a working mum's week

image courtesy of xkcd.com (http://xkcd.com/220/)

Last week — because I've been down on myself for how little time I scrape together for writing — I decided to track where my time went.

I didn't drill down deeply into anything, because an overview is all I wanted. And it's not something I'll be doing every week, because the law of diminishing returns will start to bite too deep. Nevertheless, I thought it would be interesting to see and/or demonstrate to my mind just how lazy I am or am not being.

Let's start with the three big ones mapped in there first of all: sleep, mothering, and work:

Each box is 2 hours; grey is for sleep (50.25 hours in total, which is an average of 7.2 hours per night); the diagonal grey lines (3 hours) represents the sum total of the time I spent engaged in midnight negotiations with Squawk, settling and re-settling her; pink is for mothering (I only counted time I was unable to multi-task beyond simple 10-20 minute bouts of housework or chores, otherwise the whole box would be pink, pink, pink); and the light green is time at the day job.

First thing my brain noted at this point: there's really not a lot of time left over. Only 11 boxes = 22 hours = an average of 3 hours per day. ("THREE whole hours per day?" my brain screams. "Why aren't you writing for 3 hours per day!?")

Second thing my brain noted: I haven't yet filled in time spent in transit to/from the dayjob. That was 4.5 hours = 2.5 boxes. That leaves me with only 8.5 boxes = 17 hours in any given week to call my own. Two hours and twenty four minutes, on average, per day.

Here's how I spent them:

  • 3.5 hours on writing
  • 6 hours on TV
  • 2 hours reading (Raj Khanna's Falling Sky, for those who are curious)
  • 3 hours journalling
  • 2.5 hours blogging (drafting posts; I drafted more than I published this week)

TV is an obvious place I could find more writing time. But it's worth noting a lot of my TV viewing is actually multi-tasking, as I'm usually chasing down internet errands (paying bills etc), typing up any handwritten writing notes of the past day/week, chatting to Squawk's dad, or keeping up my pitiful end of long-distance correspondence with friends and family. This particular week just gone my TV hours were almost entirely spent updating my resume, which hasn't seen the light of day since 2009 and was (still is) in exceedingly poor shape. Once that's done, I'll be able to reclaim a little more of my evening towards writing. Probably not the whole of the 6 hours, but maybe 2 of them…

Journalling is another potential time-sink, as I freely admit I've been tweaking what I do and don't capture by hand. However, it's only since I instituted the daily journalling habit that I've been more consistently productive. I use my journalling time to revise what I achieved that day and to plan out what must (and potentially can) be done the next day. Not to mention clear my head so I can go to bed thinking about my stories instead of about the niggly, nagging tasks that would otherwise crowd my thoughts.

Looking at the boxes, my temptation is always to see if I can't scrape away a grey box or two. Just one hour's less sleep… but I've learned from bitter experience that the less I sleep, the clingier and more demanding and difficult Squawk's behaviour grows. It's a horrendous cycle, and yes there are less grey boxes, but it's pink that takes its place.

So, there's that, huh? I'd estimate last week as pretty typical for me: a little more big-ticket errands (such as the resume) than normal, a little less dayjob time than normal, pretty standard Squawk-care and actually my sleep levels were on the plump rather than starved side of normal.

Turns out, being a full-time mum and part-time employee doesn't leave much for after. In other news, water is wet, the earth is round, that big yellow thing in the sky is known as a "sun".

2 thoughts on “a working mum's week

  1. Hey there, Deb! When you have so little time for yourself each week, it's impressive that you still push yourself to work on your novel. I am also in awe of the fact that you wrote and published an entire short story collection during motherhood. Anyway, I can sympathise with your difficulties in getting Squawk to sleep. Silver is almost two, and he has never slept through the night! 🙂

    1. Thanks Alison! Don't be in too much awe – the collection was contracted before Squawk was conceived, and delivered when she was 2 – oops! Thank all that's awesome for understanding and patient publishers 😉

      Sleep is the holy grail, isn't it? And people talk about sleeping through the night as if it's something that, once it's happened, just keeps happening. Hope Silver starts sleeping longer stretches for you soon – and in the meantime at least settles quickly!

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