The work/life balance of the work-at-home mom

The work/life balance of the work-at-home mom

My kids have been in school for about a month now.

I thought there would be this immediate “look how much I’m accomplishing!” catharsis. I thought I was going to be bored by the end of the first week because I’d’ve already done all the things.

But six hours goes a lot faster than you want it to.

I had so many big plans. The house would be immaculate. I’d have amazing dinners prepared every night. Plus, the real reason I’m staying home instead of looking for a job outside the house, I’d write for hours a day and the freelance offers would start pouring in. Oh, and my ass would rival J-Lo’s because I’d be hitting the gym every day.

One month later and my butt is the same, I’ve picked up zero freelance jobs, the novel I had started revising remains unrevised, the closets are still about to explode, and the bathroom has not yet been painted. Oh, and I think we’re having boxed jambalaya for dinner tonight.

I think my problem was that I was trying to do everything every day. Instead of using my “work time” while the kids were at school to write and look for jobs, I was using a big chunk of my “work time” on stuff like dusting and sanding walls. My thought was that I’d be able to spend more time with the kids this way. I’d get EVERYTHING done by the time they got home from school, and then I’d be able to be the perfect mother until they went to sleep.

But now I’m realizing that there are certain things I can get done while they’re home and certain things that must be done while they’re gone. I can’t write with them here. I don’t want to write with them here. I can, however, dust and make dinner with them here. I can employ their help on these tasks (Gwyneth says this is a great thing to do, and if Gwyneth says so…).

Yesterday I tried this tactic: I know now that there will be times when it’s more important to work on certain tasks over others. Right now I’m in Super Charged Revision Mode on my first novel (not the one that’s perpetually in revision mode). I want to get this done. I want to keep my momentum going. I have six hours a day to work on this book and I’m going to use all of them.

But I also need to keep up with the house stuff so we don’t start living in a literal Hell Hole and I don’t want to sit on my ass all day so that I wind up looking like one of the Widettes.

So, recognizing that my number one priority is writing, I’m going to do that. But I’m also going to have several house tasks to complete each day (straighten up, wipe the counters, sweep the floors, make the beds, do a load of laundry, and sort through paper clutter). I’ve started setting my alarm for the last five minutes of every hour. Then I set the timer for five minutes. During that time, I get up out of my chair and clean. It’s amazing how much you can get done in five minutes.

Also, it has the added benefit of giving me some solid think time about whichever scene I’m working on. Yesterday I got through about a quarter of my novel, and I’m aiming for another quarter today.

When the kids are home, I’ll do the big task of the day (Monday – bathrooms, Tuesday – dusting, Wednesday – vacuum, Thursday – wash floors, Friday – clean kitchen). They can help me with these things, or they can go play with their millions of toys.

Do you work from home? How do you balance that with what you have to get done around the house?

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