Day in the Life of a Stay at Home Mum/Writer

As most of you know, I quit my school librarian job when Noah was born, to stay home with him full-time, and write during naptime.

Back in 2015, I wrote a guest post on Publishing Crawl, sharing a day in my life, balancing writing with working full-time. So, I thought it would be fun to share what a day in my life looks like now, trying to write while wrangling my toddler.

Wednesday 5th July, 2017

7 a.m. – my alarm goes off. I click snooze three times. Noah still wakes up a couple of times a night for his dummy. More so when he’s teething. Last night was one of those nights. I’m tired this morning.20170705_073915

7.18 a.m. – I finally drag myself out of bed before my alarm can go off again. I make the bed, creep downstairs to put a wash on, and reheat the coffee my husband, Neil, made for me before he left for work. Being pregnant, I’m always starving, so I grab a banana as well, and head back upstairs to Neil’s office. I order some maternity dresses to try for my brother-in-law’s wedding in August. I write for a few minutes and smash out 126 words. Not much, but it’s a good start for the day.

20170705_0805218 a.m. – I wake up Noah, and bring him down for his morning milk. I put Pretty Little Liars on Netflix and we cuddle while he drinks his milk. He wriggles off my knee as soon as he’s done, and goes to play. I grab my makeup and mirror, and put on my face while he’s happy to play by himself.

8.40 a.m. — when the episode finishes, I make banana peanut butter pancakes for Noah’s breakfast. I clean up the kitchen and empty the dishwasher while he eats, and scoff my breakfast. With Noah still strapped in the highchair, I refill the changing bag for the day, then when he gets whingy, I get him and the highchair cleaned up.

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9.30am – I realise the time, and dash upstairs to finish getting ready. Run back down to get Noah ready, and bribe him with his favourite PS4 controller to get his toothbrush anywhere near his mouth. I spend the next ten minutes trying to get a decent photo of Noah to mark him turning 14 months today. Give up in the end and fasten Noah into the pram.

9.58am – we leave for playgroup, where Noah snacks on more fruit, plays with every wheel in the room, and I get to enjoy a hot cup of tea and catch up with a mum friend.20170705_103220

11.45am – I make Noah lunch as soon as we home. While he eats, I hang out the washing I put on first thing (I never have time to get it out before leaving the house, no matter how good my intentions), and put on a second load. I don’t usually do so much washing—usually one load a day is plenty—but we’re going to Edinburgh for the weekend, so I need to get ahead. Round #2 of cleaning up Noah, the kitchen, and highchair commences.

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12.42pm – Noah goes down for a nap. If he gets up super early, then he still has a morning nap, but not so much anymore. I miss those days—I got so much done. I creep back downstairs and eat leftovers for lunch, and watch more Pretty Little Liars. I allow myself an hour to relax, then try to write. But I get distracted by Netflix. So I drag myself upstairs to Neil’s office, and write until Noah wakes up. I manage 509 words, but I did write without a screenplay for direction, so I’m happy with that. With a total of 635 words for the day, I’m done. I aim for 500 words a day, and have found great success with that amount.

20170705_1555593.35pm – Noah has an afternoon snack. I try and get ahead with dinner prep while he’s eating, then grab a snack myself. Of course, Noah has to share it with me. Between cooking dinner and jotting down notes on my phone for the scene I’ll write tomorrow, I read books with Noah, hang out a second load of washing, and watch more Pretty Little Liars. I clean the kitchen. Again.

5.48pm – Neil gets home from work and takes over with Noah, so I can finish making dinner. I catch up on Susan Dennard’s instastories on revising. We eat dinner, and Neil takes Noah up for his shower and to start his bedtime routine straight afterwards. Meanwhile, I clean up from dinner. Yep, fourth time today. I spend the next few hours catching up on housework. Since Noah’s napping schedule has changed, my time during the day to clean is more limited, and I’ve been doing what I can on a night. Tonight, I have a burst of energy and knock out a bunch of tasks. It leaves me exhausted. I keep forgetting I’m 25 weeks pregnant.

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9.12pm – I spend a few minutes working on my to-do list for tomorrow and re-reading what I wrote today, so I can figure out my first line for tomorrow. I watch the rest of Jurassic World on Netflix with Neil, and when he goes to bed just after 10 p.m., I stay up to watch another episode of Pretty Little Liars. One episode turns into another.

11.30 p.m. – I pick up downstairs ready for tomorrow, then head up for my shower. I read—A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir—on my Kindle app until I can’t keep my eyes open. It’s not long.

Currently

Loving

Spending time with Noah. He’ll be one on Friday(!), and he’s becoming such a little boy. He’s just started walking, can say ‘mama’, ‘dada’, and ‘nanna’; and is learning new things every day. This weekend alone, he learnt how to eat off a fork, and wave bye-bye. He’s no longer a baby, and is growing up so fast. I’m cherishing every moment with him. Soaking up his snotty snuggles and belly laughs. He’s brilliant fun, my baby boy.

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Reading

I’m just over halfway through MORNING STAR by Pierce Brown. I’ve been staying up late to read more than my usual one chapter every night. I have some serious eyebags to show for it, but it’s bloody fantastic! I can’t put it down.

Watching

I’m re-watching Grimm and Pretty Little Liars. Before Noah, I didn’t watch much TV, but I like to put something on in a morning while I feed Noah his morning bottle and try to wake myself up. I’m not the morning person I pretend to be.

Listening To

My favourite writing soundtrack:

Thinking About

How I’m going to juggle writing with two kids until two. In the last few weeks, I have finally got a good writing routine down with Noah. It’s taken a year, and I know that once the new baby arrives, all that will go out the window, because having a newborn is hard, and after going the transition once before with Noah, I know it will be months before we all get into the swing of a new daily routine, and that’s before adding writing back into the mix. I really hope I can get Noah and the new baby onto the same napping and bedtime schedule, as that’s when I get the bulk of my writing done now. I know I’ll figure it out eventually, as I have with Noah. If it takes another year, then so be it.

Anticipating

Our gender scan on Saturday. I cannot wait to see who’s in there this time. This pregnancy has been so different in the absence of the extreme morning sickness, so I’m not sure if that’s a sign I’m having a girl, or if it’s another boy. Of course, the only thing that matters is that the baby is healthy. Still, it will be lovely to know what our family will look like come October.

Wishing

For warmer days. A few weeks ago we had a beautiful sunny weekend, most of which I missed due to a migraine (a pregnancy symptom). It’s already May, and we go away shortly for a week in the Yorkshire Dales, and the weather just refuses to warm up. Come on already, summer! I’m ready for you.

Making Me Happy

This beautiful face:

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2017 Writing Goals

Sickness and teething sabotaged my plans to get this post up at the end of January, and I have finally recover from an awful cold. Thought I’d seize the chance to get this up while we’re all healthy. No doubt we’ll all be poorly again before winter’s finished. Teething, however, is an ongoing thing, of course. No stopping that.

Anyway, enough rambling.

I knew having babies would delay my writing career—and I was right. At nine-months-old, Noah is crawling and quite the little explorer. No more sneaking in writing time while he plays on the floor. He demands all my attention, all the time. Except during naptimes.

Yes, I might be home with him all day, but looking after Noah is a full-time job, and writing comes second.

He won’t be little forever, and I’m cherishing every moment with my baby boy, who is fast growing into little boy. Much too fast.

So no lofty writing goals for me this year. I see no point in setting myself up for failure with unrealistic goals. I’m good at that. Therefore, I’ve stuck to (what I hope are) manageable goals. The way I see it, this year and probably the year after, are for preparation. Time to get my stories drafted, revised, polished, and ready to query. It sounds like plenty of time, but with a busy family life, it’s guaranteed to fly by.

My goals:

  • Finish first draft of Timekeeper (currently at 20k)
  • Revise Soulbound (for a second time, using Savannah’s notes)
  • Plan/outline Secret Project
  • Draft as much of Secret Project as possible in September (35k? Maybe half of the book?)

Still plenty to be getting on with, right?

2016 Wrap-Up

I was sad to bid goodbye to 2016. A major bout of depression in the third trimester of my pregnancy made for a rocky beginning, but once Noah was born, the year only got better. The rest was fantastic! Becoming a mum is, second only to marrying Neil, the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been.

The Major Life Stuff

Noah. We welcomed our gorgeous boy in May, and he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to us. I always wanted to be a mum, and it’s more amazing than I could have ever imagined. Hard and tiring, yes, but so, so amazing. Noah is days away from eight months, so close to crawling, and super vocal. His favourite things are Sophie the Giraffe (teether), baby biscotti, and his dummy. He’s cheeky, loud, and has a bit of a flair for the dramatic (like me.) He’s just an absolute sweetheart.

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Neil and I celebrated our paper anniversary. One whole year married.

We bought a house. Somehow having a mortgage feels more grown-up than being married, or having a baby.

I resigned from my post as school librarian to stay home with Noah (and write when he naps.)

Writing

I started out the year continuing to pick away at my Soulbound rewrite. My daily battle with hyperemesis gravidarum made it difficult to write, but I worked when I could. Not long after we moved, I sent a sample of my revision to my critique partner, who advised me to take a break from Soulbound—as I was too close to the story—and to focus on another project for the meantime.

After Noah was born, and I was ready to get back to writing, I pulled out Timekeeper from where it had been shelved since early 2015. I threw out what I already had, and remapped out the story over the next few months. I outlined every scene ready to fast draft Timekeeper for NaNoWriMo. I didn’t factor for Noah to teeth most of that month, though, so I only managed 13k, but I was more than happy with it.

I added another 5k in earlier this month, but haven’t written much else in the last fortnight due to all the wonderful festive chaos that comes with Christmas, travelling, and being ill.

I did, however, have fun throwing around ideas for a story that’s been brewing for a couple of years now. A dream inspired me to revisit the story idea, and I’m so excited about it. Secret Project, as I’ve been calling it, will remain on the backburner, though, until I’m done with Timekeeper—and most likely Soulbound. (I’m not ready to shelve that book permanently yet.)

Reading

I knew I wouldn’t get much reading done once Noah arrived. I got through a good few books before April, then didn’t read for months. I was too tired. I have managed a couple over the last few months. I like to read before I go to sleep, but I’m usually so exhausted by bedtime, I can’t keep my eyes open long enough to read more than a page. Even so, I read some incredible books this year.

My favourites for 2016 were:

  • Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
  • A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
  • The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
  • Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilto
  • The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas
  • Winter by Marissa Meyer

Good Enough

I have made many half-arsed attempts at NaNoWriMo since deciding to pursue a writing career, but this year was the first time I took it seriously.

I’ll get straight to the point: I didn’t win. I didn’t cross 50,000 words mark. Hell, I didn’t even make half of that. I finished with only 13, 794 words.

But I didn’t fail.

No, because ‘fail’ insinuates that I gave up on my story, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The truth being that Noah cut two teeth in November, one after another, and we had a long fortnight of disrupted sleep, and a grumpy mama and baby, just doing what we had to do to get by. It was like having a newborn again. Writing only happened if I didn’t nap when Noah napped, which I did—a lot.

It wasn’t without guilt.

Saying that, I spend much of my life feeling guilty nowadays. That’s what happens when you juggle so many roles. I forever feel like I’m failing—that I’m not a good enough mother, that I’m not giving my story enough attention, that I’m not keeping on top of the house.

But I’m beginning to realise that the only person who thinks I’m failing is—well, me. All I can do is my best.

That is good enough.

Time has a different meaning since Noah arrived. Even though I’m home full-time now, my days revolve around him. I write when he sleeps—as looking after him is my priority. But time is always in short supply these days.

So trying to write 1,667 words per day was always going to be a challenge, but when the teething hit, I knew it was out the window. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t intend to write as much as I possibly could—but again, the time shortage.

Napping at the same time as Noah ate into a lot of it.

Plus, I’m a slow writer. Whether drafting or revising—it doesn’t matter—I am SLOW. And that’s okay.

It’s so easy to feel like we’re not good enough today. We only see the best of everyone.

But we are good enough—and that’s why I’m taking those 13,794 and calling it a success. It is good enough.

I am good enough.

Writing Update: October 2016

It’s been two years since I finished the first draft of SOULBOUND. Two years!

Sometimes it feels like I’ve accomplished so little since then. Sure, I revised SOULBOUND and wrote half of a second draft, drafted the first 20K of TIMEKEEPER, and am currently planning to rework and finish that draft for NaNoWriMo—or get as close to the end as I can. But that’s nothing when I look at my peers. Some of whom crank out multiple manuscripts a year. It’s easy to feel like I don’t have what it takes.

Then I remember that I shouldn’t compare my writing life to anyone else’s. They are as individual as the people they belong to. Theodore Roosevelt got it right when he said: ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’

That, and I’ve had a couple of crazy years in real life—I got married, bought a house, and had a baby. So when you take all that into account, as well as the writing—the last couple of years have been very productive. I suppose it’s fair to say that my career took a backseat through most of that, especially considering how ill I was during my pregnancy. I was on sick leave from the day job for the duration.

As I said in my last post, I’ve been more motivated since Noah’s birth than ever before. Now I have such limited free time, I get annoyed at my past self for procrastinating so much. I could have gotten loads done. But I can’t go back and put my past self straight, so Instead I’m consciously trying to make better decisions about my time now.  Decisions that my future self will be grateful for. Some days it just doesn’t happen. I do have a baby, people. I am trying, though. And it is making a difference.

So, yes, two years on, I’m still not done with the second draft of SOULBOUND. I’d spent a full year revising the manuscript, but had gotten too close to the story and was making silly mistakes. We needed some time apart. It’ll stay shelved until I’ve drafted TIMEKEEPER. I’m aiming to be done by the end of the year, so I can focus on the third draft of SOULBOUND in early 2017.

I’ll be back before the end of the month with a post on how I’m preparing for NaNoWriMo. Should be a busy month, trying to find time to write 1667 words a day around a baby who refuses to nap.

I’m Back!

Holy hiatus—that was a long one! Apologies, folks.

When my son, Noah, arrived in May, everything else had to take a backseat while I learnt to navigate the turbulent waters of new motherhood.

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Almost five months in, and I’m happy to report that we’ll all still alive. Noah is—fingers crossed—out of the sleep regression phase and sleeping through the night again. We have some semblance of a routine in place. And now I’m getting more sleep, I feel like I’m finally getting my shit together again. Things are good.

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I gave up my day job as a school librarian extraordinaire to stay home with Noah full-time, basically exchanging one kind of wrangling for another. I love it.

My plan was to take time off to focus on Noah’s infancy, then get serious about writing again only when I was ready.

To be honest, though, I’ve been eager to get back on the writing train for months now. Since July, I’ve been trying to find a balance between book and baby—and it’s bloody hard sometimes. Totally worth it, though.

This is the life I always dreamed of, and I’ll be damned if I won’t do everything in my power to make it work.

Of course, being Noah’s mum comes first. Always. But once he’s asleep, my book gets all my attention.

As ever, It’s a work-in-progress.

I’m thrilled to be back, and taking my writing life by the horns again. Right now I’m working on a super detailed scene-by-scene outline for TIMEKEEPER, in preparation for NANOWRIMO next month. Because, you know, I’m crazy.