Thursday, October 18, 2007


I've been stuggling to balance my life recently. My clear three hours work slot in the mornings, isn't really enough, when I get a client with a big proofreading and editing job and a deadline of yesterday.

My blog has been an abandoned space recently, with a crazy week last week of trying to get ahead with my work blog, prepare the house for my parents' arrival on the Thursday, think ahead to Youngest's birthday the next day and make enough time to spend with them all.

Charlotte's post came to mind, when the very evening of their arrival, I got an urgent e-mail from a potential client with an e-book that needed editing …preferably yesterday. I put aside Saturday to do it in, relying on my parents to keep the children entertained and vice versa.

Friday was the birthday - sacrosanct, devoted to presents and baking cheese biscuits for the party, picking strawberries for the birthday cake and oops! thinking up a treasure hunt. Middle daughter's birthday had been a triumph of inspiration and planning, at least in retrospect. Youngest's was a case of last minute winging it.

We had to go and sign some papers in our local town, just before the party and, all the way in and back, I was mulling over stories for the treasure hunt, working out possible clues, hoping for inspiration - it duly arrived, enough at least to keep a five year old happy, and I ran about like a mad thing on my return, fifteen minutes before the guests were due to arrive, to put the clues round and hide the treasure.

On Saturday with my dedicated in-house baby sitting service, I managed to spend seven clear hours at the computer and finished the editing and proofreading of the e-book, setting aside Monday morning for any revisions. Sunday I kept myself away from the dreaded machine, except to decorate my poor sad blog with some strawberries to cheer it up.

Monday was when my precarious balance toppled. The e-book had come to me in multiple files and now needed formatting, plus there were some more separate files to edit. I was enjoying the project, (a really useful book on breastfeeding) and liked the clients, so wanted to do my best for them.

But computer time is completely intellectual, your physical body gets no recognition. By the end of the day, when I had taken just a lunch break and a tea break, (after having forgotten about picking the kids up from school and having to phone up to say I'd be late), I was chilled to the bone. All my energy had been focussed and directed into my computer. I was irritable and snapping, muttering savagely under my breath, when an email wouldn't send, a veritable prima donna at her first performance!

I'd done the work, but had had to abandon all the other parts of my daily routine, the physical things, the nurturing things, the emotional and spiritual things. It amazed me how physically wiped out I was, it was like I'd had a fever - my head ached, my digestion had shut down! I went to bed with a hot water bottle and my winter pyjamas.

So now I need to find ways of balancing crazy deadlines with home life and being realistic about how much work I can do in a day. The trouble is I enjoy the work, I was feeding on the buzz of getting it done and creating a pleasing, integrated book from a jumble of differently formatted files.

Anyway today, I enjoyed sauntering over to my sister-in-laws house to do the laundry, looked at the flowers, tasted some ripe mulberries from her tree, edited some copy for another client, set some bread dough to rise, wrote a bit, sat with youngest as she had her snack ..that is balanced. Hopefully I'm learning to pace myself. Any tips on keeping your sanity and your family intact under pressure of deadlines are gladly welcomed!

P.S. I think under the circumstances I'll give NaBloPoMo a miss this year, no need to add more deadline pressure to my fledgling professional balance!


  1. I am always amazed at the women bloggers who can blog and have small children. I know I couldn't have blogged when my children where little. I felt the days flew by with so much to do and keep up with. I use to dream of all the things I would do when my children got older.
    It is a hard task to balance home family love friends work social and personal time. Very hard.
    You darling amaze me look you wiped a strawberry cake in all this activity!!

  2. tell me about it... i have been flat out this week as well, running from one thing to the next and really not taking care of myself or those around me. it's when i find myself getting angry over a 9-month old wriggling when i change him that i realise i have to take a step back and stop taking everything so seriously or rather to always agree to help everyody and their dog out, accept every invitation to a play date... etc.
    and there is me thinking that i'll be able to go back to uni in jan! maybe i should give up that thought altogether!

  3. Hi Kit! First of all, congratulations on all that freelance work that is winging your way. That must feel fabulous.

    The balance is essential. I'm by no means the poster child for balance, but these are some of things I do:

    1. Make sure that at least once in the day, I have a little time to do something I enjoy: have a walk, listen to the radio, drink a cup of coffee in the sun.

    2. I'm tough on my clients. No-one is allowed to send me a huge document and expect it edited by tomorrow. I always pad the deadlines slightly upfront if I can. On the flip side, I am religious about a deadline once it is set and make sure I always meet it.

    3. I try to break up big jobs into manageable chunks. I'm contributing chapters to a book right now, and this will keep me busy until Christmas. However I am submitting chapter by chapter, and I only think about the chapter I am writing now. I put the others right out of my head. If I didn't I would freak out, and that's not productive!

    4. I balance the kinds of jobs I take on. Right now, I'm doing three different kinds: writing some journalism-style pieces, writing these very technical book chapters and rewriting some papers that already exist. The journalism feels like a holiday from the technical stuff, so it gets done really quickly.

    It sounds to me like you're doing brilliantly. Glad to hear you made sure to take a break when you could. It will all start to shuffle into place, I assure you.

  4. You are the good kind of busy!

    Go South Africa!! My family will be rooting for you tonight in the rugby match grand finale!!

  5. I'm sure you will figure out a good balance soon....these are just the birthing pains of a new life!


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!