Balancing the Toddler-Mom and Writing Lives—Achievable or Myth? by Melinda S. Collins

November 28, 2018 by in category Guest Posts tagged as , , , with 2 and 0
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Balancing | Melinda S. Collins | A Slice of Orange

 

Balance. My goodness, I have a love/hate relationship with this idea of having enough time for everything in my life—dayjob, daughter and hubby, keeping the home in a semi-state of controlled chaos, reading, writing the next great American novel. Oh, and taking time out for myself so I don’t lose my mind.

 

Every now and then I’m able to get into a good juggling rhythm. By every now and then I mean about every 1-2 months. Because, Murphy’s Law, if anything can go wrong, it will. Which means one can only wonder whether balance is truly achievable or just a big ‘ole myth.

 

Over the last few months, I’ve thought quite a lot about my own balancing act, and that lead me to first review the definition via Webster’s online:

 

Balance [bal-uhns] Noun

 

  1. A state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc.
  2. Something used to produce equilibrium; counterpoise.
  3. Mental steadiness or emotional stability; habit of calm behavior, judgment, etc.

 

While each of these definitions are on point, that last one is the epitome of my current life goal: creating a habit of calming behavior so I can have mental steadiness and emotional stability.

 

So now you may be wondering how the hell I’m going to manage that achievement, eh? I hear you. I have a job in the managed healthcare industry that I am very good at and really love (most days), a headstrong, energetic, and fast-growing two-year old daughter (read: stubborn, exhausting, and teething), a wonderful, supportive husband, a home I love but never devote enough time to its upkeep, and a novel I finished 2 years ago that needs heavy revisions so I can finally get it into the inboxes of the dozen agents/editors who’ve requested pages. Amongst all of that, I’ve got additional aspirations for furthering both my managed care and writing careers, expanding our little family (soon-ish), and getting my daughter involved in group activities. Whew! I may have been hit with a little anxiety just typing all that out.

 

So yeah, how the hell am I going to manage all of this? Well, luckily that wonderful husband I’ve mentioned has committed to my dreams in the same way I have, because in order for me to obtain the balance I need, his foundation of love and support will be invaluable (I’m also providing the same to him for his dreams). And because of that, I can confidently share my top five tips for balancing the writing and mom life while keeping your sanity… cause it’s not a myth. smile

 

  • Know your priorities. For me, family will always come first, no matter what. As long as my family is happy, loved, and functioning, everything else in my life is a bonus. This is where my dayjob comes into play as well, because my pay check greatly contributes to the roof over my family’s heads and the healthy, homemade meals they get every evening.
  • Goals are a non-negotiable. Without an end goal in mind, you cannot create a roadmap to achieving that said goal. Part of my 2019 goals includes making myself accountable to not only my family, but a critique partner. Next month I will send them my writerly goals for the first quarter of 2019, then I will sit down and create my roadmap for meeting those goals by the end of March. Then rinse and repeat for quarters two, three, and four. *smile*
  • Schedules are a necessary evil. Without a schedule, all you have are the destinations (goals). So in order to say you know how to achieve your goals, you need preplanned, dedicated, uninterrupted work time. For me that means every Saturday from 7am to 4pm is sacred. I work between forty and fifty hours any given week, and my boss will tell you that in that time I complete the work of 1.5 people. This means that during the week it’s very hard to do anything writerly unless it’s a simple beta read, because, let’s be honest, by the time dinner and bath time are done and the kid’s in the bed fast asleep, it’s nearly 8:30 and I’m t-minus one hour away from passing out myself. So as long as I have dedicated time to work on my writing, I can allow the chaos of family life to overtake my weeknights without worry.
  • A solid support system is key. In order to even stick to the schedule you’ve set, you need a support system that’ll not only make sure the toddler’s fed, changed, entertained, and safe, but also remind you they are sacrificing their time in order for you to have those few, precious hours. Lately my husband and I split our weekends: I have Saturday until 4 and he has Sunday until 4, after that time on both days we spend time with our daughter together. Each Saturday he’ll tell me to get my writing done, which is both a wonderful support and reminder that he’s counting on me to use my time wisely. And not just him but the critique partners who then take their time to review my work and provide invaluable feedback.
  • Be accountable to yourself, first and foremost. None of the above will work if you are not going to be accountable to yourself. After all, the main person you’re letting down by not achieving your goals is YOU. I’ve learned this the hard way, over and over again and, truth be told, I’m sick and tired of setting goals and never being able to check them off as complete, because I know that eventually what’ll happen is ten years will go by without a damn thing accomplished and I’ll be nothing but regretful and disappointed in myself. And that’s not the example I want to set for my daughter.

 

BONUS TIP

 

Celebrate. Every. Accomplishment.

 

When my kid actually follows instructions and puts away all the canned food she stacked throughout the kitchen? cheers REWARD.

When she lets me drop her off at daycare without a five-star, soap-opera-worthy dramatic meltdown. cheers REWARD.

And here’s my favorite: When she actually pees in her potty vs the bathroom floor? cheers REWARD.

 

Seriously. The reward system works, and it’s not just for kids. Even as adults, celebrating every accomplishment, no matter how small, sends a signal somewhere in our brain that then keeps us motivated to do more. To reach higher. To push ourselves beyond our limits because we can do this!

 

Because I need to drink my own Kool-Aid on this one, here are the writerly accomplishments I’m going to celebrate this week, as they will push me into the next project like nothing else:

  • I am a two-time Lawson Academy Immersion Grad. This means I not only participated and stuffed my brain with a ton of amazing craft lessons via online classes, but I immersed myself in those lessons for 5 days with Margie Lawson and small group of like-minded writers.
  • My second novel, Retribution, placed first in its category in the 2013 MCRW Melody of Love contest.
  • My latest novel, Case of Magic, has a dozen requests from the editors/agents I’ve pitched to at conventions.
  • My first venture into the short story world, One Night in December, will be released as part of an amazing anthology, Once Upon the Longest Night, on December 21st—the Winter Solstice, aka the longest night of the year. (How brilliant is that?)

 

‘Scuse me a second while I fix a celebratory cocktail.

 

Ok, so in closing… while I’ve been cooking on the things I need to do to obtain balance in my life, trust me when I say that it wasn’t until these last few weeks that my eyes were opened WIDE. Because of that, my drive to hold fast to these tips, follow and incorporate them every day has only grown ten-fold. And if I can make someone else’s life a little easier by sharing my hard-learned balancing lessons? Well, that’s a cherry on top of the messy cake known as my life. J

 

 

Happy writing! cheers

melinda | Melinda S. Collins | A Slice of Orange

 

 

 

Melinda S. Collins

Paranormal & Urban Fantasy Author

www.melindascollins.com


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A Slice of Orange started in 2004 as a group of authors from Orange County, California. We have expanded to include authors from around the globe–from the UK, all across the US to New Zealand. Our authors include the multi-published and writers at the beginning of their publishing career. In addition to authors, we feature blog posts from editors, PR professionals, and cover designers. The bright segments of the writing and reading community that make up one perfect entity—A Slice of Orange.

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    A Slice of Orange started in 2004 as a group of authors from Orange County, California. We have expanded to include authors from around the globe–from the UK, all across the US to New Zealand. Our authors include the multi-published and writers at the beginning of their publishing career. In addition to authors, we feature blog posts from editors, PR professionals, and cover designers. The bright segments of the writing and reading community that make up one perfect entity—A Slice of Orange.
  • Jenny Jensen says:

    You go girl. I so admire your energy!

  • Thank you so much, Jenny! That means alot 🙂 <3

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