Wednesday, June 24, 2015

AMA Answers #3

Here we are!  The last answer to the questions you asked me :-)

Natalie asked:  I'm curious as to how you balance being a wife, mother, blogger, AND writer? I'm only in high school and yet sometimes I have a really hard time managing my time wisely enough to get what I NEED to get done and what I WANT to get done.

I don't sleep.

Just kidding!  I actually sleep 7-9 hours a night.  Unless I've got something going on the next day, like a birthday party, that makes me stay up late prepping.  But lack of sleep makes me horrifyingly cranky, so I don't go there unless it's absolutely necessary.  I never pulled a single all-nighter in college.

First and foremost, what I do is pray a lot.  For guidance, for patience, for the strength to not throttle my children when they're having their third spat in five minutes.

What I don't do is nothing.   I am never doing nothing -- I am always doing something.  Often, I'm doing more than one thing at once.

That's right, I multi-task.

(I'm not this skinny, and I don't like martinis, but otherwise, this is accurate)

I know multi-tasking has gotten a bad rap lately -- studies showing that when you do two things at once, you do neither of them well, etc.  However, the kind of multitasking I do is all about completing a mundane task my brain isn't needed for while using my brain for something else.  I read while I'm flossing and brushing my teeth, while I brush and braid my hair before bed, while I wait at the doctor or dentist.  I crochet and knit while my kids dawdle over their meals.  I work on fiction in my head while I fold laundry and shower and empty the dishwasher.  I crochet or work on prepping Sunday school craft projects while watching a TV show or movie I've seen before.

I keep lists.  Lots of lists.  Lists of things that need doing today, or this week, or by the end of the month.  Lists of things I need for a project, shopping lists, lists of blog posts I want to write.  Lists are one of my greatest allies.

I take at least three nights a week to spend time with my husband.  On Friday nights, we watch a movie or TV show together after the kids are in bed.  The other two nights we... do married people things ;-)  Time spent together doing things we both enjoy -- that's the secret to a strong and happy marriage.  Lots of time.  Essential.

The other four nights of the week, after the kids are in bed, are my time to write and watch movies that Cowboy isn't interested in.  I tend to plan out what I'm going to do in the evening, so that I don't sit around wondering, "What shall I do now?"  I already know -- tonight is Cowboy time; tonight I'm going to work on this specific writing project; tonight I'm going to watch such-and-such movie or TV show; tonight I'm going to chat with DKoren online.  I am a planner, and I enjoy anticipating doing something, so I look forward all day to what I'm going to do that evening.

I also take most Saturday mornings "off."  That's my weekend, my time to get away from my "job" of being mommy and go just be myself for a bit.  That's when I go see movies in the theater (or sometimes late at night, when they're in bed) or go to Starbucks to write for a couple hours.  That's my recharging time, and it's essential to my mental and emotional well-being.  I have a great need for solitude, which I can achieve in a coffee shop or a movie theater because I don't have to talk to people in those places.  And it's talking to people that really drains my emotional energy.

But you'll notice that my "time off" is actually productive -- I'm either seeing a movie or writing.  Not doing nothing.

Blogging, I do in stolen time.  I write blog posts in tiny chunks whenever I have the chance -- I started this one yesterday morning before the kids were up, wrote more of it while my coffee pot made coffee and the toaster toasted waffles for breakfast.  Wrote more while the kids were playing nicely together in the basement in the afternoon.  And now I'm finishing it up this morning quick before breakfast time.

The rest of my time is spent braiding little girl hair, putting clothes on princess dolls, building things with Legos, reading picture books aloud, going to and from the swimming pool, and the other necessary activities for life with 3 kids.  Most of the year, I'm also teaching school stuff to all three of them in the morning and early afternoon.

My general rule of thumb is "do the stuff that needs to be done first, then do everything else in the time that remains."

Now, will this approach to life work for everyone?  Nope!  Some people require "doing nothing" now and then to be happy.  **Please note!**  I do not consider daydreaming to be doing nothing.  Daydreaming is how stories come to be, for me.  It's also how I problem-solve.  However, I freely admit that I generally daydream while also putting breakfast on the table, folding laundry, taking my kids to the playground, etc.  Also, I don't do housework as much as I ought to.  I tend not to clean until things are dirty enough to bother me.  Some people can't live in cluttered chaos with a layer of dust on the book shelves.

So... that's how I do it.  And right now, time to help Tootie button a princess dress, then go start making coffee.


  1. Thanks for sharing that with us! It's really good to be able to hear how other people manage their time, because then you can pick up useful tips :)

    Nope, I've never pulled an all-nighter either in three years of college. If I did I'd be dead the next morning. So I just don't do it.

    1. Now, I did stay up all night several times in high school, at slumber parties and such. Although I'm a morning person, I enjoy being awake at night once in a while. Sometimes I really miss being on third shift, because it was so quiet and peaceful at night.

      Anyway, hope you found a useful tip here ;-) Even if it just confirms your belief that all-nighters are unnecessary.

    2. Oh, yes--the tip about planning (I'm going to spend X block of time doing Y) is always good to be reminded about. I need to work on that more myself.

  2. Wow, Hamlette, thanks so much for your in-depth answer! :) I really enjoyed hearing how you balance all of your tasks and such.
    Talking to people drains my emotional energy, too! Whenever I get like that I like to go outside. Sometimes I take photos or sometimes I simply wander down to our creek and absorb the beauty. :)
    Anyways, great post! And your first sentence made me laugh. ;)

    1. You're welcome! I'm glad it made you laugh :-)

      I do enjoy spending time with people. But afterward, I need quiet and solitude to recharge. Just part of being me!

    2. Oh yes, I do too! I didn't mean to make it sound like I DIDN'T like talking with people. :) heehee

    3. Oh no, I didn't think that of you -- I just thought my post sounded awfully antisocial, lol.

    4. Haha, oh don't worry, it didn't sound antisocial at all. :)

  3. I'm all for multitasking! I think I have developed a recent obsession of getting as much done in one day as I can -- which can be a good thing, and can also drive me nuts. (I drive myself nuts a lot.) Okay, maybe obsession is not the right word, but I DO try to be very productive. I like to plot my stories while I hang laundry on the line or pick peas or sort strawberries. :-) I tried reading and playing the piano at the same time once, but that doesn't really work for me.

    I cannot live in cluttered chaos with a layer of dust on the bookshelves! ;-P

    Oh my goodness, talking to other people is the thing that most exhausts me. People are my greatest trial. ;-P I'm in great danger of becoming a hermit. I have to get out in public once in a while or else I might forget how to communicate with people.

    I have never pulled an all-nighter. Sometimes if I'm up late with a really good book, the thought might cross my mind -- wouldn't it be romantic to stay up all night reading a book?-- but then my practical side says, no, you'd be an absolute bear in the morning. So I never do.

    I really did enjoy this!


    1. Emma, I once tried to read a book in the shower. Happily, it was not a library book. I've also tried to read while cooking, but that is a BAD idea. Hee!

      I think there are a lot of us introverts here in the blogosphere. We like to discuss books and movies, but we like to do it quietly, via the written word. Hee!

  4. I love lists and planning out my day! I've got to get better about my multitasking capabilities, though. Thanks for sharing your tips and tricks!

    1. I find it keeps me from neglecting things that absolutely need to be done and instead doing things that could wait for a day or two. Keeps me from those nasty little discoveries like, oh yeah, I signed up to bring snacks for fellowship time after church... and I didn't make anything, and now it's 10:30pm. Too bad I spent all afternoon reorganizing my yarn and fabric stashes! (And that exact thing did happen to me once.)


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