Caution: Parent at Work

There's an art to keeping your kids out of your hair when you're trying to write from home. But if boarding school seems extreme, try these suggestions instead.
Author:
Publish date:

I'm writing in my office when my kids start chasing one another through the house. Within minutes, the game turns into karate kicks and slugging, with the 2-year-old yelling, "Cut it out!" from the sidelines. I know what comes next. Someone will start crying and come running to me, a tattle tumbling from his lips.

I have two choices: I could stop writing until the kids grow up, or I can deal with their interruptions right now so I can get back to work. Since I've never been one to wait, I choose the second option. If you're attempting to juggle a home writing career and parenting responsibilities, try these tricks so you can get back to work.

Tell them, "Writing is my job, and I go to work like anyone else."
This advice comes from author Ann Rule, who managed to support her family by writing from home. Adds freelance writer Carla Charter, "My kids know they have two working parents. They try not to interrupt because they know my job allows me to be there when they need me."

Divide your labors.
Children's author Rick Walton divides his writing tasks into those he can do with kids running wild and those he can't. For the latter, Walton schedules time to write, hangs up a "Dad at Work" sign and locks the door. He also sets time aside specifically for "dealing with the kids and their issues, demands and needs."

Set a goal.
When your family attempts to derail your train of thought, having a figurative writing destination—a time limit, word count or page quota—can help them to understand that eventually you will stop working.

"I can't stop until I've written five pages" is more concrete than "Leave me alone. I've got work to do!"

If you have preschoolers, use a timer. Set the timer for no more than 30 minutes. Put it where they can watch the minutes tick by and let them know that when the bell rings, you'll be available. Then follow through. "I sometimes have to stop and play a game with my son," says novelist Rachel Nuñes. "But then he'll let me go back to work."

Ask if it's an emergency.
"Sometimes kids just want a little commiseration," Nuñes points out. "I listen for a minute, then tell them I'll help when I'm finished."

"But it's an emergency!" your kids might answer. Fire, choking, vomit—these are real emergencies. Needing a ride to the mall isn't. Establish what you consider a valid interruption and don't get up for anything less.

Threaten.
If all else fails, follow Nuñes' example and tell the perpetrators they'll owe you a chore if they don't leave you alone. Then watch them run.

Whatever you do, don't give up. But do get going, even if you know you'll be interrupted. As business writer Kevin Nunley says, it's always easier to come back to something you've already started. And that includes your career as a writer.

From Script

Movie Theatres Return While Indie Cinema and TV Turns to Horror and Beyond (From Script)

In this week’s round-up brought to us by ScriptMag.com, read movie reviews from cinephile Tom Stemple. Plus, exclusive interviews with Amazon’s Them creator and showrunner Little Marvin, horror film Jakob’s Wife director Travis Stevens, a history lesson with Dr. Rosanne Welch about trailblazer screenwriter Anita Loos, and much more!

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Day 17

Write a poem every day of April with the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge. For today's prompt, write a waiting poem.

GettyImages-119430542

Your Story #112

Write the opening line to a story based on the photo prompt below. (One sentence only.) You can be poignant, funny, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.

Self-Published Ebook Awards

Announcing the 8th Annual Self-Published E-book Awards Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 8th Annual Self-Published E-book Awards! Discover the titles that placed in the categories of contemporary fiction, fantasy, memoir, mystery, and more.

Greg Russo: On Writing a Film Based on a Video Game

Greg Russo: On Writing a Screenplay Based on a Video Game

Professional screenwriter Greg Russo discusses the joy and challenge of converting a popular video games series into a screenplay and the balance of enticing a new audience while honoring a franchise's fans.

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Day 16

Write a poem every day of April with the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge. For today's prompt, write a city poem.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Under the Influence

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Under the Influence

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let a character fall under the influence of something or someone.

WD-PersonalEssay-2020-WinnerGraphic

Suspended: Writer's Digest Personal Essay Awards Winner

Congratulations to J.E. Stamper, grand prize winner of the Writer's Digest Personal Essay Awards. Here's his winning essay, "Suspended."

Planting Clues: Red Herrings That Fool but Don't Frustrate Your Readers

Planting Clues: Red Herrings That Fool but Don't Frustrate Your Readers

Want to know how to keep your readers engaged and entertained with your mystery novel? Let these six tips from thriller author Kris Calvin guide you!