This is a three part post on time management for writers.

The story so far: I am watching two little children, ages 2 and 4 weeks old, for free.  I stress the “for free” part, not because I want any kudos (the path to charity being its own reward), but because many work-from-home mommies need extra income and that isn’t what this article is about.  This is more in-line with any parent who has a young child, and needs to squeeze out some extra time for themselves.

Today we’re going to focus on some strategies to carve out time for your writing.

Enlist Help

Having two teenagers and an older elementary school child helps because I can concentrate on taking care of the baby, who sleeps after her basic needs are taken care of.  A lot of people think they can handle everything on their own.  I can’t, and I will be the first person to ask for help from my family if I need it, and then yell when I don’t get it.  My work puts food on the table.  Helping me work is in everyone’s best interest.

Writing doesn’t help me put food on the table, but it is important to me, and for the purposes of everyone else in the family, it goes under the “work” category.  Not helping me has dire consequences, such as no dinner on the table (a tactic which I actually use, and it works).

You can also ask parents, siblings, or extended family for help, as well.

Quiet Time is Valuable

The schedule that the children are dropped off varies from day to day, but I built in “quiet time.”  This obviously can’t be used for the tiny one, but I can also hand her off to someone else.  Usually, this is the time where everyone plays independently, or watches TV.  (Elmo is a God-send.)

Trade Some Time

My husband goes to the gym three times per week, usually at 3 hours per stint (including commute time).  Sometimes we have the children, and sometimes we do not.  For the days that we do, it’s an unwritten rule that I get a “break” after he comes home.

You can also swap babysitting time with another family, too.  Our neighbors will send their kids over to our house frequently, and we will send them to theirs.  This gives everyone a nice break.

Let Them Participate

The 2 year old is happy as clams when she sits down next to me, even if she isn’t doing anything except watching.  Make her feel included in your writing (such as talking out loud to her or reading your revisions).  Now, this may not work for particularly active young children.

Do Two Things at Once

Lots of people read while in the bathroom.  Why not write?  I frequently “escape” my family by going into the bathroom.  I mean, no one is going to follow me in there.  Listen to audio books while driving.  Memorize vocabulary when showering.  Turn on an audio book for children (with the pictures included) while you cook or clean.

Any other ideas?