Monday, June 9, 2014

Balancing Act

After a leisurely weekend that began with a graduation (congratulations, Kyle!) and ended with the Tony Awards (congratulations, Bill!), my daughter and I are are beginning the adventure known as summer vacation. My husband is part of this adventure too, of course, but since he works in the real world, whereas I work from home, his experience of it is somewhat different.

I've spent the last two weeks making as much progress on work goals as possible, knowing that once my daughter was home on a daily basis, I would need to make some adjustments. Although I'm not someone who is wedded to a rigid daily schedule, I do have daily goals that structure my day, particularly during the week. My daughter is no longer a toddler who needs each moment of the day orchestrated for her -- in fact most of the time, she's just as happy when I leave her to her own devices (her iPad, her phone, her Kindle, the TV and remote control) -- but I enjoy having her around. Consequently, I don't want to be so wrapped up in my own to-do list that I miss opportunities to do things with her.
So really, what it's all about is achieving some sort of balance, which has been the story of my life for as long as I can remember. When you work from home, achieving balance is tough to begin with, especially when you love what you do. It's much too easy for work to bleed into family time and conversely, for work breaks to extend into marathon movie-watching sessions. Since I don't punch a clock for an employer, technically I can work as little (or as much) each day as I want to -- something my family has difficulty understanding when they want my attention. I don't have to fill out a time sheet or meet a deadline (most of the time), so why can't I just "do that later"?

A few weeks ago, I started "sprinting." My allotted sprint time has been roughly two hours after I get up, about an hour and a half after my daughter leaves for school. I ease into the day, do a few of the online things that would otherwise start calling to me when I'm staring at a blank page, then settle into a chair in front of my laptop. It has worked well, in no small part because there's a small group of us #writingwithRamona, checking in with one another and holding each other accountable.

I'm hoping this sprinting is the key to achieving some sense of balance this summer. Although I hope to continue to sprint early in the day, the hour floats and can be dropped into the day anywhere. (Already it has begun to linger overhead like a dark cloud on the days I have not squeezed it in). The specific chunk of time gives me a sense of completion; even if I haven't finished my project, I've gotten concentrated work time in, so I can walk away guilt-free. I've done what I set out to do.

I know that all-too-soon, I won't have the option of hanging out with my daughter in a lazy summer sort
of way. Next week, she starts volunteering at her old day care center, 
and later this week, she'll take her driver's test. Our lazy days of summer are numbered, and if I want to enjoy them, I need to find a way to adjust my days to hers, whether she needs me to or not.

How about you? How does your life change once summer vacation begins?

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