with Mir Kamin
I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.
To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/
Wait. It’s only October. I haven’t even figured out Halloween costumes, yet!
So why am I talking about Christmas, today?
It’s very simple: While I do all sorts of freelancing, all year long, I will earn more money through my shopping site, Want Not, during November and December than I will make there for the entire rest of the year combined. And the only way that happens is if I work my tail off during those two months.
And—coincidentally, haha!—those are the two months when I most want to be able to relax and spend time with my family. Quite the conundrum.
What that means is that now, while it’s still October, I have to start planning how I’m going to do the work I need to do but still get the time with my family (and the down time) I want, as well. Every October I sit down and try to figure this out, and every October I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing.
I do have a few ground rules that seem to work pretty well. For one thing, I always plan to work on Black Friday (prime shopping day, you know…) and make arrangements for my family to stay occupied without me. That’s a loooong day, though, and so to balance it, I generally take the next day off. I also know that the last day to order anything from Amazon and have it shipped in time for the holidays (with Prime, of course) will be a busy day, as well. So those two days I mark off as being completely unavailable.
On the other hand, I sit down with my husband and talk about ways to maintain balance on other, less-critical, days. We do a bit of shifting around of household chores to take some of the pressure off of me during this busy time (for example, he cooks more often during these months). And I take the school calendar and his calendar and my calendar and make sure I have a master calendar with all critical activities and appointments highlighted, so that I don’t end up forgetting anything or missing a band concert at school or whatever.
Those are all logical things, and easy things.
What’s not so easy for me is setting boundaries on how much time I can spend working on a “normal” day during these two months, one where I don’t have an appointment or a meeting or something the kids need me to take them to. During the other 10 months of the year, I pretty much work when the kids are at school; often I will work another hour after they get home (and are doing homework, themselves), sure, but I don’t generally work in the evenings. But during these two months I almost always go “back to work” (translation: back to the computer) in the evenings. And I have to figure out a better balance, because often what happens is that I am, quite frankly, a gibbering mess by the time Christmas arrives.
So. Things I’ll be doing this year:
1) For my birthday this year (yes, several months ago), my husband gave me a spa certificate which I haven’t yet used. Rather than framing this as my general failure to take a break already, let’s pretend I was saving it for these busy couple of months. Yes. I’m going to call and schedule that massage for the day after Black Friday, I think.
2) We are scheduling our holiday travel in a way that will force me to take some breaks. That’s kind of like multitasking, right?
3) I am going to try my hardest to continue my rest-of-the-year habit of taking Sundays off. I have a hard time sticking to this during the peak shopping season, but I’m going to try.
4) I am going to totally use my children to force myself to take breaks. I am strategically planning events with them that will force me to step away from the computer. Because I love them. And because if I make them a promise, I will keep it.
I don’t know if this is going to save me from holiday burnout, but I’m hoping it might. I’ll have to report back. Until then, ho ho ho!
Subscribe to blog via RSS