Juggling a freelancing career with three youngsters underfoot challenged my creativity, and tightened my writing chops. It also strengthened my parenting skills in five significant ways.
- Freelancing encouraged my kids’ independence. Writing kept me from smothering my sons with love and attention 24/7. At my kitchen workstation, I was always accessible but not always available. Assignments and deadlines had to come first sometimes, and they learned to accept that reality.
- It helped them resolve conflicts. Although I refereed plenty of arguments, I learned to employ selective hearing when it came to whining and yelling. My freelance job pushed me to encourage my kids to handle their disputes, and work out compromises. Had I micromanaged every interaction, I would have shielded them from life’s toughest challenge: learning how to get along with other people.
- It taught them that doing what you love doesn’t always pay big bucks. A simple math problem (my paycheck divided by the number of hours expended on that particular project) demonstrated that pay isn’t always commensurate with time and effort. Personal satisfaction, however, is hugely rewarding. I shared these lessons with my children.
- It helped them to think analytically. I often asked my boys to read my stories and voice their opinions. Early on, reactions were neutral (“nice, Mom”). But, over the years, as their editorial skills developed, they offered many amazing insights and suggestions.
- It strengthened our Senior Year relationship. I often critiqued my kids’ English papers. But, when college applications and scholarship essays hit, on top of homework, and my firstborn’s brain began overheating, we devised a great system. Henry would write, type, and revise an essay. Then, I’d sit at the computer, and read his essay aloud while he stretched out on the floor beside me, eyes closed, taking a breather and just listening. When Henry heard something jarring, he’d make verbal revisions which I’d then retype.
“Hey, Mom, you let Henry lie down and dictate,” Josh reminded me a few years later when he, too, was running ragged. To my surprise, and delight, this de-stressing strategy became a family tradition.
Throughout the childrearing years, writing balanced me, made me a better parent, and strengthened my mother/child bonds. And, in the end, it helped my children with their writing and editing skills, and work habits, too!
Wendy Hobday Haugh’s writing career began with the sale of a Hallmark greeting card. Since then, she has written children’s magazine stories and articles, a children’s non-fiction book on sled dogs, humorous parenting pieces, writing articles, poetry, profiles, personal essays, Woman’s World short mysteries and romances, and a church history book.