Since becoming parents, the things we cherish in our lives have become more and more difficult to balance. We strive to go above and beyond with everything we do, and to surpass our own high expectations of ourselves, and it's hard work - the hardest these days.
My life has become a constant juggling act - juggling being a full time mum to our little adventurer, being an attentive wife, and being a successful owner of Leaff, all while trying to maintain relationships with family and friends, and taking some time for myself (which is the hardest thing of all).
Its been the toughest lesson of my life so far to manage all of these things at the same time - with many dropped balls. Yet in the last couple of weeks, I have finally felt like I have worked it out - not only do we need to schedule work time, we need to schedule personal time too.
I never liked the idea of scheduling personal time before we had Charlie - it felt way too structured for our laid back life, and I always thought that if our lives ever became that busy, we would just have to make sacrifices. But there are none to be made in this situation, as far as I'm concerned - I have to have it all.
So I was thinking, I can't be the only one who has been struggling with this - there are heaps of mums out there in exactly the same predicament, and heaps of dads too, who run a business from home as well as looking after their children. So here is how I've done it...
During the day time, my full attention is on being mum. When I first had Charlie, I struggled so much with boundaries between running Leaff and being mum. There is clearly huge responsibility with running a business, and keeping it moving forward, while at the same time, nothing is more serious to me than being the kind of mum I want to be. I didn't want to be in two places in my mind at once - in that situation, I couldn't give either my full attention, and so I would fail at both. So I quickly worked out that scheduling was key.
I check mail first thing in the morning while making breakfast, which Jay and I can then discuss before he heads off to work, and which also gives me chance to take action on anything pressing before he leaves. Jay often comes back for lunch, and when he does, I take the opportunity to check mail again then, to discuss over lunch. In between these times, unless Charlie is napping, the iPad is off.
Naps are vital. Vital for keeping the house tidy and clean, for food shopping online, and for cooking lunch. Now that Charlie is a little older and enjoys some time playing alone, I usually manage to tidy up straight after each meal while he is still in his high chair and entertained. So, the rest of the chores, and a little me time, have been scheduled for naps - though there is only one nap a day now, for a max of 40 minutes, so scheduling is essential...
Monday naps are cooking time, when I'll use the time to cook a double batch of the most time consuming lunch of the week. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are Pilates days, where I use the naps to keep in shape and maintain strength.
Wednesdays are shopping days, where I can focus on our health. I take food shopping very seriously - even more so since having Charlie and becoming veggie. It entails writing a meal plan for the week ahead, and ordering online. Seriously, thank goodness for food deliveries.
Fridays are 'deep clean' days. As long as I can get the 'chemical work' done while Charlie naps (polishing, bathroom cleaning etc), then i can do things like making the beds and putting washing away when Charlie is playing around me - he loves to help with these things!
Every night, Monday through to Thursday, is focussed entirely on Leaff. Jay usually gets home just as I've put Charlie down, so I crack straight on while he makes supper, and after we have eaten, we come together and work really hard all evening. This sometimes means very late nights, but we really strive to at least sit down with a brew at the end of it, to wind down before bed.
Friday nights are all about our personal space. Jay kicks back with his guitar, and records, and I can be found in a very deep bubble bath, reading and pampering myself. Not only is it an essential time for us to properly relax, it is perfectly placed at the end of the week, as something we focus on all week to get us through.
Saturday nights are dedicated to us - whether we are alone or socialising with friends or family. We use these nights to enjoy something extra special for supper, grab a celebratory tipple, and chill out together in front of a movie - or just listen to music and talk. This is such valuable time for us and our relationship - with or without company, we can just be Jay and Kate, rather than Mum and Dad.
Sunday nights are all about sleep! Charlie still wakes during the night, so on top of our incredibly busy weeks, we are still juggling sleep deprivation! We used to find it so hard when it came to the weekend, because it felt like the sensible time to get early nights, yet that always made us feel robbed of time to enjoy some time out together. So with our allocated time to enjoy on Friday and Saturday nights, we dedicate Sunday nights entirely to sleep. On these days, we ensure that we have supper with Charlie at 4pm, and one of us cleans up while the other gets the routine prep done. This means that by the time Charlie has gone down at 6pm, we are free of all chores, and all that is left to do is have a brew and slip into bed, which sets us up perfectly for the new week ahead.
I hope that by sharing this new found scheduling system of mine, those of you reading this in a similar position, can take something from it. I would've loved to have worked this out much sooner than I did! It's regimented and it's anal, but it's a way to have it all.