I’ve also seen Ms. Fitch speak at the L.A. Times Festival of books. In addition to being one of the best writers I’ve ever encountered, she’s extraordinarily kind.
Most importantly for this post, Janet is also a parent. Like the rest of us, she had to learn how to balance parenting with everything else.
Here are my eight favorite tips from her post on being a writing parent - I recommend you click the link to read all 23 tips.
Shout out to Reetta Raitanen: Huge thanks for including Janet’s post in your last “Links Feast!”
1. Give up on cleaning. Triage your precious spare time. First, write (or whatever it is you need to do). Next, take care of anything animate–kid, spouse, dog. Only then, turn your attention to the inanimate, and only when you absolutely have to. Give up gardening.
2. If you have help for a few hours, leave the house. It will remove the temptation to do the laundry or wash the dishes.
3. Find a mother’s helper babysitter. This is a junior high kid who can use a few bucks and will keep your toddler amused while you’re home. Be prepared for your child to love that kid more than you.
4. Encourage young artists. Art projects are a godsend. “Draw me a spaceship, honey.” There’s five minutes, ten if you’re lucky… Get them to include details, like rivets and eyelashes. Don’t forget to expand the assignment. “Draw me the inside of the spaceship.” “Draw me the controls of the spaceship.” “Draw me the planet the spaceship comes from.”
5. Bedtime should be inviolable. Make sure there’s an early enough bedtime that you can see your spouse for an hour, and then go to work for an hour or two. Even if you have to go to bed after your spouse. Suck it up. You both wanted to be parents.
6. Deflect guilt. Embrace the concept of the Good-Enough Mother. Keith Richards left his kids with Anita–by comparison, you’re mother of the year.
7. Dads get more respect. Accept this sad fact. My daughter’s friend had a work-at-home songwriter father. She would look at the closed door of his studio and whisper, “Shhh, Dad’s working” like he was doing open heart surgery. On the other hand, my own closed door was opened fifty times a day with requests like “Mooooommmmmmm, will you pin this?” or “Mooooooooooommmmmm, why does Daddy have a penis?”
Ergo, if you can possibly get out of the house to work, do so. Even if it’s just into the backyard. In the treehouse. With the ladder up.
8. Got Discourse? Make sure to have intellectual conversations with adults on a daily, or near daily level. Facebook isn’t enough. You have to keep your vocabulary above the high school level, and talking to four year olds all day isn’t going to help.
Like I said, there are many more tips at Janet’s blog – click here to read the rest.
What parenting tips do you have for getting more done in the small blocks of time left over? Do you work at home or outside the home? Did your concentration skills improve or hit the skids when your kids came along? We love to know these things here at More Cowbell!