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Monday, October 12, 2009

Writing Under the Influence - Tips for Parents of Very Young Children

A few weeks ago I enjoyed penning a post for parents who write. I've had several requests for an article pertaining to younger children. After brainstorming with Angie Lofthouse, mother of six and author of about a dozen published short stories, I have more tips that can help you find success and balance in your parenting and writing.

First, I think it is important to keep this in mind: Rather than daily life revolving around the children, the children should be involved in the life of the adult. This will result in well-rounded children, and happier parents.

Writing with Toddlers
  1. Create a daily routine and stick to it. Toddlers thrive on a routine, and you will, too! Plan out specifically when you will write, and stick to it as much as possible.
  2. Next, make sure the room or space you're in is as safe and toddler-proof as possible. This way you can just listen to what your toddler is doing instead of having to watch and chase all the time.
  3. Going to the park or playing outside is also a good time to write. (A fenced yard is very, very nice!)
  4. Having another computer (especially one that doesn't work!) allows Toddler to emulate mom or dad and pound away on the keys. Even just an old keyboard will work for this.
  5. Turn the dining room table into a tent. Kids love this!
  6. On rainy days, consider bringing some outdoor toys in. Riding a tricycle around the house can be a special novelty. This works especially well in an unfinished basement or an empty garage.
  7. Water, water, everywhere! Kids love water. I remember plunking my kids in the bathtub for a good hour, and bringing my laptop into the bathroom to write. (Be sure to sit far away from splashes!)
  8. Another way to use water is give your toddler a large bin with an inch of water in it, placing the bin on the kitchen floor or patio. Add water-proof toys for hours of fun. (Please note - always supervise Toddler around any type of water!)
  9. Movies - we all rely on them at times. Consider amping up the education factor by adding subtitles and foreign language audio options. Exposure to foreign language at a very young age stimulates brain development.
  10. This tip is from EASchechter (whose blog I can't link to for some reason - EAS, send me a link, my address is on the right.) Another thing you can do is see if there is an open play facility in your area. In Orlando, we have Amaya Papaya, which is open play for kids up to age five. You pay one price, and you have unlimited play all day, with reentry if you decide not to bring lunch with you. They offer free wi-fi and comfy chairs for parents, and a very welcoming atmosphere. www.amayapapaya.com
  11. This from Nisa: I also like to give my kids crayons and paper while I write and I read off sentences from my story. (Obviously age appropriate sentences.) Little ones also love starfall.com, which is a website that teaches letters and reading. It would be a great activity for them to do while you're writing as long as they know how to use a mouse and the computer. My three year old does this with his 21 month old little brother. It's great time they get to spend together.

Writing with Infants
  1. The first thing to do when writing with an infant is lower your expectations. Don't worry, it's temporary! But babies do take a lot of time and care.
  2. A baby sling is very handy; you can have your baby with you and still have your hands free.
  3. Take advantage of nap time if you can... but if you are tired, sleep when Baby does. You'll need a clear mind to write effectively.
  4. Angie used to carry a basket around with diapers, wipes, and other baby supplies so she would always have them handy wherever in the house she was. She put her notebook in there, too, just in case she had a minute to write.
  5. Those baby play gyms that infants can lay under and play with are a good investment.
  6. Is baby up at night? Why not write? It'll help the time pass.
Possibly the greatest gift we can give our children is the gift of reading - so be sure to let them see you read, and be sure to read to them daily.

I'll leave you with a quote from Angie: "The most important thing, though, is to enjoy the baby! They're only that small for such a short time. Writing will still be there when your baby gets a little older."

You can drop in on Angie's blog, Notes From the Writing Chair, for more good writing tips. Thanks, Angie, for your help with this article!

Do you have any tips to share? I would love to include them with this article and link to your blog!

Suzette Saxton writes books for tots, teens, and in-betweens. She is represented by Suzie Townsend of FinePrint Literary.

9 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great advice, Suzette! I'm always amazed how some mothers can write when they have babies and toddlers. I was lucky if I was able to sleep and shower, never mind write.

Valerie Geary said...

Though I'm not a mother, I may have to try some of those ideas out on my pets! Kidding. :) Great article! And not one you see very often!

EASchechter said...

Another thing you can do is see if there is an open play facility in your area. In Orlando, we have Amaya Papaya, which is open play for kids up to age five. You pay one price, and you have unlimited play all day, with reentry if you decide not to bring lunch with you. They offer free wi-fi and comfy chairs for parents, and a very welcoming atmosphere.

http://www.amayapapaya.com/

As a writing mom to a three-year-old who has recently decided that he no longer wants to nap, getting out to Amaya Papaya is sometime the only way I can get work done!

Michelle McLean said...

wonderful post Suzy! Writing when you have children can definitely be a challenge. I think I will try the "table into a tent" thing this afternoon :) My kids love playing with tents, but when I make them with chairs, I always have to fix them 100 times. It's never occurred to me to use the table LOL Lots of tent fun and a sturdy flat surface to support the blankets = no fixing and more writing :D Thanks!

Nisa said...

Putting an infant in a baby sling while you write is such a good idea! I'm filing that and many of the others away.

I also like to give my kids crayons and paper while I write and I read off sentences from my story. (Obviously age appropriate sentences.) Little ones also love starfall.com, which is a website that teaches letters and reading. It would be a great activity for them to do while you're writing as long as they know how to use a mouse and the computer. My three year old does this with his 21 month old little brother. It's great time they get to spend together.

Thanks for the article, Suzette!

Angie said...

Thanks for the link, Suzette, and thanks for letting me brainstorm with you!

Carolyn Kaufman said...

Ooh, fantastic post, Suzy!

Bethany Wiggins said...

Nice! Thanks for the tips.

Ina said...

Great post! My husband and I are thinking about having kids in the next couple of years, and these tips are really helpful. If we end up living in Europe, however, our kids would be in kindergarden (what you call preschool) all day, five days a week from age 1, which would make for a lot of writing time :)