Being self-employed and working from home if you have young children is wonderful at all times of year, but especially during the summer. Gone are the worries about 40-hour-a-week summertime childcare that plagued me back when I had a full-time job away from home. Now I’m available to spend my kids’ vacation time alongside them, and even better, they’re old enough to keep themselves busy for a few hours every morning so that I can get some work done before we head to the beach, the pond or the bike path.
In fact, at the ages of 9 and 13, they are even old enough that they generally sleep through some of those morning hours when I’m getting my writing done.
On the other hand, back when I was working in an office throughout the year, I had a couple of weeks every summer when I was officially on vacation. I said goodbye to my co-workers, closed up my laptop, walked away from my desk, and put all work responsibilities aside while I spent a week or two traveling with my family.
Now, there are no weeks throughout the entire year when I put all my work aside. I file stories on family trips and on holidays and every week throughout the summer. Self-employed writers are always on deadline for something, and having given up the paid vacations of my salaried life, I never feel comfortable ignoring all possible sources of income for a week or two.
So it’s a double-edged sword: I feel like I’m always partially on vacation, but I also feel like I’m never fully on vacation.
But this year I told myself that summer would be different. I really wanted to find a way to feel like the ten weeks of the kids’ summer break were a break for me as well. I resolved that this summer I would read more, spend less time on line, and even watch those past seasons of “Mad Men” that my husband has been urging me to catch up on for so long. I was determined that this summer would feel different from the rest of the year.
Yet I couldn’t figure out exactly how to do that. I need to keep up with my regular Globe assignments, which include two weekly deadlines and whatever other opportunities arise to write feature stories. I knew it didn’t make sense to turn down the occasional assignments I receive from other clients. I still need to prepare regular meals for my family, which means regular trips to the supermarket. And I definitely don’t want to slack off on the housekeeping any.
Then, late last week, I read this blog entry from my blogging colleague, Amy Suardi, author of the Frugal Mama blog. It turns out Amy has been thinking along very similar lines. She too wants to take it easier this summer. And she gave me an idea I hadn’t even thought of: stop writing so many blog entries.
Yes, I thought. That’s it. That’s something that would absolutely make it more of a summer break for me. Give up the pressure of writing three blog entries a week? That would be huge! And it would definitely buy me some time for reading. And for watching “Mad Men.”
But I was still a little bit conflicted. I’ve always been so diligent about maintaining my blog. Not because I think there are a lot of readers who really care whether or not I post three times a week without fail, but just because it’s an important writing exercise for me, and blogging generates ideas that I can then use in my newspaper column and other published essays. Moreover, I’ve noticed among other blogging colleagues that those who fade away seldom come back. Bloggers start out with intense enthusiasm….and then gradually drop off. I’ve maintained a regular schedule of posting for nearly three years now; I’m afraid to give myself permission to cut back.
And yet, I don’t want to give up any of my other work, or any household responsibilities. Blogging is the clear choice for how to relieve myself of some of my commitments this summer. And Amy Suardi has empowered me to believe it will be okay. I’ll post once a week for the nine weeks between now and Labor Day. I’ll return to three posts weekly as of Labor Day. Really, I will.
Frankly, I doubt anyone will notice. As long as I can reassure my conscience that this is just for summer, it will be fine. It will make my summer more relaxed, and I’m ready to give it a try. More New Yorker issues, more novels, and yes, more “Mad Men.” Sounds like a decent summer break plan to me.