I’ve been working hard to get myself on a good schedule so I can get all of my daily/weekly/monthly responsibilities done. I decided the best way to figure out a schedule was to write down everything I did for a week or two, kind of like how I keep a food journal whenever I’m about to start changing my eating habits. That helps me identify when I get work done, when my kids need me the most, when I need to let my mind wander, etc. This has been extremely useful, if not frighteningly detailed. One day last week, Mike said, “How was your day?” and I said, “Want to see what I did?” and showed him my log. He was a little scared of me.
A typical Tuesday:
4:00 am: James wakes up and wants to play. Get him back to sleep.
6:20 am: Mike’s alarm goes off.
7:15 am: James wakes up.
7:30 am: Mike leaves for work, I feed James, then pack Annie’s lunch and make her breakfast.
8:00 am: Grumble that Annie never sleeps this late on non-school days.
8:01 am – 8:55 am: Get Annie ready for school.
8:56 am: My mom comes over (yay!) to take care of James, I screech at Annie to get in the car, we rush to school.
9:00 am: Leave Annie at school, go to the grocery store, stare wistfully at the Joann Fabric next door.
10:00 am: Take a picture of what James did while Annie was at preschool.
10:25 am: Finish Wednesday tutorial….or start it, depending on how the previous day went. Work on next freelance deadline.
12:05 pm: Watch the last ten minutes of Annie’s soccer class. Hope she didn’t spend the whole class picking flowers, realize she did when she brings me two dozen dandelions.
12:15 pm: Show Annie what James did while she was at preschool, take her home, fix her a snack.
12:30 pm: Leave Annie to play with my mom and James, go back to work on freelance assignments.
1:30 pm: Send pitches, answer emails, make phone calls.
3:00 pm: Start some laundry, think about picking up around the house.
4:00 pm: Say goodbye to my mom, feed James and get him down for a nap, play with Annie.
5:00 pm: Make Annie a snack.
6:00 – 7:00 pm: Start dinner. Try to convince Annie to take cooking lessons so I don’t have to cook anymore.
7:10 pm: Mike gets home, I become chopped liver.
7:15 pm: Eat dinner, feed James, then retreat to the office to do more work.
8:00 pm: Give Annie bedtime kisses, then get James to sleep.
9:00 pm: Work on next freelance deadline.
10:00 pm: Sit with Mike for a little while, then kiss him goodnight.
10:45 pm: Remember to change the laundry I started eight hours ago.
11:00 pm: Write. I’m usually finishing up a blog post, and then when that’s done I’m working on my next freelance deadline. I write until I literally fall asleep on my keyboard around 2:30 am. It’s not the best decision for my back/shoulders/neck.
The first thing I see is that I really need to plan a nap for myself into this schedule. That’s just madness. All joking aside, I really need to get myself on a regular sleep schedule. 2:30 am is a very painful hour. As for the rest of the time management, it’s a challenge. Working from home has gotten harder for me since Mike started his new job, and I feel pulled in a million different directions. I’m very lucky that my parents can help me out, but they can’t be at my house all day, every day. I’m about at the point where I have to start saying no to things (a scary idea in the feast-or-famine freelance world) because I just do not have time.
The good news about writing down everything you do for a week? You’ll actually know what became of your day. The bad news? You’ll actually know what became of your day.
Wow – you are one busy mama! Very impressive how much you get done and how you balance work/life. I am always struggling with this – I write down To Do lists but what a great idea to write down what you actually have done.
i agree with you about the sleep. You need more! If I could send you more sleep I would.
Ugh, my To Do list is a never-ending source of anxiety and disappointment! haha
Wow you do get a lot done in the run of a day. My day is like, get up, go to gym, come home shower/eat, go to work, come home and have supper, then flake out on the couch. Yep. Granted I am single and childless.. also apparently quite sad.. but yeah, you are one busy momma! I don’t know how you’re going to cram more into your day! But I’m sure you will figure it out. Annie cooking seems a legit good start.
That’s not sad, that sounds AMAZING!
Do you ever notice that sometimes you hear or see the same theme everywhere you turn? Hello, Universe, I hear you! I was thinking a lot about time management this weekend, I read your post this morning, and they interviewed an author about her book, Overwhelmed, on the radio this morning. She is several more years down the road on this topic, and she shared some really great insights.
I see your writing as your career, which helps sustain your family and creatively, nourishes and develops you. I think it could help to set up planned times and care for your kids that will allow you time to write. Maybe you could have a college kid come for 4 hours a day, a few days a week. This would allow solid periods for you to work, and free up family time in the evening and help you move towards a bedtime routine for your whole family (including you).
I work outside of the home. Over the years, we’ve used day care, family care and in home care. It’s been good for us and our son.
This is the interview that I heard today:
I especially liked her reflection, now that her kids are older, on the sense of entitlement that she was conveying. I’m still thinking about that one.
The leisure time point is very interesting. I definitely spend my little bits of leisure time with my kids. I almost never do anything for myself. Definitely something I need to think more about.
I’m exhausted just thinking about doing all that! You definitely need a nap time!
Have you considered getting a mother’s helper? It might be easier this summer when teens are out of school. Clearly from that schedule you aren’t getting any sleep! Hang in there.
I have, and I think this summer would be the perfect time to test one out!
outsource groceries! Do you have a peapod type service that delivers? this was the single smartest thing I’ve ever done for myself. I hate having free time (when my husband is finally home to play with the girls) and spending that grocery shopping. I personally like grocery shopping, but that could also be a time you are writing over a hot cup of coffee at starbucks or something. or napping!
I never thought about getting groceries delivered but I’m SURE there’s a service that would do it where I live. That’s definitely something I will look into!
I second the grocery delivery idea. It is the best thing I have done to free up time for myself. It also forces me to loosely plan meals for the week so I’m not standing in the kitchen every day trying to figure out what to make for dinner.
Yikes. I know this kind of schedule well as I work full time with 2 little ones at home. I work at home 2 days a week which is almost worse than going into the office (get distracted by laundry, etc. and overwhelmed by all I need to do). 2 of my biggest timesavers: paying someone to clean the house and buying most of my foods pre-made at Whole Foods. Not cheap but both are worth it! good luck!
I do buy a lot of pre-made or mostly-made food, and only cook from scratch a couple days a week. It definitely helps. We also eat a lot of breakfast for dinner. WHO WANTS CEREAL, YAAAAY!
You need to ask for help. I have been working for myself for 24 years, and raised three kids as a single parent for the past 12 years. Let me show you the future. This is the easiest time to work from home. The ages of 12-high school graduation are much worse. The kids will drive you nuts. They will need you more than then they need you now. Not only will you have an endless parade of people trampling through your house, you will also be the chauffeur more than you are now. Besides sports, activities, and school events, they will also go over their friends houses. You will even find yourself taking your child’s friend to the dentist because the kids just had to get together on the day that best friend Suzie was getting braces. Don’t say no to freelance jobs now. Make all you can now and sock it away because you will find it harder to work in your children’s teenage years. Teens need their parent around more than little ones do. You have to monitor everything that teenagers do and who they are with so they don’t get into trouble. There is nothing wrong with hiring a cleaning woman and a nanny, or putting your children in daycare. Little ones love to socialize with their friends. They also love the 100% attention that a good nanny can give them. You don’t have to do full time help or daycare if you don’t want to. You can do part time every day or three full days a week. But there is nothing wrong with full time if you want that. You can’t go on like you are now. I know. I have been where you are and it is not healthy. Working from home is very hard. As much as you want to, you can’t be a stay at home parent and a work from home parent at the same time. Something or someone will suffer. You have to pick which you want more. If you pick work from home, then you have to get help. Don’t be ashamed. Follow your dreams. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you if you work from home and hire help. It took me a long time to get to the point where I said that anyone who has something to say because I am home but need help can try walking in my shoes for a week. People think it’s easy, but they have no idea how hard it is.
This comment is both reassuring and terrifying! You’re right, though, working from home is so much harder than I EVER imagined it would be.
Thank you!! My husband and I get crazy looks all the time because we both work full time now and have since our daughter was 12 weeks old. She is 9 now. Our plan is for him to continue working until she is in middle school then he will be home full time. My Mom went back to work when I was in kindergarten and then stopped working when I was in 5th grade (age 11). That was a wonderful year. By the time I was in high school she worked overnight part time (11 pm to 4 AM) so she worked while we slept. Granted we were closely supervised and my Dad was home while she was at work but still. Both my parents were there a LOT more during high school and it made such a HUGE difference. We had friends over all the time and even now 15 years later they tell me its because our parents were always home after school when they were needed. I had to work from home a few days in Janury due to the crazy snow and it was awful. I could never do it full time even with my daughter in school. There is home stuff that needs tending when I am home and it distracted me from work. I didn’t like it at all.
You are a busy woman. I don’t know how you manage to stay up so late with all your daily activities. Actually, I’m about ready to get up when you’re going to bed.
I agree about outsourcing your groceries! If you plan it out correctly you only have to pop by in person for essentials and it’s not a hassle. Peapod is just the best and there are always coupons online. And, I can’t stress this enough – try, try try to get to sleep a few hours earlier. Our bodies needs that deep REM sleep and need to rest between 10-6 am or as close to that as you can, and our families need us to take care of our bodies to be the strongest and best moms we can be!!
I? Am exhausted after reading that. You need to make sure you’re taking mental health days when you need them. That’s very important. If you don’t take care of Heather then who will be super mom?