That Delicate Balance

Yin Yang symbolWhen you work full time, and have a family, you learn how to balance the needs of your kids and husband with your need to earn a living.  Sometimes you’re really good at it, and sometimes not so good at it.  If you have hobbies, like gardening or quilting or book clubs, you have to find time for that, as well.  And if you have what you hope will be a second career, say, as a writer, then you have to figure out how to work that in, as well.

In this day and age, it is almost impossible to rely on only one income to support a family, so if you are a working mother, and trying to be a writer, it gets even more difficult.  In my case, I am the main breadwinner for the family, and I do it with a job that is somewhat high-stress, and very very busy.  While I don’t work more than 50 hours a week most of the time, I do work hard, and come home tired to a house that still needs my care, and a family that needs to be fed.  I have a garden to tend to in the summer, and I have social activities I like to participate in.  How do I find time to write?

Somehow, I do.  But I carve that time out for myself, and make it a priority.  I have to, to feel balanced in my life.  Over the years, I’ve trained myself to take my commute time as a transition between work and home.  I don’t think about work at night or on the weekends.  They don’t pay me enough for that.  So I don’t think about work until I leave for work in the morning.  I have about a 35 minute commute.  On the way to work, I’m thinking about to-do lists and getting geared up for the day.  On my way home, I am turning off the work thought and turning on the home thought.  What do I have to do tonight?  Is it a writing night (Wednesday)?  Is it a chat night with my fellow authors (Tuesday)?  Is it a night I need to work in the garden (Monday or Thursday)?  Are there any events that might interfere with what is already on the established calendar, like a school concert for my daughter?  There is also the preparations needed for dinner, the laundry that has to be done, the watering of the lawn, grocery shopping, bill paying…

At at some point, I need to get some sleep. 🙂

It really does matter how we choose our priorities in life.  Self-care is just as important as all the “chores” of living.  My self-care includes bi-weekly manicures, and a monthly visit to my massage therapist.  I also usually schedule a day in the mountains one day a month as well, which is the best form of therapy I can get.  Building that balance between the must-haves, the self-care, and the “other” takes maturity, thoughtfulness, and a good dose of organization.  But finding it can make all the difference between overall success and not-so-much success.  And I prefer the success side, don’t you?

For me, writing happens every Saturday and Sunday morning, when I get up early (I get up early every day anyway so I can get things done) and go to the coffee shop for a two-hour writing stint.  I catch up on getting blog posts written for the future, work on my novel in progress, do some editing, whatever is on my to-do list.  That structured non-negotiable time has helped me to be productive.  Wednesday nights I also tell myself I will be writing, for at least an hour.  The rest of the time, I fit writing in when I can.  There is gardening, housecleaning, kid-home-work-helping, self care, and being there for the hubby that need to happen.  In a more perfect world, my “job” would be my writing, but I don’t live in that world, and I know many of my fellow writers do not either.  So I do what I can, and try not to beat myself up too much about what doesn’t get done.  Everything will work out as it should, as long as I put my best efforts into it.  And I feel like I do that.

How do you balance work/life?  What self-care is important to you, and what are your non-negotiables? Answer in the comments!

Fairest of the Faire – available now!

Fairest of the Faire book coverBlurb:

Schoolteacher Connie Meyers is suddenly a young widow, her husband killed in a horrific car accident. Heartbroken to find out he had gambled away everything they had, she moves to her sister-in-law’s Midwest home to rebuild her life. A trip to the local Renaissance Faire with her nieces leads to a summer job as a costumed storyteller.

Avowed bad boy and fair performer Gage Youngblood is infatuated with Connie at first sight. Despite his deliberately commitment-free life, and Connie’s don’t-touch-me attitude, he soon has her in his arms, realizing quickly she is also in his heart.

When she is threatened by her late husband’s bookie, he steps into the role of protector, his fate forever sealed with hers.

Available NOW!

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8 thoughts on “That Delicate Balance

  1. Wow! And I thought I was busy! I did the job, family, writing thing for years, but I was fortunate that writing WAS my my self-care. But I needed a lot of sleep back then and you must not, or you’d never manage all this. You’re impressively organized Susabelle. Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

    • Sleep? What’s that? haha. Actually, I don’t sleep much – about 5 or 6 hours a night on a good night. I don’t deliberately not sleep, but I just wake up, and go ahead and get up. I am usually asleep by 11, but up somewhere between 4 and 5. I do laundry, water the grass, if the sun comes up I weed the garden, do dishes or unload the dishwasher, play with the cat, get myself ready for work, and off I go! If I didn’t keep moving, I’d never get everything done. I do wish I didn’t have to work so much, but it is what it is. 🙂

    • I guess I feel like I don’t want to regret too many things at the end of my life – things I didn’t do but could have. I do have my down time, but sometimes, “down time” means I’m by myself in the garden where it is quiet and I can just think my thoughts. 🙂

  2. It’s so important to take time for ourselves, Susabelle. So happy to see you are doing this…I used to work outside the home, too, and when I came home, writing was my escape time. Now, I work full-time at the writing, but promoting a new release and edits on a future book take away from the creative part of my brain. I still struggle at times with just these three and with daily “family” life. I do keep to a schedule, though…I work 6 days a week–my morning starts at 5am with breakfast, meditation, a walk, bike-ride, or yoga–these are my non-negotiable priorities. I believe in starting the morning in a positive way. I tend to the business side of writing for two hours, yes two hours. Then, I work in my garden for thirty minutes. I’m usually in my writing cave by 11-11:30 and try and write until 5-6. However, as I stated above, I’ve only been able to write a couple of days for the past 6 weeks. There are only so many hours in a day, right? Can’t we negotiate for more? 😉

    • The problem with that, Mary, is then they’d expect us to do MORE! haha! As my kids get older (two are already out of the house so only one left to go), I have more “free time” that I can spend writing. I find I have to give up things to make it work – like I gave up television some years ago, and except for baseball (which I mostly listen to rather than watch). I turned to more crockpot meals, and started keeping a cooler in the car so I could squeeze in grocery trips in a 10-minute slot in the morning on my way to work. It does take some organization, and even so, there are things I have no time for anymore. Sewing and crafting? Love it but no time!

    • My husband and daughter support my writing, of course, but they can’t support me financially so I do still have to work. It is what it is.

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