Viewing category ‘Maybe I can pencil in a nap’

Cornered Office

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/

Planning, shmlanning

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Maybe I can pencil in a nap, Now I'm free(lancing)

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(Pictured here: Not me. You can tell it’s not me because she’s actually asleep.)

For all of my big talk about staying organized and learning to adapt to the ebb and flow of a flexible schedule, reality remains… messy. Sometimes I feel organized and capable and on top of things. Sometimes I feel like I am holding on by my teeth. And this week, I feel like one of those “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie” books.

I’m a day late writing this post, even. Because this week somehow started off okay but quickly went off the rails, and I don’t even know how it happened. On Monday, things were under control. I was getting stuff done. Today—Friday—I foolishly tried to take a nap to maybe catch up and it didn’t go well. I would like to blame this on the school year ending, but it seems to me that a week like this one happens every so often no matter what I do. You’d think I could figure it out, by now. You would be wrong, though.
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When homeschooling in the home office hits a deadline

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Maybe I can pencil in a nap, Now I'm free(lancing)

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I love to tell people that we homeschool my son. Love it. Even with homeschooling becoming more commonplace, it always causes folks to do a double-take. I don’t look like a homeschooler. I am neither a religious fundamentalist nor an overly-crunchy earth-mama hippie type. (Neither are a lot of other homeschoolers. But you know, stereotypes abound.) My daughter attends public school. And so folks always seem surprised.

The best part, of course, is that people who would never dream of homeschooling (spoiler: I used to be one of those people who would never in a million years dream of homeschooling) have a lot of questions. And mostly those questions pertain to my son—is he keeping up? Does he ever see other kids? Doesn’t he miss regular school? The answers are yes, yes, and not really. (When someone outright asks me if my kid is socialized—like maybe I keep him in a box under my desk—I cannot be held responsible for any snarky response I might blurt out, though.)

We’ve eased into it; our first year, he went to a homeschooling collab nearly full-time. This year, he’s gone half-time. And the coming year? I think we’re going to do a full curriculum at home, finally. We’ve found our groove. But even when people know I work full-time from my home office, it’s rare that they’ll ask how I manage it.
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Sleep, glorious sleep

Categories: Maybe I can pencil in a nap, Now I'm free(lancing), Things you should be reading

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Much as youth is wasted on the young, I firmly believe that naps are wasted on children. It takes being a harried adult to fully appreciate the luxury of being able to just stop whatever you’re doing and take a nice, relaxing rest if that’s what you need. Of course, by the time most of us would appreciate a daily siesta, there’s no time for that.

For me, sleep is my handiest barometer of my mental health. This is even more true now that I’m a freelancer; when I get into poor sleep habits as I work here from home, they’re all too easy to perpetuate because I don’t need to be commuting to work and sitting in a cubicle for eight hours. If I don’t sleep well at night nowadays, I actually can sneak a nap in more often than not… but it means I don’t get my work done when I should… which means I’m liable to stay up too late working… which leads to not getting enough sleep… which, hey, did I mention there’s a hole in the bucket? You get the idea.

Because this is an issue near and dear to my sleep-loving freelancer’s heart, I loved this recent guest post by Tania Dakka over at Problogger about sleep mistakes that negatively impact your blog.
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The myth of older kids “needing less”

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Maybe I can pencil in a nap, Now I'm free(lancing)

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(Pictured here: Much happier teens than the ones currently living with me. Clearly they’re actors.)

When my children were preschoolers/young elementary age, I remember thinking that I would give any amount of money to have ten—heck, five—uninterrupted minutes to myself while they were awake. Little kids are a lot of work. They’re demanding; they need you constantly. They can’t make their own food, they need help with dressing, bathing, packing up for school, doing homework, just about everything. They need close supervision so that they don’t attempt to “fly” off the kitchen counter (my son) or flush random objects down the toilet “just because” (my daughter).

Little kids are exhausting.

Working from home and parenting little kids is an exercise in constant frustration. When I first started freelancing, I never worked while the kids were home and awake. It just wasn’t possible. I did some work while they were at school, then finished after they went to bed. That was just the only way to make it happen.
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Some days are (derailed) like that

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Maybe I can pencil in a nap, Now I'm free(lancing)

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We were on the road for two weeks over the holidays; two weeks of working on my laptop on a couch or at someone else’s table rather than my desk, two weeks of trying to work less so I could spend precious time with family and friends normally so far away, two weeks of dealing with various family crises and cramped quarters and long (oh my goodness, so long) treks in the car.

I’m glad we went, but I was elated to arrive back home. Two weeks is a long time for me to be off my regular routine. I missed my bed and my house and even my desk, I found.

Of course, after arriving home at practically midnight on Sunday, Monday was a day to unpack, ask the children if they ever planned to get out of their pajamas (their answer: “No, of course not!”), and try to get the house set to rights again. Today—Tuesday—the kids were back to school and I was ready to get back into my normal routine. Today would be an incredibly productive day!
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The year’s-end freelancer’s wrap-up

Categories: Maybe I can pencil in a nap, Now I'm free(lancing)

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This week is the one in which everyone I know who isn’t a freelancer is lolling around, eating pie with their families. Of course, everyone I know who is a freelancer is also eating pie, but generally while balancing a laptop and trying to tie up all of the year’s loose ends.

Boo hoo, I know. Poor me and my pie-balancing act. Heh.

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is traditionally one in which people reflect and make resolutions to be better, stronger, thinner, and smarter in the new year. For me, being in business for myself means that this is when I reflect on all of the things I probably should’ve gotten done earlier in the year. Ahem.

I also think of my accountant, and start rooting around in my purse for receipts. (I am nothing if not supremely organized.)

So, yes, there is also planning for the year ahead, but first I have to finish up this year.
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Everything I ever needed to know about hosting Thanksgiving dinner, I learned from freelancing

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Maybe I can pencil in a nap, Now I'm free(lancing)

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In honor of the upcoming holiday—and because I’ve started sliding into Holiday Hosting Mode—I just couldn’t quite stomach an all-business post today.

(I hope you’ll forgive me. Come over on Thursday for some pie so I can make it up to you, if you don’t.)

I think a lot of us talk a lot about how other aspects of life have prepared us for various facets of running a freelance business, but today I’m turning that notion on its head; instead, I want to look at the things I’ve learned from freelancing that have absolutely made hosting a large holiday meal more doable, for me. (And no, this story doesn’t start with “Drink more,” although I can see why you might suspect that.) The truth is that working for myself has uniquely prepared me for the rigors of the Thanksgiving meal gauntlet, I think.
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Making time for popcorn

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Maybe I can pencil in a nap, Now I'm free(lancing)

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In just about a week, I enter what my family (mostly lovingly) refers to as “Mom’s Invisible Season,” when I work until the holidays nearly twice as many hours as I do the rest of the year. There’s a method to my madness, of course; the more time and energy I put into Want Not while the entire world is busy holiday shopping, the more money I make. I can work extra hard for one month of the year more easily than I can add hours to my schedule for the entire rest of the year, so financially and logistically, it makes sense.

But.

It makes for a very stressful month. And we’re not even there yet, this year, and I’m already feeling stretched to the max and not as available for my kids as I’d like to be. And while every working parent feels like they wish they could spend more time with their kids (I mean, I assume), a huge part of the reason I decided on this work-from-home gig was precisely so that I’d be able to be there for my kids.
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Welcome to Slumpville! Population: Me

Categories: Maybe I can pencil in a nap, My boss is an idiot

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(Pictured here: Someone who is not me, but who appears to be experiencing a similar level of ennui.)

I’m in a slump. That’s not the same as having writer’s block, by the way—I don’t really believe in writer’s block—but it is, nonetheless, a rather unnerving state to be in. I feel uninspired. I’m tired. I’m lazy. I do a bare minimum of work and then… I sit around and think to myself, “I should be doing more work right now.”

This is not wholly unexpected. Summer was both busy and stressful (due to a variety of non-work reasons), and I pulled back from working so much because my kids needed me, and I needed a bit of a break. Now that everyone is back to school, I have more time. I feel like I should be feeling great.

Instead, I just want to take a nap.
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What’s that they say, about not praying for patience?

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Maybe I can pencil in a nap, Now I'm free(lancing)

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(Pictured here: Someone who is a lot more coordinated than I am. But also dumb. Because wearing high heels on a tightrope is just silly.)

I’ve now been freelancing from my home office for half-a-dozen years, and I think I can say with confidence that this summer has been the first one where I felt like my work/life balance was very nearly in order. I’m not saying that it was easy or perfect, but I worked less, spent more time with my kids, and—although I felt like I wasn’t getting “enough” done, sometimes—in general my frustration level was a lot lower than in summers past. I’ve finally cracked the code, I may have mused to myself in a smug moment. I’ve got this.

Sure, a couple of times I felt a slight longing for the return to our school-year schedule and being able to up my work game a little bit with the extra time, but on the whole I felt like this summer really showed me that it’s possible to achieve a doable balance.

And so of course I promptly blew it all to hell this week.
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