Office Hours

My last couple of weeks have been quite a ride.

Last week was spring break. All four of my ducklings were home, and it was raining. A lot. Almost all week. And it was the first week that I tried to be diligent about maintaining some semblance of work discipline. I set office hours, expectations, and rules, and I gave the ducklings chores, tasks, and ideas for how to spend their free time.

Surprisingly, it worked. Mostly. Wednesday was mostly a day off, but otherwise, I managed to get in quite a bit of work time. I got my professional website up and running, I reconnected with a lot of old business contacts, and I did a lot of prospecting. At the end of the week, I was feeling pretty good about the general direction of my freelancing efforts.

And then, this week hit.

Two of my ducklings are still home–they get a two-week break. Fortunately, they’re the older two, so they entertain themselves pretty well.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I prepared for this week very well.

I don’t know what happened. Monday was spent mostly catching up on AHG duties, so I had very little opportunity to do any prospecting or writing. Tuesday morning I went to my Bible study, but then the rest of the day seemed to just . . . fade away? I don’t know. I couldn’t get on track the rest of the day. Yesterday, I took Hermione to the mall, partially because I promised I would at some point on her break and partially because we both needed some new clothes. All of the kids do, so I will likely need to spend more time shopping either today or tomorrow. But then today, I have to get groceries, or we’ll soon be eating dessicated raisins and stale Saltines for supper. Actually, I think we’re even out of Saltines.

So when I do the math for this week, it’s pretty dismal. Not a whole lot of time for work, and yet, there was really very little play involved, either. It was a whole lot of time sucked away from my week.

I think that I did myself a disservice by not planning my week very well ahead of time. Last week, I had a plan, and I executed it. This week, I *thought* I had a plan, but I didn’t. I didn’t prepare well for the week, and I let the week control me.

I’m thinking about how to make things better next week. I am really committed to maintaining balance and sanity this time around, and there are certain things that just have to be done to make that happen. One thing is that I need to be diligent about maintaining office hours. With summer quickly approaching (meaning all four ducklings underfoot for three months), I absolutely have to get into some habits now in order to make the summer bearable.

But there are also, inevitably, personal appointments and events that end up stuck in the middle of those working hours. Like my weekly Bible study–I’m coming to really look forward to that time, which I did not expect, and I am counting on that time to help keep me healthy and balanced. I won’t give that up.

And then there are the things that just seem to slip into the working hours because I don’t pay attention. I really must get up earlier and read my Bible before my office hours begin. And grocery shopping and errands–I’m terrible about getting those things done on weekends. I have to start getting groceries and running errands on weekends or in the evening. Some things just have to be in the middle of the work day, like doctor appointments and orthodontist check ups, so I guess maybe when those come up, I will have to take each one individually.

The real trouble here is that I feel a bit resentful that work has come along and interrupted my very lovely and settled and comfortable life as a stay-at-home-mom of tweens and teens. I was really enjoying my leisure–being able to read, knit, visit with friends, do a little shopping, run my errands when the kids were at school. Now, though, the reality of work is jolting me awake, and I can’t keep letting that other life slip in and steal it back. I have to start wrapping my head around this “work-at-home mom” thing again.

It’s a lot easier said than done.

This week is shot. Groceries and errands and getting my children out of highwaters and holey socks and ratty T-shirts is going to see me through the end of Friday. And I do have a couple of appointments scheduled for next week, so I’ll have to manage around those.

But I think that I will have to create a much better plan of attack for next week’s time. Work is going to have to take precedence over everything else between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on weekdays. The flipside to that is that I have promised my kids I will be done at 3:00 p.m. every day. After 3:00, I belong to the family and the house. If I do anything else that’s work- or writing-related, I’ll have to do it after they go to bed.

For today, we need milk, eggs, bread, and cheese. Those dessicated raisins are starting to look too good.

Till next we meet . . .

J M

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