Tuesday, September 11, 2012

WRITE AT HOME MOM: Jennifer Probst

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Jennifer Probst talks about TAKING THE TIME...

About Jennifer Probst:
Jennifer Probst wrote her first book at twelve years old. She bound it in a folder, read it to her classmates, and hasn’t stopped writing since. She took a short hiatus to get married, get pregnant, buy a house, get pregnant again, pursue a master’s in English Literature, and rescue two shelter dogs. Now she is writing again.
She makes her home in Upstate New York with the whole crew. Her sons, one 4 and one 6, keep her active, stressed, joyous, and sad her house will never be truly clean.
She is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sexy and erotic romance with Entangled, Pocket, and Decadent.
I’ve always had to juggle a 9-5 office job amidst an exploding home life and chaos. I stopped whining about it because there was no choice, and I’m one of those people who rather try to look at the upside. Like: I had a job and can pay my bills. Like: my kids were lucky enough to have my mom babysit. Like: I had a great boss who allowed me plenty of sick time without guilt.

When I got laid off, it was a different type of fear. How would we survive? I pieced together some flexible part-time jobs and eventually became blessed to be able to juggle a full-time writing career.


Working from home? A picnic, I thought. Being in my pjs, taking care of my kids, long lazy mornings. My lottery ticket had come in.


I work longer hours now. I have no clear cut end to my word day so I instituted word count to help manage my time schedule. Since I am no longer “away” at an actual office, my children barge in and out consistently, all day long, with requests from everything to chocolate milk to changing the tv channel. It is hard for them to respect my work. My son actually admitted I spend too many hours on “my lazy computer” and not enough time playing with them. When my husband comes home and asks about my day, I can only mutter snippets about plot and character – which make no sense to him – as he stares in befuddlement because I’ve been home all day and dinner isn’t ready.

What’s a mom to do?

I take me time to balance the madness. Seems counterproductive but the result works. If I spend all day attached to my computer, taking care of kids, doing household tasks, and work into the evening – where is my time? Nonexistent. Then I get grouchy. And no one is happy.

Instead, I’m trying to set more boundaries. More structured time that my family can learn to respect when I am working. In the summer, I’ll spend my morning working and my children have to leave me alone. For their reward, I take a few hours in the afternoon and we go to the park, or I read to them, or we go have fun. It’s good for all of us. I break up my evening now – if there’s a night I want to relax with tv, I make sure to log in evening hours the next night.

When they’re in school, I need to accept at 3:00pm my time ends. It’s now their time. Give and take, the endless shuffle, juggling, and dancing that comes with motherhood and working at home.

There’s no magic formula. It’s about what works best for you. When I am balanced and happy, so is my family. So is my work. That may mean taking a precious hour to nap, or sit on the porch and drink my coffee, or get out the door to meet friends. Time with just me, so I can offer more later.

How do you handle your time? Do you have trouble taking time for you? Come share with me!

For more about Jennifer...


  1. Hi Jennifer! I struggle with being a write at home mom too - made better and worse by the fact that my husband works from home too. He's excellent at helping out with laundry and cooking, but he considers my writing time my "me" time. For now, I'm okay with that since I LOVE what I do. Later on, not so sure that's going to be the case...

    Anyway, I envy that you can enforce a cut off time. I can't do that and meet my deadlines. Maybe one day.

    PS I met you in the elevator at Nationals. :)

  2. Jennifer - it's weird and cool, but we have exactly the same schedule. Mine ends now at 3:30 but same deal. In the summer, unless I'm off, I work in the morning and hang out with the kids in the afternoon.

  3. HI Kat! How cool that we met in the elevator! Loving what you do is really half the battle because it pushes us forward. And later on, you will change the rules as you can - the journey is long and there's no right or wrong answers, just what works today. Lovely to speak with you again - thanks for stopping!

  4. HI Donna! That is SO cool we are the same kind of schedule! I thought I'd be very depressed sending my little one to kindergarten but the time alone to write is amazing...not as many tears as I originally thought lol!

  5. Mine are in jr high and high school this year. I treasure my six hours of solitude. That being said, I also treasure the time we all just hang out. These years are going to be over very quickly!

  6. Hey Jen!
    I've worked from my home office for years before I became a published author. I am well versed in flexing my full time work schedule around the needs of my then three young children. Now my children are grown and two are out of the house. I should be even more productive, right? Not really. Because with work as an author comes author friends and fans and readers from around the world. There is always someone to talk to via the Internet, any time, night and day. And promo/social media is a valid part of an author's day, right? The trick is to balance that with the writing necessary to continue working as an author. I'm working on it.....

  7. I agree, Wendy! Aside from my family, my biggest distraction from getting the work done is all of the fun things to do and people to chat with on the internet. It's a tricky thing to balance.