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Write at Home with Little People
by Carol J. Alexander

Sitting at the kitchen table with my laptop, I finally hit “print” for the article I’ve been struggling with for days. But nothing happens. Then, the message appears: “The printer is out of paper.”

“Not again,” I mumble as I hoof it to the next room, tripping over my six year old sprawled on the floor with crayons and paper spread about.

“Like my pictures, Mommy?” That’s where my paper went, again.

Perhaps you, too, find your printer always out of paper and the stapler under the couch. Or, you walk away from the computer and return to peanut butter and jelly on the keys. Because of these and other reasons, many moms wait until the day their child gets on the school bus for the first time before they begin writing. As a homeschooling mom, I’ve never had that option. I’ve had to devise ways to write alongside my kids—every day of the week, all hours of the day. Here are a few ideas to get you started writing with your little people about.

Make use of sleep times. Afternoon naps, and evening or morning hours when your child sleeps, is the ideal time to get the work done that cannot be interrupted. Set your alarm for a few hours before your child generally wakes. If not up all night with an infant, these wee hours can prove to be your most creative. Save writing, tough editing, phone calls or anything that involves your concentration for these times.

Set up a junior workstation. Instead of falling into the trap of sitting the children in front of the TV, let them pretend. Some children love to play at their miniature kitchen or workbench. Yours will love a small desk. Give your preschooler an old keyboard, some paper, envelopes, a stapler, tape and an old phone. Anything found in mommy or daddy’s desk is attractive to them. If you find you must get some work done while they are about, encourage them to write stories, conduct phone interviews, or draw illustrations.

Take your work with you. Pack your notepad or laptop in a bag and go for an outing--story time at the library, tumbling class or even the dentist. When I had six children at home, the dentist alone had me waiting in his office at least once a month. At times like these, you are good for one hour of uninterrupted work. Or, you can take the children to the park and work while they enjoy the playground. Offer to take a few friends along and you are almost guaranteed no interruptions.

Hire a teenager. If the budget allows, have a teenager come over in the mornings or late afternoons while you work in your office. She can play with the children in the back yard or take them for walks through the neighborhood. If you have a nursing baby, you are close at hand for those times the sitter cannot calm him. If you cannot afford a paid sitter, schedule a few work hours while dad is home. Maybe he can give baths, read, and tuck the babies into bed while you get a few things done.

Call on Grandma. While she doesn’t want to be a full-time babysitter, my mother loves to have special days with the grandkids. When time is tight and the deadline looms like a scary monster in the closet, or if you need to meet with an editor or a source for a story, send the children to grandma’s house for a morning of baking cookies, gardening or crafting. You will have peace of mind that they are taken care of, be able to get the job done and everyone is happy.

Implementing these ideas won’t keep junior out of your printer paper. For that, you need discipline. But they will definitely afford you the peace of mind needed to get some words on paper. So, don’t waste your time dreaming of the big, yellow bus coming up the lane. Enjoy your children; and enjoy your writing, too.

© Copyright 2010, Carol J. Alexander

Carol J. Alexander writes alongside four of her six children from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Her articles have appeared in BackHome Magazine, Home Education Magazine, Funds for Writers Newsletter and Writing for DOLLARS!. Visit her websites: www.CarolJAlexander.weebly.com and http://EverythingHomeWithCarol.blogspot.com.

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