A lot of people ask me how I can possibly get everything done. I’m not superwoman, but I have been blessed with help and grace.
“I just don’t see how in the world you do it,” is a comment I get nearly every day. “I couldn’t do what you do.”
“You must be superwoman,” I hear from others. “How do you do it?”
The truth is that I’m far from superwoman. While I can look back and see that I did accomplish a lot over the last year, I know that none of it’s been in my own strength–and none of it was easy.
The truth is–writing a book, running a blog, and doing so without neglecting my family is extremely hard work.
What people don’t see is that I had help. A lot of help.
What people don’t see is that I had to let other things go. Big things.
What people don’t see is that I basically took two months to just snuggle my baby and savor the newborn season after he was born.
But, practically speaking, just how did I do it? And is it something you can do as well?
I know there are other mamas out there who, like I did, aspire of accomplishing big dreams–whether it be writing and book publishing or something else.
The following are 5 ways that I was able to write two books, have a baby, and part-time homeschool three other kids all within a year:
1. I had help.
Yes, there might be some stay-at-home, homeschooling mamas who write books without help, but I’ve never met one (and I know a lot of authors!).
The truth is, I wasn’t sitting at home, writing away on my computer with one hand and taking care of my kids and home with the other. The only way I could have done that would have been to write in the middle of the night, which I wasn’t willing to do at this point in my life.
(I spent many years working in the middle of the night as a freelance writer and blogger. My kids were babies and toddlers back then, and they took naps during the day. That season in my life led to many of the fruits our family is now enjoying, but it’s not something I would choose to repeat. It led to many victories, but it also led to burn out and adrenal fatigue.)
Our family reinvested much of my book advance to hire a part-time nanny.
She and I tag teamed to take care of the kids, and she stayed downstairs with them while I wrote upstairs in a spare bedroom-turned-office.
I also have a team of virtual assistants who help me on the blog and who also helped some with the book launch.
These ladies all work part-time, and they do things like schedule social media posts, edit guest posts, and take care of technical aspects of the blog.
In addition to paid help, my mom and dad also occasionally helped by transporting the girls to and from school and watching them while I had doctor’s appointments.
Our church family and my mentor Holly also provided meals for us after the baby was born.
On top of this help, my husband has been working from home with me since December 2016. (He had been working with me on the blog before, but not full-time.)
Truth be told, after the baby was born, he had to work without me a lot, as I had a traumatic birth with a birth injury and our son also had several medical issues during the newborn phase. There were some weeks, though, where we both didn’t get much done at all, and we felt as if my husband was my taxi driver, carting me and the baby to doctor’s appointments all over the Charlotte area.
As well? We’ve had a housekeeper come and do a deep clean in our house about once per month for the past several months.
Since I had been in blogger and work-at-home mom burnout before, my husband and I were determined that I would not get sucked back into it again–even with writing two books and having a baby.
We felt like it was a very worthwhile investment to spend a good portion of my book advance to help me not go crazy trying to manage it all.
I’m grateful to say that, although it was a TON of work to write the books, I never once felt burnt out like I did a few years ago when I was working on other online projects.
In fact, writing the books has been the most professionally rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my entire writing career. Even with several postpartum health issues, I never once felt like I was neglecting my family. That’s not something I’ve always been able to say.
Now that the book has officially launched and the other book revisions are in, we are settling into our new normal. We let our nanny go, are limiting outside housecleaning to special occasions, and we’re even cutting back on some virtual assistant work.
There’s no doubt about it, I couldn’t have written the books (and launched More Than Just Making It) without all this help.
2. I took concentrated writing “retreats.”
Early in the book writing process and before the baby was born, I spent several weekends away at a nearby inn and one weekend at my mentor’s home.
This wouldn’t have been financially possible to do every weekend–nor would I want to spend that much time away from my family. But it was incredibly fruitful to have the time away that I did. Writing long-form requires extended amounts of time of uninterrupted work. This is not always possible with young children around. I’m thankful for the weekends away to get several chapters written.
Whatever project you’re working on may required you to take some concentrated chunks of time away. This doesn’t mean that you have to take an entire weekend away; even a full day at a coffee shop can help if your husband, the grandparents, or a sitter can help out with your children while you’re away.
(Even if you don’t aspire to write a book, all homemakers need some time away from time to time! Check out my short e-book, Your Retreat: A Guide to Giving Yourself a Personal Planning Day for printables and my best tips on how to make that happen!)
3. I also wrote in tiny margins of time.
Ideally, long-form writing requires many extended amounts of time to write. But during this season of motherhood, it just wasn’t possible (and I wouldn’t have it any other way–kids beat books, any day!).
Instead of wallowing in self-pity that I didn’t have the funds or time to hunker down in a cabin in the woods for a month and write my heart away, I chose to take my laptop with me nearly everywhere and write in the margins of life. This proved especially fruitful (and necessary!) while I was pregnant and during my son’s first few months of life.
I wrote in doctors’ office waiting rooms. I wrote in the car on long road trips. (When my husband was driving, of course!) I wrote while my kids were in activities and I wrote anytime and every time I had a free few minutes.
(I did not write while in labor–although I did homeschool my kids during it, unknowingly! Truthfully, I didn’t even touch my laptop while in the hospital.)
4. I said no–to a lot.
A lot. I didn’t participate in any extracurricular activities except for going to church and our weekly church community group. I didn’t attend a women’s Bible study at all last year and I didn’t do moms’ night outs. Honestly, I didn’t go out much at all. I stayed home a lot. (But, remember, I also had a newborn.) I also said “no” to many blogging opportunities, including turning down free trips and other money-making opportunities. In order to write the books, I also left Ultimate-Bundles (a business I co-founded) early in the process.
As well, I took a big step away from the blog. To be honest, that wasn’t intentional, but it became necessary after the baby was born. Would I have had to have stopped blogging as much if I hadn’t had a baby while writing the books? Could I have done it with a newborn if we hadn’t had so many doctors’ appointments? I will never know, but it was a necessity during this season of my life.
5. I had a publisher who gave me grace (and deadline extensions).
My big book revision was due…wait for it…the week my son was born. I could not have asked for a better publisher or editorial team.
My agent negotiated an extension, and they basically let me enjoy my newborn for about eight weeks. My son was a (WONDERFUL) surprise, and my publisher actually gave me more than one extension during the entire process. In fact, my book was originally slated to come out in January 2017. Thankfully, they moved it to September after I got pregnant (and was due in January!). My son was born on February 3.
If you want to get an even more detailed look into what it’s like to write a book with a publisher, check out my brand new e-book, Blogger to Author: How I Went from Hobby Blogger to Getting a Two-Book Deal With a Major Publisher. The e-book includes my book proposal and things about the publishing process that I had no idea about going into it. It’s the e-book I wish I had had to read before I started the process!
Right now, this e-book is available exclusively as part of the Genius Blogger’s Toolkit, which is on sale for one week only for $97. The toolkit includes more than $6,000 worth of training material for both aspiring and seasoned bloggers alike. I got last year’s toolkit, and I also have this year’s, and I can vouch that the e-courses, e-books, and other resources are top notch. Whether you dream of becoming a blogger, podcast, or author one day, make sure you give the Genius Blogger’s Toolkit a look this week!
Lucy, Kent ~ England
Well done Erin for having the determination to do what you believed in. I’m glad that you had the support you needed to accomplish it and now everyone can learn from your many and varied experiences.
I have no ambitions on the blogging score, but I have been writing stories (mainly for young children) for many years and friends tell me to get published.
I had a pretty horrific childhood and early adult life which with love and support from my late husband and some other wonderful people I have pretty much come through. When I do share I’m told that I should write `my story’ as it is inspirational to others.
After reading your blog, I’m thinking maybe it’s time to listen and look into getting my stories published and finish writing the big one.
My email address might make sense now 🙂
Lucy-I say you should go for it! I have loved reading bits and pieces of your story simply in the comments on the blog–and I can imagine what a beautiful story it will all be woven together! Let me know if you end up pursuing this!!
I love this really in-depth look that you’ve given us here. It’s so important to have help in place, and just solid routines. I’ve adapted some routines that you’ve shared in other places on your blog, like just focusing on getting a meal on the table every night and one load of washing done. There may have been a few others but I’ve been making these things happen and life is so much easier and I HAVE had more time to write. Really looking forward to reading the book about writing your books as I’m buying the bundle!
Thanks so much for the encouragement, Lizzy! It truly encourages me that you’ve found some help on the blog! I hope you LOVE the bundle! I get it every year and really appreciate the discount on all the amazing resources!
Ember @ An Intentional Lifestyle
I have always wanted to write a book and thanks to some pushing from my husband, I finally started and have stuck with a blog. I feel that it’s my first step in finding my voice so I am able to write.
We actually bought the Ultimate Bundle and I saw your book you mentioned. Since I want to write a book, it caught my attention quickly. I will definitely be reading that! We have 3 kids and we homeschool, along with the blog. So I can use all the tips and encouragement you have in it! Thanks for sharing all of this! It helps so much!
Congrats on starting the blog–and I hope you get that book one day! Take it one day at a time! It sounds like w have a lot in common!
Thank you for your candor and transparency. As a fellow wife-homeschool mom-writer-blogger, your words “I didn’t do it all,” brought comfort to my weary writer’s soul. My heart is often in conflict with my wife/mom duties and my writer/blogger/ministry duties.
I can understand the conflict! I definitely did NOT do it all!
Elaine Mingus (RadicalChristianWoman.com)
As a homeschooling mom of almost seven, blogger, author, and speaker, what you are saying is SPOT on!
I have never paid for help and I DO write in the middle of the night many times, and I’ve often experienced the burnout that comes with that!
I’ve also noticed that my ability to write/blog/work comes in seasons. And I actually get MORE done during the homeschooling year than summer! I don’t know if it’s because I am more organized or because I know that I’m pressed for time.
Having a very understanding and helpful husband is a HUGE benefit as well.
I’ve noticed that the more kids I have, the more I can get done because they play with each other and rely on each other to accomplish tasks. You’d think it was opposite but it’s not so!
Getting to the place in motherhood when you have older kids is also a factor. I have two babysitting aged daughters that allow me to run quickly to store for groceries without having to take everyone (though inevitably some of them still want to go)!
I honestly believe moms can pursue their dreams NOT in spite of children, but BECAUSE of children, children help you figure out what’s REALLY important in life and everything that doesn’t make “the cut” must have really not mattered too much anyhow. 🙂
Check out 10 Ways to Pursue Your Dreams Even When You Are a Mom
These are such a great points,Elaine! Having the baby (now 8 1/2 months) with 3 older siblings (5,7,9) has been a huge game changer compared to the “first” time around when we had the girls so close together. I am able to say: “Watch the baby while Mommy takes a shower.” or “Feed the baby!” These are never things I could have done when all of my children were babies and toddlers at once! As well, it’s been so much fun to watch the older two girls help the 5-year-old learn her letters!
It was such an encouragement to read your post. I have such a hard time asking for help- feeling like I’m inconveniancing others and should be able to do it all. It can be stressful trying to get it all done: raising boys, building a house, starting a blog. Its so good to hear that other women need help too and we shouldn’t be ashamed to ask.
I can absolutely understand what you mean, but we should not feel ashamed to ask for help when we need it! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for sharing some of the realities of all of this. As I begin my own personal blog it’s posts like this that encourage and inspire me to keep going – thank you!
I’m so glad it encouraged you! Congrats on the new blog!
Jennifer | Practical Family
Erin, thank you so much for writing about this. It’s extremely helpful for other bloggers to see the realities of day-to-day life as a writer and mother and wife! So many hats, all the same hours in the day, and it’s truly about prioritizing. Thank you for being upfront about the things you were intentional about and the things you had to give up. You’ve inspired me to keep going for the past 2 years and I’m on year 3 of blogging.
Hi Erin! Thanks so much for sharing your insights in this post- I am totally inspired by the fact that you wrote with whatever spare moments you were given- I feel like it takes so long for me to transition into the right frame of mind to write well, and that I need at least a few hours alone. I’m going to work harder on being able to work and write regardless of what’s going on around me. Also- I am totally intrigued by your e-book! I definitely want to check that out. Much love~
I just purchased your book “More Than Just Making It” and I could not wait to visit your blog and read a post from your site! I am so glad you took the time to explain the details of how you did it. I am a brand new blogger, with a baby and a homeschooling mom of 3. It is so refreshing to see your success and know it’s possible. Thank you so much.