What I Could Do with 8 Hours a Day

I am a highly creative person.

Take my job away and give me eight kid-free hours to “work on my art” and I will work my ass off to write, compose music, write, break for marathon-running drills, blog for RockMommy, and then play some guitar. Perhaps I’ll learn a new recipe or two to make for dinner.

My husband loves to say “you hate cooking.”

He is right. Under the circumstances – you know, having a baby whose diapers need changing and clothes need washing, in addition to a fulltime job – I definitely hate cooking! The last thing I want to do after work is skip my workout just so I can go to the grocery store to leisurely peruse ingredients, and then take an hour to cook something nice (especially when said husband is particular about what he does and doesn’t want for dinner).

Again, I am a highly creative person, but you wouldn’t know it by being around me. I’m just as creative as any rockstar who gets to write songs all day, any writer who spends his hours holed up in a log cabin to work on his “craft,” or any artist who, between brush strokes, takes hours to contemplate life.

Still, I try to remember, when I get down on my lack of time, that there are lots of creative people like me who also don’t have much time to be creative. Work takes a lot of energy. Parenting takes a lot of energy. And if you’re not a night person (I’m not), all you want to do after your kid(s) go to bed is watch a movie or go to sleep (night people don’t want to make out with their partners at night, they just want to go the f#ck to bed!).

 

Fantasy is fun, however. And I love thinking what I would do with those 8 hours a day if I had them all to myself. Here’s how I imagine a “typical” day in my work-free life (that includes daycare for my kid):

 

  1. Wake up at 6:30 or 7 a.m. to feed my baby (same as always).
  2. Put baby in clothes, and put on some attractive leggings/skinny jeans and a cute top (still, same as always).
  3. Drop baby off at daycare, armed with computer (or, if I’m feeling more musical, with guitar).
  4. Head to local coffeehouse/recording studio to spend two hours writing a song/chapter, while eating a waffle/oatmeal and cappuccino.
  5. Go for a run at 10 a.m., or head to a personal training session.
  6. If it’s a Tuesday or Thursday, head to a music/writing class to work on skills that would make my craft better.
  7. At 1 p.m.-ish (or 1:30-ish), meet my husband or my other creative, job-free friends for lunch, maybe stopping at a vintage store to look for cute clothes.
  8. Check Facebook in the afternoon, try to organize a show, or work on my personal website.
  9. Perhaps at 4, because I have nothing but time in my pretend artistic schedule, I’d volunteer for a local animal shelter and walk some dogs.
  10. At 5, pick up my baby, and take him to an early evening play date, exhausted from my day of artistic endeavors.

 

Pretty sweet day, right?

But as I fantasize, it hits me that I actually kind of like the work I do. I teach guitar to children. And I write about important healthcare policies that affect physicians. The work I do helps make the world a better person. And it gets me out of my head! (Do creative artist nonworkers even know what the Affordable Care Act is?)

 

You see, the world isn’t just about me, me, me, and working makes that reality really clear.

 

Perhaps it’s no wonder so many artists who don’t have to work are unhappy. After all, what else is there to think about when the whole world revolves around you and your art?

 

Still, it would be nice, even for two weeks, to have that pretend life. J

 

 

Finding Mommy Balance: Something’s Got to Go … But What?

Just Google “work-life balance” or “mom-work balance” and you’ll find a list of hundreds (maybe even thousands) of articles telling you tips and tricks with balancing work and family. Unless you’re a career musician (most of us aren’t!), these articles aren’t satisfactory.

 What if your job is just a day job, and you have other career aspirations, such as being a fulltime musician? Or, what if you like your day job, but also would like to keep a band and play shows – in addition to having three days a week to exercise?

Balancing, you see, is not just this two-dimensional “mommyhood vs. career” thing. It’s a way of living, about dividing the hours of time into buckets.

 For me, these buckets are: 1. Being a mom who nurses her son; 2. Being a journalist who works, by day, 40 hours per week; 3. Teaching guitar two days a week (aspiring to teach three days per week); 4. Exercising 4x per weeks (aspiring to hit 5x per week); 5. Being part of a community service organization; 6. Household duties; 7. Having a good relationship with my husband; 8. Making time for family and friends.

 Since becoming a mom, I’ve had to give up having a full-time band (and by full-time, I mean full-time in the extracurricular sense) that practices three hours a week and plays regular gigs. I’ve also had to give up Zumba with my favorite instructor in Stamford, because you have to score a spot 30 minutes early. I’ve also given up teaching guitar in Brooklyn on Sundays.

 I’m at the point where I want to add some stuff, like 2-3 new students per month for guitar lessons, two hours per week for Skype lessons, two hours per week for my own music, and one chapter per week for my novel. But I don’t have anything left I can give up!

 I can’t give up exercise; it’s already scaled down from my pre-pregnancy days. Gone are the 5:30-7:30 p.m. 13-mile runs with my running friends, or the half-marathon field trip. And I already mentioned the Zumba.

I can’t give up teaching guitar, because it’s my passion. I certainly can’t give up cleaning, or time with my son. I don’t want to give up the two or three hours I have with my husband per week, talking in bed or watching “Kitchen Nightmare” over sushi takeout.

And I don’t want to give up my regular book club – it’s one of the only chances I get to see my local friends. Speaking of which, I’d like to do more stuff with friends – running, going to rock shows, singing karaoke, attending birthday parties.

 I didn’t start this blog post with any ideas for a solution. But I’ll take suggestions. And with that, my 10-minute break is over, and I’m back to being a journalist.