It doesn’t seem like I hang around my own blog too much anymore but trust me it’s always on my mind. I’ve been one of these buzzy bees or more like an annoying blue bottle bouncing off the walls and windows, trying desperately to find a way out to that fresh air. I can not sit still. My mind is constantly on the go between the kids, the house and my writing. Seven months into freelancing and I’ve discovered a pertinent truth to this career. I need a damn diary. Preferably one with an automatic entry from my brain. Oh yes, I need a telepathic diary.
Choosing this career path has sucked more hours out of my life than our chickens have shit on the path (they crap a lot. Like a lot!). It’s not the kind of thing you can really practice for in advance. Even though I pretty much had this whole idea of how staying home to work and raise the kids from the comfort of our own home firmly planned out in my head, the logistics of the reality have been a blur. Well, I’ve never been here before, have I?
It is a balancing act like no other! Kind of like the Irish Giant in The Greatest Showman walking on stilts for the first time, except it’s like that all the time. But hey, balancing is something I’m getting a little bit good at, just don’t take away my safety harness just yet.
I’m as wobbly as Little Bean who is still mastering walking. She gained her sea legs just after her first birthday but has spent the first four weeks walking like a pirate with two wooden legs. I know how she feels.
But this career has been rewarding. I’ve challenged myself, become a better version of myself, and put aside some, not all, of my bad habits for the sake of the kids. Coffee, stealing their sweets and being liberal with the tv, are habits that will remain indefinitely.
But I have to admit that harness has come in pretty handy as I manage the ropes, keeping my head up, the kids fed and avoiding leaving anything in the fridge too long for it to go mouldy. Everyone needs a bit of help to be the person they really want to be. And I’m not shy to admit that I’ve leaned on a few people who have been there for me when exhaustion kicked in, (thank you teething fairy) and I had deadlines looming (thank you commissioning editors!)
So this telepathic diary turned into a few random pages scribbled on in a notebook. Said notebook was quickly commandeered by Little Miss who decided every line needed a squiggly snake in varying colours leaving no room for Momma Bear and her meanderings.
Since physical paper has become a nightmare with a four year old who wants to practice her A’s, 5’s and draw pictures of me and my favourite flowers randomly, and a one year old who pretty much wants whatever is in her big sister’s hands, I’ve switched to using my phone as a virtual diary. Not once in my entire life have I used my phone in a realistically practical way. It’s been social media, endless WhatsApp groups and my favourite hobby of “interneting” (yes it’s a thing!) Ooo la la! My new career has made me grow up!
So a diary, physical or virtual, spread over 300 lined pages or four different apps, is the only way to keep this work from home lark steady on this balancing beam of family slash work. Keeping a diary will:
Help you to analyse and master your own emotions… no really, it will
So life is frustrating, demanding. And even though you may be in your 30s sporting some light natural white highlights, you can’t forget how satisfying it was to vent about Johnny who dumped you for Ronnie cos she was cool with a guys name in your diary when you were fourteen.
Keeping a diary isn’t just a way of amusing ourselves – no matter how embarrassingly humorous it is to remember our 16 year old tantrums of “I H8 Nick” scrawled over 17 pages in black and red ink.
Keeping a diary tracks your schedule, keeps you on point, and allows you to reflect on the events that have occurred during the day, and the way that those events have made you feel. It can help you uncover the source of your distress, if any, and let’s face it, if you plan on freelancing or work from home, there is often distress, panic and angst at deadlines and once again the teething fairy who, let’s face it, is the tooth fairy’s evil bitch of a sister.
My diary is divided into work/life/bleurgggh. Yes, there is an incomprehensible bleurgggh section which lets me vent like a teenager again, gives me permission to doodle and procrastinate and focuses my mind in a weird yet wonderful way. Afterall, the more emotionally stable you are, the better for your family, right? And venting stops you from cursing too aggressively in front of the kids, a little.
It will help you to reflect on what really matters in life, and on what you’re grateful for… well yeah, it can, I’m not being weird
Approaching life from a positive and optimistic standpoint is one of the most important things to do when it comes to enhancing your overall sense of happiness, contentment, and well-being in life. Yep, I straight up apologise with how preachy this sounds but we are all hit by bouts of stress and uncertainty from time to time which can throw us off track.
Keeping a diary can help you to reflect on what really matters in life, and on what you’re grateful for. Recording and remembering those small moments that make you smile, and finishing each entry with a line about what you’re grateful for, can make a tremendous difference. For instance when I saw two baby dolls in the kids toy pram, one turned on its head, the other cheekily laughing, I thought, “well hey, at least that ain’t my actual kids! I’m doing good at this parenting lark.” (I read that in a cockney accent too!) Reflection at it’s finest.
It will give you a big-picture perspective on how you’re spending your time… probably the real reason I keep a diary
Most of us are not as good with our time-management as we could be. While I’m getting better at managing my writing load in the evenings and my admin during the day when the kids are occupied and not clinging to some part of my torso, I still need my diary, my spreadsheet snd my calendar to keep it all in check.
With working for yourself and working from home it’s hard to see if you’re getting quality for what you’re doing and whether you’re actually earning a living eage. At the end of the day I can tick off my to do list, schedule the next days work, monitor my targets and deadlines and still get a bit of interneting time in! Otherwise I’m just a big ball of procrastination eating M&Ms at 9.56pm. Freelancing has increased my junk food intake three fold. Regardless, the more awareness you can bring to your time management, the better able you are to use your time more intentionally and meaningfully. Ultimately you’ll be more productive than a conveyer belt on How It’s Made.
I should know. The M&Ms and a cheeky doughnut have disappeared. So yeah, get a diary or a million apps to focus your workload!