The Myth Keeping You From Chasing Your Freelance Writing Dreams

Monday, July 24, 2017

Earlier this month, I got an email from a mom who wanted to write more but was struggling to find the time. She had a lot going on in her life. Two young kids, a part-time job and financial stress. She ended her email with a question I'm fairly certain every working woman has heard at least once since becoming a mom.

How do you manage freelance writing, taking care of your kids and your home at the same time?




Honestly, I've always had a hard time answering this question because my answer is something between "I don't" and "I just do." I know these answers seem contradictory to each other, but the truth is they're the best representation of how I manage motherhood and freelance writing at the same time.

The truth is, I only do the things that are important to me.

This mindset is certainly a work in progress for me, but when I realized how much time things that didn't matter to me were robbing from my life, I started giving them up. 

These days, I only do a few things. I write, a lot. I spend a good chunk of time with my kids each day. (At least four hours, but usually much more.) My husband and I get out of the house together a few times a month, sometimes for a quick cup of coffee, sometimes for dinner and a movie. There are a handful of friendships I'm invested in on a regular basis. 

That means that there are a lot of things I'm not doing. I only clean a little. (I have a short list of upkeep each day, and a longer list that takes me two hours on Friday mornings.) I'm saying no to activities and events that don't directly align with my priorities. I cook, but I have seriously simplified that part of my life to a handful of favorite recipes we rotate through a few times a month. 

I also have a lot of help. I'm in a position to hire a mother's helper for four hours a week, my mother-in-law helps out two to four days out of the month and my mom (who lives with us) usually helps with housework if I'm behind or takes the kids for a three or four hour shift, once or twice a week. My husband takes on the bedtime routine regularly. This little things add up and give me the time I need to get my work done. 

There are things I'd like to improve about my schedule. So many things. I'd like to spend less time on social media. I'd like to be getting more sleep and more exercise. I'd like to spend less time in my car. Of course, my life as a work-at-home mom is a work in progress and that's OK.

It wasn't until I started reading I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time, that I realized there was a myth holding back women like me who wanted to start pursuing their writing dreams while parenting young kids.

The myth is the belief there isn't time for writing and being a good mom at the same time.

The reality is that you always have time for your priorities. Of course, different priorities are borne of different lifestyles and different circumstances but I would guess that the women who truly don't have time to write and hour or two a day aren't reading my blog, either.

If writing is priority in your life you will find time for it and it doesn't have to come at the expense of your family.

The thing about priorities is that everything can't be your at the top of your list, which means some things have to be sacrificed. These sacrifices don't have to be spending less time with your kids or giving up hanging out with your husband before bed.

We know that family is your first priority, but what comes in second place? Could you rearrange some things to fit writing or your career just below the time you give the people you love?

Of course, it might mean letting go of a few chores that don't actually matter to you or saying no to activities that suck up your time but don't fill your cup. It might mean getting up early or staying up late or working through your kids' nap times.

If writing truly is important to you, you're probably going to be more than OK with these changes.

If you're not willing to sacrifice some things to write, then it might be time to rethink your priorities. Are you truly passionate about putting words on paper or is it simply a hobby you enjoy when free time presents itself? There is no wrong answer here but how you answer will determine how you move forward.

If writing is a priority, now is a good time to examine what fills your days, to ask yourself what can be edited out of your schedule to make space for the things you love. (I recommend tracking your time for a week using Laura Vanderkam's spreadsheet.)

If a little self-examination has made it clear that writing isn't a priority during this season, now is a good time to give yourself permission to let this ambition go. Just because full-time freelancing is my thing, that doesn't mean it has to be yours.

-Mary

P.S. Did you find yourself in the first group, as a women who really wants to give this whole writing thing a go? Let me help you! Shoot me an email and we can talk more about what it looks like to work together to turn your writing dreams into a reality.

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