The question comes from time to time:
How can I have a successful blog while raising little ones?
And here’s my honest answer. It may not be a popular one, but it is my real, honest, from-my-heart answer.
BLOGGING WHEN YOU HAVE LITTLE ONES
When I had all/only littles, I wrote only when I had time for it. If you put your marriage and parenting before blogging, your blog will sometimes suffer.
For me, being a wife and mom were my highest priorities and so I would often take 1-6 month blogging breaks. Throughout my first years of blogging when I had only little children, I often took weeks and months away from writing.
Though I love to write… though words flow from me quickly and easily… when I had:
- 3 kids four and under,
- 4 kids six and under,
- and 5 kids eight and under,
there were many times when the writing got pushed to the side so I could do the essential, daily things:
- loving my husband,
- loving my children,
- learning how to keep my home running well,
- staying in the Word,
- and being a part of church when I could.
My goal was not and is not to build a blog kingdom, but to use it as a tool for ministry, growth, and encouragement, AFTER doing the things God has clearly put on my plate.
Put another way, in our home:
Blogging is optional. Parenting & being a wife is not.
If I build a “successful” blog but raise bratty, selfish, electronically-entertained children, or have a crummy marriage where both of our faces are constantly in our devices, I will have failed.
So, with little kids, give yourself grace.
You may not realistically be able to keep up with a rigorous blogging pace.
To be clear, my answer is:
You MAY NOT be able to have a “successful” blog while intentionally mothering young children.
You may; you may not. But I am not going to lie to you and tell you that you for sure can. For my part, I found that I could not worry about keeping up with the amazing “Betty Bloggers” of the world who had the same age kids, managed to do it all, AND post better photographs than I ever could.
I’m me. I can only be me. I have to look at what God has given me and steward it well.
The God who gave my husband and my children won’t be pleased if I let my marriage, home, and children fall by the wayside but run an amazingly “successful” blog. Even if it has amazing ministry potential, and has been perfectly monetized in a way that financially blesses my family without burdening my readers.
God has given us certain things on our plates, and it is foolish for us to add things to our plates to a degree that the main things (that God has given us) get shoved off for things He has not given us. If you are a wife and a mother, those are the MAIN THINGS on your plate. Do not let blogging shove off those main things.
So for me, here’s where I’ve landed:
If I “do it all,” but lose my family, it will not be worth it to me.
That said, as my kids have grown, I have found (and I have purposefully made) time to write more regularly. A major reason for this is that my husband has affirmed these things in me and invested his time and energy to encourage me in this ministry. Over the years, he has told me I *need* to be writing, and that he believes it is both good for me, and good for others, when I do.
My blogging is a reflection of the nurturing leadership and influence of my husband who has affirmed these spiritual gifts in my life and made an environment where they can flourish.
HOW I BLOG WITH CHILDREN IN THE HOME
Here are some things that have helped me:
1- SCHEDULE POSTS IN ADVANCE
The scheduling feature has become an amazing help to me. Nowadays, I write articles anywhere from 1-6 weeks in advance and preschedule them so that my life can have its normal ebbs and flows without affecting the pace and quality of my content. But when I was younger, and they were younger, I couldn’t gather enough writing time to get ahead enough to consistently USE the scheduling feature, so it did me little to no good.
But if you are able to use it, scheduling topics in advance is a wonderfully handy tool that can keep the unpredictable things in life as a mom of littles from derailing your blog.
2- PUBLISH AT A SUSTAINABLE PACE
Don’t try to write 3 times in one week, and then miss a week, and then publish an article, and then skip three weeks, and then write two posts two weeks in a row.
No. Look back at what you’re able to do consistently. Average that out, and reduce it slightly to give yourself margin. Then THAT will be your sustainable publishing pace. If you look back at the last year and you’ve published 15 articles, then just set a goal of once/month. If you look back at the last year and have written 135 articles but they’ve been hit-or-miss, spottily timed, then set a goal of 2 articles a week, and begin pre-scheduling your posts so you are able to sustain your posting schedule and give yourself a little margin as well.
For me, that worked out to (at first) 2 articles each week, and now, because I maintained that throughout 2014 (which was my goal), I’ve recently increased to publishing 3x/week: every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Set your goal as less than you think you can do, and give yourself margin.
3- WRITE WHAT FLOWS EASILY
Write from your “sweet spot.” Don’t take on issues that need deep research and lengthy consideration. I’m a fast writer, and often get articles written in the first draft with little editing needed, but I still have to limit myself to the things that I know well. I can’t consistently blog about topics that are, say, out of my theological reach and do them justice. That level of research and attention to learning all new things is not something I can manage while managing seven children and homeschooling.
So, I write what flows easily and choose to avoid or ignore topics that I can’t invest the time in during this season.
We’ve talked before about multi-tasking as a mom. As a blogger, one of the ways I am able to grow is by listening to podcasts (like Michael Hyatt and Problogger) and conference talks about blogging and social media usage, while doing other things:
- mowing the lawn
- cooking dinner
- holding/nursing the baby
- folding laundry
By using my time carefully, I’m able to thoughtfully consider ways to improve my platform without going to meetings and conferences away from my young family.
5- USE EVERYTHING YOU WRITE
Do you write book or product reviews for Amazon? Training manuals? Lengthy, helpful comments on other people’s articles? Do you take detailed sermon notes? Or perhaps you participate in an online discussion forum on your topic and have tons of helpful posts there. Turn the things you’ve written elsewhere into quality content for your blog.
I often do this with blog comments. In fact, my most popular article ever (“Why Have More Kids?”) was written as a response to a comment I received on my blog. I’ve also been blessed to do freelance Bible study writing, and my contracts typically have a clause that allows me to use the material after an agreed-upon amount of time has passed. So then I can take the same content, re-work it to fit my readers, and get double use out of it.
Maybe you’re the local expert on pool supplies, breastfeeding, or VW bus repair, and people regularly write you with questions. Save all your answers and format them into “how to” blog posts. Or list posts. Or Q&A posts. Make sure to scrub the questions of any other people’s personal information (or get permission to share), but DO use your own writing. This will maximize your writing time and squeeze every ounce of usability out of the things you’re already writing.
You’re already using your time to answer the questions, so go ahead and make that helpful information accessible to the public.
6- MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR FREE TIME
The toddler’s nap time is used VERY carefully around here. Sometimes, as a home educating family, nap time becomes homeschooling time. But at other times, if the kids are clicking along in their work, and we’re managing to get the parts that require my help done in the mornings, I am able to use nap time to write and plan articles.
In extra busy seasons, I may write articles in the evenings after the kids are in bed (although, typically, I try to reserve that time for connecting with Doug). This is typical, now, of the postpartum time. When my days are full, I tend to use evenings to veg out and hammer out random posts and ideas.
In some seasons (not the one we’re currently in, because the baby is still nursing so frequently), my husband will encourage me to go get coffee for 3-4 hours on a Saturday morning, or he’ll take the kids for a walk (or even just to play in the backyard) in the evening. In those times, I may knock out several articles, or pre-plan topics, or feed my soul in ways that will help me to keep growing (and thus, be filled so that I continue to have something to *give*).
Use your natural free time as quick-sprints for writing.
THIS IS WHO I AM, MARRIED TO MY HUSBAND, WITH THESE KIDS
The main thing I want to say to you, young mom who is wondering about blogging, is this: this is who I am. I’m not an organic-only mommy who has to cook a certain way because of children with allergies. I’m not a marathoner. I’m not a garage sale queen. I don’t have a farm to run or an MLM business. I don’t have a child with severe medical or developmental issues with lots of doctors appointments and hospital visits.
When I have time, writing is my thing. That’s what I do with free time. It’s where my thoughts get sorted out, and where my heart seeps out onto the screen in front of me.
My blog writing is also fully submitted to my own husband. This is not something I do on my own… he has loved and supported and encouraged and exhorted and challenged me and sharpened me all along the way. He WANTS me to keep writing, and so I do. He supports it and loves it and does an excellent job helping me think through my priorities.
This is who I am, married to my husband, with the kids I have been given.
It may or may not work for you. Sort that out with your husband and make sure you’re being purposeful in your roles as wife and mom first.
FOR ME, IT’S NEVER BEEN ABOUT “SUCCESS”
This may not be everyone’s goals, but this is how blogging has gone for me. I stayed home with my kids WITHOUT blogging for 4 years, and then began writing as a way to sort out my thoughts on things like birth control, home education, and childrearing. Some people want to blog for money, or to build a “platform,” but for me, especially with young children in the house, it has been critical that I keep the main things as the main things.
As people shared my articles, my “platform” has grown bit by bit, but at every point, my blog has come behind the things God has put on my plate (marriage and kids). And at every point, I’ve held it loosely before the Lord. Even now, my husband and I regularly assess life and make sure that the main things are being done well before I agree to take writing jobs or try new things with the blog.
Galatians 6:9 describes a sowing/reaping mindset and says “let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Keep sowing in your family daily, and sowing on your blog as you are able beyond that. Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life. Honor Christ. Trust God to provide for your family and to use your gifts according to His good plans.
If He means for your blog to be “successful,” it will be. And if He doesn’t, you won’t regret having taken care of your marriage and family first.