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Writing in the chaos of kids

Updated on November 16, 2010

One of the very reasons that I started writing again was the dream of being able to contribute to my children’s future in a financial way.

A fact that the darling monsters are blissfully unaware of, as they storm past where i am desperately trying to edit my first full novel. Their voices rose loud in argument and discord as the whole house shakes with the force of their stampede.

Soon calls ring out for the referee accumulating in a noisy unmissable scream "Mummy!"

With a sigh, the world of warring vampires and werewolves slip through my fingers as tear stricken little faces appear a t my desk babbling their troubles at me.

It seems to me that every time I sit to work on my novel, no matter how calm the house the is, as soon as the flow of words start spilling on to my computer there is some chaos that needs attending to.

Murphy’s Law, at its best

So how do we writers with children at home manage both to parent well and find time to write ?

Burning the midnight oil

Working on your writing while every one else is settled in bed can give you that wonderful uninterrupted quiet needed to focus on your work, but the hours can if you get engrossed in your writing, slip by without you really noticing until its suddenly 3.30 am and the kids are up in 2 or so hours.

Restrict yourself a bed time and stick to it as best you can, both you and your children will appreciate a more rested you.

Organize your writing day

Kids love structure, especially the younger ones. Work out a weekly planner, and do your best to keep to the same times for the same kind of actives each day. Your kids will respond so much better if they know what to expect.

Jot down everything from breakfast to bath time, time you will spend with the kids, cleaning, cooking and of course writing.

Take some time each day to write down three to four goals that you have for your writing for that day. and remember being a stay at home mum is a full time job on its own, so if you get at least one to two items on your writing list done then you should feel accomplished.

After all every word counts in the end so even if you can only write 50 plus words in 15 minute brackets of time, you are still writing towards your goals

Writing on the go

Be portable with your writing, take your writing with you, be it a laptop or a note pad and pen, grasp the opportunity’s where they present themselves. In the car waiting for older kids, park, MacDonald playground is always popular.

Young kids always want to be around their mother, by simply taking your laptop or notebook and pen outside into the backyard, they may be happy to play while you write.

Writing space

create a space just for your writing, a place where you can go to work, children will learn to respect this place eventually, but one way to distract them from the wonder of your keyboard and the allure of those pages in that note book, that would look so much better with crayon swirl, Is to set them up their own "Work" station. Nearby where your own writing area is give your child some space similar to what you have created for yourself, if you can set up another computer for them to use, there are some great games on line young children, Nick Jnr has a great page as does Disney and other such sites.

Give them a table top box filled with coloring in books, sketch pads, sticky notes, and the like. So they can be just like mommy.

Keep your own work area as organized as you can, these will not only help keep you focused and less likely to be distracted by mess, but it will also cut down the temptation to explore your desk for little ones.


Reward Good Behavior

When your children does play quietly, or behaves in a requested manner make sure you reward the behavior. This can be as simple as time and attention, it doesn’t have to be a store brought gift or food, praise them, love them and your child will be happier than any transformer can give.

On a side note, try not to resort to bribery too often, its can easily reinforce behavior that you don’t want, tantrums, whining, clingy, etc.


Grandparents and Aunts and uncles may be available to take the kids for some time that you can focus solely on your writing.

But you may know other mothers with children similar ages to your own, it may be easy to set up days where you swap hours of babysitting with each other.

Child care, a great resources that both you and your child would love. It would free you up at least six hours of the day to work on your writing, at the same time providing your child with an environment catered for his or her growth. (Always take your time to research day care providers before choosing which one is right for your child)

Activates For kids

The key to writing while looking after your kids is keeping them happily occupied. The TV can be an aid, but it’s over use wears off quickly as bored kids are disruptive kids.

I find that arts and crafts can be the best distraction for children, especially if you work on making things they can play with the toys they already have making these old toys suddenly more interesting.

The more active you are in the morning the higher the chances are your children will be tired and ready for a sleep or a favorite movie giving you some time to work in the afternoon.

Below are some ideas on ways to keep your kids occupied in the hope that you may find more than 15 minutes to write in.



Is a great way to keep the kids happy outside with little effort depending on age..

to make your bubble solution at home gently mix 1/2 cup of dish washing detergent with, 4 1/2 cups of waters adding slowly, mix in 4 tablespoons of glycerin removing any foam of the top and its ready for use.

Sidewalk chalk

Let them go nuts with chalk, made for concrete, it will wash off easily with the hose or leave for the rain to deal with.

Water balloons

both in the traditional use, but I find on a hot day what works wonders, filling balloons of various sizes with water and freezing until solid place in a large tub (old baby bath) as they melt let your child drip a couple of food coloring over the ice. They will love watching while the colors are absorbed and mix, adds some toys for great safe summer fun.


Be it a kids pool in the back yard or the public pool, sun plus water equals a worn out child ready for a rest in the afternoon.


Go for a walk around your neighborhood with your kids, looking for something different every day, leafs, flowers, white cars, fences, dogs etc. another great way to get some energy out while teaching them about the world around them.

Paint the drive way or side walk.

In a bucket pour water with some food color, let the kids go nuts with a paint brush on the driveway or house. Again this will wash out with a simple hose off.


Using any box big enough to drive their toy cars into, and anything you can paste on with a stick of glue, let the kids make their own garages out of the boxes. This will provide endless fun for a least a day or two for young boys as they create places to drive to.

For girls can be made into a dolls cradle or little house with a bit more effort from mum needed

Play dough

Fantastic source of fun, and again hours of play to be had. If the kids are bored with the normal play dough toys, bring out kitchen items, or small toys they can create new worlds for.

To make play dough

2 cups of plain flour, 4tbs cream of tartar, 2tbs cooking oil, 1 cup of salt, food coloring, 2 cups of water

Mix ingredients in a saucepan, stirring over a medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until mixture congeals



Sometimes no matter how hard we plan or micro manage there will be days where things go wrong and you won’t be able to write. For whatever reason that is take a deep breath and let the writing go for the moment and focus on what needs to be top priority.

So reminding myself of all these things, I shut down the file I was working on, and deal with the matter at hand and within moments things are calm again as we settle together on the lounge room floor,

 the smile on his face worth more than a thousand words on a page.


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