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.