Thursday, August 6, 2015

The juggle

I have been, let's be totally honest, spoiled over the past 5 weeks.

Oh, sure, I've been *sick*, but that's situation normal with chronic illnesses at play. Yeah, I've had parenting and household duties as usual, including a week of solo parenting while my partner was away for work; but this is not different from any given week in any of the past 12 years. I've had a few extra community / family things to deal with, but that happens from time to time too.

What I haven't had, though, is paid work to juggle as well as all of the above. I've had the two weeks of the school holidays, then the first three weeks of term, where, other than writing and selling some review pieces (which is definitely nice!), I haven't been combining any form of income-generating labour with all the other kinds of labour and activity that I engage in.

This is, it must be said, the *very first such three weeks* in my life as an adult. I have always worked - often part-time (when finishing my Masters degree in my 20s, and later, from the birth of my eldest daughter until she was almost 9) but always juggling paid work with love's labours. I certainly have had several-month stretches of time out of paid work for maternity leave and long service leave, but these have always previously coincided with the having of babies and / or toddlers, so discretionary time has not really been a thing in my world.

It has been a luxury that I found strange at first. Being able to take my time grocery shopping, because there was no rush. Being able to clean my house the way I want to, without putting stuff off to the never never. Time for conversations and reading; time to try new recipes and spend half a day hunting down elements for Book Week costumes. Time to nap, after a bad night with a health flare. Time to watch the odd mystery movie, or listen to podcasts. Time to go for longer walks, and catch up with friends. Time to do more volunteering at the kids' school, and properly investigate my health issues. Time to have a date or two with my husband, sans kids.

This week, I've just started my first sizeable freelance project, and it's coincided with a busy week in our lives (because: naturally!) It's been borne home to me very quickly just HOW great those three weeks really were, with that 6 hours of time every week day. Of course, having the work is great, but the juggle is less so. Today, already, I had to opt out of going up to school for the 2-hour costume parade, because I just couldn't spare that long from the work. Next week the kids will be back in after care on one night, and, I suspect, left to their own devices on one or two more so I can meet my deadlines. Crashing fatigue, as ever, is my enemy, and I don't have the space to be as gentle with myself as I've been free to be, in the three weeks gone.

This project is slated to finish on or before 30 September. In itself, having an end date is an excellent thing for me psychologically; I can pace myself better if there is actually a finish line somewhere. We're going away not too long after that for a week, and I think I'm going to see if I can manage things to have another three-week interregnum before taking on more project work - a week away with the family, and a good couple of weeks gearing down in my daily life. After all, this is why I wanted to freelance again - ebbs and flows are the only way to really sustain myself.

No comments:

Post a Comment