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Sharing a Dream
by Elizabeth Bezant

Every year more parents choose to office at home and whilst there are many benefits to it there can also be a strong learning curve involved. They struggle to help children understand that asking for a snack every ten minutes will require them to work longer. They explain that although they're always at home this doesn't mean that they're free to go on every school excursion. And they try to justify that dozing off mid-afternoon is quite acceptable if they've been up till 3am trying to reach a deadline.

After many years as a writer and writing coach I've found most stumbling blocks to achieving happily balanced working and parenting can be overcome, usually by approaching them from one or more of the following angles:

  • Giving your writing higher priority
  • Compromising
  • Sharing your dream

The first of these is most commonly the solution for writers who haven't yet received recognition, have spent years caring and nurturing others, or are a woman over the age of 35. Why? Because all of these situations tend to bring out an aspiring writer's lack of confidence and a woman's martyr streak. We all have them; some are just buried more than others.

CHANGING ROUTINES

Everyday routines can take years to form and most of the time they happen without much thought. So as children grow it's easy for a parent to find they don't have time for their own needs and dreams, but with a little planning, groundwork and sticking to your decisions it is possible to change.

Since writing isn't one of those careers that brings in a regular pay cheque or a guaranteed acceptance it requires persistence and if we, the writer, haven't put it near the top of our daily priorities what chance is there that anyone else will? I'm not suggesting forgetting everyone else in order to become a writer, a lack of balance in any direction doesn't work, but if somebody you loved was chasing their dream wouldn't you give them all the support they needed? And in most cases there's no reason to think others would react any differently.

It stands to reason, though, that any sudden and defining life changes will cause hiccups, but with a little honest communication and compromise most can be overcome.

AVOIDING HICCUPS

Before problems start consider calling a family meeting and discuss things like, what you need, why you're writing and how it will benefit everyone. Then ask each person what they need to make these changes easier for them. Sometimes simply the discussion and consideration of others is enough to avoid any hurt feelings, other times compromises might be needed. When I started out I agreed that I'd take each of my daughters out, individually, for a few hours every fortnight. Other agreements can be that you write 5 evenings out of 7, spending the other two nights playing games or having a long family dinner, or for younger children try spending fifteen minutes out of each hour with them.

TEACHING BY EXAMPLE

When I began writing, I struggled with the thought that my children weren't getting the attention they deserved. I was always at home but they didn't have my full attention because I was writing. For months I beat myself up, asking whether my writing dream was worth this sacrifice. Then one day, following a discussion on Child Care, the figurative light bolt hit and everything fell into place.

There were two ways I could earn money. I could office at home or away from home. Sure the money earned from home wasn't so predictable, but if my children fell sick, sang in assembly or brought a friend home I was there.

I learned that doing everything for your children is not always a good thing. Giving a child the chance to experiment with making snacks and entertaining themselves increases their capabilities, confidence and independence, providing that safe boundaries are set for their age.

And finally my favourite, I realised that one of the most important lessons I could teach my children was the importance of following a dream. Too often today, dreams are squashed, responsibility is held higher than creativity, and convention is considered the only way. Yet we all have the right to grow up dreaming of better things and believing we have the right to follow that dream. Yes we all have to accept our responsibilities but not to the exclusion of living. So if you have a dream, either to make a living as a writer, to have your words heard, or to have your novel published, why not teach your children by example? Show them everyone has the right to become the person they want. Show them you respect your writing and your need to spend time as a writer, let them share in the value of a dream.

© Copyright 2005, Elizabeth Bezant

Elizabeth Bezant is a writer and writing coach. She is also the founder of ‘Writing to Inspire’ an international business that exists to inspire, inform and empower all writers towards their true potential. Visit www.writingtoinspire.com to find out about her books, talks, courses and newsletter.

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