Most writers fit their writing into busy lives full of all kinds of other demands. If you’re a parent or carer, it can be especially hard to clear your mind. But thinking doesn’t have to be done in a library or at a desk. Embarking on a PhD as a mature student with two tiny children, I made some breakthroughs when I least expected them: in the middle of hanging out washing, for example. When chores mount up, and you’re stuck at home, try not to worry that you’re not ‘working’. The particular rhythms of repetitive tasks and tedious domestic duties – chopping vegetables, picking up Lego, walking a baby to sleep – can give you valuable problem-solving space.