Keeping "Family First" is tough when it comes to writing. The hardest part is not getting frustrated trying to do it all! Sometimes I get impatient with my family when I have a deadline. Other times, I’m sluggish because I have to work when I want to be having fun with my family. It’s a tough balancing act.
Of course, my dedication to writing isn't all bad. When I first wrote, I did it while my kids were napping or after they went to bed. It was “my time” away from the cooking, cleaning, and diapers.
Once the kids got older they had to learn that “mom had work too.” I wasn’t always there to entertain them. This actually turned out to be a good thing. As the kids got older, they knew how to entertain themselves. And since all three of them were home together every day, they were always busy creating forts or producing skits. They became best pals!
Having kids who know how to keep themselves occupied is huge. I have a lot of friends whose kids need to be entertained. They have to have mom there, providing them with things to do or shuffling them from one activity to another. So in the end, my writing time has become a great benefit to my family.
I also feel it's beneficial for my kids to see Mom doing big things. It gives them confidence in their own interests. If mom can think up an idea, work hard, and produce a book . . . why can't they follow their dreams?
My writing also expands my kids' vision. For instance, my kids hear me talk about my travels and/or the people I interview. Expanding our horizons and connecting with others become common place.
Then again, there is another person effected by my writing. My husband John has always been my biggest cheerleader. He believed in me long before anyone else. Even today he listens to my ideas and gives me great feedback. He’s put up with my trips (to writing conferences, speaking events, book conventions), and he understands when I sometimes get too carried away at the bookstore ($$$!). Also, as I grow as a writer, I also grow in all areas of my life. I honestly feel I'm a better wife due to the lessons I've learned on this writing path.
And personally, I feel I'm also a stronger person because of my path to publication. Writing has opened new doors for me, and it has helped me become more confident. Writing makes me happy . . . and a happy wife is a good wife and mom.
Also, I feel this career is in line with the Proverbs 31 woman. (Who can forget her?) Whether she was reality, or a mere symbol, who this woman was in Christ made the difference in all areas of her life. The Proverbs 31 woman not only focused on her family, she also used her creative talents for God’s glory . . . and her husband and children rose to call her blessed!
Also, as children of God, we NEED to feel like what we do fulfills our God-given dreams. These dreams matter. In my opinion, too many women pour so much into their families that they no longer feel there is any of “them” left. Even taking one small step, followed by another, helps us to feel like we're making progress in following God's dreams.
Of course, balance is everything. I’ve really had to learn when to stop for the day. I usually keep my writing to afternoons. My kids get my mornings (through homeschool) and my husband and family get my evenings. Once my husband’s home for the day, I’m around. I cook dinner and spend time in the evenings with him. I’m sure I could get a lot more accomplishing (writing-wise) if I turned everything over to him and ran upstairs for free writing time, but my marriage is too important for that.
I've also had to come up with "management tips" for life.
1. I plan all my errands for one or two days. Running to the store, post office, etc. everyday would be a BIG time killer.
2. I’ve trained my kids to take part in household chores. My oldest son does all the floors and trash removal. My youngest son sets and clears the table and puts the food away. He also cares for our pets and gathers all the dirty laundry. My daughter does all the dishes and keeps the kitchen clean. It’s great training and a big help for mom!
3. I hire someone to come in a clean for four or five hours every few weeks. It’s been so worth the cost—both for writing time and my peace of mind.
Balancing family and writing is never easy, but I try to keep my priorities straight. They old saying goes, “You’ll never get to the end of your life and say, I wish I would have worked more.”
Finally, my writing benefits from these priorities too. When it comes to putting words on the page, I just do it. Since I have kids I have to sit down and produce. There’s no letting my mind wander, no playing around on the computer. And I actually think that because of this I get a lot more done than others I know who have all day to write.
My family is also my inspiration. They have shown me how to love, how to cry, how to rejoice. My writing would be flat and lifeless without those I love most.