Recently I asked my readers if they had a personal question they’d like the answer to. Overwhelmingly, the most-asked question was this:
“How do you manage blogging while raising so many young children?”
Here’s the long answer.
First, a little history.
When I began this blog in January of 2013, I actually had no idea where it was going. My thought was that I would be a resource for stay-at-home moms. I’d share parenting tips, recipes, and learning activities. As I tried to think of a blog name I considered what kind of mom I wanted to be. Less hurried, more thoughtful… measured. And The Measured Mom was born.
It wasn’t long before I realized I had very few original recipes, and even fewer original parenting tips. But when I started sharing my first free printables, people loved them. My focus switched to teaching tools, and it’s stayed there ever since.
The first year was really crazy.
I was easily working 40+ hours a week on the blog, with nothing to show for it except rising pageviews and a new-found sense of purpose. My daily 70-minute exercise routine abruptly ended, the laundry piled up, and menu planning went out the window. I read everything I could possibly find on how to be a successful blogger. I didn’t know how to stop. Some days I didn’t remember looking my kids in the eye.
It was far from ideal.
The next year was still crazy.
By 2014, I was earning a small part-time income, which was entirely dependent on pageviews. Notice the ads in my sidebar? They’re managed by an ad agency. Advertisers pay more or less depending on the time of year. How much they pay me is also dependent on how many people visit my site.
I found myself chasing pageviews… publishing every day of the week so I had more content to share and promote. The more posts, the more there is to see. The more people come. After a heart-to-heart talk with my concerned husband, I began to look at things differently.
No evening blogging until the kitchen was (mostly) clean. Attempt to do one load of laundry a day. Try to fit exercise back into my life.
My perspective shifted.
I took a blogging course that told me to stop chasing pageviews and focus on the future. I learned to see my blog as simply my platform, not my entire business. With that, I began seeing myself as what I am: a small business owner. I still offer many (many!) printables for free, but I’m also creating products that will support my family long-term. Bundling my free printables for sale in my shop was a good business move. Spending months creating a preschool curriculum was another.
That’s the history. Here’s how I manage my time!
1. I see blogging as my JOB. (good)
This is not a hobby. This is a full time job. I spend about 35 hours a week on it, and I make time for it. Currently my hours are 5 AM-6:30 before the kids are up, 1:15-2:45 during “quiet time,” and 7:15-9 PM after the kids are in bed. I squeeze in moments during the day to respond to e-mails and (if the kids are doing well) do research and work on printables.
I don’t babysit other people’s children during my afternoon work hours unless it’s an emergency. I rarely cook, clean, or talk on the phone during the afternoon or evening. I don’t accept evening responsibilities unless I feel they are important. I never accept a responsibility that requires a weekly commitment.
I insist (though I don’t always get it) on quiet time in the afternoon while our toddler naps and our big kids play independently.
2. Blogging is also my “me” time. (mostly good)
I don’t think I can overstate how much I love this. It takes one of the greatest passions of my life (teaching) and combines it with my other loves: writing, creating, and sharing. Best of all, my work is connected to teaching my children.
I have always been crazy about fonts, clip art, and teaching materials. This is truly a dream job, and the only time I get sick of it is during that difficult first trimester when I’m so tired that nothing sounds fun.
It’s easy to make time for something that you’re passionate about. Blogging is not a chore for me.
3. Our days are structured. (good)
I’m often asked about our routine. Truthfully, I don’t have a daily schedule that we follow beyond the routines that are planned into our day. Summer varies, with my husband’s crazy-big garden, vacationing, and all the kids home. But we have a basic routine that ensures that things run somewhat smoothly, and I get in the work time that I need.
Here’s how things will look in the fall:
5:00-6:30 AM I’m up and working or exercising.
6:30-6:45 I shower.
6:45 AM The kids get up and start breakfast. The big kids (ages 5, 6, and 8) know they can’t get up until their clock says 6:45, and we’ve taught our 3-year-old not to get up until Mom comes to get him. Our toddler (1 1/2) may wake up early and fuss, but I don’t get her until after my shower. It’s just how we roll. (Of course, when the new baby comes it won’t be quite so smooth.)
7:30 AM Finish getting ready for school.
7:50/8:00 AM We pile into the van and take the three big kids to school (I teach my kids to read before they start school, but I don’t homeschool past preschool. It’s on my About page.)
8:20 AM My 3 year-old and 1-year-old and I are home. I finish clean up, we read and do learning activities together, they play, and I squeeze in some blog work if they’re playing well.
11:10 AM We go to school to pick up my kindergartner. Half day is an option at his school. This year I’m the only parent taking them upon it. It’s his first year of school, and they don’t do academic learning in the afternoon. I want him home to play and unwind. Full day school will last for years!
11:30 AM I check blog emails and get lunch started.
12:00/12:15 PM We eat lunch.
12:45/1:00 My toddler naps, and quiet time begins. During this time my 5 year old and 3 year old play outside or in the playroom or basement. I’m available for things they need, but not to play with them. This is my work time.
2:45 PM I get an after school snack ready, wake up my toddler, and we pile back into the van to get my first and third grader.
3:20 PM Snack, after school chores, piano practice, and homework
4:00 PM I play games and read with the kids.
5:00 PM My husband comes out of his office and has “kid time” while I catch up on e-mails and make supper.
5:30/5:45 PM Supper
6:15 PM I clean the kitchen while my husband supervises evening baths and clean up.
6:45 PM Kids head upstairs for Bible stories and teeth brushing.
7:15 PM Kids are in bed.
7:15-9 PM I work.
9 PM-10 PM My husband and I spend time together.
10 PM Bed.
4. There are a lot of things I don’t do anymore. (good and bad)
Truthfully, I don’t miss most of the things that used to take up my time. I don’t surf the Internet for news articles or hunt for interesting You Tube shows. I don’t read for fun anymore, and while I miss that, I enjoy blogging more.
I used to be a very organized meal planner. I’m more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants meal planner now. I don’t think that’s a good thing. I’m trying to get better at it.
Most regretfully, I do very little exercise now. It is so, so hard to give up that one time all day when no one else is awake and devote it to exercising in the basement. While I used to LOVE exercising and considered it the essential beginning to every day, now all I can think about is the blog work I could be doing. While I’m content with the other things I’ve given up, this is not okay. I don’t want this to be the status quo.
(Update: I am working at making it a daily routine to do 30 minutes on the exercise bike before starting my morning blog work. So far, so good!)
4. I don’t “do it all.” (not great)
Yes, I do a lot of things. I bake six loaves of bread once or twice a week. I make homemade yogurt (really, it’s easy) twice a week. I try to limit processed foods, and our kids have very little screen time.
But I don’t homeschool past preschool. (I’m at peace with this decision, but I just want to be clear that I am not blogging on top of teaching my kids all day long.)
As I’ve already stated, my exercise routine needs a kick in the pants.
We have Chinese take out and frozen pizza more often than I’d like.
The house is never clean enough.
I’m too impatient with my kids.
I don’t have time for play groups, church choir, or creating homemade gifts.
5. I make sacrifices. (okay)
Here’s the thing. We hadn’t planned that I would work this soon. The plan was that when our youngest was in first grade, I’d go back to work part time to pay for our children’s parochial education.
So here I am, a work at home mom, with five kids ages eight and under, and another one coming in December. Am I crazy to think this is even possible?!
But planned or not, I’m a business owner now. People count on me. And I want to live up to that responsibility. I don’t relax with a good book, have frequent “nights out” with the girls, or spend an evening relaxed on the couch, phone in hand.
I am jealous of my work time, and I don’t give it up easily.
6. I have many things to improve. (meeting these goals would be fantastic!)
I want to enjoy life more, instead of always focusing on the next big blogging project in the back of my head. (And there are so many!)
I want to be a better meal planner.
I want to exercise – every day – and love it again.
I want to (one day) take a day off each week. Right now I can’t even fathom that, but I keep reading that it’s important. (And my sister, just in town, told me the same thing.)
I want to make regular individual time for my children, treasure my (amazing) husband more, and improve my Bible study and prayer life.
And there you have it.
The long version of how I (don’t) do it all.
Want to know more about me?
- Comforting Bible verses for weary moms
- What not to say to a pregnant woman
- 11-pound baby natural birth
- Getting to know The Measured Mom
- Confessions of a mom blogger
© 2015, Anna Geiger. All rights reserved.