It’s that time again! The kids are going back to school! This means my house will in an uproar for a few weeks while we try to get everyone and everything settled again for the school year.
While you might expect me to celebrate my kids going back to school as a sign that I’ll have more time in the day to write, I am a bit outside that demographic. I play double-duty ten months of the year as both a WAHM and a WOHM. That means (for those uninitiated in Mom abbreviations) I am both a work-at-home-mom and a work-out-of-home-mom.
Not only are my kids going back to school in a week, I’m going back to school in a matter of days. And just like I do every year around this time, I’m girding my professional loins to squeeze one career back on top of the other one.
The Easy Life (Ha!)
Throughout the summer months, I’ve had it a bit easier than I do normally. My boys are old enough to amuse themselves for long stretches of time and I’ve been able to get a bit of work done during the day. Even on the days when I’m still working at night, I’ve had a relatively easy day at home – no standing on my feet for hours and trying to motivate high school seniors to care about Beowulf (No easy feat, I promise you.)
I don’t take on much extra work during the summer months as I consider this time more important for other things. I do big projects around the house and spend time with my family. I rest, I plan and I organize. But even without the extra work, this week I’m preparing to stick a full-time job back into my day, and it’s a big adjustment every year.
To make a big adjustment work, the most important aspect for me, at least, is planning. I have every day organized and planned all year long, but my calendar becomes even more do-or-die as I approach the start of the school year.
Every major event for work, my school or my boys’ school is already on the calendar. I’ve marked my babysitter’s calendar, and I’ve made adjustments already to accommodate weird scheduling things like evening swim practices and Open House.
Over the last seven years I’ve found that planning and then following that plan almost religiously is what makes this level of commitment work well. There is very little wiggle room, but I respect that and plan for it.
Ease into the Adjustment
When you know a bit adjustment is coming – new job, new baby, new house, new routine, whatever – I feel it’s best to ease into the process. If you’re young, single and healthy, go ahead and jump into the pool headfirst. But if you have kids who need their own adjustment time and many different commitments, it’s far better to ease yourself down the ladder getting one toe wet at a time.
Get back into your routine before you have to. For me, that means I’ll be getting up early before I actually have to. I’ll be training my body to adjust to longer hours before I’m back on my feet with students. Then it will be an easier adjustment for both my body and my mind as my day becomes more taxing.
I’ll be firming up bedtimes for the kids to protect the writing time and schedule at the end of the day. Since I can’t sleep in or lay around anymore the next morning when I choose to stay up late and write, I need to be sure I can finish at a reasonable time each night. Of course, this means I may have company earlier in the mornings, but that’s just practice for the boys, too.
Room to Breathe
Finally, I have to pad my schedule with a bit of room to breathe. Normally I have a full schedule on Monday nights, but I’ll arrange next Monday with a bit less than usual. I’m going to be tired, after all, and it will boost my spirits at the end of the first “real” day back to know I don’t have too much hanging over my head that night.
I’ll leave at least one day over the weekend free to give myself something to look forward to, and I’ll probably pull one of my favorite tricks and leave a day almost empty in midweek so that I can move work around when I realize I just need to crash early and rest up to keep up the routine. (It’s like a planned hooky move.)
It’s impressive what we’re truly capable of doing when you need to make adjustments and pack in obligations. Some people thrive on being busy, and I’m definitely one of them, but even the busy bees out there need to warm-up properly if they are going to make some serious honey.