Writing with Kids
I type this following yet another morning of tug and war with my heart.
It was not an unsusual morning. Rather typical to be honest. But oh how I wish, as I have done for many, many years now it was easier – and wonder if and when it will actually get easier?
The mornings are my best work time. Always have been. I produce three times the volume of work to a higher standard than I do in the evenings. That should not be a surprise right? Come evening I have done a 12 hour shift one way or another. Be it all day mum-duty, half and half mum-duty and work or work and then mum duty – hell sometimes it is even just straight work. Ok you get my drift....so doing any work after this when the kids go down is hard, doable but not effective especially for writing a book!
So yes, mornings are my best time, fuelled by not so secret coffee addiction too.
How do you get morning work time with children?
That my fellow mamas bears has been the problem I have been trying to solve for a while (like years) rather unsuccessfully might I add.
Either way there is a loss.
Either way my heart or my brain or both to be frank end up screaming at me.
I have tried waking up early. Great in theory but how early is early? 6am? Kids can be awake and all plans get side-tracked. 5am is viable, hard but viable and you still run the high risk of children waking up. Many times I have done this sat down managed 10 minutes only to have the boys wake and my heart sink the work I had planned running away before my eyes at the same time being wracked with mum guilt for feeling this way. Ok so 4am? Now we are starting to get board-line into the middle of the night zone. Yes I have tried this but am a waking train wreck come 4pm with 2-3 hours of the worst parenting time still to go. Don’t forget the 5 years of parenting fatigue with multiple nightly wakes ups on top of this too plus that means going to bed at like 8pm to make this remotely viable. Cue zero downtime for me and also a bedtime this early is often simply not possible due to the never-ending house management required.
I have – and still do on scheduled days, wait. Do the morning shift with the kids. We both need this but it is not possible to have this all the time. The loss here is starting work at 9.30am totally shattered after a three hour ‘mum-shift’ with them and its not enjoyable parenting. It’s 3 hours of "Mum, Mum, Mum" mixed with "Arjun have you got changed yet? Sahan please don’t put eggs in your hair. Arjun please give Sahan his book back. Right you two….” The whole time my brain is running through EVERYTHING that I need to do with no outlet. So by time both are at school/daycare and I am at my desk I basically need to dunk my head into an entire mug of coffee to regain some sort of mental function back BEFORE I even start writing.
The one remote plan which works the best out of these still leaves me with a bucket load of guilt to deal with. Getting up around 5.15 to 5.30. Quick shower/change which often means stumbling around in the dark, having coffee on the run and out of the house before the kids wake up. But oh my poor heart. It is REALLY hard doing this. Once I am at the office it is ok but that torturous hour of trying to leave especially if they do wake and I can hear them while I sneak out. It’s like there is a magnetic force pulling me towards them but I am trying to turn away from it to get out of the house.
Sometimes the magnetic force wins. Sometimes I think “it’s ok, I will just get them up, changed, set up for breakfast and then leave".
Theories are so great just as theories but reality is brutal. This is often the worst plan. Just 10 minutes with mum is never enough. And like clever little creatures it’s like they know. They know I am leaving, they know how hard this is and they just ramp it all up for me.
To be fair Arjun, our eldest, is often better at this. He has learnt after five years of this what it all means. He also knows and has the rational ability to be able to process this. That mum going early means he gets mum after school. He gets mummy-trips away. It was not always like this with him. Which is what Sahan is going through too right now. It’s not his fault, he is learning how to work through such big emotions.
And please don’t start with the ‘your kids are so young you have plenty of time to work and write books’. When I was writing The Nourished Baby I literally had people post that under some of my blogs about the challenges of trying to write and juggle everything else.
I don’t have plenty of time.
I am tired of hearing that. It does not help me one bit.
Why is it always the first suggestion for women to STOP what they are doing rather than change social perceptions around the HELP we need. Guilt comes from thinking it should be a different way.
This life is all I know. I actually don’t know any other way as my writing and parenting have gone hand-in-hand since day one. May it is just as well because I think dealing with the above when you have been used to something else must be harder at least this is just ‘normal’ for me. I got pregnant 8 weeks into my Doctoral thesis so I have been working through this now for seven years. I include my pregnancy year in that too because hello fatigue. 7 years. Yes 7 years of doing high end writing with young children. You think I would have figured this all out by now.
The one thing I have found to help ease this – not solve it – but ease this is doing my writing retreats. Even having these scheduled. Knowing that somewhere in the distant future I will get three days where I JUST have to work helps me mentally manage all of the above. I have one just before my book deadline. Or rather we pushed to have my book deadline just after this so I had that in my back pocket! All my retreats for this year have sold out – it is not even April!!! This also says to me that many, many other mums also feel this constant tug and war.
However, I am at the stage with my book where this is not enough. I need to completely submerge myself to bring everything together. I am not sure yet quite how to do this. I do wonder if I need to try an earlier start and I also think I need to block my appointments out and remove myself from emails and my Facebook messages – these in particular are really starting to affect my head space in a way they have not before. I guess it is a different kind of pressure. Of course I feel guilty about all of this too.
One day I may have it all figured out but clearly that’s not on the horizon any time soon.
As I wrote this blog and process some of my thoughts on this, it seems like an early start could be a way to do this – not forever but to bring this next book home. I am so close and so proud of the book already. It is worth a try right? The boys are sleeping a lot more than...well...then well all the previous years combined!!! I will find out really quickly if it's not workable. With time minus 23 days it is time to keep trying to find a new solution,
So see you soon Mr 4am!
Will let you knnow how it goes,
xxx Dr Julie Bhosale