Work/Life Balance: Ideas for Improvement

I thought I'd settled into a pretty good routine balancing out work and home life. The whole family was getting up at the same time every morning, and while the kids were having breakfast and some morning play time, I would grab my coffee and settle into my first article of the day.

The problem was, that's when everything would pretty much go to hell.

My toddler would climb into my lap and joyously smash his cereal-sticky fingers into my keyboard.

My 5-year-old would poke his head in to ask, "Hey, hey, hey Mom? Hey Mom? Hey? Mom? Hey, what goes faster, a subway or a bus? I think a JET but anyway, Mom? Subway or bus?"


The toddler would demand a viewing of his favorite Internet video, the one with the hedgehogs running around with their heads stuck in toilet paper tubes, and when I said no honey we'll do that later, he'd weep angrily, kick my chair, then run off to the other end of the house to attempt a Revenge Diaper Poop.

The dog would station herself nearby and launch into her daily business of releasing steady puffs of sulfurous-dead-whale-farts in my direction.

The 5-year-old would ask if he could have a different Curious George because "THIS Curious George has a lion in it and Mom, I've decided I don't LIKE lions. I like DINOSAURS and HAMSTERS but LIONS are—MOM? Are you listening to me?"

Inevitably, the toddler would suddenly race in and happily announce that "I pooped, Mom, Mom, Mom? I POOOOOOOooooOOOOOOoooooPED!"

(His brother, helpfully: "MOM? DYLAN POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPED!")

Picture, if you will, an unkempt woman hunched over a glowing laptop, repeatedly flapping one arm in a desperate gesture for quiet, frantically searching out story ideas and sending half-formed emails to her editor. Minutes would tick by and pretty soon it would be damn near naptime, and me without a shower. That was usually the point when the doorbell would ring and a UPS guy who bore a striking resemblance to Chris Pine would need a signature, which he would collect with a barely perceptible shudder as I breathed stale coffee on him while hitching at my wrinkled, muffin-top-revealing sweatpants.

Basically, I was spending most of my morning hushing the kids while taking forever to grind out one freaking article. Not exactly a fantastic use of anyone's time.

So here's what I did to solve the problem, and I hope you didn't pay full price for these seats because you are only going to need the EDGE: I set my alarm for an hour earlier.

And that. Fixed. Everything.

Now I sit in a cozy dark living room in total silence, sipping coffee while it's still hot. I can get that first deadline out of the way before the kids are even out of their PJs, and instead of rushing past them to the computer, I'm sitting with them at the breakfast table talking about what we're going to do during the day. By 9 a.m. I'm showered and even ready, mostly, sort of, to be seen by other human beings.

I don't love getting up when it's pitch dark outside, but man oh man: so worth it.

Have you found any basic tricks for improving your own work/life balance?


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