This is part 20 of our series: 31 DAYS of Setting Up Shop! You can find the entire list of days, in order, on our Setting Up Shop Index Page. I'll add each new entry to this list as it is published.
Setting up shop while still maintaining the rest of your life is hard. It is tricky to find that perfect balancing point. And if you do find it, let me know how you did it!
As opening day (Nov 7th!) gets closer, I'm finding that my brain space is almost constantly filled with shop plans, preps, ideas, displays, projects, phone calls, etc... But planning a big event, while time consuming, cannot be allowed to take over my life. I have a family to run, and a marriage to maintain.
So, I have made a few rules for myself.
#1 Stop everything to read a book to Esther. If she asks, the answer is yes. This also applies to chatting with the big kids about school, nursing Eli, helping with homework, practicing for the spelling test, building a block tower, and singing the B-I-B-L-E eighteen times before bed.
#2 Donnie's day off is family day, not project day. For several years I have tried my hardest to make family days as restful as possible. They aren't housework catch-up days, or errand days (if I can help it), or shop setting-up days. Having a youth pastor for a husband means that we don't get Sunday as our day of rest, so we have to guard that time extra-carefully.
#3 Set a timer. It is so easy to fall into a crafting coma, while the rest of my world is buzzing around me. So, if the kids are occupied and I want to catch a few minutes to work on something, I set the kitchen timer for 10 or 20 minutes. I work until the timer goes off, and then take a break to make sure everyone is still occupied and not drawing with magic marker on all of Daddy's shoes. They are usually in the same room with me, so that isn't really an issue. If everyone is safe and having fun, I may join in for a few minutes, or I may set the timer and get back to work. I usually don't get more than 2 sessions of work in at any given time of day, and that is fine with me. If a Rule #1 situation arises in the middle of a timed session, it always takes precedent.
#4 Do not pull all-nighters. I have done this once or twice in the last 6 months. It's really not good for anyone.
So when do I work? I usually get in about an hour during the day, maybe 30 minutes before dinner, and another hour or so after the kids go to bed. I have learned over the years to plan and troubleshoot an entire project in my head before I've even started, so that the actual work does not take all that long. I leave one or two in-progress items on the dining room table for easy access. Otherwise I'd always be taking out and putting away, instead of getting any work done.
A couple hours a day is not the most efficient schedule, but it's what I've got. And it's the only way I know how to balance my creative work with my real job, which is being the best wife and mother I know how to be.
If you live in the Dallas metroplex, be sure to come out to the shop. You might be surprised how much can get done in just a couple hours a day!
Do you have any balancing tips for us? Share them in the comments!