As you might have noticed, juggling writing and parenting is an issue I've been struggling with since The Babe (who is now The Toddler, my how time flies!) entered my life. It started even before that, during the pregnancy: I just couldn't write through the nausea and exhaustion, and even when I felt okay, there were a million things to take care of before the baby came. And when she did arrive, most days were just a struggle to cope. Suffice to say, barely any writing got done during the first year.
But, things are looking up! Behold, posts have appeared on the blog fairly regularly for the past few weeks. Granted, not three a week, but even one or two a month is progress at this point. I'm finally reading The Kalevala, the Finnish national epoch, something I've needed to do so I can finish two short stories, and I'm actually making steady progress on the first of those stories. I managed to edit and send a story to the Portti competition. I wrote a bit of flash last week. This is all good.
So, how did I get back into a writing routine? I tried several things, some more successful than others.
First, I tried to write during The Babe's naptime. Worked better in theory, because The Babe refused to sleep on her own and would start awake every time I tried to open my laptop. In the last few months this has gotten better, and now I mostly get about half an hour to an hour of writing time most days. So, this is definitely something to try, especially if your kid is a good sleeper and you're not too tired to actually write. (Sometimes you need a nap just as bad as the baby.)
Second, I tried to get my husband to watch the baby for an hour every night so I could write. This, too, proved better in theory. Something always came up and I felt guilty for prioritising writing over family time or chores or whatever. I could also hear the baby through the closed door and usually caved if she was being very fussy.
Third, I decided that I needed to get away from home altogether to get anything done, so every weekend I'd get my laptop and head over to the library or a coffee shop for a few hours of uninterrupted writing time while the baby hung out with her daddy. This was also a good strategy and something I will be doing regularly in the future.
Fourth, and this one is a double-edged sword, I'm trying to sneak in some writing after The Babe is asleep for the night. That's actually when I'm writing this post. The trouble is that my own sleep gets cut short, so it's not ideal, and I tend to get carried away and stay up until after midnight if the writing's rolling along nicely.
My advice to new parents with writerly ambitions is to grab any writing time when you can, where you can, even if it's just fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes a day adds up to almost two hours a week, which isn't too shabby. You can also do a lot of planning and thinking while hanging out at the playground or washing dishes, which saves you time when you're writing. Find what works for you. And most important of all, be kind to yourself. Writing might have to take a backseat for a while. Sometimes life just happens. Writing might be a priority, but it's not your only priority, and it will always be there even if you need to take some time off.