I began this year with a word in mind: balance. I wasn’t sure how I was going to balance being a stay-at-home mom while running a business, not to mention finding time with Sam, my friends, and the rest of my family.
While it is not always a smooth and easy ride, and by do means do I think I hold to key to living a perfectly balanced life–clearly, because I had intended to write a blog post yesterday and have it posted by 6:00am this morning, but it is now 6:00 am I am just writing this post!–I think I am finally starting to hit my stride.
Several weeks ago I started Eve in part-time childcare, which has been such a godsend for me. It felt really weird that first day, and I did cry a little, but I think it’s good for both of us. I have a solid eight hours a week at least where I can truly focus on my business, and Eve gets to be around other children. The rest of the week I generally have a routine of activities that I take Eve to, where I can be both focused on her as well as meet other new moms in the area. This is both a great time to bond with Eve as well as to incorporate some much-needed down time for me as it gives me an opportunity to talk with other adults, go for a walk now that the weather is nice (with the added bonus of getting some exercise), and simply hang out and not think about work for a bit.
While Eve naps or is content playing, I can usually find stretches of time where I can sneak in some time to work on my business or get some things done around the home (somehow by the end of each day I find the house in complete disarray…and it’s not like I can even blame Eve for it!). Plus my I have to give a huge thank you to my mother-in-law, who will usually come over at least once a week to keep an eye on Eve while I work or go to a Zumba class.
I have gotten into the habit of cooking at the beginning of the week (hello, meal planning!), and Sam and I usually have a dinner or two together during the week after he has gotten home from work. Some weekends we get in a lot of family time, other weekends I have had shows or time in the metalsmithing studio and Sam and Eve get some in together. Sam and I haven’t had as many dates as I would like, but his parents have watched Eve for us for some stretches of time so we can have some time just the two of us or with friends.
While I don’t always see my friends as much as I would like, I think that has less to do with being a mom and more to do with everyone being busy. I have managed some to squeeze in some girls’ time, potluck dinners at our home with friends, go to my bookclub (which I started five years ago, wowza!) and the occasional meal out. We have also been able to see both of our families quite frequently. As the only grandchild so far on both sides, our parents (not to mention my sister) never tire of seeing Eve.
Sometimes I feel that blogging consumes to much of my business time, but as I get closer to weeks where I have shows (as I do this week), then my time shifts and I spend more time on making jewelry or prepping.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have some magic formula down for finding that perfect balance. Like everyone else, I have days (most, in fact) where I barely put a dent into my to-do list. I go through waves of feeling stressed and like my business is going nowhere or that I am not attentive enough to Eve or that my blog numbers are really low. I have days where I will neglect my e-mail and then start to feel overwhelmed by it and don’t even want to open it. My house will always be cluttered.
But sometimes I am able to just let it all go. I could, in theory, work all night until I go to bed. There is the occasional night where that happens. But I’m learning to let things go, to just spend a night relaxing with Sam, eating dinner with him or watching something on Netflix after Eve has gone to bed.
While I am still figuring out this whole life with a baby thing, I have a found things to be important to maintaining a semblance of balance.
1. Finding a routine
I find it helps to have set days of the week where certain things happen, whether it be grocery shopping, a weekly activity Eve and I attend together, or having certain days where she is in childcare. I like knowing when I can expect to get certain things done.
2. Planning things out
Since the time I have Eve in childcare is so limited, I make sure I know exactly what I need to get done in that time and power through. I have never used four hour so efficiently!
I also find meal planning to be key to not feeling overwhelmed at the grocery store and to make sure that Sam and I get in a couple meals together. On Monday mornings we will often go through a couple cookbooks together (our favorites right now are by Jane Hornby) and pick out a couple recipes we want to make. We’ll make the shopping list, I’ll go to the grocery store with Eve and cook that night and Sam another night that week. That means a couple meals together and lots of delicious leftovers for the week.
3. Allowing some time for spontaneity
I know this is a little contradictory to the first two, but I have found I cannot have everything all planned out. Sometimes after an activity with Eve some moms and I will decide to go for a walk or grab a bite to eat, or I’ll text a friend in the neighborhood to see about getting together. I do this even when I know I have a lot of work to do, because I really thrive on human interaction and find it helps to clear my head a bit.
I feel like communication among couples really changes when a baby comes into the picture. Sam and I have a shared Google calendar that allows us to see when the other person has something to do in the evenings or the weekends because obviously now someone has to watch the baby. I also try to communicate what’s on my mind with Sam, whether I need to catch up on sleep and have him do Eve’s early-morning feed or that I really need to get some work done. Obviously Sam and I don’t always communicate well with each other, but I think we have vastly improved since Eve was first born.
What are your tips for maintaining balance in life?