I wish I could say that my days were busy because I had too many paid writing gigs to work on. Unfortunately, that would be a lie. My days were filled with babysitting grandchildren, taking someone somewhere, and just plain doing for others – all the time. Nobody seemed to take it serious that I’m actually WORKING! My family has the mentality of, “Mom’s home – she can do it.” Constant interruptions were what my busy writer’s schedule was made of. Until, however, I learned how to say, “NO!” and get some work done!
How? Well, it wasn’t easy. In fact, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I’m a nice person. I like to help others. Telling others that I can’t help goes completely against the grain of my being. Taking time for myself seemed, well, selfish. But it’s not. I finally realized that doing what I need to do (like work and earn a living) is not selfish. What’s selfish are the people asking me to stop what I’m doing to help them (and truly it was for stupid reasons).
Here is what I’ve learned: I can help others AND earn my living as a writer. It’s all in the timing. As a write this, for instance, my six year old grandson, Cameron, is sitting at the snackbar eating Frosted Mini Wheats. We made a deal. He’s quiet for a few hours in the morning while I write and after lunch it’s “Cam time”. Tomorrow I have the pleasure of watching my five month old granddaughter, Adriana (or AJ, as I call her). It’ll be a long day with her, but isn’t that the reason why I wanted to stay home as a writer? So that I could spend more time with the family? It sure is!
So just how do I get any work done? By setting smaller goals. For as long as I have set a schedule to write I had always tried to dedicate my entire morning to writing. I found that it was the morning, however, that I was interrupted the most. “Mom – Help” was always on the daily agenda. Now it’s summer vacation for the grandkids and guess who’s stuck babysitting all summer? Yep! Me! Setting smaller goals, however, has allowed me to accomplish my tasks without pulling my hair out due to constant interruptions. Smaller goals allowed me to spend time with my family.
My goals for today are important, yet, simple. Writing this blog post was one of those goals and I’m on my way to completing one task. Next on my agenda is writing 500 words on my ebook. It’s not the usual one to two thousand words, but that’s Okay. I can make up some time after the grandchildren go home. The other two tasks I have scheduled for today are reviewing some paid writing sites that I will be posting in the next couple of weeks (stay tuned). I can complete those tasks after dinner. The feeling of accomplishment after completing each task (no matter how small the task) is unbeatable. My stress level is down as well.
I’ve also started saying, “No!” in a nice way, of course. If I’m truly needed (summer babysitting while my adult kids are working or a ride to college are truly important) then I’m happy to be able to help. “Mom, can you drive ten miles to bring me a few dollars” (okay, nobody really asked me that, but close) is a definite NO.
Priorities are important and knowing which order to place them is essential. Writing is my job. Family is my life. Creating a happy medium is bliss.
Are you a writer? How do you balance writing and family time? I’d like to know.