A question I get asked from time to time is, “When do you find the time to write?”
My answer is always, “Nap time.”
But my kid is almost fou,r and nap time is slowly dwindling away. What used to be two solid hours of productivity is now more like a period of, “I’m going to read him some stories and kiss him good night and he’s going to hang out in his bed and talk and sing and play with his stuffed animals and hopefully he’ll actually stay there long enough for him to get some rest and for me to GET SOME S*** DONE.”
My husband can help me cook dinner and fold laundry, but I don’t know if he’d want to tackle one of my school assignments or pick up where I left off writing one of my romance novels.
It’s hard, because while everybody is talking about taking “me time” and prioritizing self-care, I’m over here stressing out about my mile-long to-do list. As much as I would like to put my feet up and recharge in the middle of a day filled with DUPLO and finger paints and being used as a human jungle gym, it’s just not possible.
There have been stories about how the most successful, productive people wake up at 4 a.m. to start their day and get to work. I am so not a morning person. No amount of coffee will help me face the day if I’m not ready. Being a mom, I am also not a night owl. I used to be able to stay up and write until 12, 1, 2… and then get up at 6 and go to work and teach all day. Not anymore.
So, I wake up when I want to. And I wake up slowly. I start my day with the little things that would otherwise distract me later when I’m supposed to be working – checking e-mail, browsing social media, reading the news, etc. Some mornings, if I’m feeling motivated, I’ll get up and try to start working on something. But most days, I wait until nap time. Then I just grind through, knowing that my time is precious. I’m always amazed at the stuff I can get done in such a little amount of time.
Maybe it’s when I reach my peak energy level; maybe it’s just because I know the clock is ticking until I’m back on mom-duty. I don’t know. But what I do know is that block of time is different for everybody, so you just need to figure out what yours is and protect it. Guard it. Keep it sacred. That is your time.
When someone says something to me like, “You’re in school and you write books? How? When do you sleep?” I’m always kind of embarrassed. It’s not like I have a superhuman amount of energy or anything. I just do the best I can with the time I have. No big deal.
But then I do the same thing when I hear one of my mom friends talking about how she gets up at 5 a.m. to squeeze in a workout and then get back home before the kids even wake up for school. My first reaction is “How in the world do you get up so early?!” But that’s just me. And that’s just her. The gym is what’s important to her, so she figured out when to best fit it into her day. It’s a part of her daily routine.
If you think about it, there are probably so many times where you do things that you don’t feel like doing, or things that you don’t have the energy for, because someone has to do it. It has to get done somehow.
So if you can muster up the energy to do those things, you need to remember… Nobody else is going to write that book. Nobody can go to the gym for you. You might get lucky and have someone who can help you fold the laundry, but if there’s something you really want to do, you’ll find the energy to do it. You’ll find the time. You’ll find a way.
MotherHustle Panelist Jessica Goodwin lives near Washington, D.C. with her husband, son, and their two cats. She’s written four novels and her work has appeared on Scary Mommy, Baby Gaga, Chocolate & Chaos, Tribe Magazine, Mamalode, and in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Sleep when the baby sleeps? Nope, she’s writing. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
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