Thirty Thursday: 30 Signs You’re a (Children’s) Writer-Parent

I’ve had so much fun writing—and had such a great response to—the my recent list posts , I’m considering whether to make them a regular blog feature. I kinda like the sound of “Fifty Friday”…but I’m not sure I can come up with 50 useful tips or ideas on a variety of topics. “Thirty Thursday”, maybe? We’ll see…


Meanwhile, have fun with today’s list. I hope it makes you laugh as much as I did!

30 Signs You’re a (Children’s) Writer Parent

  1. You lose an important field trip permission slip—only to rediscover it covered in story notes.
  2. You still read picture books at bedtime, although your kids are in middle school.
  3. You’re adept at writing in the midst of chaos.
  4. You spend orchestra concerts taking notes on the characters—I mean, children—on stage.
  5. You spend soccer practices and play dates scrawling in notebooks.
  6. You’ve learned to write in 10 minute increments.
  7. You not only eavesdrop on the kids in your carpool; afterwards, you write down their conversations.
  8. You’ve looked up from a writing session to discover—horror!—an hour disappeared and you we supposed to leave 10 minutes before to pick up your child.
  9. You compare favorite books with your kids and their friends.
  10. When you visit the library, people mistake you for the children’s librarian because you give so many book recommendations.
  11. When you try to buy a book for your child’s birthday, you convince someone else to purchase the last copy for *their* child, instead.
  12. Your family keeps track of book release dates instead of movie release dates.
  13. Your kids know to say "don’t blog about this!" when they do something particularly embarrassing.
  14. Your kids assign you new story ideas to pursue.
  15. Your smart phone devotes more memory to ebooks than to music.
  16. You’re practiced at writing with one hand while stirring spaghetti with the other.
  17. Your family knows to provide their own dinner when you get "that look".
  18. You calculate how long it will be until you can write about your child’s latest misadventure without him running away from home.
  19. Your child’s baby book lacks details of height and weight, but it’s stuffed with everything they’ve ever written.
  20. You’ve come home from errands with an idea written on your arm.
  21. Your kids have strong ideas about how authors could improve their books—especially if that author is you.
  22. You have to ask your critique group members if you can share their latest work-in-progress with your youngsters, who heard you laughing and now want to read it.
  23. You have to ask your kids to stop asking important questions during those moments you’re too absorbed in your work to do anything but mumble “sure”.
  24. When your teen says you don’t understand what it’s like—you can point them to your books, where you’ve probably thought more about what teen life is like than they have.
  25. When the other parent offers to edit your daughter’s English paper, she just rolls her eyes; obviously, she wants the expert to help.
  26. You filled your preschooler’s days with research expeditions instead of play dates.
  27. You buy more children’s books for yourself than for your children.
  28. Your dinner table conversation includes discussion of sentence diagramming, authors, plot twists, and Newberry award winners.
  29. Your kids know about ARCs. And they know that you, as a writer, can occasionally get your hands on one. And they beg you to get them the next book in a series before it’s actually published. Please?
  30. Your house may be messy, your cupboards disorganized, and your meal times chaotic, but your house is filled with a love of books and the people who create them—especially when that person is you!

I must admit, I write most of the above from personal experience. Luckily, my family still lets me write :).

Have a fun addition to this list? Leave it in the comments!


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You’ve probably read the same tips I have: Have a smart phone? Check Facebook while standing in line at the post office! Respond to Twitter messages while waiting for your dentist! Catch up on your news feed while sitting on the pot! For years, I thought the path to increased productivity was to squeeze in MORE–more […]


  1. Rebecca Kiel says

    Love this!!! My six year old can identify the main character and answer these questions:

    What does the main character want?
    What gets in his way?
    What does he do about it?

    It is a fun game we play. Can you guess both parents are writers?

    Great post.

  2. Kenda says

    You had time to come up with this list?? I'm impressed!

  3. maureen says

    Oh so guilty of most of those on the list….You could try ten tuesday…or something like that.

  4. Vanessa Monaghan says

    I love this. Yesterday a collegue was cleaning out her desk & asked if I wanted to read a Jody Picolt book.I said "You know I don't read grown up books :)"

  5. Rene Nightingale says

    I am happy to know I am not the only one who gets ideas from their kids! Thanks for the great read girl!

  6. Cheryl Reif says

    After a day spent busily being a mom (and leaving my writer hat on the rack for a bit) it's so fun to come home and find all your comments! Thanks so much for stopping by and making me laugh.

    Rebecca: yeah, my kids do this, too–although they aren't 6-year-olds! Love that. Yes, I'd guess two writer parents :)

    Kenda: time? Probably not, but it was a nice bit of play between projects 😀

    Maureen: Hmm, I like that. Ten Tuesday…besides, I used to do Thursday's thing to love about being a writer, and I kind of miss it. Thank you!

    Vanessa: Too funny! I do the same thing–and commiserate with my kids about the "demented and depressing" books (their words, not mine) they have to read for language arts. It's true, though: for some reason, all the "adult literature" they read is gloomy.

    Rene: Definitely not the only one! Hopefully, none of my writing actively embarrasses them. Of course, it takes so long from idea to printed word, that by the time it comes out they don't care as much….

  7. Andrea Mack says

    So much fun, Cheryl! The one about looking up from your writing to realize you're 10 minutes late to pick up one of the kids is so me!

  8. Cheryl Reif says

    Hi Andrea–Glad I'm not the only one to do that. Man, did I feel bad…but I reached the school to find said kiddo playing in the playground, so it all worked out.

  9. Jill Kemerer says

    LOL! So true! And my kids ask me which book I'm working on, "Is it the one with the barter? The Christmas one?"

    Love it!

  10. PW.Creighton says

    Haha. Reads like the perfect checklist.