Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Posts tagged ‘work’

About Time

The Secret to Work-Life Balance is Trusting that it will all be okay in the endWhen I was little, I used to listen to the older and wiser people in my life.
(And I read a lot.)

I picked up a common thread.

“I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time.”
“I wish I had spent more time with my family.”
“I wish I had spent more time with my kids.”
“I wish I had spent more time on what really matters.”

I vowed to learn from those older, wiser folk. I promised myself I would use my time wisely.
Focus on things that really mattered. Be wise myself.

As I got older, I thought that’s what I was doing.

Yet the more I did, the less satisfied I felt.

I was tired and irritable, and the important things seemed to be flashing past me before I had a moment to grab hold of them.

I imagined that having children would give me such a slap of perspective that I’d automatically get my priorities right. Especially since I was already focused on doing so.

But when I had kids, all I could think of was earning enough to give them everything they need. And I don’t mean horse riding lessons and ski trips every holiday.

I mean food.
A place to stay.

You know – important stuff.

Here’s what I discovered: important stuff clashes with important stuff. Spending time with my family clashes with supporting my family.

(And just between you and me, I have no idea how to fix that.)

I started to think that it would be terribly useful to meet one of those older, wiser people who, with the benefit of wisdom and experience, had discovered the true value of spending time with family (especially kids), and was making that discovery a practical reality in his or her life.

I really felt that there’d be a whole lot of wisdom and learning to glean from such a person.

Recently, I was lucky enough to find just such a person. He’s a colleague and a mentor. His business trajectory so far very closely mirrors mine. His kids are similar relative ages to mine (just twenty-odd years older, of course).

His life took some turns I hope mine won’t, such as divorce. But otherwise, I could see that I could learn a lot from this guy.

The best part (for me) is the fact that he has a daughter not much younger than my youngest.  So even though he has adult children (and even a grandchild), he also has the opportunity to live out the wisdom he learned in his younger years.

Whenever we’d speak, he’d remind me that time spent with family – especially children – is by far the most valuable investment of your time.

We both agree on this point.

But as we worked together, I started to notice a troubling trend: he has even less time available for his kids than I do. Seriously. And that’s saying something.

So really, I don’t have an answer. Maybe when I am old and wise, I will have a clearer idea of how these things work.

But I’m starting to think the best thing – the only thing – to do is to make peace with it.

I’m not saying “go with the flow” (although often that IS good advice). I’m not saying don’t make improvements if they’re there to be made.

It’s just that, sometimes, I’ll be working flat-out, and my kids will pick that moment – in the middle of that deadline – to have a meltdown. There go two hours of work. Two hours of sleep. Two hours of keeping a promise to a client … But they’re two precious hours that I’ve given my child, and that I don’t regret. Sleep deprivation and all.

Sometimes it goes the other way: the kids are doing something amazingly fun and I’d love to join them, but work beckons and deadlines must – and can – be met. Then the deadlines win.

In the end, I hope it all balances out. I really hope the clients are patient and understanding, and happy enough with my work that they don’t find someone with fewer time commitments. I hope my children are healthy and balanced enough to know that sometimes putting them first meant putting their physical needs (clothes, food, shelter) ahead of their desire to spend time with me.

I hope they all forgive me.

I hope it all turns out okay.

And I choose to trust that it will.


Things I do to avoid earning money

I recently had another BFO (blinding flash of the obvious): making money is really easy and it’s a natural state of being for all of us. For some reason, I seem disinclined to actually do it, though.

Here are some of the things I do to PUT OFF making any real money:

  • Filing (I know!)
  • Making coffee
  • Drinking coffee
  • Inviting friends round for coffee
  • Going out for coffee
  • Grinding coffee (detecting a theme at all?)
  • Trying out coffee-toffee (yes. It’s good.)
  • Actually, this is really true. 3.2ish ... although I don't have a .2ish finger ...

    Actually, this is really true. 3.2ish … although I don’t have a .2ish finger …

    Washing dishes (seriously. I’m not even kidding)

  • Doing the laundry
  • Hanging out the laundry
  • Taking in the laundry
  • Folding the laundry
  • Watching Once Upon A Time with the kids while folding the laundry (see? Multi-tasker, me) (Ange, that hyphen is for you!)
  • Reading about social media marketing
  • Watching TED Talks and YouTube clips about social media marketing
  • Attending webinars about social media marketing
  • Reading about making money
  • Watching TED Talks and YouTube clips about making money
  • Attending webinars about making money (the last one is responsible for this particular BFO)
  • Drinking coffee
  • Reheating coffee that I forgot to drink (okay, that happened just the once)
  • Watching Chick Flicks to spare Papa Bear having to watch them with me
  • Watching Doctor Who
  • Watching Downton Abbey
  • Watching Modern Family (don’t judge)
  • Tidying my bedroom
  • Tidying the rest of my house
  • Rearranging my office
  • Sorting out my emails (over 2000 filed yesterday!)
  • Creating a spreadsheet to manage my email
  • Refining my timesheets
  • Skyping people
  • Updating my website
  • Updating my Google Plus page
  • Updating my LinkedIn profile
  • Creating business systems to make me more efficient
  • Emailing people I should be calling
  • Coffee problem? No problem. Just give me coffee.

    Coffee problem? No problem. Just give me coffee.

    Making breakfast

  • Making lunch
  • Making supper
  • Making snacks
  • … again
  • Making the world’s GREATEST toffee (today’s variety: banana. hmmmm)
  • Eating the world’s greatest toffee
  • Blogging about eating the world’s greatest toffee
  • Blogging generally
  • Having blinding flashes of the obvious
  • Checking Facebook
  • Washing it all down with …. wait for it …. coffee

And there’s a whole tonne of stuff not even on there because, let’s be honest, you stopped reading twenty items ago!

Why don’t I just turn off the ADD faucet, sit down, and WORK for a change??

Well, today’s the day, chaps. I have set myself a target to bill each day, and I may not do ANY of the things on this list until it’s done.

Wish me luck!!!

Want To vs Ought To

Sometimes, I just don't want to.

Sometimes, I just don’t want to.

As you know, Papa Bear and I are working through our Church’s RU programme. Now, a large part of the effectiveness of the programme lies in habitually getting into the Word, studying it, meditating on it, and considering it from angles that may be new to you. The programme uses a series of challenges to motivate you to keep at it. These challenges earn you points, and for my results-motivated, check-box-driven, performance-addicted brain, it’s really an ideal way to progress. And it works!

So, today is Saturday. My sister’s birthday breakfast at the Market (which was awesome), has been and gone, and theoretically the day stretches before us: unhurried and unplanned. What shall we do?

In a flurry of Pavlovian-eagerness, Red Riding Hood rattles out her nine-times-table, feeds her dog and her bird, and begs to be allowed to play on the computer (times tables and chores are the price for computer time). Shortly afterwards Goldilocks follows suit, and I have two happily engaged daughters frying their eyeballs by gluing them to Star Stables.

I decide that it’s the perfect time to have my Quiet Time, do all the RU challenges I can do easily (get them out of the way, ya know?), get some housework done and then tackle my To Do list for work. Awesome! I’m amped and motivated and ready to be fed, and to write something brilliant (or at least acceptable).

Papa Bear asks me how I’d like to spend my day, and I say I think it’s a great time to catch up on challenges for RU. (He’s a book-and-a-half behind me, so it would be even better for him 😉 ). He says, “Hmm, I don’t know what I’d like to do today.”

I actually laughed out loud.

What I’d like to do? The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. How could I think about things I’d like to do, when there was so much I have to do still outstanding?

I was struck by the thought.

Do we do what we do because we want to, or because we should? Does it matter? Is one motivation less valid, less noble than another?

Should I want to do the things I have to do? Would that make me a better person?

To be honest, I don’t have a feeling about it either way. I do what needs to be done. Isn’t that how it goes? Now that I’ve been thinking about it, I do want to do the things that need to be done … because then they’re done. And then I don’t need to do them any more. Because they’re done. So I want to do them.

Also, I love God and spending time with Him. I love my children and I really enjoy teaching them. I love my work and really enjoy doing it, and learning how to do it better. So I guess from that perspective, I am doing what I want to do.

But I’m not learning to speak French, or play the ‘cello. I’m not reading Kierkegaard or watching Walter Lewin teach physics on YouTube. I’m not doing cross-fit or walking the dogs or painting or writing words that will impact generations. So I guess from that perspective, I’m not doing what I want to do.

I simply hadn’t considered it before.

I am now. … just as soon as I get these articles written and those social media profiles maintained …

How to home school AND work

Yes, you CAN home school and work full time. Be brave!When I first seriously considered home schooling my girls, I did what I always do: RESEARCH. I spent hours online and in person, finding out who was doing what, how they were doing it, what motivated their choices, and what results they were reporting. And I always asked this question:

Can you home educate your kids AND hold down a job at the same time?

The answer was always the same: a resounding No!

I must have been looking in the wrong places.

It seriously deterred me, since we really needed my income. Finally I decided to do it anyway, and having made that decision, I began to find that I was not alone. Far from it. Many people home educate and work – either from home or from an office – and manage both with aplomb!

I wanted this post to be about how best to juggle the various roles and responsibilities we as mothers have – a “How To” if you will.While I was researching the content, I stumbled across pure gold, and frankly it’s so very good and useful that I am just going to give you the link: The Ultimate Guide to Home Schooling as a Working Mom.

I am our family’s bread winner and the girls’ primary care giver. When I got onto this line of research I was feeling rather sorry for myself and my “heavy load”, but I’ve found loads of ladies who are single parents, home educating and supporting their families. That’s just incredible, and I take my hat off to them.

This particular detour on my journey to discovery has yielded some delicious fruit. Specifically a sense of contentment, gratitude and blessing for all we have, and the opportunity to live this amazing lifestyle.

Go home-schooling-working-moms!

When in Rome … rising above the rabble

A friend of mine is facing a serious challenge. As a teacher, she loves to engage and challenge the young minds in her class – and she’s good at it. What she’s not good at is admin. It just isn’t her forté. As a result, she is often at loggerheads with the school management. It’s a sad state of affairs, because it impacts her ability to do the part of her job that she’s good at and saps all the joy she has in her work. This as my advice to her, and I found it helpful for me, too.

The thing to do is to rise above it. Don’t let the petty politics get you down, because if there’s a problem, it’s their’s. Unless they specifically ask you to change something, they haven’t shared the problem with you, so it’s not your problem. You can’t be part of the solution if they don’t invite you to, which is their loss if they resent or begrudge something you’ve done (or not done). But don’t take on other people’s problems. You’re not responsible for any other adult.

The truth is that we implicitly condone 100% of the behaviour we tolerate.
By tolerating behaviour, we teach people how to treat us. I think you are doing what you love to a very large extent. Every job has it’s unpleasant bits. Where you are, those unpleasant bits take the form of petty politics and unreasonable admin loads. That’s why it’s so much better to focus on the bits that make you happy, and do the basics everywhere else. Doing the basics is quicker than giving your all in every area. That means you can deliver on others’ timelines. But you simply can’t give your all in every area. You’ll burn out. Admin is much less important than teaching, so give it the focus it deserves and quickly get it out of the way, so that you can focus where your talent and passion really lie.

If you let the system get you down, no one wins. Not you; not the kids; not even the people running the system. But the kids do lose, and perhaps you will, too.

What works for me
I now give about two days a month to admin, plus about half an hour a day. Then I split my time: half for paying work (in your case that’d be the actual teaching), a quarter for our own marketing (that’d be your painting) and a quarter for research and brainstorming. That works really well. That way, I deliver my admin and billable work on time, but I also feed my mind and develop my business.

Feeling somewhat alien
Sometimes, it’s virtually impossible to even begin to understand what drives another person to behave the way they do. I remember what it was like as a kid: having to learn how to be like other people. How to think, speak and behave in a way that came naturally to everyone else (or so it seemed) yet was incomprehensible to me, and could only – at best – be mimicked. It’s a full-time and exhausting job, and I can see her going through the same process.

We want to have it “all together”, as those around us seem to do.

I think we tend to assume everyone else is fine and coping all the time, when the truth is that no one is. Everyone, at some stage, accepts the current state as a baseline and chooses to move forward as calmly and effectively as possible.We exhaust and deplete ourselves by trying to be as perfect and together as everyone else is, instead of accepting that we’re not, and neither are they. When we accept that truth, make allowances, and live within it as best we can, we begin to achieve true greatness.

It’s a greatness of spirit rather than of accomplishment. 

When others don’t understand our thoughts, actions and motivations, that’s okay. It helps to think of it as a disability: not being able to understand is a disability. They can have our sympathy but not our resentment. And in fact, it’s their world. We’re the visitors, so the onus is on us to get by, to make ourselves understood. When in Rome …

Romans 15:4  “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”

– By Vanessa Davies – daily discovering Joy on a Shoestring.

What would you have said? I’d love to hear from you.

Workaholics and a day of rest

This week has been a bit of a voyage of spiritual discovery as I have begin observing what seems to be the most logical understanding of the Sabbath. My first Sabbath day was Thursday. Perhaps I need to provide some context here. It’s not that I never take days off. Sometimes, on Saturdays, after I’ve been to the Market, prepared food for the week (where possible), prepared for Sunday School and Discipleship for the week ahead, cleaned the house and done the homeschool prep, I only check emails. Mostly I do a bit of work, but not every Saturday. The rest of the week seems to be round-the-clock work, and it’s fine because it’s the life I’ve chosen. I don’t mind or resent it a bit, I’m just tired.

The idea of a whole day where no work is allowed to be done is so very beguiling that I decided to investigate it even if it was just to see how it felt not to work at all for a twenty four hour period. And what did I discover?

Simple: I’m a workaholic.

For years I’ve been telling myself that I work so hard because I have to. I don’t have a choice, and if I did I certainly wouldn’t spend the day behind my computer screen. I may have to revise my thesis. I was actually jittery. It was a bit like the way one feels when the internet is down and a deadline is looming. Panic. Nail-biting, jaw-clenching, armpit-wetting distraction. What should I do all day? We had a bit of school: Bible time and reading some great stories. I had a challenging quiet time, and then I fairly paced the room like a caged animal.

In the end, I actually did do a bit of work, operating under the vain hope that if I don’t charge for it, it doesn’t count. Genius? Hmm …

It turns out I may well have an addiction problem. And I may well have a problem with idol worship. My idol seems to be my work, and I need to process what exactly I’m going to do about that.

How to balance working from home and home educating your children

I wish there was a simple answer to this question. Our typical day starts early (around 5AM): I do a quick round of laundry and dishes, make breakfast, and launch straight into school. After school I check emails and return calls, then make lunch. Work follows, flat out until it’s time to make supper. After supper it’s time for dishes and bed time stories, then back to work.

Bed time is usually between 23:00 and 02:00.

For me, there are two equally important keys to making this work. The first is prioritisation. Decide what’s important, and focus on that. But realise and accept that what’s important today (or this morning, or right this moment), may not be the same as what’s important tomorrow, what mattered tomorrow, or what is important in your life generally. It helps, too, to have a very clear idea of what is important generally, so that when you have to make a touch choice, it’ll be the right choice.

The other important key is acceptance and realistic expectations. Many years ago I had this romantic notion that eight hours each day, five days each week, would always be enough for getting work done. Add to that three hours of school and half an hour of exercise, and you still have plenty of time for sleep and being a domestic goddess. That’s not how life works. School often takes five hours or more. Or no time at all, since there isn’t any time for school and that’s that. Exercise is usually a distant memory and sleep sits on the bookshelf between Fairy Tales and Rumpelstiltskin. Being a domestic goddess is many miles away from divine most of the time, and every moment of every day of every week seems dedicated to putting out fires and desperately trying to keep promises that seemed so very realistic when they were made. The thing is that when you accept that what is, is; that this is just the way things are, it becomes so much easier to face each challenge rather than always looking for the road to “The-Way-Things-Should-Be Land”.

It’s not easy, and it’s not for the faint hearted. But it is what I wanted and that, too, makes it easier to bear. With the end game in sight, and taking things one step at a time, each day is better than the last.

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