How to find time to write – notes for busy parents

Laptop at work

Laptop at work

If you’d asked me five years ago if I had time to write a blog, I would have told you I didn’t have time. In fact, two of my work colleagues suggested I start blogging and I said exactly that. The idea was great in theory, and it did appeal to me, but just when were they imagining I’d do that? With a full-time job and a toddler (just the one, back then) the idea that I had any spare time at all was just laughable.

When I wasn’t at work I was looking after Sam, and when he was in bed I was just too tired to do much else apart from flop on the sofa and watch tv. Add in the fact that I did actually quite like spending any spare time I had with my family or friends, and I thought it was ludicrous that anyone would suggest I had the time to blog.

The reality of it was, I had so much more time then than I do now. I had just the one child, a husband, and a job which involved shift work, so I regularly had time on my own in the morning or afternoon. Our son, Sam, was in nursery and we had childcare covered five days a week.

Back then, my husband Roger was fit and healthy, and did more than his fair share of the domestic duties. He loved cooking and usually sorted out meals for the week, and shopped for the ingredients and cooked them! Something I took for granted then but now I have to do it all myself, I would do anything to have him here looking after me like that.

Compare that to my life now, and I’m a widowed parent bringing up two children on my own. I’m back at work, albeit part-time but on the other days I’m looking after our two-year-old Florence, and Sam of course when he’s not at school.

Creative collage

On non-work days I also need to catch up on things like housework, tidying up, food shopping, cooking, and trying to see friends as it’s hard to see them in the evenings.

Do I have any spare time? Well the answer is no, but I do write this blog. Somehow, in my hectic week, I manage to carve out enough time to write two, maybe three posts, take and edit the photographs to go with them, read and comment on other blogs, and chat online to what I call my second set of work mates, my blogging friends.

The majority of my posts are written over several days. I might start one on the train to work at 7.30, work on it again on the way home, and finish it in two more micro-sessions as Flo plays on my days off. I try to write at night, but I find tiredness gets in the way of creativity!

It’s all about snatching time here and there, writing when I have chance, no matter if that’s for ten minutes or an hour, it’s getting those thoughts down on paper and doing something just for me. Often inspiration comes when I have no time to sit and write, so I jot it down on my phone or in a notebook, and mull it over until I get chance to sit down and work.

It’s a question I am often asking other bloggers – all the ones I know are parents, mostly mums, some work, some don’t, some have one child, some more. All of them have partners. But we are all short on time for ourselves.

I spent the day at the Mumsnet blogging conference Blogfest yesterday, and the subject of time was raised by a panel discussing motherhood and creativity. On the panel were the marvellous Margaret Atwood, via video link from Canada, journalist Bryony Gordon, writer Meera Syal, comedian Bridget Christie, columnist and writer Polly Vernon and blogger Catherine Mann.

When a member of the audience asked the question of how they found time to write, their answers really made me think yeah, it’s not just me, who wants to write this little blog for fun, who struggles to make time, these super women do too!

Some of the points made included:

Be creative when you can be or you never will be.

You need to be creative to fit your hours, if it can’t be the other way round.

If you find you have a spare hour, just sit and write, otherwise you will never get it done.

Remember it’s just not possible to do everything brilliantly at the same time, but maybe if you choose your goals wisely and prioritise, you might just be able to have it all.

So as I took these points away as food for thought, I started to write this post at 4.30 this morning when I woke and found it hard to get back to sleep. I took the photos on my phone at about 11am while there was still enough light (after realising the bump to my Nikon camera has put it out of action).

Then I edited them while Flo and Sam were watching a bit of TV this morning. I’ve finally just managed to do a write-through and finish off while my parents, who are still here after kindly coming to babysit while I went to Blogfest, entertain the kids.

So there you have it – how to find time to blog. Now what are you waiting for?

x Julia

Twinkly Tuesday
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  • Reply
    Mummy Tries
    November 22, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Totally relate to this hon, and tbh I don’t struggle with funding time to write, my struggle is with how much time SM and promotion takes… I’ve a post going live about it very soon xx
    Mummy Tries recently posted…Signs that You are a High Functioning Autism ParentMy Profile

  • Reply
    November 22, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    Life just gets in the way of writing doesn’t it? I get an idea but then I think to myself, ‘there’s a pile of ironing that needs doing, another load of washing needs putting in, books need marking, oh and the baby needs a nap…’ Thank you for your advice – it’s advice I have certainly been looking for recently. X
    Stacey recently posted…What Are You Thankful For? My Profile

  • Reply
    Hayley Smith @hayleyfromhome
    November 22, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    It is a struggle to find the time I think for a lot of bloggers but even more so for you I’m sure, I think, like you I look on it as my creative time and ultimately I enjoy doing it. I’m terrible at writing at night so I try to do it at nap time and in ten minute bursts if the twins are occupied. Fitting it around your day and learning how and when you work best are good tips, and I’m very glad you have kept up your lovely blog xx
    Hayley Smith @hayleyfromhome recently posted…Hidden Gems In LiverpoolMy Profile

  • Reply
    sarah christie
    November 22, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    Julia you are superwoman, I know not by choice but you are inspiration. Finding in time is so hard isn’t it? But it is so worth it, I love the feeling of pressing publish it feels so good x
    sarah christie recently posted…Sun Through The Tree’s, My Sunday PhotoMy Profile

  • Reply
    Mini Travellers
    November 22, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    Those snatched moments on the train are priceless aren’t they. A little bit of time to express some creativity, maybe we should have written a post on the way home last night rather than drink prosecco and eat snacks! That was fun though. X
    Mini Travellers recently posted…Liverpool International Horse ShowMy Profile

  • Reply
    Californian Mum in London
    November 22, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    I wish I had started my blog years ago. I used to have so much more time and energy. It is tougher with two or more children, even if any/all are at school. But I am trying to be more organised. I enjoyed hearing about how other mothers make time for work and creativity and hopefully I will have more time to blog now. It was lovely seeing you, albeit briefly. xx
    Californian Mum in London recently posted…Blogfest 2015My Profile

  • Reply
    November 22, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    It is a struggle and I do make the time but I love it – and like they said at Blogfest yesterday, you just find time when you want to do it don’t you? I wish there were more hours but I think it makes me want to write knowing that I can’t all day! Great post – and I, for one, am glad you do write xx p.s. lovely to see you yesterday xxx
    mummyofboygirltwins recently posted…Sunday Stars linkyMy Profile

  • Reply
    November 22, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    I find time wherever I can. Here, there and everywhere. One thing is for sure though, I would be lost without my phone for photos, notes, writing, emails and social media! x
    Donna recently posted…Squire’s Garden Centre – Ice Grotto Adventure, Badshot LeaMy Profile

  • Reply
    Mrs H
    November 22, 2015 at 11:58 pm

    A brilliant post lovely. And I love that picture. I don’t know how you do it. But when writing is important to you and something you love then you make time, don’t you? I must admit that most of my blog posts are written in the evenings and I am often awake to the early hours of the morning writing them. Ludicrous! I really need more sleep. So I am trying to change the way I blog. Space it out more and write when I feel inspired to. It is great to read that such amazingly creative women also have to grasp their creative moments when they can. Hugs Mrs H xxxx
    Mrs H recently posted…Getting through NovemberMy Profile

  • Reply
    Mackenzie Glanville
    November 23, 2015 at 1:43 am

    I love this Julia, it is funny how we thought we had no time with one child and then we have more and wonder what we did with spare time, especially before kids, what did we do? I do struggle to find time sometimes, more with social media than with writing. But I love how we do it because it is our creative way, and without using our creativity we wouldn’t live as fully as we do. Really inspirational piece xx
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…getting to know me #FridayreflectionsMy Profile

  • Reply
    Carie @ Space for the Butterflies
    November 24, 2015 at 9:21 am

    Well I started reading this post on the train last night and finished it on the train this morning! I loved that panel discussion on motherhood and creativity, there was so much that really rang true for me but at the end of the day I went home fired up to squeeze as much out of my days as possible. It was so lovely to see you again in person and a wonderful day all round 🙂
    Carie @ Space for the Butterflies recently posted…Five things for a TuesdayMy Profile

  • Reply
    November 24, 2015 at 10:46 am

    It’s amazing how you can fit things in, when you look back on your day you wonder how you did it all! Great tips though, I definitely need to get a bit more creative with my time. #twinklytuesday xx

  • Reply
    November 24, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    Thanks for this Julia, I often find that I am waiting for the muse to strike and the stars to align before putting fingers to keys but I will try and embrace your little and often philosphy.
    Charlene recently posted…Advice from the Heart – 24/11/2015My Profile

  • Reply
    Rachel @ The Ordinary Lovely
    November 24, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    This is me, Julia!! I read and answer emails during the time post-breakfast pre-getting out of the door for school. I take photographs while the littlest is watching Bing. I write a few notes while I’m cooking dinner and the boys are distracted by a film or Lego, and then I try to piece everything together once they’re in bed and Paul is finishing off his work. I can be tiring and it can be stressful but I wouldn’t be without it. My brain needs it. And so do I.
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  • Reply
    Claire at Tin Box Traveller
    November 24, 2015 at 11:31 pm

    It’s good to know we’re all in the same boat when it comes to snatching time to write. I do most of mine in the evenings but sometimes I’m just too tired. Knowing when you are being productive or just wasting your time is really important. Sometimes an early night or flicking through a magazine is much better for you X
    Claire at Tin Box Traveller recently posted…Christmas Market at Winchester CathedralMy Profile

  • Reply
    Rachel (Lifeofmyfamilyandme)
    November 26, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    I am still learning how to write a post while working and looking after my girls. Mr B works alot so some evenings i’m too tried to write a post or think of anything to write! I have started relying more on my notepad and pen to jot down ideas for posts and my phone to take pictures x
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  • Reply
    Kat | Beau Twins
    November 26, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    Julia, this will no doubt resonate with all parent bloggers! That’s basically how I write my posts. Hardly ever in one sitting and then I worry that my mind alters and the posts sounds different towards the end. I grab snippets of time here and there. Often on my phone or on the laptop when the girls go to bed. Your posts are always so beautifully written and I LOVE your blog. PS: my offer still stands about making snowflakes for gin! Ha 😉 xxx
    Kat | Beau Twins recently posted…5 Ways To Encourage Positive Mental WellbeingMy Profile

  • Reply
    Mum in Brum
    November 27, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    Totally relate to this, although I’m not sure how you manage on your own with a part-time job too. I find that I’m too hard on myself and get frustrated when other things such as the housework and general life jobs don’t get done because I spend my spare time (i.e. Taylor’s nap times) blogging. Like you I can spend several days writing a post, just snatching time when I have it. I think you’re right it is all about prioritising – I’m trying to make sure that I do one thing ‘I’ve been meaning to do’ (other than blog) each day and then I don’t feel so overwhelmed. You’re doing a fantastic job and your blog is ace. #TwinklyTuesday xx
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  • Reply
    Lisa (mummascribbles)
    November 28, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    This is hugely familiar! Sometimes if I’m having a quiet ten minutes at work I really quickly write something and save it so it’s there for me to edit. I do a lot on the tube, a lot on snatched moments and sometimes something can be sitting in my drafts for days! It is so hard fitting everything in but I love it so when I can find time then I do. Thank goodness for the wordpress app!! Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday
    Lisa (mummascribbles) recently posted…Tasty snacking with PrimulaMy Profile

  • Reply
    Nicky Kentisbeer
    November 30, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    So true. We would never do anything if we waited until we had the time. A huge lesson for me is to write snippets as they come into my head – lest I forget! Also getting down the bulk of the text, even if you think it doesn’t work, can sometimes lead to lightbulb moments, ideas and even an inspiration for another post. Thanks for sharing. Nicky x #twinklytuesday

    • Reply
      December 1, 2015 at 7:25 pm

      Yes I think writing it down even if you don’t think it’s very good helps, as at least it is all there and you can do a re-write quite quickly when you have time! x

  • Reply
    December 8, 2015 at 1:15 am

    So lovely to be back on your fab blog. Finding blogging time is such a struggle with full time work and motherhood. It’s a juggling act I’m currently not doing well at. I keep trying. I need to learn to make better use of snippets of time, instead of waiting to have a full block of writing time, which never seems to really materialise. Write when you can is definitely a good approach and I hope it works for me more and more. Thanks for sharing. #Twitter

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