I'm considering a return to the 4:30 am writing schedule.
If I do, I'll have to go to bed no later than 9:00pm. But that's how I wrote my dissertation while simultaneously raising a baby to toddlerhood. I had a traveling husband, very little child care, and no extended family around to help. You do what you have to do!
Since I finished my last manuscript, I've struggled to find my writing time. My daughter enrolled in a dance class on Saturday mornings, and Saturdays used to be my writing time. My husband would take her out for the day and I would write like crazy. Her ballet class stopped that for a while. I'm not willing to take her out of her ballet class, however, as it is excellent and there is no alternative class time.
Fortunately, my husband has offered to start taking her to ballet, so that will restore some of my lost time. Still, I need more time. I finished my last novel during the summer, when I didn't have to homeschool. Now that homeschooling is back, I have to switch to a schedule that allows me regular writing time without neglecting my teaching job!
This is, of course, in addition to all the usual tasks stay-at-home moms do: administering the family finances and appointments, attempting to keep our home in some semblance of order and cleanliness, cooking, grocery shopping, offering hospitality to others, etc.
Then there's the volunteering. Between the work I do at church and co-leading the Daisy Scout troop, my volunteering calendar is full.
Finally, and most unpredictably, there are situations that come up with friends or acquaintances when I spend time helping out with a pressing need. Often, that need is simply for my company and a listening and supportive ear. We live in a world in which many people don't get a lot of emotional support, for one reason or another. I do consider it a spiritual responsibility to be a friend and an encourager. We can't spread love without making time for it, and that means treating my time as a sacrificial gift. Of course, I often enjoy these occasions, but if I didn't view my time sacrificially, I could come up with a million other things I needed to be doing. That's why so many people have no encouragers in their lives--everybody's just too busy.
I think Jody Hedlund is going to post this week about how she manages her schedule. I am looking forward to this post! Jody homeschools FIVE kids, not one. My friend Anne also homeschools a passel of 'em. My friend Gwen holds a full-time job outside the home. So does my friend Kat. All of these fellow writers have time challenges at least as serious as mine. Probably more serious, because their commitments are less flexible than mine.
I need to get it through my thick skull that some of my commitments ARE flexible. My writing time is also service. Many Christian writers view their writing as a ministry to other people, and I share that view. It just takes a lot of faith to be able to say that to a scornful world that wonders how your writing can be a ministry if your book isn't contracted yet. :-)
How do you handle your time challenges?