As Mazen nears one, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my career, motherhood and how I’ve balanced it all over the past year. I am lucky to be able to make a living and take care of Mazen from my home. When I think of the thousands of you who pop in to say hello and share this space with me, I am truly thankful.
Sometimes I get sad when I tell people about my blog and say “I journaled every meal I ate for 5 years. But not anymore.” I miss my old style of blogging, as intense as it was at times. It’s so neat to be able to say I have those 5 years documented. Writing about topics is way harder than writing about daily food and life. People used to ask me “Is it hard to post 3 times a day?,” and I always told them no because my content was auto-generated. My Lately and Weekend posts do self generate in some ways, but I often get overwhelmed thinking about all the topics I want to write and the time and concentration I need to research and craft them.
A few months ago I stumbled upon some sample schedules of 9 and 10 month olds at Baby Center. I was shocked to read that the work-from-home moms said their kids played while they worked! Mazen sometimes plays independently, but never for long periods. And if I am on the computer, the dazzle of electronics captures all of his attention. Since turning 11 months, he has gotten a lot clingier, which I secretly love, but it makes it harder to work while he’s awake. Generally for most of the day, I have my attention on him.
Thus, I do most of my blog post writing, freelance work, emailing, phone calls, site maintenance and bakery duties during Mazen’s naps. If I’m lucky, that can be up to 3 hours a day. Of course that time has to include things like showering, so I’m not always working the entire time. But my philosophy has been “Spend naptimes doing things I can’t do when he’s awake” so I try to save naptimes for showering and computer work and do other household chores like laundry or food prep while Mazen is awake. Often I am scrambling to finish a post when I hear him start to wake up.
I also “work” a lot from my phone. Without it, emails and comments would pile up, and I would spend most of naptime catching up instead of creating. I often use the voice text feature on my phone to answer comments when I’m out walking or watching Mazen play. For that I apologize for the typos and lack of punctuation and if I ever seem short in my responses. I sort emails with a star/labeling system in Gmail and do all the blog fluff work like participating in social media from my phone : )
Some weeks I get way ahead and have time to spend naptimes doing things like reorganizing a closet, but other weeks, posts take a lot longer to write or a little crisis arises and I lose my momentum. It’s a constant battle between feeling ahead of the curve and feeling behind. Another post always needs to be written!
To help create the balance of work and personal time and the ongoing urge to work ahead, I started a new effort to take evenings off. After 5 years of blogging when dinner is over (and sometimes sitting down to edit photos and write a post at midnight after a wedding or event), I no longer have to be timely with my posts. The evenings are now mine to unplug. Sometimes I still find myself responding to emails, tweaking my blog’s design or looking at reports after dark, but usually it’s a night when Matt has gone to bed in preparation for an early morning at the bakery.
I am thinking about hiring a babysitter one afternoon a week so I can consolidate my work efficiently. Especially when Mazen drops to one nap, my opportunity to schedule calls and overall time to work will go down. I hesitate to hire help because it feels like a “want” more than a “need,” but when I talk to my mom and husband about this they both insist it’s a great idea.
This past year has been the most stressful of my life. Writing KERF, BERF and Real Health with baby Mazen was a lot to juggle, but….. it has also been the most rewarding and enjoyable year to date. I have never felt such a sense of purpose before, and I credit that feeling to having a good balance between family and a career I am proud of. Thank you all for making it possible!