Learning how to be both a writer and a parent has been an interesting challenge for me, and is one I am continually adapting. During the last few months of my pregnancy and the first few months after my son's birth, I did no writing. I was too preoccupied and too busy--which I imagine is quite common. It wasn't until my son was about four months old that I felt I had enough of a handle on the daily demands of being a parent to be creative again (having been able to get a full night's sleep for over a month by that point probably helped.) In fact, as I became more and more comfortable with my new role in life, I felt a resurgence of inspiration. I began to use naptime as creative time.
Then came one of those parenting curveballs--my son went on a nap strike. Every time I tried to put him in his own crib for a nap (awake but drowsy, something we'd been doing just fine for some time) he would cry a LOT, working himself up into a frenzy. His screams were so loud and so piercing that he made creativity and even coherent thought an impossible venture. He would easily fall asleep in my arms or while nursing, but otherwise he behaved like the opposite of those baby dolls: whenever I laid him down, his eyes would pop open. I was unable to get any time to myself and I began to feel rather desperate.
So I adapted: I learned to nurse at the keyboard. Until that time, I used to spend the six or so nursings each day on the rocking chair in his room, reading to him from Michael Crichton, Connie Willis, or a parenting magazine. With my new system, I would sit with a boppy propped on the arms of my office chair and a stuffed hippopotamus elevating the side with his head. In this way, I was able to reclaim some creative time each day and take advantage of the times when he fell asleep while nursing--after carefully unlatching him I could go back to my work. I was productive and he got some rest. Score one for Mommy!
This worked for a while, until my husband and some friends introduced me to Facebook. Oh my, how easily I was distracted! Suddenly I was using my computer time to check on friends and play Vampire Wars. Even after I managed to get my son to take naps in his own crib again, my momentum had been broken.
It took a while and a great deal of self-discipline, but eventually I got better at managing my time. I still use Facebook, but it's not the all-consuming thing it was when it was new. I got my stories back out into the slush piles and once again began rewriting old works and penning new ones.
The turning of the weather this past fall really helped me get back on track. Something about cool weather and low sunlight makes me want to sit at my laptop, perhaps with a mug of tea or hot chocolate at my elbow, and lose myself in a tale. It probably also helped that the yard went into hibernation, so there was no yard work crying to be done and no garden tempting me outside (just snow to be shoveled.)
What will I do in the spring, when the outdoors beckon once again? Well, I have one grand (and somewhat far-fetched) plan to get a little yard work done before my son wakes up, so I will be able to stay indoors while he naps during the heat of the day. (Those of you who know me can laugh hysterically now. I promise I won't be offended.)
My other plan is far more likely to succeed because my son loves being outdoors. Anytime we go outside, he is eager to explore everything. So I figure that I ought to be able to turn him loose in the backyard and get some gardening done, thereby getting work done during his waking hours. In fact, I'm looking forward to watching him explore the yard and teaching him about the outside world. It should be fun.
And I'll still have naptime to spend by myself at my computer. Or so I hope!