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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

3 Ways to Balance Writing and the Fam

Today for Whatevah Wednesday I thought I'd share a few ways I am seeking balance.  I don't want my first ministry--my husband and kids--to suffer for the sake of my ministry of writing. 

Our whole lives are the sum of our days, right? So my goal at the end of each day is to hear God say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." How can we stay focused on His will for our role in our family while being a writer? Here are 3 practical things I am trying to be better at (I'd love to hear yours):

1) When the kids and/or hubby is home, tend to important emails quickly and then turn off the monitor.  That way you aren't tempted to keep checking all your social media sites every time you walk by the computer.

2) Even if it seems counter-productive, if you are awake before the rest of your family, use that time to pray and read your Bible.  Trying to get a jump on your day by attending to emails, blog posts, or editing that extra page never works to leave you more family time later in the day.  Inevitably, any extra time created will get sucked into the vortex of the web. But spending time with the Top Family Member, your Heavenly Father, will always benefit your efforts to keep your priorities in line and focus your heart where it needs to be.

3) Choose to give up TV time to write, rather than sacrifice time with your spouse and/or kids.  Are you often asking your kids to wait to talk to you until you are done writing that chapter/page/etc? Too much waiting and you'll find they are grown and your time having them in your lap is ending.  Likewise your spouse may have grown accustomed to playing second-fiddle and a chasm will have developed between you. Instead, give them their time and write when you'd normally watch Biggest Loser.  Catch the highlights or just watch the weigh-in on Tivo. ;-)

Of course there will be times when you do need to ask for support from your family and they will have to give you time and freedom to write, but by keeping things in perspective, limiting distractions, and giving them the best of you, those times will be of a more reasonable frequency.  You won't have guilt about the way you have structured your life, your family will be closer-knit, and you will be honoring God.

What practical ways do you keep family your sacred priority above your writing?  Let the rest of us hear your thoughts and experiences!


A.M. Kuska said...

We don't have a TV, and my writing ends up involving the entire family at some point. >.< I've had everyone from my mother-in-law, to my husband, to the local neighbor, all fiercely debating what my character should do in the situation s/he's in.

Jessica R. Patch said...

I beat my family up every day...ha ha. Learned that from Elizabeth George. I spend my time with the Lord and then I get excercise out of the way. UGH. After I drop the kiddos at school, I work on social media stuff including blog posts, do some domestic stuff and then writing stuff. After the kids are settled with snacks and homework, I may spend a little more time before dinner. By evening, I try to devote it to hubby/kiddos. Not every day is that way, but most! Great post, Michelle!

Living by Grace said...

I LOVE this post! I wish more young women would have your priorities. That being said, when I was a young mother of four boys, I had to make sure I didn't get lost in my early morning quiet times. I can still do that, and I love having the luxury of time now for that very reason. However, sometimes it's time to be Martha. I used to bring a tablet with me EVERYWHERE. Many poems and stories were written in the car or at a picnic table at the soccer field. Sometimes I wrote at the field, except the quarter I was assistant coach in the days I had knees of my own....but I digress. During their school age years, once a week, I would leave the house and go to a remote location...Starbucks...and write.
Being accustomed to mass chaos around me at all times, I needed the activity at Starbucks to keep me focused on writing. Now I am content with a quiet house, but I don't have to have quiet. TV is a time sucker, and you were hitting home with the Biggest Loser. My guilty multi-tasking during that show is hitting the floor and doing some crunches. :) Another thing I do is go to Starbucks with my writer friend and write together while we have coffee. I have to caution that conversation can win out there, however! I can't wait to see everyone else's ideas! You are SO right...children don't wait to grow up while we are busy doing other things, and husbands need us now. :)

Michelle Massaro said...

Thank you for your great input, all of you! A.M. I am so impressed with your TV-free home and getting the fam involved in what you're doing. =)

Jess,I love how you structure your days to get the most out of every one. You do a great job at it too!

Jerri, I would never be able to write with a friend at starbucks--I KNOW I'd chat the whole time! lol I do much better with quiet than with chaos. I find my stress level soars with too much sensory input. Silence is golden, or soft background music. No TV or conversations or noisy toys or else I'm gonna blow. So it's better just to not even try to write when my house is like that. Just accept it and come back to the manuscript later. =)

Brooke R. Busse said...

My family eats ice cream while watching the Biggest Loser. XD I think of that time as my weekly break from writing as well as spending time with my family (though sometimes my mother watches it without us because she just can't wait. XD).

Gina Conroy said...

This is a subject close my heart. I've been seeking balance for years, interviewed hundreds of writing moms to try and find it, and started a blog called writerinterrupted.com What have I learned? To be flexible! Some tips...all of what you suggested is great, and I would add when you get off track, don't beat yourself up about it, just get right back on track. Try not to worry about writing when you're focusing on your family and vice versa.

And the most important thing I learned this year was "when you say yes to one thing, you're actually saying no to another!" Now when my daughter wants to play and I'm busy on the computer, it's easier to take a break with this mantra floating around in my head.

Michelle Massaro said...

Brooke, we watch some of our TV shows as a family too. (Occassionally with ice cream, lol) In that case I consider it family time, but I still try to watch it tivo'd so we can skip the commercials. BL, Survivor, and AI can all sometimes be a family affair. But still, I know I can give up the screen if I feel I haven't been able to find enough writing time, rather than ignoring my toddler during the day when he wants to play with me. =)

Gina, very good insights. I am working on these things all the time and every day is a new chance to "get it right". I rarely succeed in striking the perfect balance in one 24-hour period. But if I can look back over the week and see improvement or an overall better balance, that's good enough for me! I love your quote too, and I always think that way with money which is why I'm a saver, lol. But applying it to my time is quite an eye-opener. Thanks for stopping by and sharing that with us!

~ Michelle

Joanne Sher said...

This is SO hard for me. I TRY to do my writing and things of that matter when the kids aren't home - but my husband is on disability and is ALWAYS here (no - not an exaggeration. He can't drive, so if he goes somewhere I'm the one who takes him. He's out of the house for about two hours every other Monday night at Bible study - and then my kids are home).

Now, this is NOT a complaint. There are SO many ways that having him home are a BLESSING - but figuring out when to devote my time to writing and when to devote it to HIM is tough.

And don't EVEN ask about the status of my house. Uuuugggghhhh!

(and I always read my Bible before I do anything besides use the restroom and shower. And if I'm interrupted-by needing to get the kids to school, or whatever, I go right back to it when I get home. And it DOES make a big difference).