On Balance, Blogging, and Turning Two

February 15, 2011

me and boy

Today is just an ordinary Tuesday for most of you, but for me it marks the two year anniversary of my blog!  Yay!

What a year! I never imagined so many opportunities would come my way and I am so grateful to all of you who visit now and then, thank you SO much!

I’m one of those many multitasking moms, but lucky enough to be able to work from home, blessed with good health, great kids, a supportive husband, and a plethora of power tools.  Life is pretty good, and I’m thankful everyday. 

I often get these questions: How do you balance it all and get so much done? How do you manage your time?  How Do You Do It All?

My friends, let’s face the truth.  No one can ever “do it all”.  Not unless you’re Martha Omnimedia with unlimited resources and highly paid staff to cater to your every whim.  Then yes you probably can do it all, I suppose. 

There are plenty of things I don’t do, and for me, that’s the key to the ‘balance’ question.  I’ve decided what I can accomplish in any given day or week, what I have to sacrifice to get it done, and the power of saying ‘No’ to the things that won’t work for me and my family. 

Life (and blogging) is an ongoing treadmill, and Year Two taught me a few things.  But like a runner who’s been running for awhile, most importantly it taught me to find my stride.  The last two months have been extremely challenging.  I flew to the east coast three times in six weeks, all the while doing all the other things I ordinarily do.  I can’t believe I haven’t fallen down or gotten sick, which is nearly impossible when you’re on so many airplanes and picking up all those germs on every hotel doorknob and elevator button. 

I absolutely could not have stayed afloat this past year without my eternally patient husband, daily devotions, the support of some ‘got your back’ moms in my community watching over my munchkins, and Dori’s ‘just keep swimming’ attitude!  

 

I’m pretty disciplined with my time, but I’ve also learned to be forgiving of myself.  My house is never perfectly straightened, dust free, and it is rarely ready for company.  So what?  Perfection is not my goal, contentment is my goal.  Dishes and laundry and kid toys pile up, clutter creeps in, and to tackle it all I just keep swimming. 

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Here are a few of the rules I’ve made for myself to successfully manage my time.

Budget Office Hours.  I’m rather disciplined and I recognize I’m most productive between 9 and 2 p.m.  9  to 11 a.m.  I make the rounds, email, comments, favorite blogs, and a little time on Facebook and Twitter.  From 11 to 2 p.m., I run errands, keep appointments, gather supplies, start new projects, then at 2:30 I pick up my kids and take an afternoon break to do homework and clean up around the house.  That afternoon break to focus on family is extremely important to me.  I budget a few hours after bedtime to write, and I spend most weekends working on new projects. 

Avoid time hogs.  There is so much on the internet, and on television I could be online or in front of the tube all stinkin’ day.  If that was the case, nothing would get done.  I love social media, but for now I stick to only Facebook and Twitter and have a ‘login, logout’ philosophy.   Just a few minutes here and there over the course of the day.  My television is never on during the day, unless I have two sick kids at home like yesterday, then I make an exception.  I record every show I like, then I catch up every few days after the kids’ bedtime or on the weekend when I have time. 

Try to Prepare Posts in Advance.   Long ago, I used to scramble to finish a project and photograph it ‘today before daylight ends’ to post ‘tomorrow’.  Ack, that’s just too stressful!  Sometimes this still happens to me, but for the most part I try to stay a few days ahead, and write down a schedule of posts for the upcoming week.  I find that if I start early on a project and pace myself, allowing time to finish or deal with an ‘oops’, then I stress a lot less. 

Kid Swap.  My kids are at an age where they are all about the play date.  Great!  I have a fab community of moms and we often kid swap for two reasons:  clean laundry room1) kids love playing at their friend’s houses for a few hours and 2) it’s a heck of a lot easier to run errands alone.   A trip to the grocery store alone is that priceless opportunity to read labels and plan menus without distraction.  The art of the kid swap is a major time saver for me. 

Finish Cleaning Late in the Day.  One thing that helps me a lot is saving the home chores for when I’m home with the kids in the afternoon.  Yes, I actually leave my morning dishes in the sink if it’s during ‘Office Hours’ !  I finish them in the afternoon when the kids are doing homework at the kitchen island, that way I can help with homework and clean at the same time.  I fold laundry upstairs in the evenings when they’re also upstairs in the bath.  Etc.

Dedicate Time for Family.   All blog and no play makes me a cranky Mom.  The choice to work from home to be closer to my family has to actually mean something.  When I hear those words, “Momma, are you done with your computer?  Will you play with me?”  I heed them.  To me, no amount of pageviews is worth that chance to play, even if it’s to reenact for the hundredth time that first scene in my boy’s favorite movie. 

star wars battle

They’re only little once, I’m not going to miss it. 

Let Go.  I’ve learned to resist the pressure to post every day, as much as I’d like to, if my home life gets too busy, I can’t do it.  I don’t think anyone should ever feel the pressure to post just to post because they haven’t posted in awhile.  I’ve found a good pace that works for me, 3 to 4 posts a week, but if I ever need to take a step back, I certainly will.  

Take Care of Yourself.  Rest is best!  It bears repeating how important it is to make time for exercise, for play, and for eating well.  And when life falls completely out of balance which it often does, take a day or two to rejuvenate with some junk TV and ice cream or whatever it is that makes you feel better.  Then pick yourself up and go for it again.  Just keep swimming.

Thanks again to those of you who stop by to visit and say the kindest things.  Words cannot express how much I appreciate you.  I read every comment with a smile on my face, and I’m so grateful for your thoughtfulness, your humor, and overwhelming support. 

So, now that I’ve rambled, I’ll take a big breath and blow out my candles. 

Cupcake with Two Candles

Happy Two Year Anniversary to you Centsational Girl !

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Anyone else out there have a great time management tip you’d love to share?  I’d love to hear it!

 

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