Saturday, December 24, 2011

We wish you a Merry Christmas

To my real life friends and family, to my bloggy world friends and to anyone who happens to stop by: Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Another year, another pat on the back

This week wraps up another full year of working for myself. Another year where I've learned to balance being a stay-at-home mom and work-from-home entrepreneur. Some days it's easy and other days I wish I had another 12 hours in the day -- or at least a daycare to send the kids to.

This year has been my second complete year of working for myself. I've learned to manage my time to a tee. I've learned that movie afternoons are sometimes not only acceptable, they're a necessity. I've learned that the second you pick up your work phone to make a business call, the kids will, without a doubt, need your attention and need it right now. I've learned to try not to feel guilty for ignoring the kids (in other words, letting them play by themself or letting them sit in front of the TV) when I absolutely have to get work done. I've learned to make the most of my days with them when I don't have a lot of work on the go -- or a lull in the work that is on the go. I've learned to sometimes live on less sleep.

I worked hard at my business this year. This will sound strange, and I think I've said it before, but I never dreamed I would be doing this. Aside from the easy part, which is writing and editing, I'm learning to smooze and network, sell my strengths and convince complete strangers to sit down and meet with me. In other words, I'm doing so many things I was never very good at and never had the confidence to do.

All while getting to do my dream job -- which is being a stay-at-home mom (all comments about how some days I want to put the kids on the front deck with signs around their neck that say 'free, take me home' will not be included in this post).

I worked hard this year. Last year at this time, I really only had three main clients, with some odds and ends other work on the side. This year, I have the same three core clients -- two of whom sent a lot of work my way -- and another dozen or so other contacts who have sent work my way. It really has been a word-of-mouth kind of business and I'm certainly not complaining.

And I'm proud to say that I brought in almost the exact same income as last year -- actually $66 more. Although I worked harder for every dollar this year than I did last year -- this year, I took a few jobs which didn't prove to be as profitable as I would've hoped. But I guess I can say that's another thing I've learned. I've learned to try not to sell myself short and to make sure that the job is actually worth the money.

As I move from part-time to full-time in Septemer 2012, my contacts and client roster is growing so I should be in good shape.

And what I'll definitely have by then is time. Because once the kids are in school full-time, I won't have to feel as guilty about balancing my mom job and my job job.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

To go to bed, or to not go to bed

I have a really bad habit when Ryan's out of town. I stay up way too late.

I don't know why I do it. When Ryan's home, he usually goes to bed before me (because he gets up at 5) and then I usually come up to bed around 10:30-11 p.m. Sometimes earlier. Sometimes he goes to bed later, and so we both turn in at the same time.

But when he's away, I can't seem to convince myself to go to bed. I can always convince myself to watch just a little more TV. Or do one more thing. Or, when I do finally manage to convince myself that I have to go to bed, I'll read just a few more pages.

So my usual weeknight bedtime just gets later and later and later. Until I realize that by the time I'm turning my light off, it's well after midnight. And unless I get to sleep in (which is just a dream when you have kids), going to bed after midnight is not enough hours of sleep for me.

As I said yesterday, luckily he doesn't go away often. And he rarely ever travels for work (I think I can count on one hand the number of times he's travelled for work since we've had kids. Actually, I think I can count using just a finger or two.) So, when he does go away, it tends to be on a weekend -- a guys weekend, or something like that.

And that's ok. A late Friday night, all day with the kids, a late Saturday night and then on Sunday he's home again.

But since this trip was unexpected and it's during the week -- here it is Thursday and I'm finding myself pretty damn tired. And it's my own fault. I haven't been to bed before midnight all week -- yet I'm still up just after 6. It's stupid really, and the only person I have to blame is myself. If I would just go to bed when I'm tired instead of staying up for an extra hour or two just because he's not home, I wouldn't be so tired.

But the crazy thing is, no matter how tired I may complain I am right now -- I'll still end up staying up past midnight tonight. Why is that?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Figuring out creative ways to pass the time

Luckily, Ryan doesn't go out of town often. But he's out of town this week.

And although I'm on my own every Monday to Friday from the time the kids wake up until 6 p.m., somehow, knowing that he's hundreds of miles away makes the days just tick by so slowly.

I don't know why that is, really. Because the difference is only two hours -- it's only two extra hours I have alone with the kids that I wouldn't have if he were coming home as usual at dinner. But somehow, those two hours can make the entire day feel long.

What weird is that I don't feel this way if Ryan's just working late, or it's volleyball night and he's going straight there from work. I only feel like the days last forever when he's out of town.

I think that when Ryan's away, it just throws my routine off. I'm pretty set in my ways -- it's the best way I know how to keep my sanity as a stay-at-home mom. Every day, I drop the kids off at school, do whatever it is I need to do for a few hours, pick them up, have lunch, do stuff in the afternoon with them and then -- as it gets on to be 5 o'clock, I'm already thinking about making dinner and the fact that Ryan will be home soon. Maybe that's it. Here it is, getting on to be 5 o'clock and I know there's still 3 more hours to fill before bedtime. Part of my mentality of stir-craziness and the need to fill the time I think stems from the fact that the kids are also used to a certain routine. And they miss the fact that daddy isn't coming home at dinner time.

So, since Monday, I've been working hard to fill my days and fill my evenings. We've been to the library and visited Santa at the mall (just to say 'hi'), we've been to the Science Centre (just for an hour before close -- which by the way, is the perfect time to go) and we've had movie afternoons and yesterday after dinner, my neighbour came over with her kids for an hour. We've done a lot actually, but I still feel like I need to fill my time or I'll go crazy.

Or they'll kill each other.

Or me.

Or both.

(But I'll quit my whining now. This out-of-town trip wasn't exactly pre-planned, but you can't plan life. Just a few more days (I hope) and life will go back to normal.)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Why run?

Sometimes, when I tell people that I'm a runner; the response I get is along the lines of 'why?'.

This response is usually followed by "wow, I can't run at all" and because they can't run, they figure it's the hardest thing, or the worst thing, or both, in the world and so they wonder why the hell I would want to do such a thing.

Sometimes, I wonder myself.

I started running -- seriously running -- a little over three years ago. I say seriously started running, because two to three years before that, I did try running. But I never managed to run more than a kilometre or so. And at the time, I had silly hopes of running a half marathon or marathon. But then I discovered how difficult it was and quickly abandoned the idea.

It was when I was on maternity leave with Alex that I started running again. And that's when I decided I was going to run 10 kilometres. It took me a year to work my way from being able to run a mere 1k to being able to complete a 10k race. But why did I do it? Because I wanted to prove to myself that I could. And I did. But why do I still do it?

Because I've discovered that I really like it.

Running clears my head. Running is the best stress relief at the end of a long day with the kids. Running keeps me in shape and, when I was training really hard this spring for a race, helped me finally lose the last of the baby weight. Running is something I can do all by myself -- when I can just let my mind wander, lose myself in the music from my ipod and have no one around to yell 'mommy'.

Don't get me wrong. It's hard work. There are some days when I'm running and I love it. It hurts but I love it. And I push myself just a little bit harder. And there are other days -- the bad run days -- where it becomes mind over matter and no matter how much I try to tell myself to keep going, all my mind can say is 'I can't do this anymore'.

I'm going to actually run this winter -- because usually I get a 3-month membership to the gym and then only bother going a few times. But I mean it this time, I'm going to run on the treadmill 2-3 times a week this winter. Why? Because yesterday I got my own treadmill.

Now why would I get my own treadmill when I've said before how much I hate running on a treadmill.

Because in 2012, I'm going to run a half marathon. That's 21.1 kilometres.

Gulp. I just said that out loud, didn't I?