This is the final post in my series on blogging as a profession and working from home in general. To read the whole series, click here.
A couple of weeks ago I promised to share a glimpse of my day-to-day life as a work-at-home mom blogger. Of course, at that point we were wrapping up summer vacation, and our days were still pretty scattered and disorganized!
But now that I’m a week into the school year, we’re beginning to flesh out the bones of our routine again. I can’t say every day is exactly the same, but the following routine is pretty typical:
7 AM: Wake up. If I get out of bed quickly enough, I see my teenagers off (they get themselves up around 6:15 and handle their own breakfasts and such) and then have a few quiet moments before I wake up the younger boys. I admit though that sometimes I lie in bed until 7:15 or so and call out my “Love You’s!” as they’re walking out the door.
7:25 AM: Wake younger boys. They dress and come downstairs and I make them breakfast. Sometimes it’s eggs or pancakes and bacon, but more often it’s cereal or toast. I pull their lunches out of the fridge, take down the snack basket so they can choose, and sit and chat with them while they have breakfast. Then it’s ten minutes or so of supervision to make sure they get out the door by 7:55.
8:00 AM: Sit down with a cup of tea and start my work day. I usually make my task list the night before, when my mind is warmed up, so I just sit down, pick something off the list and get started.
What might be on that list? It depends on the day. Sometimes I’ll sit right down and start writing, but there are always other tasks that need to be done, too: working with Sarah to coordinate images for posts, checking the Facebook page, answering emails from sponsors, and making sure I’ve met my commitments on different assignments.
But one of the reasons I brought Sarah on as Managing Editor is to help me manage! So I’m happy to say that these days I spend a whole lot more time writing and a whole lot less on details than I used to. I’d say that overall, I split my time something like this: 40% writing, 20% creating other kinds of content (photos, podcasts, video), 30% emailing and details, and 10% dreaming up new ideas.
9:30 – 10 AM: Clara gets up. Yep, you read that right. The girl sleeps in like nobody’s business, and I can get a LOT done in that morning stretch. (Look for a post next week on how Clara is spending her days, since she’s not going to preschool this year.)
10 – 11 AM: I get Clara’s breakfast, get her dressed/washed/teeth brushed, and quickly wrap up loose ends from the morning before putting on my workout clothes and heading out the door.
11 AM – 1 PM: Clara and I go to the gym. I drop her off at the child care center, then I work out for 45 minutes or so, then take a shower and get dressed. If there’s time (the gym daycare closes at 1) I’ll sometimes send a few emails in the gym café.
1 PM – 4 PM: This is the most unstructured part of our day. Usually I go back home and set Clara up with a quiet activity while I work.
Jon works a couple of days a week from home as well, so if I’m doing something that requires a period of quiet, like recording a podcast, he’ll often take Clara out of the house for a while.
When I have video projects to do, I generally set aside an afternoon when Clara is at a friend’s or family member’s house. Video is a family affair, with Jon filming and sometimes big kids helping to move equipment around.
My brother-in-law Scott does our editing, so when we’re working on a video it often turns into an all-day project with the three adults hashing out the storyline and structure and whichever adult isn’t working at that moment dealing with the kids, dinner, etc. It’s a lot of work, but it’s so much fun.
On other days, especially if I had a really productive morning, we’ll do something fun like bake cookies in the afternoon. I plan one afternoon a week for errands and another for a fun outing, like a trip to the library, playground or children’s museum. This is also the time of day that Clara will often have a friend come over for a few hours. If there is any prep work that needs to be done for dinner, or if I’m making something that takes a lot of time like a roast, I’ll use this time to get that process moving, too.
4:15 PM:Owen and William get home from school. Jacob has tennis practice right after school, so he won’t get home for another hour or so. Isaac, who’s in middle school, gets home at 3:30 but he usually wants to decompress for a while so I don’t really see him much until 4:30 or so.
When the boys are all home, I shut down my computer and hang out with them for a while. The younger boys sit have a snack at the island while I take a look at their school papers. Anything that I need to sign or pay special attention to, I ask the boys to put in the inbox on my desk so I can deal with it when I’m prepared.
We also use this time for packing lunches, while I’ve still got plenty of energy. If I wait until evening, I’m always grumpy!
By 4:45 or so the boys are off to play for a little while before starting their homework. I usually check my email one last time and deal with anything that needs to be done by the end of the business day.
5:00 – 6:30 PM: This is when I kick off my “Kitchen Hour”, which is usually more like an hour and a half. I’ll put on a podcast or some music, deal with any dirty dishes still in the sink (or have one of the boys deal with them while we chat), and start dinner.
The kids come in and out – sometimes they help with dinner, sometimes they do their homework at the island, and sometimes they come in there to screw around and wrestle with each other – which is when I kick them out!
There are days, of course, when we don’t have a big dinner all together – like nights when the kids have some activity or other, or days when Jon or I have lots of work on our plates and need to use some of that evening time to get it all done. But I aim for a full-on home cooked family meal at least 3 nights per week.
6:30 – 8:00 PM: Dinner, clean-up, reading time, a final homework check, baths and pajamas…this part of the evening goes by in a blur.
8:00 – 8:30 PM: The kids (slowly) head to bed, and I jump online again, check in with Facebook and Twitter, read blogs, etc. By this time of day my brain is starting to wear out, so it’s not a great time for me to do work that requires concentration. Mostly I just mess around.
8:30 – 9:30 PM: Time to relax a little. I might fold a load of laundry in front of the TV, have a glass of wine and flip through a magazine, or talk with Jon. If I’m up for it we might watch a movie, but most nights I’m too tired to keep my eyes open that late!
10:00 PM: I put on my pajamas, brush my teeth, wash my face, and flop into bed where I play Candy Crush until I’m out of lives. Then I read. Sometimes I make it through a few chapters without a problem, but some days I fall asleep in the first paragraph with my Kindle still in my hand…and the next morning it starts all over.
You know what I realized in typing all this out? I work hard and stay busy, but working from home doesn’t mean I sit in front of my computer all day. I’m actually out, about, and away from my screen more than I thought, and that makes me happy.
I also realized how much life has changed for me since I first started writing as a career ten years ago. I no longer have little babies and curious toddlers to juggle, and that makes my work life easier and more forgiving. If you’re in the trenches and trying to start a business at the same time, hang in there! It really does get easier, and the foundation you build now in those stolen moments of time will allow you to soar when your minutes free up a little.
Finally, one of the nicest things about blogging for a living is the way my family and work lives mesh. When I’m baking cookies or hanging out at the playground or just sitting on the sofa with my kids, chances are good some great topic for a post is going to pop into my head.
I try to remind myself that not all writing happens sitting in front of a computer…living is what gives me inspiration and ideas for my blog. Many times I’ve worked through the details of a post while sitting on a park bench, and that counts as writing/working, too.
It’s just another reason I feel so fortunate that I can feed my family…by writing about family life! Blogging isn’t for everyone, but it’s the perfect fit for my personality, talents and the season I’m in right now.
If you think it might be a great fit for you, I hope the series of posts about pro blogging have inspired you. I have to say that just typing all this out has inspired me by reminding me how much I love my work. My work is my life, my life is my work, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
While we’ll still be publishing posts about working from home from time to time, this “day in the life” is my final post in the pro-blogging/WAH series I started over the summer. But if you’re an aspiring blogger or business owner, look out for the WAH mentoring and coaching program I’ll be launching later this fall. If you want to make sure you don’t miss it, shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and put “WAHM” in the subject line.