Writing with Kids….how do you juggle family life and writing (and sometimes a full time job)?
Thanks so much for having me here! This is such a great question.
I am a partner in a family business and have two young boys, so I need to fit my writing time around life. The time I have carved out for this is during the hours of 4 and 6 a.m. before my boys wake up. When I first started writing, this was the only time I could carve out for ‘me’ but this time has now become my most treasured time of the day. I wake up without the need for an alarm, make myself a strong coffee, light my favorite candle, and write away! I find it’s the time of day where my mind is the clearest, most focused, as it is not cluttered with the million details of everyday life.
One afternoon, I was watching my son build a Lego creation that was years above his age level. He was seven at the time, and the set he was building cost hundreds of dollars and the recommended age was for a child twice his age. I wasn’t convinced he could do it. I doubted very much that I could do it. I had tried to encourage him to try a less challenging set, something recommended for his age group, but his determination was unwavering. My son worked hard for that specific set, doing jobs and achieving the merits at school that I had set as ‘conditions’. His passion and perseverance finally paid off and I bought him the set. When bag after bag containing gazillions of tiny pieces spilled onto the floor, I thought, ‘what have I done?’
My son was undaunted by the enormity of the project, working for many, many hours straight, following a complex manual to build it piece by miniature piece. His focus was astounding, his determination unwavering. He was only seven! It was a struggle for him to simply leave his project to eat his meals, and the moment he finished he was straight back to it. I knew his mind had stayed on his creation with every bite he took.
The expression on my little boy’s face when he finished it brought me to my knees. His smile lit up his whole face, his eyes were twinkling and bright. His whole body seemed to glow as he walked around his impressive accomplishment. He’d transformed, come ‘alive’. It was at that moment, something tugged inside of me.
Did I have that? What did I do that gave me a similar feeling? Sure, my job was necessary, it helped pay the bills. But I wanted that exaltation my son experienced simply through the focus of bringing something to life. I wanted to create something of my own.
I pondered on that for some time. I was busy, I had a full life, but I realised that no matter how much I crammed into the finite number of hours in one day, it did nothing about filling that hole inside of me. And now that I’d realised that something was missing, I knew I had to do something about it.
When I look back, I see that I had spent my whole life searching. I am an eternal seeker of knowledge. An avid reader, I have several books on the go at one time, both fiction and non-fiction. I was taking courses, the qualifications and certificates could wallpaper a room. But what was I doing? What was the thing that lit me up on the inside the way my son’s Lego project did for him? And more importantly, what was holding me back from finding out?
The answer it turns out was as simple as it was complex. Fear. I was scared of making a decision. Of all the pathways my studies opened up, what if I chose the wrong one? What if I couldn’t do it? What if I failed?
I realised there is safety in not giving anything a go, of not risking your heart by putting it on the line. It would have been easy to keep doing what I was doing, saying I didn’t have time for anything else. There is a certain security in being the support crew, the encourager of the dreams of those around you. But was I really doing even that as well as I thought? I'd like to think I was, but if you remember back to when I was talking about my son I said I tried to encourage him to try something closer to his age. I see now, that what I was doing was actually discouraging him from trying something he really wanted in case he couldn’t do it. In case he failed.
That was a light bulb moment for me. I didn't want to inadvertently pass on the same fears that have stopped me following my passions. My words were saying one thing, my actions another.
I didn't want to be the lecturer, I wanted to be the example.
And that is the change in mindset that freed me, allowed me to embark on my journey as a writer. I gave myself permission to fail. To try something new. To have fun. But I also know there is no such thing as failure. Because failing means something has come to an end. Passion and following your dreams is what life is all about. There is no end. If something doesn’t give you the desired results, re-tweak it until it does. You have that freedom. It is your dream.
And once I understood this, not just intellectually, but in a way that I felt as the truth, a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.
I took the plunge. I became a writer. I carved out the time. It is my passion. It lights me up on the inside when I release a book that I have spent countless hours making the best it can be. I put it out into the world and a piece of my heart, my very soul, goes out with it. I take that risk. Any feedback I receive I hope will be kind. Considerate. Helpful. So that I may grow to be a better person from following my dream. So that my words of encouragement to my children won’t be empty.
I hope you are following your own passion and didn’t wait as long as I did before you started. But if you did, that’s ok too. The perfect time is where you are right now.
As George Eliot once said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
I wish for each and every one of us, the sense of wonder and accomplishment that a little seven-year-old boy once got by completing a Lego set.
Thanks so much for allowing me to spend some time with you. It has been fun being here with you all. ~Athena x