In my house there’s a never-ending demand for food, probably because I have boys. One day stands out in my mind. I had made everyone breakfast, cleaned up from breakfast, and put a load of clothes into wash. I promised myself once this work was complete and the children otherwise occupied, I would spend some time writing.
After five minutes of writing my youngest finds me. “Mom, I’m hungry.”
“We just had breakfast.” I check the clock. It’d been almost two hours. “Why don’t you go and have a banana.”
“I’m still hungry.”
Heavy sigh. Shoulders slump. “Okay.” I close up shop and go upstairs to make lunch.
Here’s a few strategies that have kept kids and Mom happy.
Contract a time. If they’re home, especially over school breaks, I contract an amount of time with them. “Mom’s going to go write for one hour.” I set a timer. “I don’t want to be interrupted unless it’s an emergency.” They’re usually pretty respectful, but if they forget I point to the timer. It’s also been helpful to frame this in terms they understand. “How do you feel when you’re in the middle of building Lego and I tell you you have to go to bed?” Then they can understand how the interruptions feel to me.
Involve them. When I need a teenage word, I ask them. One day I was searching for a name for a villain. I asked them over dinner and we had a lively and hilarious discussion. They came up with some great villain names. Another time I told them a story and asked them how they would finish it. They’re amazingly creative and came up with endings I never would have thought of.
Keep them informed. I had been furiously editing one of my manuscripts when my son asked what my book was about. It struck me that I had never told them what this particular book was about. So I pitched it to my son. As I went on the edge of his lips started to curl and his eyes got wider. Was he holding back a smile? When I finished he let the smile go. “She’s a superhero,” he said. I cocked my head to the side. I hadn’t thought of her that way, but I could see his point. Not only did he help me to see my protagonist in a new light, but I now had him rooting for this book too.