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!
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