I once heard a highly successful male writer thank his wife for taking care of the children, while he shut himself away in a room and wrote. She brought him his meals and cups of tea and made sure no one bothered him.
Believe me, every female writer I know would like a wife!
As a mother of six I used to think, ‘When all my children are in school, I’ll have time to myself’. I had one year where they were all in school. During that year the youngest broke his arm so severely he needed therapy to regain use of it. So I spent a lot of time driving him to specialists and appointments and doing his therapy with him. Then the following year, the eldest left school and went into part time work and study and I spent my days driving her to and from work and the train station to get to college. And how could I resist therapeutic coffee and cheesecake when she and I would have a D and Ms (Deep and Meaningful conversations)?
Meanwhile, I was still trying to find not only a room of my own to write in, but the mental space in my head to tap into creativity. Washing, cooking cleaning, driving kids to jobs, music lessons, tutoring and sport. Here are some tips wise women have passed along to me over the years.
Where possible, buy clothes that don’t need ironing. If it is winter, only iron the collar of a shirt, the rest will be hidden by the school jumper.
If it isn’t dirty, don’t clean it. (Don’t laugh. I used to vacuum the hallway, just because it was between the living room and the bedroom).
When the kids can be trusted in the kitchen, teach each of them to cook their favourite meal. If you have three kids, that’s three nights of the week when you don’t have to cook.
Learn to say ‘No’. If you’re a competant person, people will thrust responsibility on you, president of the school committee, treasurer, tuckshop convenor, run a stall at the school fete. It never stops. At some point you have to decide, I’ve done my share. Let someone else do it now.
And the last one is really important. At some point in your life, things may get too much for you. (Moving house, coping with illness in children or elderly relatives, stress on top of stress). Don’t run yourself into the ground trying to please everyone all the time. Be your own best friend. Best friends can be honest with each other, they have their friend’s best interest at heart.
So be kind to yourself. Imagine what you would say to your best friend if they were going through what you are going through. Now, give that advice to yourself and follow it!
How do you juggle work and family, and still make time for your writing?