In addition to being a full time stay at home mom homeschooler, I’m a photographer. I mean full on, business license, pay my taxes, legit photographer. I love taking photos, but it isn’t just a hobby for me. Our income depends on me working a few sessions a month.
It varies greatly how many hours I work a week outside of the home, with at least one day a week I leave the house and go edit/write/email/ etc from 9-5pm. Yes I hate being away from my babies for a full day, but they have a blast with their Daddy or Grammy. I try to put off computer work until that “work day”, but something always comes up and I usually work 2-3 hours or so a day when we are just at home together or at night time when the kids are asleep. My husband and I are also in the ministry, he full time, and I help him when he needs me to.
After years and years of battling how I can work and be a mom at the same time, I do believe that my husband and I have a good system down. I’ve written about him here and here and I have to say first and foremost, if I didn’t have his support, I would be horribly burnt out and stressed 100% of the time. I do not believe I would be able to homeschool and work without him.
In addition to my awesome guy, here’s a few more thoughts about balance. I don’t have it all figured out, not a bit, and things may change next week, I just don’t know. Finding the balance is so horribly hard and we don’t always succeed at it. But we can always bring it to the Lord and see what He would have us put the majority of our time into.
1. Banish your guilt from the project at hand.
I found early in my photography career, that I needed to edit a lot while the kids were awake and around. Instead of just resting in the fact that they would be super happy and blissful while I allowed them to eat snacks and watch a fun movie, I would be wracked with guilt over not “being” with them. I would let this guilt spill over into my attitude towards the kids and become stressed and bugged whenever they would need something from me while I was editing.
If you need to work, then just work! Sure it may take you 5x longer to do the job if you have your kids around you, but so what? At this very moment, Lily is sitting next to me and I’m helping her with little “Explode the Code” pages. Would I like to write in total silence while sipping my coffee and reflecting on the day? Sure! Who wouldn’t?! But that is not the place in life I am. If I want to write in silence, I need to get up at 5am, simple as that. Yes sometimes Mommy needs time to work alone and in that case the iPad and snacks are a huge help. It’s reality people.
2. Find help.
Do you understand this concept yet? I keep drilling it into you. I’m not saying go out and make best friends with 100 other homeschoolers. I’m saying find someone who is in your corner! Maybe it is another homeschooling mom, maybe it is a friend, maybe a babysitter. You don’t have the money to hire a babysitter? Figure out a trade. Just find help. Instead of saying “woes me I’m alone and stressed” be proactive and find help.
3. You can’t give 100% of yourself to all the hats you wear at the same time.
Something always has to give. You are absolutely incapable of balancing everything you need to do equally. Balance doesn’t work that way. When we think of balance we think of a hanging scale, family, homeschool, kids are on one side and work is on the other. To be “balanced” each side needs to weigh the same, and have the same amount of time put into it. This is so wrong its not even a little bit wrong its horribly wrong. If you’re waiting for some amazing revelation about balance in your life, you’ll be waiting forever.
You’re going to give the majority of your time to the thing that you care most about. What I care most about is my family. That is why I only take on a few sessions a month. I absolutely love photography and the families I get to photograph. I would be doing my clients a disservice if I took on too many sessions. I put a lot of time into those clients and I hope they feel that. I can only take on a few sessions and feel like I’m giving my all to them and to my life at home.
We do without a lot of luxuries so that I can stay at home and homeschool. We don’t have a car payment, we’ve purchased a house we can afford, I thrift 80% of all of our clothing and buy the rest clearance, we tithe…and on and on. This is what we have done to maintain the balance in our home. But I still have to work, we couldn’t make it without it, so I do.
4. Early mornings or late evenings.
I’m sorry…but there’s no way I can get everything I need to get done without staying up late. I’m not a morning person, but I do try to get up before the kids and at least down one cup of coffee and have a quick convo with Jesus before the kids are up. I’m working on making that more consistent. I stay up late, writing, editing, just spending time with my husband…I can’t go to bed at 10pm and get everything accomplished.
5. Early bedtimes for the kids.
Bedtimes are between 7-8pm. The older kids get to read until 9pm, but no one comes out of their rooms. I’ve always been a firm believer in early bedtimes. Kids need sleep. Daddy and Mommy need to spend time together. Unless he and I have cleared it with each other, we don’t make plans at night. We usually end up watching tv and just “being”. Sometimes we have to work and that usually means dueling laptops on the couch (Mac vs. HP!)
6. Just say no.
I’m not even going to write anything about this. Just go read Erin’s post on striving and fear…it is well worth it.
I’m going to end this now because honestly, only the Lord can really give us the real advice. I’m just a flawed mom who messes up and the Lord keeps having to forgive. But I know as long as I keep Him as the center of our family and keep our family esteemed above all worldly things, that at least I will be doing something right! So I encourage you to sit down with the Lord, ask Him how to move things around and allow you more time with Him, more time with your kids, more time doing the things that are WORTH your time. Then friends, I truly feel you’ll see the pieces fall into place.