Making it work: Balancing a family, a job and artistic pursuits

Liz Kalloch, the lady who’s taken over organizing the monthly goal meetup has asked me to write a bit about how I keep my freelance biz going with a day job, kids and a husband. Although I have posted upon this very topic before, (here and here for example), those posts are a bit philosophical. What I’d like to do today is to focus on the brass tacks; talking specifically about things that I DO (or DON’T do) so I have time for making (and all that paperwork and marketing stuff that’s part of the package). Maybe there’s a couple of things that I do that could help you find some creative time. Maybe you realize that I’m a nutbar and that the choices I make are bizarre, but it explains why I seem to be able to get lots of things done.

  1. My Husband is awesome!
    • Not only is he a very successful musician/administrator, when he comes home from work, HE makes dinner (after picking up groceries on the way home). He rocks at multitasking, so he can cook awesome food, whilst overseeing homework finishing and musical instrument practicing. Although some days this is a chore for him, often it’s something he really enjoys doing. Many times his entire day is filled with meetings, so he finds cooking/actually DOING something relaxing.
  2. My kids are older (8 & 12) and they actually do chores
    • I’d like to think that I’m raising 2 awesome husbands-to-be, because I really count on my guys to actually help make the household run. Liam does the dishes about 75% of the time. He also can cook simple meals, and bake a mean oatmeal-chocolate chip cookie. Logan picks up dog poop and takes care of trash and recycling. A lot of my parenting is done by yelling something down the stairs, and my boys probably watch more TV/play more video games than they should. But they are happy kids, and get decent grades, have more than enough after school activities and they know that I love them. People tell me they are well behaved and wonderful to talk to, so I can’t be doing all that badly as a Mom. Trust me, I get grumpy more than I should, and I wish I played more games with them, but my hope is that seeing their Mom work at being fulfilled is a good life lesson.
  3. I hire a cleaning lady
    • Her name is Debbie, she comes every other Friday and I pay her $100 each time. Best…money…spent…ever… In order to allow her to clean, the whole family pitches in and gets stuff picked up the night before Debbie Day. I’ve spent a fair amount of time these past 6 years decluttering and organizing the house, so for the most part things have a place to live. Getting the whole family to put it where it goes – well that’s a work in progress, but there IS a minimum of random piles of stuff – something that drives me BONKERS!
  4. My laundry setup rocks!
    • I’m a very lucky gal to have a laundry room – I sort socks and underwear directly into baskets for each member of the family, and I have a large enough surface for several piles of folded clothes, sorted by person and type. I fold and sort in dribs and drabs, and when the piles are tall enough, everyone takes their basket upstairs to put it away, and because it’s already sorted in piles, my 8 year old  has been able to put his own clothes away for a couple of years now. DO we occasionally get dressed in the laundry room – sure. But because it’s an easy system, the laundry never really gets out of control.
  5. I spend very little time on personal appearance.
    • I don’t do makeup, my hair gets a quick brush out of the shower, my clothes are simple, I am “low maintenance” in this area.
  6. I don’t exercise regularly.
    • I really should, I know I’d probably even have more energy…note to self: exercise!
  7. I hate shopping.
    • So I do very little of it! Thank goodness for the internet!
  8. I watch very little TV.
    • With the advent of Tivo, I fell in love with being able to skip commercials, so I started watching my favorite shows after they were recorded. As episodes started to pile up, over time I realized that I didn’t care as much about some shows as I thought I did.
  9. I live 7 minutes from work.
    • Insert choirs of angels singing! When we lived in OH, I had a 90 mile commute.
  10. My job is flexible
    • I teach at a university, so I’m in the classroom 3 hours a day. Although the first few years were a LOT of work, now that my classes are designed, I can usually finish up everything but grading by the time I go pick the kids from school, and then I grade while waiting around at baseball practice, cello lessons, etc…
  11. I carry my wee laptop around with me.
    • Yay laptop! I’m writing this sitting on my chaise and watching an episode of 24 (actually this is the 2nd one of the night – do you think Jack’ll make it out of this one?)
  12. I don’t talk on the phone much.
    • I much prefer email. (And, of course, Twitter). BUt when I do have to chat on the phone, I’m usually waiting for the boys somewhere, or folding laundry. Yay multi-tasking!
  13. I have a limited social life.
    • We are not hermits or anything, we do a fair amount of socializing for work, so when we don’t I’d much rather be at home than out. Seriously…we don’t get out much. We do have lots of friends at work, so we’re not pariahs or anything…really…
  14. I have different kinds of projects for different kinds of mindsets.
    • Although I started making “everyday art” as a way to make sure I had sales at a show, I’m also finding that when I’m too stressed, tired or overwhelmed to be in a truly creative mood, I can still make this everyday art. I sometimes struggle with this fact, because I often worry that I’m copping out making stuff to sell, but I do find that this kind of making is increasing my skill levels, and allowing me to work through motifs and come up with new ones! WooHoo!
  15. I’m a very fast reader
    • This is very helpful with grading and blog reading!
  16. I have a beautiful studio Candied Fabrics Sewing Studio
    • Not only is it an awesome place to be, I can leave projects out and sew a bit here and there. If I had to stop and clean up every time it was time for dinner, I wouldn’t work nearly as much.
  17. I love my lists
    • For those of you who have been following along in my artistic adventures for awhile, you know that I post a list of things I’m trying to get done for Candied Fabrics each month. (I started in April of 2009, when Jena of Modish blog started this meetup on her Modish Biz Tips blog). If you had told me 5 years ago I would love making lists, I would have told you you were insane! But I’ve been doing this for a year now and I LOVE it! Having this list gives me a place to go when I’ve got some time to spare and have no idea what to do with it (HAH!)  No, seriously, this used to be a problem! I really have a compulsion to MAKE, and get very grumpy when I I haven’t in a week or two. In the past, I’d finally find that Saturday afternoon with nothing on the agenda, I’d go to my sewing room and be like “OK, now what?” I’d get totally blocked and frustrated! Now, I just go to the list and figure what kind of energy I’ve got going, and make whatever fits that energy.

Although I’m a big fan of even numbers, I’m not gonna think up 3 MORE reasons – I’m done!

I hope I’ve proven that I’m NOT superwoman, I’ve just prioritized MAKING above things like personal hygiene and “downtime” 😉 Although it CAN feel like work, I love to MAKE, I have to be DOING something, this compulsion has driven me for years, and I’ve developed/earned/created/been gifted a lifestyle that allows me to eek this time out where I can. If you’ve reached the end of this missive, I certainly hope you found SOMETHING that is the least bit helpful or hopeful!

23 Responses

  1. FABULOUS! A lot of the things on your list are similar to mine– I don’t have kids yet, though, which helps in the getting things done category! Sounds like your kids are a DREAM! What a terrific post, Candy– so glad I popped over, and how serendipitous that we wrote about the same thing today! I’m going to tweet about this right now. 🙂

  2. Wow, you’re awesome! Even being able to break down why you’re so organised (while you’re watching telly!) shows that you’re extraordinarily good at fitting in a hundred things at once without going nuts. I’m getting the 100 things right, but suspect I’m going nuts sometime soon :). Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. Thank you for all your honesty and being really open about how you get everything done. By being open like this others will see that to do all the things you want to do as a Mum, wife, artist, woman…

  4. I’m in love with your laundry room!!! And Debbie Day! Cleaning and laundry always snap me back into harsh, cold reality. I love it when it’s done, but don’t like having to take time out!

    This list was really great! It makes it very plain for you to see how a few hours of making would fit into your life each day. Carpe Diem!

  5. Let’s see. I right there with you on 1, 3 (her name is Lisa), 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16 and 17.
    I don’t have kids, so that’s big except for missing the good part of kids. But at least there are children spared from having a horrid mother! I do 6 every day for about 30 minutes the first thing in the morning. It’s done wonders for my energy and allergies. I use a recumbent bike and use that time to read my quilting magazines. I watch a lot of TV but that’s when I do most of my blog reading too.

    All it takes is prioritizing and organization!

  6. Great post Candy! I love it. You are amazing. You make time to do all that you need/want, set up goals to stay on task and ask for help & support from your family to make it all happen. I have been told by friends and family that I am super mom, wonder women and many other things and I think to myself no, I’m just crazy about the things I love: my family, creating, reading and yoga. So somehow someway I carve out the time needed to do all that I (and we as a family) want. It’s a balancing act for sure but, feels so rewarding. Thanks for sharing how you get things done!!!

  7. I love this post. And I see now I have no excuses, lol – my boys also do a lot of chores, my hubby also cooks, so what the heck have I been doing??? Thanks Candy, you’ve inspired me yet again!

  8. It’s so wonderful to hear how you have so much balance and loves in your life! You’re truly an inspiration to me and I hope to find such balance in my life in the future! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Great post, Candy! I have to say that exercise makes a big difference for me, especially in my mood and feeling good about my body. My goal is to do 3x a week, about 30 minutes, of walk/running or yoga, but some weeks I only get 2 and some weeks just one.

    This also gives me hope that I’ll have more time when my kids are older. 🙂

  10. I need that Debbie Day! I’m working on my studio (you KNOW I covet yours!) and I may have to emulate your laundry room. My boys are 7 and 4 – time to step up their chore training 🙂

    You always make me want to accomplish something right after I read your blog. Thanks for such an inspiring post, Candy.

  11. Your laundry system is genius. Will keep that in my memory bank when we have more laundry space. Like Cyn, I need a Debbie Day as well. Someday… Thanks for sharing. Your family sounds similar to ours – happy together just livin’ life.

  12. I tend to share a lot of these with you! Although I could really use a Debbie Day 🙂 not in the cards right now. Being at the kitchen table creating is my biggest challenge, and greatest asset. Keep it up Candy!

  13. Hey Candy, I love this post!! Very, very good ideas and I can relate to ALL of it!

    And yes, I am finally working on getting your interview posted this weekend. Coming very soon 🙂

  14. What a great post. I have one child and another on the way and starting to think abou how I am going to get everything done! It is definatley helpful to read about how other people manage. Thank you for sharing!

  15. Noooo…. they are not 8 & 12, they can’t be!!!… it has only been a little while since they are 3 and 7, right?! No matter what, they will forever be my little guys! even when they tower over me… which seems to be fast approaching!!!

    Miss Elyse