reading this):
- You CAN write with a baby in your lap, either nursing or sleeping or even attempting to type, despite the fact that their arms aren’t long enough to reach the keyboard.
- It IS possible to write a chapter when you’re sleep-deprived. Sometimes, it ends up being your best work.
- A dog can be a fantastic babysitter and entertainer when you need a break.
Sometimes, a cardboard box and a few pieces of paper are all that’s needed to entertain a baby for more than an hour.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help or admit that you can’t handle it all. That’s why you have friends and family. Utilize them when they offer.
- Babies are resilient. Don’t feel guilty when you have to leave them with a sitter or family so you can have a few hours of peace and quiet. The moment you return, you’re a favorite on their list.
- Capitalize on every spare moment you have. Sometimes, it could just be five to ten minutes at a time, but make the most of those minutes to write a few lines of dialogue or a paragraph in a scene.
- A screen saver with lots of vibrant colors that changes shape can keep a baby quiet for thirty minutes or more.
- Sitting on a porch with a baby in the swing, listening to the outside sounds, can sometimes give you a long stretch of writing time.
- Trust your husband with your baby, and resist the urge to rush out at every whimper or cry. They need that bonding time too.
It’s been a little over eight months, and we’re still going strong. I know with each passing day, it will get easier, and there will be times when it will be harder. But, I know it IS possible to balance writing full time and being a full-time mother. So many other women do it, and I’m extremely grateful to have their help as well as encouragement.
Of course, when baby #2 enters the picture, I might be singing a different tune. So, check back with me when that time comes. :)
Now, it’s your turn. For those of you who are balancing or had to balance writing and mommyhood, share some of your trade secrets or lessons learned. We can all learn from each other, and I’d love to hear from some of you seasoned moms.
JoAnne and Becky, thanks for having me here today. It’s been a true honor and pleasure.