After my husband quit his corporate job last year I knew things would look a bit different. He had held that job for the past six years – the entire length of our marriage – and the stay-at-home mom role I had developed was just as intrinsic to our daily lives as his 8-5 role was away from the home.
Sure enough, things look very different now. We are both self-employed now as we begin building our homestead – he as a freelance web developer and me as a writer. Neither of us trained for these specific professions or had planned to take them on but we are thankful to see things shake out the way that they did.
Whereas once our worlds were set apart, they now coincide and overlap. We are attempting to balance work that is unsteady, pay that is unsteady, three small children, and chores and projects here on our homestead. There have been some bumps along the way as we figure out who does what when and what needs to be a priority.
Because our days are not cut and dry there is a constant ebb and flow from week to week. If he has work one week then his work on the computer takes priority as my work is both more plentiful and more flexible. That means I spend the week working more on homesteading activities, homeschooling our children, and keeping up around the house.
As I write this I have to remind my boys, 6 and 4, that “Mommy is writing so I need you to be quiet.” So clearly, we haven’t figured this balance out yet. But there have been a few things that have made a big difference in how our weeks run.
Determining at the beginning of the week who works where. With one laptop and plenty of real life responsibilities, one of us will be spending more “work time” on the computer that week while the other spends more time tending to chores. We can discuss what days I have deadlines, what homestead projects are in the works, and what specific needs our children may have. This helps us have an outline of the week ahead.
Sending me away to work. After a few weeks of consistent sanity breakdowns over the chaos surrounding me, we did some brainstorming to see where the problems lay. Out of this came a weekly sendoff to town for some writing time. This helps me get at least half of my writing out of the way for the week so that I can spend the rest of the week focusing on basic domestic and homestead duties with writing thrown in during naps. This has been a real sanity saver.
Having some downtime together. During May I spent quite a few nights working. I put the baby to sleep, I put the children to sleep. My husband had even gone to sleep and I would stay up writing. And then first thing in the morning after everyone else had gotten a good night sleep I was greeted with “Mama, what’s for breakfast?” and my day was off and running. That simply wasn’t sustainable and come June we pretty much nixed those late night working hours and exchanged them for some actual adult conversation time in which no person under four feet tall asks us for anything. It is marvelous.
So that is how two people in a 300 square foot home with one laptop and three small children navigate life with work with… life.