As you may have seen in my previous post, I had a busy week last week. Between getting ready for my daughter’s birthday, fulfilling my critiquing responsibilities, finishing up my MG revision, plus staying in the social media loop, my plate was pretty full.
Balancing life as a stay-at-home mom and aspiring author isn’t easy, especially on crazy weeks like this past one, so I thought I’d let you in my secret: staying organized. I first learned the importance of organization when the twins were born. I had three kids under two, and between the lack of sleep and general chaos, if I didn’t stay organized things spiralled out of control pretty quickly.
If you follow this blog, you know how much I love lists (in case you haven’t already noticed, I’m a serious Type-A personality), and I find lists within lists are the best way to keep organized.
When I have a busy week, I start by making a basic list of things I need to do. For instance, last week’s read:
- make cake pops for school
- make birthday cake
- clean house for party
- critique query & chapters
- work on MG
- blog post & social media
Then I break that list down further. As an example, making cake pops broke down like this (I had pre-baked and frozen them):
- defrost cake balls
- insert sticks and re-freeze
- 1st dip
- 2nd dip
- paint final details
Then I figure out when the final step has to be finished by, and work backwards from there, assigning each task to a day. Eventually I have a to-do list for each day:
- defrost cake balls
- critique chapters
- clean kitchen
- work on blog post
I also make a side list of things that don’t have a particular to-do day, but which can be worked on when I finish my other chores (or when I’m taking a break from other chores)
- query critique
- MG revision
- social media
Most of you are probably shaking your heads at this insane level of planning, but it works for me. Somehow, when I see my week all laid out, it doesn’t seem as daunting. Also, it helps me from getting sidetracked by other fun things (like writing this blog post – which I wanted to do last Wednesday, but put off until this week so I could complete my more pressing priorities first).
But lists aren’t my only secret to a balanced life.
The other secret is knowing (and accepting) when things have to go undone. For instance, I knew I didn’t have enough time to make our house spotless for the party, so I focussed on cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms, and accepted that a group of six-year-olds weren’t going to notice or care if the living room floor was covered with toys (and maybe some dust bunnies).
Sometimes, though, even my best planning falls apart. Thursday I started feeling sick, but still managed to tick off all the tasks on my to-do list for the day. But Friday I was so ill I couldn’t get out of bed. Luckily, my parents were in town for the party, so they could watch the kids, but (gasp!) I just did not have the energy to decorate the Girl’s cake.
There it was, my beautiful cake, all assembled and filled, but naked.
So we worked out a compromise. Husband took the Girl out to buy an ice cream cake (which turned out to be delicious) and I froze the cake I’d baked, with the promise to bring it out and decorate it later this week when I’ve recovered. Yeah, I felt guilty (especially since I had to this for her the year her brothers were born, after I ended up hospitalized with double mastitis), but sometimes the only way to achieve balance is by letting things go.
So there you have it, my secrets to achieving a work-life balance on even the busiest weeks. If you’re curious about how I fit writing into my schedule on a regular week, you can check out this post.
What about you? How do you find ways to balance writing and life?