request for advice

I’ve referred vaguely to the big changes in our life recently, in terms of my quitting academia. I’ve talked about how grateful I am that it is at all possible for me to try to segue into writing full time. But it’s hard, really hard, and I’d like to ask for some advice. Mostly I’m asking for strategies from other people who have tried to do anything else while being at home with their kids full time, but if anyone else has ideas, I’m all for it.

Josh continues, obviously, to work full time as a professor. I teach one night a week for the university, and one Sunday morning a week for our synagogue. The latter doesn’t take up much more time than just the morning, but obviously giving up a Sunday morning free means less time with the family (although Samuel’s there at religious school anyway) and for errands. So far, we can’t find a financial way for me to quit teaching one course per semester, and the little bit of money from Sunday helps. Also, I love my fifth graders.

We can’t afford childcare for Jonah. That’s just a fact. As some of you know well, an assistant professor doesn’t make all that much. We already don’t have cable, eat as cheaply as we can while still eating healthfully, wear old clothing, get hand-me downs for the kids, don’t travel to places where we don’t have friends and relatives, and don’t get a babysitter more than once every two to three months. We still go into debt during summers because we never seem quite able to save enough. There’s not really anything left to cut.

Anyway, our bank account is not my point. I’m doing this because I want to make a change. I don’t want to just accept any job I can find because that would be miserable. Yet I am just not finding enough time to write as much as I want, and I can’t figure out how to give Jonah the entertainment and enrichment he deserves AND manage to keep up with cooking and cleaning. That’s three things I’d like to do better, but I’d really settle for two.*

So let’s start with, does anyone have any ideas for how you organize a day home with a very active toddler and still manage to cook dinner and not live in a disaster zone? If I can at least do that, maybe I’ll have the energy to write a bit after they go to bed.

*Actually finding the time to keep up with friends and send holiday cards and all that other stuff so many of you manage to do would just be icing on the cake!

3 responses to “request for advice

  1. I swapped kid minding during the day with another mother when Nick was that age.

  2. I’m in a similar situation. I don’t work full time and I’m trying to write. I don’t blame lack of time because I really do have plenty (though not plenty of money). But a few things that have saved me time: having kids do chores, crockpot, combining exercise and chores (bike rides to grocery store, etc.).

  3. Swapping childminding would seem to be a big help; and if you can do that, sometimes accept that your house looks like a disaster zone, so that instead of using your time to clean it, you can write while you are still awake. Giving the toddler stuff to play with in the kitchen also helped me combine family time with necessary chores (although of course the result is more disaster zone).

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