Friday, August 02, 2013

balance / juggle

white and green blooms, kraft paper, black grosgrain ribbon / a succulent installation / bougainvillaea; hints of pink 

Do you think it's possible for mothers to find balance? I used to think it was but now I'm not so sure.

Whenever I'm in doubt I go back to The Divided Heart and flick through the now dog-eared pages, attempting to find an empathetic voice. It's a relief to join the conversation there, or read it, at least. I think most of us, in the early (naive) stages of motherhood, think that we'll find the perfect balance between work and home, art and mothering. But then as our family grows and the demands increase we realise that in actual fact, juggling is the norm.

I'll admit that I'm not the best juggler. If I was to describe my juggling style it would probably be "uncoordinated". In the past year I've juggled more than I ever have  - two parents working freelance wreaks havoc on a schedule and makes for some interesting last-minute plans. You see, when you do work freelance, particularly in a creative field, you take every bit of work that's offered to you because you know that if you decline, it's unlikely you'll get another opportunity. There's always a fear of drought! Thankfully (and gratefully!) Daniel and I have had some wonderful proposals lately, and we're embracing them. This means that for the next six weeks Daniel will be to-and-fro from the city and I'll be attempting to meet two big deadlines. For the first time since I became a mother I'm searching for babysitters other than family because I need as much work time as I can get. 

I'm surrendering to the fact that the next little while will be a new level of crazy but come mid-September the work will be finished, the deadlines will be met and we'll be furiously packing (the night before, no doubt) for our first overseas holiday as a family. Till then, deep breaths.


28 COMMENTS

  1. One day at a time - the balance will return! :-)

    http://tinajoathome.com/

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  2. I completely understand where you're coming from. I am in the same freelance baby juggling boat, and I feel most fulfilled and happiest on the days that I've found that balance. It's not possible every day, it just isn't. Sometimes your kids will spend 2 hrs watching Wallace and Grommit because you just have to meet your deadline (that may have happened in my house this morning). But, that also may mean that you have an entire afternoon to spend with them at the pool. I rely on family A LOT to make my schedule work for me, I couldn't do it without my mother's help. I've also found it extremely helpful to become part of my local parenting community. Many of the moms I've met watch other peoples' children. I know at least half a dozen women whom I trust that I could call if I needed flexible childcare. It's also great, because they're a lot more reliable and grounded than say a college student. Last but not least, I find staying organized to be incredibly important. I try to get up early and have my work to do list written before my daughter wakes up. This really helps structure the limited time I have for work, and be present as a mother for the rest of the day.

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    1. That was really helpful reading that Sarah. Can I ask what time you wake up in the mornings and what time your daughter wakes up?
      Ronnie xo

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    2. Ronnie, I usually wake up about 6:45, and she likes to sleep until 7:30-8:00. I only need about 15 minutes or so to make my list, but of course the longer the little one snoozes the more I'm able to get out of the way early.

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    3. Sarah, I really appreciate your insights. You're so lucky to have such a large circle of trustworthy friends to support you x

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  3. All that hard work pays off and you have a awesome trip to look forward too :-)

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  4. It's definitely a constant juggle. Week to week, and day to day...
    I'm so excited for your first overseas holiday as a family!
    Ronnie xo

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    1. p.s. Jodi, do you have any tips to share in terms of how you focus on writing when the children are around? I find this so hard to do, and yet, I'm never out of earshot of the boys.

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    2. We live in a rather small house so when I am working I'm in the midst of family life or only one room away (with the door closed). If I am writing and the kids are near I try to focus on the more practical tasks - returning emails, writing advertorial, or basic editorial. But you know what is the best key to focus? - an impending deadline. It works every time! x

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  5. I don't think balance is possible. But I do think that it is okay. Not everything has to be perfect. Some weeks it will be all about the children, others works, and somewhere in between maybe you can fit yourself in. But I like it. The ebb and flow of life changes and it is more about finding a rhythm that works for the now.

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  6. That's it in a nutshell....the juggle! Some days the balls circle together in the air just so and others, they scatter all over the floor. Wishing you the perfectly synchronised juggling act over the next few weeks topped of with a specatacular adventure. xx

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  7. (Sorry I deleted this a second ago... second attempt, minus spilling tea on my keyboard :) )

    I believe that balance is possible. It may not be consistent, or easy to maintain, but with focus, a mindful approach and a gentle pace, mothers can achieve some semblance of balance day-to-day. I think there are also busy seasons and gentle seasons and that sometimes, the balance is off-kilter due to seasonal shifts - but it is by no means unobtainable - at least in small doses.

    I feel I have a gentle, semi-sustainable balance happening now - work/wife/mother/self - but it comes out of a time of no balance, and hitting rock bottom hard meant that I had to prioritise to be a healthy functioning entity. Work has time. Kids have time. Hubby gets time. I get time. It's still busy and by no means perfect but it is hanging in some kind of functioning balance. It is happening. Be encouraged!

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  8. I feel like I do. I think the key is having very small expectations of what ican actually get done in one day. I run a business from home and have a 9 month old baby and a 6 year old at school. I also meet regularly with a group of women to crochet and chat together. The baby comes to this. I feel like this 2 hours a week is very much " me time"

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    1. Whoops hadn't finished... The baby is with me 24/7 and I really just work around her...between the divided heart and some Gretchen ruben you will find all the answers!! I think it's all about flexibility... I don't want to sound smug at all but I feel like I have this balance because I feel happy and content! Xxx

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    2. I think I need to adopt "small expectations" because I naturally create very big, fanciful ones. This past year has definitely been a good lesson in flexibility x

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    3. I think the small is the key!!! X

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  9. I think what it comes down to is finding some kind of balance between your needs and their needs, whatever those needs might be. And it seems to be something that has to be constantly negotiated and realigned, not just a magic formula! Good luck for the next few weeks! Xx

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  10. It's so tricky...I'm always trying to work it out, feeling guilty that everyone is missing out on SOMETHING. And you know what? The only one that really does...is you. Look after yourself x

    Good luck!

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  11. Does balance matter? Are you just going to drive yourself to exhaustion focusing on balancing rather than living?

    I like to think of freelance and motherhood as more ebb and flow... Or like to think I like to think like that.

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    1. It is definitely ebb and flow but these next few weeks are more of a flood! In saying that, it's quite normal for me to have a slight freak out about what's to come and then take it in my stride during the actual process. We'll see. And I like your "I like to think I like to think like that" ;)

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    2. I'm completely the same about the flood freak out - you work so hard to bring in clients and new projects and when they hit at the same time, instead of celebrating the wins you panic about not enough time in the day. Pfft who'd be a freelancer?

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  12. Balance is subjective. My days and weeks are not equal but I feel "balanced". There is acceptance that life is always a bit of a see-saw. Completing some post grad studies recently was very hard. I started it before I had my little girl. Previously I was working full time in a very demanding job but it was NOTHING compared to trying to complete a thesis with a toddler in the house. I would often be struck with inspiration and want to write straightaway but I would be stuck at the park or in the dinner/ bath/ bed countdown. I need a quiet room to be able to hear my thoughts and large blocks of time to complete that process. Life in small home with small children is not conducive to that. I managed like others by getting up an hour and a half before my daughter (she would sleep until 7am) and many times, I would write after she went to sleep until four in the morning. I would be tired but I would be at peace as well. Feeling stressed because of looming, inescapable deadlines brings its own tight shouldered, tight lipped fatigue. When I am under deadline, apart from the lack of sleep, I actually take better care of myself. I make sure that I am in bed for 9 hours every night in weeks leading up to a busy period so I have a "full sleep account" (this is huge for me as prior to having children I would usually sleep about 5 hours a night). I won't drink wine, eat lots of raw veggies and do 15 minute cleaning frenzies. After busy periods, there is a sweetness to our days as I have a renewed appreciation for the chaos of parenting small children.

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    1. That "sweetness" is so lovely, isn't it. I know I can always look forward to that when I'm in the midst of a pile of work x

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    2. Thank you so much for your post Jodi, & your comments spark - I am currently trying to complete a thesis with a toddler running around. So far I have been managing with a nanny 2 mornings and 2 days of daycare...I have no idea how my full-time friends cope getting themselves & children ready & where they need to be on time 5 days a week! The flexibility of my schedule is my saving grace...

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  13. How well I "appear" to be balancing everything is directly inverse to the number of plates I'm spinning. I don't cope with Busy, since I completely lack the multitasking gene, so if I know I have a big week, say if I have exams or assessments due, then I have to sit down and really prepare the rest of my life in advance. So I might make a meal that will last 2 days, see if I can find someone else to get my kids to basketball, arrange things so I don't have to put anything in my head that's not essential, because I discovered that a crowded head leads to burnout. I think that is a type of balance, in the same way that a tightrope walker balances, until they fall off! I'd prefer not to balance, but have my feet firmly on the ground, then I don't have to worry about falling off. Make sense?

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  14. So nice reading your post. Refreshing to know I'm not alone, trying to juggle work, kids, life... So many make it seem they have it down pat! But I do love working freelance and the more opportunities it gives me to enjoy those small little moments with my children that I otherwise would miss. And its too exhausting putting on a face that I have a "perfect balance" Good luck with your deadline.

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  15. I am often pondering this very thing. How to find real balance. My new trick is to embrace the busy, and love it.

    So, I'm hanging on the for the ride too. You have lots to look forward to, and so have something to work towards!

    xx

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  16. These flowers are gorgeous.
    I'm not a mother, but I think we all struggle for balance.
    I hope that in our busy lives we don't lose sight of what's most important :)
    I'm glad I discovered your blog!

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