I recently read an article in Writer’s Digest about maximizing your writing time. One of the tips was to never let a household chore stand in the way of your writing.
“It’s a slippery slope, and if you let laundry- or any other household chore, no matter how seemingly light- intrude on your writing time, you’ll end up with pristine clothes and a blank page.”
One of my friends asked me how I find time to write when I am taking care of two kids and managing a household. There are two answers.
First, I usually have some sort of topic in mind as I start the day. The topic revolves around an incident in my everyday life- such as a struggle I am dealing with or a conversation I had with a friend. As I am completing my daily tasks, I internally meditate on the topic. When I think of a point I want to make or a funny line, I scribble it down on a scrap of paper. Over the course of the day, I note more and more of these points, and begin to organize them in my mind. By the time I actually sit down to write, most of the work has already been done, so the process goes very quickly.
The second answer is not more accurate than the first, but is more telling. On the days I find time to write, something else gets pushed to the back burner. Much as I’d love to play the heroine role- mom by day, writer by night- that is just not who I am. I have not figured out a way to make more hours in the day. I do not clean at the speed of light.
My son is in a bad habit of watching an hour of television before his afternoon nap- one episode of Curious George and one episode of Caillou. If I am to be honest, this is generally my writing time. I’m sure I should be interacting with him, limiting the shows, or at the very least watching the shows with him. But he’s entertained, and I am left for an hour to collect my thoughts.
There is some anti-television evangelist out there gasping and praying for my soul as a mother. I probably should drop to my knees and ask for forgiveness. But you know what- screw that. I could argue that having that time to myself makes me a better mother, and I’m sure it does. I could retort by listing all the other ways I obsessively nurture my child, and there are many. I’m not going to do that. What I will say is I need that time to write and I am taking it. So there!
The job of mothering means we are on call every second of every day. There is no down time, no sick days, no vacations- paid or otherwise. The nature of the job makes it easy to forget that we are partners in a relationship. Partners, not martyrs. It is ok to put our own needs first sometimes.
Let me reiterate that for all the moms out there:
IT IS OK TO PUT YOUR OWN NEEDS FIRST SOMETIMES- EVEN (GASP) DAILY.
Today, I sat down to write this blog. I was a bit out of sorts after a rough night with the boys. Inspiration was not striking, so I decided to get dinner together while the boys napped. Finished up some other chores and figured I better get cracking on those Halloween costumes- they aren’t going to construct themselves! I sat down to start sewing and was overwhelmed with a feeling of exhaustion, the kind where I would literally fall asleep if I took a long blink.
Any other day, I would have pushed through, drank yet another cup of coffee, and kept going. Today, I lied down on the couch and took a nap.
I NEVER nap. I was a bit stunned that when I took time to stop and listen to my body, I felt utterly depleted. It wasn’t a lazy afternoon, luxurious nap- it was a “you are going to pass out while standing up” nap. My body and mind were screaming “Hey Dummy! We can only take so much. Rest, bitch, rest!”
I don’t know what is going on in your day. Some of you reading this, I will never meet or talk to. But whoever you are, when you are finished reading this, take thirty seconds to assess yourself and see what you need right now. Give yourself permission to do what you need to rejuvenate.
This is one of my shorter blogs (yes, a mere 14 paragraphs), so you have a bit of extra time. Take it.
Now, I am probably going to go make some brownies and not feel bad about it. Ok, a little bad, but not bad enough not to eat them. That would be truly insane.