All parents [okay Mom’s] yearn to strike that elusive balance between work and family life. As a mom who writes and works full time, the pendulum always seems to swing more toward the work side, unfortunately. I am lucky enough [not sure if that’s the right word] that my daughter is now a teenager and can seemingly occupy herself for hours on end. Okay, days on end if I’d occasionally throw some food under her ever-closed door! And while those parents with young ones do have built in “breaks” to tend to their babies needs, those of us with older kids, have to force ourselves to recognize that a “break” is needed.
Writers know that once the creative juices get flowing, it’s best not to interrupt them or we’re looking at another all-nighter. We can plan our days with the best of intentions of giving everyone their fair share of mom-time, but more often than not we fail. We wonder what our husbands look like and cry over the fact that our daughters don’t recognize us on the way past our office door.
First and foremost on my list (and yours, I’m sure) is my beautiful family. Just Plane Dad and Beloved mean the world to me and I know they’re often left to fend for themselves while I squirrel away in the upstairs office, typing word after word and yelling for more coffee. Bless them both as they have agreed to support this crazy notion that I can be and do all things. But sometimes, from the corner of my eye, I notice that my “baby” lingers a bit longer and holds back whatever exciting topic she wants to talk about. I casually try to keep looking busy in hopes that she’ll read my subtle message and hold her thought for a bit. She usually does.
And guess what? Then I’m consumed with shame that I’ve put my work first. Hubby sticks his head in periodically but he’s learned that he won’t get the same reaction from me that my daughter does-so he normally doesn’t stay long. We play out this scenario several times throughout the week and I often go to bed wondering how I can be working towards a goal that will help my family when the work itself diminishes it.
I can only take so much guilt and truly, more than anything, I start to miss my mom-life. Writing a parenting blog reminds me of the fun times and amazing things my child has done over the years; but it does take me away from what’s happening today. Today my teenager found a new friend, today my teenager finally aced that hula hoop trick and today, my teenager got her heart broken. My daughter will soon be an adult and I don’t want to miss anymore “today’s”.
Parents, regardless of your profession, most of us struggle with the same issues. We know that work and family are important and we realize how many tasks we are responsible for each day. We wake up bright and early hopeful that today will be the day we finally mark off that final chore and still have time for cuddling. And by lunch, we’ve resigned ourselves to the fact that we aren’t getting everything done. So we half-ass our jobs, our posts and our parenting. We’ve gotten good at it and frankly, most people wouldn’t even notice. They just call you SuperMom. And you are, until the crash. It’s coming!
Last month, I was knee deep in blog posts and photo collages when I decided I’d had enough. I’m not quite sure what finally sent me over the edge; maybe the constant reminder from Walmart that Christmas is coming or simply the 2 degree cooler weather at night heralding Autumn, but I got up and decided that a schedule was in order. And not just any schedule, a real plan to get everything accomplished and still live to tell about it. Most importantly, to spend more time with the fam.
Here’s what my calendar looks like as a worker bee, mom, wife and as a part-time (yeah right) blogger. Obviously, your day may look different but rest assured; you can simply type over and plug in your specific items to rearrange as needed.
Here’s how to do it:
- Write down your daytime hours and your sleep hours. You do sleep, don’t you?
- Write down all weekly activities that are time set. For example; work, church and soccer practice. Don’t forget to include the amount of time, such as one hour for each.
- Now factor in drive-time to all activities that you mentioned in #2.
- Write down tasks that have to be done but are flexible such as grocery shopping or billpay.
- Include your blogging activities or other home business hours.
- Now think of anything else that you do regularly. Do a real brain-dump onto paper. The idea is to account for everything. Don’t worry you can adjust the schedule next week if needed.
- Important-make sure to include “me” time. You can’t be better to others than you are to yourself.
Now that you’ve gotten it all down on paper and are completely overwhelmed; don’t run! You’ve already been doing all of these tasks anyway, so now you’re just getting them into a manageable schedule. Start plugging in the tasks on the available hours and then rearrange as needed, until everything fits. Trust me, it will fit, you just have to prioritize.
If family dinners are most important, then take away a small piece (1/2 hr) of time from writing to compensate. If creating guest posts are crucial, then carve out time and pick a shorter exercise video on those days. It’s all about shuffling the hours you have.
I can honestly say that now that I’ve been using my calendar, I have felt more focused on all aspects of my life. I separate my office hours from my family time and adjust if absolutely necessary. Let’s face it, sometimes things come up and you have to roll with them. I’ve noticed that when unexpected tasks come up, since I’ve made my normal schedule a priority and it’s posted on the frig for my family to see, they understand that it’s out of the ordinary and they will get their quality time too. I find that it seems to work more the other way though; work calls during my daughter’s movie night and I now simply ignore it. I don’t feel the pressure to be all things every second.
Everyone wants to achieve balance and I find it’s a tricky word. It sounds like you are humming along in perfection and your life is in complete order and fairness. For parents, we don’t want balance…for that would mean something is as important as your children and spouses. No, we want flexibility and smooth fluctuations. We can achieve this by staying the course we’ve set for ourselves with the schedule above. Good luck!
What do you hope to achieve by prioritizing your time? What is your favorite calendar tip?
Hovering high and low, Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad
Resource: C. Lee Reed and her hubby Khris hope to change the world’s perception of helicopter parenting by proving that no harms comes to children whose parents hover. You can stay highly involved in your children’s lives and still maintain a happy, healthy, loving connection. Listen to their Tales from the Not-so-Darkside of Parenting at Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad. Find them on Facebook and Twitter too.