NaNo for Parents

How to win at NaNoWriMo when you have kids


NaNoWriMo for Parents

“These are new books we just got,” I hear my five-year-old tell his friend in the pantry, otherwise known as my office. “My Mommy has a story she wrote in there. It’s about losing things. I helped her with it.”

My heart beat faster. For weeks I’d been telling him about this anthology and the story I wrote for it. He sat doing puzzles next to me while I drafted it, did bedtime with his Dad for a week while I finished it, and “helped” me set up marketing emails and social posts for the week that it was published. 

Hearing him tell his friend about this, my first story published in a physical book, took me by surprise. He’s proud of me, I thought. He feels ownership with it, because of the time that he gave me to work and the ways I was able to involve him in my success. 

I have found some interesting ways to involve my children and make it work as a work-at-home-parent, which is my motto. I hope you can apply a few of these hacks to your writing life!

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involve and motivate them

Spend time at the beginning of your work time to explain what you are doing and why you need that time. Involve them in your long-term goals.

We go to the library and bookstore a lot, so one day I was trying to tell my three-year-old why it was important to focus without answering his deep questions about Bob the Builder. “What do you see when we go to the library and the bookstore? What are on the shelves?” 


“That’s what I’m writing right now. And if I get the time to work on my book, then one day we will walk into the library, and the bookstore, and see your mommy’s books on the shelf. You can point to them, and say that your mommy wrote that book. Won’t that be cool?”

“Wow, Mommy. Yeah!”

That will be cool. And he’ll feel like he helped, that it’s as much of his success as mine.

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use my recipes to keep them busy

I have a set of downloadable “recipes” to keep children of all ages happily occupied while you write your novel.


find your “true time”

Many people become a work-at-home-parent specifically for the flexibility it offers but have no tools to manage the hours they work.

So much of your time is not your own that it's easy to get frustrated and feel like you are constantly just schlepping to the next thing, and the next, without ever getting in front of your deadlines. This often leads to the mental exhaustion of feeling that you always have a lot of work to do, which means you will get caught answering the latest work emails without ever delving into the reality of your work duties. Then you’ll turn into “a professional emailer,” as world-renowned author Neil Gaiman often says

You need to understand the time it takes you to finish your work in a typical work week. Plotting it out is tedious at times, but will soon become your favorite activity.