Question: would you ask someone working in an office or attending a public school to hang out, watch your kid or feed your cat during a work day? I’m guessing not. So why, then, would you ask a freelancing, homeschooling mom to do the same?
Recently, I’ve had a rash of friends suggest that because I’m a homeschooling, freelancing mom, I have “no schedule,” “no plans,” “flexibility,” and “don’t really have anything to do.” Therefore, they’ve determined that I should be free to get together during the week, volunteer all my “extra time” to various organizations, and help watch their children, cats and plants while they go to their “real jobs” at their “offices.”
OK, let me clear up a few things:
- My daughter and I DO have schedules, although they haven’t been created by a boss or public school
- My kid DOES go to school… Her school building, however, isn’t owned by the state, it’s in our home. She has an area set up with her books, and has a schedule for getting her work done (Monday – Friday, just like public school!)
- I DO have an office… At home. This means that while I don’t have a water-cooler, I do have work that must be done in a timely manner
- Unlike Timothy Ferriss, the dude who wrote ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’, I actually spend the majority of my waking hours on my work… And I’m OK with that
- I’m a single mom… I’m also father, school teacher, primary (ONLY) breadwinner, house-cleaner, laundress, cook, grocery shopper, field trip chaperone, etc.
Fact of the matter is, I DO want to spend time with all of you, help volunteer, work at your stores, watch your kids, cats and plants (OK, not really your cats… I’m not a cat person… Please quit asking). But to suggest that you’re asking us to hang out or help out because I don’t “work” or am “less busy” than your other pals… Well, just keep reading.
In case you’re wondering what I do all day, here’s a look at a day in the life. Let’s take a typical Monday during the 2013-2014 school year:
- 4:45 - 5:30 – Wake up, check my six email addresses, respond to emails, drink my tea
- 5:30 – 8:00 – Write blog posts, maintain blogs, work on marketing/social media
- 8:00 – 10:30 – Work on freelance projects for private clients, participate in conference calls about work projects
- 10:30 – 12:00 – The kid wakes up. Make sure she’s fed, knows what she’s expected to do for the morning, work on science class and history lessons with her
- 12:00 – 1:45 - Continue working on freelance projects while the kid continues with independent projects, math, practicing her cello, etc. (On call for when my kid has questions)
- 1:45 – 2:00 – Take a fast shower, drag a comb through my hair, and leave the house with wet hair
- 2:00 – 3:00 - Subway from Bushwick to the Upper West Side of Manhattan; eat lunch on the train; read/write.
- 3:00 – 5:00 - Arrive at the American Museum of Natural History, where my kid takes a science class – I also tag along so that I can: A) know the content being taught; B) assist my kid at home
- 5:00 – 6:00 - Subway ride to a local literacy group
- 6:00-7:00 – Kid works as an assistant violin teacher with a group of 15 other kids while I volunteer
- 7:00 – 8:30 – Walk home (1/2 hour); stop at grocery store; make/eat dinner
- 8:30 – 9:30 – While I respond to emails from the day, the kid reviews her work from the day, works on writing her novel, or practices her cello again
- 9:00 – 10:00 – Take a ‘breather’ and watch something silly with the kid (Dr. Who!)
- 10:00 – 11:00 – While the kid either writes or practices cello again, I attack my freelance work again for the day
- 11:00 – 2:00 – The kid goes to bed; I stay up late to finish my work, as well as work on my own projects (my own novel or my new book project, ADVICE TO MY THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD SELF)
So, there you have it. A “day-in the life.” I work 12.5 hours on my freelance and personal projects, another 8 hours either homeschooling or parenting… That’s 17.5 hours a day (Monday – Friday) devoted to my work and my daughter.
Now, I ask that you quickly note both the times I wake and when I go to sleep, and ask when you think I might rearrange my schedule to get together for dinner, watch your cat (!!!), or water your plants?
All of this isn’t to say we don’t build times into our schedules to just “hang out.” We DO. But generally only on weekends, and not during the half day we spent at cello classes on Saturday, and not if I need to work further on a freelance project that might make or break whether I can put food on the table for my kid. Also, I sleep in on weekends. It’s important that I make up for some of the rest I don’t get on weekdays!
Friday evenings are good. So are Saturday nights and Sundays. And, on occasion, I’ll make social plans on a weeknight. But please know that if I do, that it means I’ll be struggling for the rest of the week. Yes, my schedule is “flexible,” but I generally only exercise that flexibility when we’re sick, when we need a day of rest, for doctor’s appointments, and while we’re traveling.
Believe me, I’m not griping about how I’ve structured my life. I’m just hoping that after reading this post, you’ll understand that while I wish there were two of me, there aren’t. Just little ole me, trudging happily along, one day at a time, working my ass off. I work incredibly hard because there are important things that I want to accomplish: to publish both a novel AND my recent non-fiction project; to turn my travel “hobby” into a career; to give as much of myself to my kid as she continues her homeschooling adventures.
Now, is it almost Friday night? ‘Cause I’m already relishing that glass of wine I share with you and can picture the fun I’ll have with your kids. I might even sing to your plants, should you need such a thing. (Just please- no cats. For now on, I’m saying NO to cats.)