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Note from Lisa: I’m thankful for the support that my husband provides in terms of my business and around the home. But, I know not everyone is in the same situation. If you’re trying to juggle everything on your own, Katelyn is here to share some tips about growing your writing career as a single parent. You’ll find some practical advice and encouragement to help you build your business so you can stay home with your kids.
Take it away Katelyn…
It’s a struggle to take care of small children alone. Add in actually getting any work done while doing so can seem impossible at times. It is hard. It’s harder work than going into an office and sitting at a desk to write all day.
But it’s far from impossible. As a single mother of three, I know the struggle. It took some time, but I’ve managed to land writing jobs and further my career even as the sole caregiver for my three children. Today, I’m sharing my top tips with you, so you can too.
You’ve got this mamas!
1. Break the Job into Smaller Tasks
It’s very unlikely you’re going to successfully write that article, blog post, or story all in one go with your little ones demanding your attention every ten minutes. So don’t. It’s that simple.
Break it into smaller tasks. Maybe task one is creating a headline or title. Task two could be bookmarking pages for research so you can reference them later. Task three could be picking out the perfect photo. The goal is to make the tasks as small and least time consuming as possible. It doesn’t matter if you end up with 200 of them.
I found myself too overwhelmed to complete anything. I was too overwhelmed to even focus on the job at all. By creating several mini tasks, I was able to both concentrate on the job and actually make a little progress. In order to write this post I had to break the entire process into mini tasks. I’ll list them below so you can get a better feel for what I mean.
- Research where to write a post like this and bookmark the page
- Read through the contributor’s guidelines
- Outline the article and email it to Lisa
- Write the intro paragraph
- Write half the article
- Write the second half
- Proofread and edit the article
- Email it to Lisa
I was able to complete the tasks in two days alongside my other work. But I worked on the tasks on and off throughout the day. That’s where my next tip comes in.
2. Identify the Best Time of Day to Complete Each Task
You’re not going to write half an article while you’re cooking dinner with a child climbing up your leg. But you might be able to think of the perfect title for your next piece. You could send a quick pitch or outline your next blog post during the whole ten minutes your child is contently playing by themselves. When do you have five minutes, or ten?
Identify which tasks you can work on when. You may find yourself with less than an hour throughout the day, and that’s okay. Just make sure you utilize every minute you do have to grow your writing career.
It’s the time consuming writing, the writing that takes focus that’s the most difficult. For me, I use nap times, after the kids go to bed, or waiting in the parent pick up line to actually write. Those are the times I’ve chosen to assign myself larger tasks.
Between all three of them, I’m usually able to come up with a good draft before the day is over. But that’s only because I do my brainstorming and researching for the article in five minute increments while I’m busy with mom life.
3. Work on Quickly Approaching Deadlines First
If you’ve got a lot of deadlines coming up, get the ones quickly approaching done and out of the way. Kids are unpredictable and that means mom life is unpredictable. School could close at the last minute, play dates could be cancelled, a sleep regression may appear out of nowhere.
Literally anything can happen with kids. And parents are powerless to prevent it. You don’t want to risk missing a deadline, because it seems there’s plenty of time. That could change in the blink of an eye.
Working on easier jobs is tempting. It’s a temptation I fell victim to in the past. Rather than working on a difficult job due at the end of the month, I worked on simpler ones. And then my littlest one started teething.
There was no more writing at full concentration at the end of the day, because there was no end of the day. I ended up writing that entire article in ten minute increments. It took me days longer than I had planned, because I couldn’t give it my full attention. It’s not a temptation I’ll surrender to again.
4. Take Advantage of Wait Times
I’ve already mentioned how important it is to utilize every minute of free time for your writing. We moms tend to have a lot of waiting around to do. Picking kids up from school or practice, waiting in the waiting room at the doctor, waiting for the doctor when we’re actually in the room. We’re always waiting on our kids. Use those times to get something done. If your child is sleeping or content, these are perfect opportunities for writing.
I get a good chunk of my writing done in the parent pick up line at school. The baby is happily sleeping in the back seat, and I’m just sitting there. Rather than do nothing, I whip out my phone and get to work. It really helps to lessen my workload for that precious time once the kids go to bed. You may just be able to finish your work and enjoy a little you time after all.
5. Pull Ideas from Your Mom Life
Your kids and mom life can be great inspiration for your writing career. I’m doing it right now with this article and you can too. You don’t have to be a mommy blogger or specialize in parenting articles for your kids to inspire you. There are so many things your mom life can inspire you to write about. Time management, stress relief, being overwhelmed, even quick recipe ideas are all things being a mom can help you write about. There are a million more ideas that can come from life as a parent. Use them.
The majority of my writing ideas do come from being a parent. This article isn’t the only one. While I mostly write for parenting publications, I also have things in motion with mental health and even antique and collectible publications. Maintaining mental health as a single parent is important and often difficult. It inspired me to write several pieces about it. As far as antiques and collectibles go, one of my teenagers began collecting. So I pulled writing ideas from that. Without my kids, I wouldn’t be a writer.
6. Don’t Let Working From Home Take the Joy out of Parenting
This one is the most important. You’re a mom first and a writer second, but don’t let either of those jobs ruin the joy the other brings. It’s too easy to get overwhelmed when you’re working at home with kids. It can make you dread writing that next piece or dread the end of nap time.
Don’t let this happen.
Take a breather. Enjoy your children. Forget about writing for a few hours if you need to. Remember you’re working from home so you can be with them. You’ll be happier when it’s time to sit down and focus on your writing again. You can love writing and being a mom.
It’s possible! You just need to find the balance that works best for you. If you utilize the tips in this article and experiment a little, you can succeed at both.