The Mommy Writer: Years 3 and 4
It’s been a while since I did one of these, but this post is part of an ongoing series of how I get writing done at home with a child. Insert standard disclaimer about how this probably only works if you are me and have my child, but before I had kids I was told I couldn’t write with little children and would never get anything done. This is my way of sending a more hopeful message out: if you’re me, it’s possible, so maybe it will also be possible for you.
When my daughter turned two, getting work done at home became immeasurably easier. Because I started letting her watch TV.
Yes, I became THAT mom who uses the television as a babysitter.
But here’s the thing. She’d given up napping, and was sleeping WAY better at night for it, so it was clearly what she needed. But she wasn’t actually ready to interface with people all day without getting seriously grumpy. So we instituted a one-movie-per-day policy. She got 90-120 minutes of screen time which doubled as downtime, and I got the same to write in peace and without interruption.
And it worked beautifully. My own guilt kept me from letting her have any more screen time than that, but in that many minutes a day, I could keep up a work pace that I was comfortable with. Plus, my child fell in love with Miyazaki movies, which was an added bonus.
After she turned four, things changed a bit. I wasn’t quite prepared for this, but while for my three-year-old I was the favorite person and preferred playmate, my four-year-old would much rather play with her friends. For hours.
Suddenly I found myself with tons of time on my hands where all I had to do was be on hand to help solve problems and provide snacks–and we weren’t even watching movies anymore more than once a week.
Coupled with this was a realization I had. I’d always thought I couldn’t write at night because I am braindead at night. But I went through a couple months where for physical reasons I was braindead ALL the time. And I discovered something invaluable: the quality of my ability to think doesn’t actually affect my writing ability at all. This may be because I’ve been writing for sixteen years now and it’s all become muscle memory. Or maybe I always could have done this, and I was just telling myself I couldn’t. (As a sidenote, it’s amazing what I can do when I stop telling myself that I can’t and just do it already.) But I would get into the evening hours and my thought process would go something like this: I am tired. I cannot brain. Tired brain cannot write. Wait. When will my brain not be tired? Crap. This is all I’ve got. Tomorrow, it will also be all I’ve got. Next week? Same. Guess I better write anyway.
So I started getting work done during the day while my child was happily occupied AND at night when she went to bed.
Thus followed the most productive writing months of my entire life. I got so much done. It was liberating and exhilarating.
We’re in for a whole new adventure, guys. Stay tuned for the Mommy Writer, part 2.