If you want your life to change forever – have a child
Got up in this morning realizing it was another sleepless night? Your child hasn’t felt well for over a week, and you keep cracking your head over and over again – how to cure that terrible cough? Having a hard time trying to concentrate on finishing an article, whereas kids are running around, totally involved in the “Catch me!” game? These are just some of the typical problems working parents face in their everyday lives.
In fact, once you have a child, your life changes forever. And it’s not only about the change in your social status. It’s a turning point in your lifestyle, the way of thinking and behaving.
No matter if you are a new parent or an experienced one, you have to cope with a great deal of issues at once. So, multitasking, keeping the work-family balance, and combining various social roles become a part of your reality.
You will still cook delicious dinners, meet with friends, go to the cinema, and travel the world. The thing is, though, you the moment you became a parent, you started doing things differently. It seems like you become a different person and no longer entirely belong to yourself any more. The idea that someone’s life fully depends on your attention and care never leaves you. It becomes a part of your mentality the moment you have children.
When I was already married, but didn’t have a child yet, I had much more freedom. I could get down to writing straight after work to complete an article for the university periodical, or stay a bit later at night to edit the material for the next-week’s conference. In a word, I could write any time I wanted. After my daughter was born, still working a job as a writer and editor, I had to define my working day. Since then, my priorities have shifted from work to taking care of the child. It took me some time to learn how to manage both – looking after my child and finding time to work.
Having worked through these issues myself, I want to share my own experience with other freelance writers who might be looking for new ways of balancing parenting with working as a writer. Believe me, your willingness not to get stuck in the house will tag you as a universal specialist who has time for both family and work.
So, two of the typical problems which you may face when working as a writer and staying at home with kids are the lack of both time and energy. Finding solutions to these issues are equally important for the outcome of the writing job.
By comparison, adjusting the place where you live to a working environment is a simple matter. All you have to do is put a laptop on the table and find a comfortable chair in which to sit. That is actually quite enough to start working. However, the problems of finding time and energy to write and babysit are a bit more complicated.
The problem is that you don’t have a chance to spend as much time on writing as you want. So, is there any chance to have enough time for working from home and raising children? What can help increase the number of psychological and physical resources for your body and mind?
Many years ago in some sports magazine I came across this idea from Jillian Michaels, a famous trainer and TV personality. She said, “Parenting is not for sissies. You have to sacrifice and grow up.” Today, being a mother of a 9-year-old girl, I can say that I fully agree with her. As a parent, you have to reject the idea of self-indulgence, and forget about feeling confused or being at a loss. Parenting requires full concentration of your physical and mental abilities, as well as staying alert and ready to handle any emergency around the clock. Any parent somehow becomes a superhero for the little ones who truly believe that mum or dad can do EVERYTHING. Who would dare to disrupt that myth?
Try following some of these suggested tips. They can make looking after a child and writing from home less stressful. Moreover, some of them may help with getting more inspiration with work and developing a different outlook on parenting.
This is probably the most typical problem of all. The situation basically is as follows: You feel confused about what to do first – take your child for a walk or write another paragraph for the article. The thing is, that you have to do both, as they are equally important. What can help you to complete both tasks?
Write during every single occasion you can. For you as for a working parent, the writing process will look quite different from what it was before. It will undergo great transformation. Any way out? Give up the idea of planning a perfect working schedule and being a perfect parent at the same time. Consider the strategy of a hunter. Yes, a hunter. Why? Because from now on, you will have to be really alert about catching a couple of free hours a day and using them wisely. There’s every chance that the efficiency in information research and your writing speed will increase. You will learn to generate new ideas much quicker and, what is more, express them more accurately.
Make short notes. Write in chunks. While cooking dinner, cleaning the house, or taking a child to an activity, some good ideas may occur to you. Jot down or use a voice recorder for each one related to the topic on which you are currently writing. Then get back to it a bit later. With the use of such strategies, you will easily transform new ideas into a full page of writing with suitable arguments and lots of supporting details.
Take your laptop with you. Combine writing work with watching your child having fun on the playground or at some other activity. Make having a laptop at hand your usual habit. It’s a good way to avoid long pauses in composing text.
Practice ‘family cooperation’. Luckily, we don’t live on isolated islands, so there might be someone who can help you. Think of at least one person who can look after the children while you’re busy with writing. It can be your husband or wife, elder child, a friend, or even a neighbor. Ask the person to babysit your child for at least a couple of hours. It can be quite enough to get rest from your kid and concentrate on the topic about which you are writing.
Create a new working schedule. Make it unique. Play back your usual day in your head. Work out what hours are most appropriate for writing. This can be a time when your kid is busy with some activity. Staying up a bit later at night or waking up a little earlier in the morning can be an acceptable option for writing, as well. For me personally, working late at night is rather exhausting. So, I often choose to get up one or two hours earlier, while my daughter is still asleep. It’s when I can compose a couple of new paragraphs for my articles and not be distracted by my little restless tornado.
Longer cartoons can be a terrific way out. It goes without saying that as a conscious parent, you have to take care of your children’s eyesight by not letting them watch too much TV, but when the due date of the article is the next day, and you are only halfway finished writing it, a two-hour cartoon will give you the needed time to finish the job.
Stop cooking 5-star dishes. It’s amazing, but cooking simple food can save much more time than you think. Serve fish fingers or make jar food an acceptable alternative for a family meal at least twice a week. What you get is less trouble with cooking and more time for writing and inspiration. When the benefits exceed the harm, home-cooked meals become less crucial, right?
Once you find some extra time for writing, here comes another problem – the lack of energy. I know for sure that looking after children is a rather energy-consuming process. You not only passively watch them running around and playing, you stay alert and become actively involved in every single activity they are busy with; thus, you direct the activity to prevent any harmful consequences.
However, there are some good ways that can help recharge your batteries to get more energy and strength to write. Try one of the followings or several at once. Soon after, you will surely feel more vitalized.
Do physical exercises. Try to stay physically active. Choose 2-3 exercises which help relax the back, leg, and neck muscles. Breathing therapy also helps. Rubbing your face and hands will work, as well. Inhale and exhale the air slowly for at least 5 minutes. This way you will concentrate on calming down the nervous system and easily shift from taking care of the kids to getting back to work. Taking a brisk walk is also a good way to feel refreshed and energetic.
Stock up on lemons and oranges. These fruits are rich in vitamin C. Citrus juice has a stimulating and energizing effect. Drink a glass of fresh orange juice or eat a slice of lemon. You have all the opportunities to get rid of tiredness almost immediately, even when feeling rather sleepy or exhausted.
A classical remedy of all times – a cup of black coffee. Strong black coffee will help you focus on the issue about which you are writing. It’s a proven way to concentrate and stay focused for at least three hours. However, watch out that you don’t abuse this by becoming addicted to coffee.
Eat a bar of dark chocolate. It’s a well-known fact that dark chocolate contains a large number of cocoa beans. It’s highly nourishing and serves as a powerful source of energy. Keep it on your table. Its sweetness will lower blood pressure and improve your mood. Moreover, as pieces of chocolate melt in your mouth, you are likely to feel less stressed. Writing obviously gets much better and exciting when the author is in a good mood.
Get some rest. Need new ideas? Children can help! Turn an obstacle into a source of inspiration. Take a break and shift from writing to something else. It’s a good chance to have another look at the issue you are going to write about. Play with your children or draw a picture together. No matter, this break can last only 20-30 minutes, which is quite enough for your brain to rest. Then get back to the writing. New ideas are likely to come to you. Feel free to include them in the content!
Having children is not an obstacle to doing the job you love or just have to do to earn a living. Just the opposite – it’s a perfect motivation for becoming a more flexible and universal writer.
As children grow up, you realize that you can’t limit your life to just babysitting and house-keeping. You have to move on and get back to work solving everyday problems. Going shopping and paying the bills are still inevitable parts of our reality. Luckily, working as a writer can be easily combined with family life. Today’s market is full of career opportunities for writers. Freelancing helps considerably. As a freelance writer, you can make money and raise children.
Take courage and accept the idea that things won’t be the same for quite a long period of time. So far, you have to get adjusted to the new circumstances in which you live and make the best of them.
The main point is that working and raising children simultaneously calls for innovation. Combining full-time parenting with writing gives one a sense of maturity and flexibility. Watching your children grow won’t let you get fully into a working routine, but using time effectively is a valuable skill for any specialist.
Stay sharp and caring all at once. Be a devoted parent and a determined professional. Reap the benefits of both worlds. I can’t think of any reason to neglect either – life is too short for that. So, enjoy your life in full.