Working at home with kids
by Linda S. Dupie
ecently I started questioning the amount of time I spend with my children. I quit my job last summer to spend more time with my children and to launch my writing career full-time. At first, the novelty of being with my children all the time was wonderful, I really got to know them. Then I began to miss the interaction with adults, and all but forgot about the other reason for quitting my job--my writing, my passion, one of several parts of my life I can't live without.
I felt great about the time I was spending with my kids, but I wanted more. And the problem with wanting more in one area of your life is you have to take time away from another area of your life. Where was I going to get the time to pursue my happiness? If I took it from the time I spent with my children, would they suffer?
I quickly found out that my children didn't suffer because of the time I spend writing. I find they actually like the independence. By independence, I mean they occupy themselves with activities and games during my writing time. To help them out, I prepare what I call the "Busy Corner," filled with crayons, paints, paper, books and games. They discovered their imaginations and without realizing, supplied me with many of the ideas for my articles.
When I first began writing again, I only wrote an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. I wanted my children to adjust slowly to mom's new way of life, or maybe I needed the time to adjust. Slowly that hour turned into an hour and a half for each session. There were and still are small interruptions, but I don't mind; they're making sure I am working and not just daydreaming my time away.
Now almost one year later I am able to get in six hours of writing each day. Mind you it's not solid writing time; I take several breaks to play with my youngest or just read her a story. My oldest is in the first grade, so I end my writing day when I pick her up from school. I have found that if I work for 45 minutes then take a fifteen-minute break to read or paint with my youngest I am able to get more writing finished.
If I happen to be working on a short story for her age range I read it to her; if she walks away I know I'm missing something and if she stays, I'm on the right track. She asks great questions too, which help me fill in what's missing. She also helps me see the story from her point of view.
The transformation from being a mom to being mom and writer didn't happen overnight. I had many conversations with my children. Most of the questions came from my oldest. She couldn't understand why I wanted to write, and write without being told to do it. I asked what she liked to do most, she replied, "Recess and reading." I told her writing for me is like recess to her. It's time for me to play in my own imaginary world. She was amazed that I could have an imagination. I began including her in my writing as I do her sister.
One morning she approached me and asked, if what I was writing was for a kid or for adults. I told her I was writing about spiders and their webs. She said, "Cool, can you read it to me when you're done?"
I told her that would be great. So began a new aspect of our relationship, she has become my best fan and critic. She also began to understand that if I didn't write every day, I wouldn't have new stories to share with her.
By involving my children in my work, they better understand what I do. I accomplish more, but at a slower pace. The writer with no children might write three or four stories or articles to my one or two rough drafts, but I have another side to my writing life: My children.
I love the little interruptions, even if I have a deadline, because all they want is a kiss or hug and an "I love you." What parent wouldn't want that kind of interruption during their workday? Therefore, when my children come to me it's not an interruption, but one of the many small breaks I take throughout the day.
I learned an important lesson from this newfound part of my relationship with my children; I need them to write. Yes, I need them. They are the driving forces behind everything I write and are my best critics; they are forward and say when a story doesn't work for them.
In many ways, my writing has brought me closer to my children. They inspire me to write well and achieve success. I also know that I am teaching them the importance of working for what they want. They see me do it everyday and they see the result when I get an acceptance. I openly share my successes and failures. It's important for them to know I don't always sell what I write. They are usually the ones who say "Don't worry, we'll sell it next time."
Yes, my children say "we," because they helped me write the story or article, either with their input or by playing independently so that I could finish. I no longer question the time I spend with them, because no matter what I am doing, I am home and there when they need me.
© 1999-2005 Linda S. Dupie, used by permission.