Do you remember what life was like before you had kids?
My memories are admittedly getting a little hazy now (I have a 3 year old and an 18 month old) … but I do remember, with some incredulity, that I often felt “too busy”, without much time to blog or write.
It’s hard to imagine just how full-on parenting is until you take the leap. And most of the time management and blogging advice I come across seems to be aimed at people who don’t have kids.
Of course, there are plenty of bloggers who have kids – and who run great blogs. (Kristi included!) It can be done. But that’s not to say it’s easy.
Important: Try not to compare yourself to other bloggers, even those who have kids the same age as yours. Maybe their spouse does the bulk of the childcare. Maybe their toddlers are little angels who slept through the night from the age of three months. Maybe they have an army of paid help.
Here are seven ways to take back (some) control of your time, and carve out some precious hours for your blog.
Step #1: Develop a Regular Writing Routine
Can you carve out a regular slot to blog? (Or to work on a major written project, like your first ebook.) That might be:
- First thing in the morning, if your kids don’t wake too early.
- Straight after dropping the kids off at school.
- In your lunch-hour at your day job.
- After the kids are in bed and you’ve had dinner.
- While your partner baths the kids and puts them to bed.
Even if you can only manage 10 or 15 minutes, that’s way better than nothing. Ideally, aim for at least three 30 minute slots each week to keep up your writing momentum.
Two of the great things about having a regular writing routine are:
- You’ll (normally) find you’re in the mood to write! Like most aspects of our lives, writing is a habit – and if you can get into the habit of writing for, say, 30 minutes in your lunch break, you’ll find you look forward to it and focus well during it.
- Your kids will get used to your routine. Even though mine are young, they understand that I go upstairs to write every weekday between their teatime and bathtime (my husband is always home at this point to take care of them).
Step #2: Focus on Core Blogging Tasks; Let the Rest Go
Whether or not you have kids, you can’t do everything. There’s always going to be more people you could follow on Twitter, more comments you could leave on other blogs, more blogs you could or should be reading, more tweaks you could make to your design, new things to try like video marketing … leaving you with no time to write.
Focus on what really matters. For me, that’s producing new content: writing a weekly post and weekly newsletter for my blog, and writing a few guest posts a month.
Yes, I’d like to be more active on social media, and my inbox is a mess – but I’m not going to prioritize these things over what really matters.
What are your core tasks? Think about:
- Writing blog posts: how many can you sensibly commit to? One a week is fine; so is one every two weeks, if that’s better for you. If you haven’t already done so, you might want to focus on creating a series of cornerstone content for your site.
- Making money: if your blog is more than a hobby, the tasks that bring in new revenue may well be ones to prioritize. That might mean doing some freelance work, or creating a product to sell.
#3: If You Can Afford It, Hire Help
With your blog and your kids, you might find it difficult to accept the need for help. Maybe you’re worried that no-one else will do such a great job as you … or you balk at the cost. Perhaps you feel like you should be able to do it all yourself.
If you can afford to get some help (even a little bit) so that you can free up some time to blog, go for it. That might mean:
- Getting a paid cleaner to come in and tackle big cleaning tasks, to free up more time for writing.
- Paying for childcare – perhaps some regular babysitting so you have a few focused hours each week to write.
- Hiring a virtual assistant to help with your blog (or aspects of your business, if that’s bigger than just the blog) – why spend your time uploading posts, editing audios, or doing other low-level admin tasks when you could be writing new material?
I know paid help often isn’t a realistic option, especially if your blog has yet to bring in much revenue. You might instead try:
- Getting your spouse and/or kids to take on more tasks around the house. Nicole Avery from Planning With Kids has some great posts on this, including her family contribution schedule.
- Asking grandparents to take the kids occasionally – many will be delighted to, though obviously it depends on their schedule and other commitments.
#4: Focus on Quality over Quantity
When you’re reading blogs, which would you rather have?
- One fantastic post every two weeks?
- One mediocre post every day?
It’s a no-brainer, isn’t it – who wants to wade through lots of so-so content that seems to have been written for the sake of it?
Yet, as bloggers, it’s very easy to buy into the idea that you “have to” write frequently, perhaps even every day. It’s simply not true.
I have never, in nine years of reading blogs, unsubscribed from a single one because they didn’t post enough.
I have, however, unsubscribed from plenty of blogs that posted too much! I couldn’t keep up, and frankly, it wasn’t even worth trying.
Instead of trying to write lots of posts, scale way back. Focus on writing really good posts at regular intervals – even once a month can be enough.
That way, you’ll also have time to promote your posts and make the most of what you’ve written.
#5: Get Out of the House to Write
When you’re at home, it’s all too easy to get distracted by the mountain of laundry or dirty dishes that need tackling. And if the kids are at home too – even if someone else is looking after them – you may well find it difficult to focus.
If possible, get out of the house to write. You could:
- Drop your child off at preschool then head to the local library.
- Walk your baby around in the pram until she falls asleep, then stop at the nearest coffee shop. (It worked for J.K. Rowling.)
- Bid your spouse and kids a fond farewell on Friday night and head off for a weekend’s writing retreat somewhere exotic (hey, we can dream..!)
If you can’t get out of the house, get away from the action. If your mom is playing with the kids downstairs, head upstairs. If your partner and kids are having a movie session in the den, sneak outside to write in the shed.
(And if all else fails, I find that playing heavy metal on noise-cancelling headphones drowns out anything short of World War Three…)
#6: Multitask When Appropriate
Multitasking – rightly – often gets a bad rap. It is not a great idea to draft a blog post while simultaneously holding a conversation on Facebook, checking emails, and trying to talk to your spouse about who’s cooking what for dinner.
Sometimes, though, multitasking is perfectly appropriate. For instance, you might:
- Listen to blogging podcasts while doing housework or at the gym.
- Answering emails on your laptop on the sofa while the kids are happily playing at your feet.
- Reading blogs on your phone while you’re waiting to pick the kids up from school.
- Jotting down ideas and outlines for blog posts while on your commute (if you’re driving, you could dictate).
While multitasking won’t help you get actual writing done, it can be a way to make better use of your time so that you can fit more writing hours into the week.
#7: Create Checklists for Common Tasks or Sets of Tasks
Is there anything that you find yourself doing again and again?
Stupid question, right? Most of my life as a mother seems to involve doing the same things over and over and over. Get the kids dressed. Breakfasts. Brush teeth. Pack everything onto the pushchair. Shoes on…
And with blogging – especially if you don’t have an assistant handling the admin – it’s the same. Copy the post into WordPress. Put in the “Read More” link. Format the headers. Set the category…
While a lot of this becomes habit, it’s easy to accidentally forget a step – and even if you don’t forget anything, keeping it all in your head takes up valuable space that could be used for mulling over blog post ideas.
I’m using more and more checklists for both parenting / household and blogging tasks. These have huge advantages:
- Creating a checklist helps highlight processes that aren’t working very efficiently, so you can fix them.
- You can pass on a checklist to someone else – maybe your spouse could handle the evening chores, or you’ll delegate some blogging tasks to an admin assistant.
- You won’t forget things, only to remember them at some inconvenient point in the process (“oh no, we left without the school bag and we’re already running late…”)
- If you get interrupted part-way through something (probably by a small person!), it’s easy to pick up where you left off.
- You’re less likely to procrastinate on getting started with something: a lot of the thinking work is already done for you, and you just have to work through the steps.
As well as checklists, you can use routines to keep you on top of tasks that need doing again and again – here are some tips on developing a social media routine.
Being a parent is, hands down, the hardest job I’ve ever done. Building a successful blog wasn’t much easier! I have huge admiration for every parent-blogger out there.
It’s not easy to grow a blog while raising a family, but it is possible. Hang on in there, keep taking small steps forward … and one day you’ll be amazed to look back and see what you’ve achieved (in so many different ways).