time management | writing for adults
November 7, 2017
How to write from home with kids
By Chaunie Brusie
I’m about to tell you something that may shock you, titillate you, maybe even horrify you, but it is my truth and I am willing to speak it—
In the past six years as a freelance writer, I have been able to successfully build up my career to earn a six-figure income (yes, this is for real and no, I’m not the only one--check out The International Freelancer for another six-figure writer!) , all while working from home with four very young children. Yes, I am writing from home with kids. My first year making six figures, I had four children all six and under, no regular childcare, and a partner who worked two jobs, so I couldn’t always rely on him to be home to “help” me either.
I tell you all of this not to paint a portrait of myself as an incredible, wonderful, organized-beyond-comprehension writer of immense skill; instead, I share this information simply to convey the fact that is entirely possible to write from home, even with very young children and to also make an income that is desirable to you. That’s not to say it’s necessarily easy or for everyone, but it is possible. I make my income solely from freelance writing; I am not a blogger, or an influencer, or top earner of a pyramid scheme (unfortunately). I am just a writer who set some lofty financial goals and scraped my way to reaching them.
So, yes, it’s possible and if you too, are setting off on a path to write from home with kids, here’s what I want you to know:
Mindset is important
It may sound silly, but I am a huge believer that mindset is the first step towards making writing from home really work with kids. Writing down your goals as a writer and being very clear and intentional about how much money you want to make, what kind of writing you want to do, and what outlets you want to break into, are key. As parents, we don’t have time to mess around and you need to have a clear path to what you want to achieve from the start.
Learn to work in small bursts
I’ve been writing from home for over six years now and one thing is as true today as it was six years ago: my kids will inevitably interrupt me at a crucial moment in my work, right when the “flow” is happening, and I’m in the writing zone. It’s just going to happen, so instead of raging and throwing your laptop across the room, learn to accept that interruptions are inevitable with kids, try to set boundaries as much as possible with your children (more on that next), but most importantly, adapt to working in short amounts of time. Even 10 minutes can be productive if you want it to be.
Flexibility is key
I’m sure you probably want me to give you the perfect schedule to help you write from home with kids, but the truth is, it doesn’t exist. My writing schedule has shifted with every season of parenthood. Writing with a newborn will look very different than writing with a toddler or a school-aged child, for example. When my kids were babies and not sleeping through the night, there was no way I was going to get up at 5 AM to write, but now that they are sleeping through the night, I enjoy getting up early to work. The key is to be flexible and try to work around the season that you are in, without beating yourself up for needing to work on a different schedule than what everyone says writers “should” do.
Find a tribe to support you
Being a writer, in general, is lonely. Being a writer with kids at home is even lonelier. It’s crucial that you find a tribe of like-minded writers who “get it” and can sympathize with how difficult life at home with kids can be and who can serve as your “water cooler” co-workers when you need to vent, have questions, or just need a sounding board. One of the online communities I have found most helpful in working from home with kids is Stand For Mom, an online community dedicated to supporting moms who work from home.
Take one small step every day
I have found that success as a writer comes down to one simple thing, especially when you also have kids at home: staying focused on doing just one thing every day to move your career forward. I recommend a weekly planner of some kind that is not too large and overwhelming--it should have just enough space for you to include a daily task as you get started. Maybe it’s sending that one pitch out or emailing that one editor to introduce yourself or fleshing out that query that’s been on your mind--whatever it is, just stay focused on one thing you can do, even in the midst of the chaos at home. It will keep you focused and prevent you from falling into a mindset that will try to convince you that you aren’t doing enough.
The truth is, you are doing enough and you are enough. Writing from home with kids is difficult, but if you keep working at it, in however small increments of time you can, you will succeed.
What is your biggest challenge in working from home with kids?
Chaunie Brusie is a labor and delivery nurse turned writer. She lives in Michigan with her husband, four young kids, and a flock of chickens. Find her at chauniebrusie.com