I'm having a hard time balancing being a full time mom, a part-time college teacher, and a part-time writer. Two of my three kids are still at home, so I really am a full time mom. It's not like there are eight or even four hours a day when I have free time. They're here needing to be fed and cleaned up after and played with and nursed and cleaned up after and changed and then fed again. There are naptimes (sometimes), but that half-hour doesn't feel like much time when I've got two or seven hours of extra work I need to squeeze in each day. The seven sounds like hyperbole, but it's not. Twice a week I leave for work at 5:30 pm and get home at 10:30 pm. Add an hour of grading and an hour of writing, both of which are conservative estimates, and I've literally got an extra seven hour work day on top of the 7 am to 5:30 pm Mom shift I just pulled. On the other days, it takes about 2 to 3 hours to get grading and writing done, and those 2 to 3 hours usually don't even start until 9 pm when the baby goes down. In short, time's a legitimate challenge. Not an excuse, but a challenge.
Time is one thing I'm struggling with. The other is energy. I know, I know. Everyone's sick of hearing stay at home moms whine about how tired they are, and I'm not whining--I'm just saying it: I'm exhausted by the end of the day. And teaching makes it worse. Nothing saps my creative energy like teaching and grading writing. I don't know why that is, and I think it's horribly unfair, but there it is.
So that's the problem. The challenge: what to do about it? I have several ideas:
- More moderate writing (and possibly grading) goals on the days I have to teach. I love the idea of consistently pushing myself to reach higher and higher benchmarks, but I've seen this week that when my benchmarks are too high, I give up. Better to make Monday and Thursday (the days I teach for five hours at night) thousand word days and actually write than make them 2500 word days and quit in discouragement.
- I need an outline. Writing is not particularly difficult. It's knowing what comes next that I struggle with. If I have it on paper in front of me, I might find composing the words easier.
- Accountability. I've conscripted my bff (who is patient and wise) into being my de facto word count cheerleader. I message her word count milestones on Facebook. For the most part she ignores me, which is fine with me (her life is even busier and more exhausting than mine is), but sometimes she says, "Go you!" or "Nice work." And that means so much to me. It really keeps me going.
- Lego Man starts preschool this week. I'm clinging to this desperate hope that with him gone and the house quiet, BabyGirl will sleep for an hour or maybe even two, allowing me to get some serious grading and/or writing done.
- Finally, choosing it. The awareness of choice empowers and energizes me. I am choosing all these challenges. No one is making me work. No one is making me write. No one made me have kids. Every time I feel tired, every time I want to complain, every time I want to quit, I tell myself that I am choosing my actions and, by extension, my experiences. That helps too.