Thursday, November 01, 2007

Balancing Act

I need just about 10 more hours in a day and I will be fine. Do you think that is possible?

When I graduated from college I got a job at a small PR firm. After Chris was born I was able to work out a deal where I worked 3 days from home and 2 days in the office. I really wanted to be able to stay home with the kids, yet at the same time we needed the extra income. So it was a perfect scenario. In September 2000 I went out on my own. My boss was moving to Minnesota and I wanted to stay home with the kids fulltime. Luckily a large client stayed with me, plus I found other small jobs here and there. Up until this point working from home was pretty easy. Emily was 4 and in preschool. Chris still napped. I took care of calls and such during that time and finished any worked after they went to bed. Sure there were late nights, but it was doable.

When I was pregnant with Allison I found out that my large client was being bought out. I stopped freelancing and contracting, and in the end it was a blessing. There was no way I would have been able to work considering all involved with my pregnancy and her care. Plus who knows what kind of material I would have sent to clients considering my emotional state for the first few years. In August 2005 I started contracting again. The workload was small and the kids schedules were still manageable. I continued to contract small projects after we moved, and again, the workload was so small that it hasn't been a big deal –– until now.

As I said a few weeks ago I have picked up a new client. The project has escalated into a much larger project, with four new things being added in the past week and a half. I missed Sam's preschool Halloween party because I had to go to a meeting. Emily had to miss practice Monday because I was called into an emergency meeting, Matt couldn't get out of a photoshoot he was doing for work and my neighbor's were gone. Now until January will be non-stop work. Add in 3 new projects since last Friday from Cat. My small workload has tripled in the past few weeks. And the other person I am tentatively scheduled to do some work for is supposed to give me project details in the next week or so.

Three years ago this would have been no problem. Today it has turned into a crazy balancing act. I have three kids in three different schools. Sam is only in school 3 days a week for half a day. Emily and Chris have homework. Emily has gymnastics practice 4-5 days a week. Chris has football 3 days a week. That ends next week, but then he starts basketball. Sam has her gymnastics class once a week. The kids have youth group and AWANAS on Sunday nights. We have bible study Friday nights. I have PTA, booster club, gymnastics meets, volunteering at the school, teaching Sunday School once a month. Matt is busier than he has ever been at work and leaves this Sunday for a 2 week trip to Europe.

Our travel schedule is crazy. We have three more meets this year and four in the winter. I have to fly to Illinois and to Atlanta for work in December and January. Emily and I are flying to Las Vegas for her meet in January. Matt will be in Arizona for probably 5 weeks in January and February. Our whole family is flying back to Ohio in February. Matt is at a trade show in Las Vegas for 8 days in March. We go to Thailand in April for 10 days. And that is just all the travel we know of so far. Plus Christmas and Thanksgiving.

We don't eat dinner until almost 8 every night, but that is because we believe we should sit down and eat together and that is normally the time we can do so. I am just having a hard time figuring how to juggle it all. Work, family, activities, friends. Next year should be easier with Sam going to kindergarten, but then that is what I thought with her going to preschool. Needless to say, right now a Orlando vacation home rental sounds really, really good.

I know there are others out there like us and I would love some ideas on how to balance it all. Fellow WAHMs I would love some suggestions on just how to get what I need done in the time frame I have and running these kids everywhere. Being a WAHM was much easier with two small children than with three active ones.


VAIL said...

Whew! I am tired after reading that. I am not a SAHM, I work full time - but I think your schedule sounds much worse than mine right now!
Are there grandparents nearby that can help with running to practices/games?
It looks like something really needs to give - so priortize. As much as I would love to - I am just not able to be an officer in the PTA/booster club/school volunteer. My hubby and I juggle practices and games. I try to never schedule to after school events on the same night. (Eldest has piano on Thursdays, Middle has Girl Scouts Mondays, Younges has basketball on Fridays.)
Good luck!

lil ole' me..... said...

WOW! I have no idea how you even kept your eyes open long enough to type that post!
Your schedule makes my head spin just reading about it.
I wish I had some suggestions or advice, but unfortunately I've got nothing....
All I can say is WHEW!

Erin said...

I have no advice...but I'll pray for you that you'll have the grace and time to finish everything that needs to get finished and that you'll do it without losing your head : ) You are a crazy, wonderful woman and the fact that you were able to keep that all straight and list everything that you have to do speaks volumes about your organization skills (which you'll need for all that, lol).

paulickfam said...

WHEW is right. With 4 kids in 3 different schools; with swimming, karate, soccer and ballet. I am not involved with the PTO, just too much. The kids involvement is enough. And yet you failed to mention the laundry, dishes, cleaning and vacuuming. I don't have any beam of light suggestions except one. Keep praying!! Without prayer and God in our lives, I think I would have cracked 6 years ago. Good luck and keep your head up. There is one thing that everyone always asks me "how do you do it with 4 kids?" I just say, you just do. You do whatever it takes for your kids.

Jennifer said...

all I can say is you might want to hire a full time nanny! I'm busy myself and thought about hiring a cleaning/laundry lady..but never did.

and learn to say no:) which is my hard part

thinking of ya girly

Jamie said...

A, you know reading that put it all in perspective. Maybe at this point it would be ok to turn down projects insead of letting the J in you see $$ and you know I say that with as much love as possible. You and I are so alike in never saying no. Your plate is full and you have no more room for cake! You must stop because you know what in the end it will be us saying wait ...... what happened to the last 10 years? kwim??

it's me, Val said...

ITA with Jamie.

I'm almost as busy as you with two LITTLE kids. I can't imagine when they get bigger and older. I thought it slowed down when they got older. Guess not.

So I have no advice . . . sorry. But I will say that I am prideful in the fact that I DO say NO. A lot. When it comes to my clients, I can't say no, but when it comes to Noah's functions and my mom's group, I have said no plenty of times. I don't feel bad about it either. There just isn't time for everything and I'm afraid of, exactly what Jamie said, looking back and wishing for the last 10 years.

You can do it. You have to weigh your priorities. And if you really figure it out, let me know. :)

jennifer said...

As a fellow SAHM I can relate. I was you two years ago. With both older kids in the sport of the month club. practices every night, running to drop off, pick up and turn around and do it again hoping the traffic isnt too bad so one of the kids isnt standing there upset cuz Im late. All with a baby or toddler in the backseat making a mess with the toys and snacks your giving them to keep them happy. I volunteered at two different schools and so many days were spent there and afternoons and evenings were in the car getting home to eat between 8 and 9pm. Something had to give I was running myself down. So the kids are still doing there thing but the voluteering had to go to someone else. I will occasionally help when called but I will no longer be the one calling KWIM? you need to start letting go or you will make yourself ill and then who will take care of your kids????

Spice said...

We are the same way with all 3 in soccer, Caelie in Brownies, etc. We live up at the soccer fields!