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When is it ok to have time for yourself?

By 20:19:00 , , , , ,

It's the age old question that comes up time and time again - how do you maintain your work/ family and personal life balance when you have a young family? 

I want to spend time with my son and my partner, I want to work, but I also want to have time to myself doing things I want to do without feeling guilty for not being with my family.

Before I 'settled down' I really used to make the most of my freedom, I loved to be able to grab my keys and walk out the door to be blown wherever the wind sent me - in fact a friend and I once booked a holiday 24 hours before it was due to start and that was quite typical of the things we used to do.

I've always been someone with multiple interests and hobbies, I don't know if it's down to my star sign (I'm a gemini) or whether I am just easily bored, but I am always starting new projects and always have several things on the go. I've always been the kind of person who'll give anything a go providing it doesn't put me at risk or is too scary and my interests are almost all the creative and/or expressive kind. I love doing crafts such as crochet or knitting, I colour, I enjoy reading and writing and I also enjoy dancing particularly line dancing which has been my hobby for over 14 years.

Since J's arrival it has been difficult to juggle my job, spend time with J, have adult time with my partner (for cinema, meals etc.) and maintain my interests. Years ago I used to dance 2-3 nights a week minimum, nowadays the most I can manage is once a week. I go through cycles of doing crafts but as J can be quite demanding and destructive (he has unravelled a few projects when I've turned my back on him for a few minutes) I struggle to keep this up and I'm normally too tired once he goes to bed. I haven't picked up a book in ages and making time to write has been just as difficult.

It's the reason why this blog is so infrequently updated, I have a line dance blog as well but I'm usually reporting on what I've danced and uploading videos taken by other people rather than writing truly original content and I struggle to keep that updated too.

I am not short of ideas for this blog or 'fun' either and have lists of topics to write about but it's making the time to actually sit down and write. I prefer to write when J is napping but his naps get shorter and shorter and I have other jobs to do as well. In addition to work, family time and my interest I also have to maintain my relationships with my own friends and family and also do household and garden chores. I recently got around to decorating J's nursery for the first time (we didn't have time before as my partner was very reluctant to give up the room for his office until I was 38 weeks! and then I had my c-section and we weren't financially in the right place).

I probably should write in the evening like I am today, but tiredness saps at my inspiration and motivation. I just want to curl up in front of the tv and do nothing. I have also tried to write and maintain my interests whilst J is with me but he always wants to help. I once let him jump on my lap whilst I finished a blog post for 'fun' that I had started writing whilst he was napping. All I had to do was add a few links, and add labels and the search description when J suddenly grabbed the mouse and manage to close down what I had written and for some reason it had not autosaved - it was all gone. There is nothing worse than wasting time when you have no time to waste.

So where do we go from here?

The answer I'm sure you will all tell me is about good time management, but how do you manage your time around a baby who's napping habits change daily from 30mins nap one day to 2hr 30 mins the next. Who can entertain himself quite happily for 20 mins one day playing with his toys or reading a book but the next day wants Mummy and no one else.

I have been able to keep dancing with the help and support of my partner who gives me one night of freedom to dance a week, plus extra with notice. He helps where he can but he is self-employed and works long and unsociable hours which he himself is also trying to balance against family life with similar challenges. Family can step in occasionally if we want to go on a date night and as for crafting - I can craft if I'm careful and J is sufficiently distracted but this takes more planning. Family options are limited as my family are an hour away and we only have my partner's mother and we don't like to take advantage (she watches J one day a week whilst we are at work).

As for the blogs, I'm not sure of the answer - I enjoy both as it fulfils my need to write so I don't want to stop doing either. In the next few weeks I might play around with writing at various times and days. I've been waking up early so perhaps I might try writing or perhaps get a few more words down in the evening. Maybe the answer is writing multiple posts when I have a bit more time and scheduling them for release in the future.

I'm not sure of the answer so I'm asking you what you do? How do you cope with the balance of work, family and your own interests? Please give me your tips in the comments below.

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