My daughter is out of school for two weeks and I have a 15-month-old son. I feel like that old man on the Airtran commercial: Don’t leave me with the babies! What am I going to do for 17 days with them? Well 15 now. We have already been to 3 birthday parties in two days. I just want to sleep but my kids won’t let me. They follow me to the bathroom, unclean everything I clean (what is the fascination with pulling clothes out the drawer and throwing them on the floor?), they’re bored already, they’re arguing (yes it’s possible for a 1 and 5 year old to argue). When will I get a minute to write?!
Tips for Writing With Children (over Christmas holiday or whenever it’s just you and them with no school and no rescue party in sight)
Get a kitchen timer so you can divide the day up into play with kids time, clean time, cook time, eat time, TV time, write time. Not necessarily in that order and you can do any one of them more than once. Preferably put write time on there 3 times with at least 2 mini writes (10 minutes each) in between.
Television is not all bad, at least for 30 minutes a day. And don’t use this precious time to shower or anything silly like that. You should have showered at 5 o’clock this morning while the kids were still sleeping.
Use this time to multitask. Take a notebook in there with you. You may need a timer for this time too. 5 minute writing session. This can still work even with little ones. Set them up with a book/toy right outside the bathroom door or put them on the baby leash and attach it to the door knob. This is not abuse you’re just keeping them safe for the total of 7 minutes 30 seconds you’re going to need (to take care of business, to write, and to wash your hands). Unless your child likes to sit in their crib (which mine does not), this is a tried and true method. But I definitely need the timer because I usually forget and stay in well beyond 5 minutes and the kids start beating on the door like angry villagers.
#4 Smart Phone
I am writing this post on my smart phone while pretending to play with the kids. If you feel bad about stealing time from playing with the kids, use this tip during the kids’ bath time or their bathroom break, while they’re eating lunch or dinner, at the park while they’re playing with other kids. Hog one of the swings and use those thumbs. OR use the voice recording feature. I don’t because it is usually filled with “Um um and she um “. But use what works for you.
I thought it was clever. Anyway, try tossing the ball to the kids, write a sentence. Make Barbie take a short nap and make the snoring noise while writing a few sentences. Play hide and seek and sound really distraught about not finding them while you sneak off and writing a paragraph. Don’t forget to call out every so often so they think your still looking. This is only for the most disciplined writer. You can’t forget you’re playing with them. They really hate that and you might get a play-related injury if you’re not ready for that ball they always seem to aim right at your head.
#6 Ooh Paper
If you can, get them a pad and pencil or a “laptop”. I use an old calculator that is big as a regular size hardcover book. It used to print on rods of paper like receipts and makes noise every time you press a number. So the kids can write just like you and you both can write a bestseller.
Kids can be your inspiration for writing because when you do get that bestseller you can afford a nanny to keep them out of your hair while you write. They can also inspire the greatest story you’ve ever written because who’s imagination of greater than you’re own? Theirs.