The Homeschooling Writer: A Guest Post by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Welcome, Tomato Pie Fans! I’m taking a hiatus from blogging to finish the sequel to DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME. Meanwhile, I have a series of guest bloggers taking care of the place. Let’s hear from today’s guest, Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur.

Finding Time to Write as a Homeschooling Mom

I am the mother of three children, two boys ages 14 and 12, and a 4 ½ year old daughter. I started writing on a professional basis over ten years ago, when my boys were both very small. I had a Masters Degree in Applied Theology and through the process of working with a spiritual director discerned that God was calling me to write. Eventually, God called me to be not only a work-at-home writing mom, but also a homeschooling mom.

I will soon be starting my eighth year of homeschooling. My oldest is starting high school this year. I feel almost as scared about homeschooling high school as I did when I first took the plunge and began homeschooling my second and first grader so many years ago. If you feel so inclined, please say a prayer for me. I can definitely use the help.

So, that being said, how do I find time to write, given that so much of my life is spent taking care of my children? Here are some tips that work for me:

1) Start every day with prayer

There are people in this world who can wake up before their children and spend quality time in prayer before their day kicks into high gear. I’ve been blessed with children who are light sleepers and have supersonic hearing. If mom’s up, they are up as well. (Note: this is no longer true of my teenagers whom I frequently have to drag out of bed.) I know that I need that twenty minute prayer time in the morning. If I don’t get it, the day will go downhill quickly. I’m not above allowing my daughter some screen time first thing in the morning so that I can have some relatively uninterrupted time. Once I’ve prayed, I’m ready to be a better mom and to deal with whatever they day is going to hand me. One of those prayers is that I do the work I should each day. I’m not always satisfied with the amount I accomplish each day, but I have to trust that I’ve done what God wanted me to.

2) Take advantage of every available minute

Over the years, I have worked in many unusual places while waiting for my children at an activity. I have written in the car, in the hallway of a social center, sitting on a stairwell, by the side of a soccer field, and in a gymnastics gym. I write many book reviews, so I always have a book close by in case I get a few minutes to read. I carry one in my purse. I have one on the kitchen counter. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read utilizing five and ten minute windows of time. I do the bulk of my computer work after my daughter goes to bed at night. The teens entertain themselves. I work for a couple hours and then go to bed around 10 p.m. It probably goes without saying that I don’t watch television. I also don’t spend a lot of time on social media.

3) Keep a to-do list

I have one notebook on my kitchen counter for my household to-do list. I have another for work-related items. If I get an idea for an article, I write it down. If there is a deadline to meet, or an on-going project, it goes on the list. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment to cross items off that list. Every Sunday night, I start fresh with a new page of the notebook, carrying over items that still need to be completed. This keeps me organized and on task.

4) Keep a Sabbath rest

This probably seems to disagree with taking advantage of every available minute, but I have found it to be a great blessing in my life. From 5 pm on Saturday to 5 pm on Sunday, I don’t do any work-related activities. I don’t check my email or Facebook. I watch a movie with my husband and teenagers on Saturday night while I work on quilting or scrapbooking. We go to Mass on Sunday morning. I might read during the day, but I read purely for pleasure. This day of rest gives me a much needed mental break. God made it a commandment for a reason. Yes, we moms never truly get a day off from our mom duties, but we can try to take it at least a little easier on Sundays. I have found that God allows me to accomplish more in my other six days since I began this practice a few years ago.

How do you balance homeschooling and whatever outside work you may do? Please share. I’d be happy to hear your tips.

MacArthur PhotoPatrice Fagnant-MacArthur is a homeschooling mom of three. The editor of todayscatholichomeschooling.com, she blogs at spiritualwomanthoughts.blogspot.com. She has been a longtime columnist for Catholicmom.com and is the author of “The Catholic Baby Name Book.”

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3 thoughts on “The Homeschooling Writer: A Guest Post by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

  1. I don’t work on Sundays either, but I think that 5-to-5 concept would work even better for me. I’d be able to hit the ground running Monday morning if I spend a little time Sunday evening just PLANNING. And maybe a little dreaming, too. Great article–thanks for helping Erin out so those of us who are anxious to read that sequel will get to do so ASAP! 🙂

  2. Glad I’m not the only one who CANNOT OUT-WAKE her children. I’ve tried. They have some kind of super sense that tells them I’m up. Spending a little time in prayer first regardless is still a good idea. Too often, I just give up.

    • You know, my grandmother had this superpower. She would sit at the kitchen table and pray and if we came along and interrupted she’d just give us the eye and firmly say, “I’m saying my prayers.” Not angry, just firm. And we’d wander off for a while…I should always remember her perseverance despite the distractions we presented when I get frustrated by the distractions of my own kids.

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