Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Walking The Tightrope

Balance, an eternal struggle for all of us. Each of us has lives full of many diverse elements, every piece competing for time and attention. All of us must pick and chose which segments get priority over the others. These decisions are perhaps the most important ones we will ever make in regards to being truly happy and satisfied with our lives and no one can make them for you.

I've been alive for 31 years, crafting and creating for at least 20, married for almost 10 years, a stay at home mom for just 4 years and an etsy addict for a little over 2 years. Not a single one of these elements defines me completely. I enjoy being a mother and a wife, but without my tatting, I don't think I would be very happy. I know that I need to give attention to every part of myself in order to keep myself sane. Sometimes I lose sight of myself as an individual in favor of keeping my kids and my husband happy. I haven't read a book without pictures since I had my last baby. I used to have time for video games and movies and stacks of comic books. I could do all that and knit a sweater, keep the house clean...well relatively clean and spend hours online. Honestly, the last thing I have left just for me is this blog and my etsy store.

Part of my solution is to combine activities to make the best use of my time, but I know that this is only moderately successful at best. I tat while watching morning cartoons with my kids, I play dance party while taking and uploading pictures for my listings. I write my blog posts while my husband plays wii with my oldest daughter and the 1 year old watches. I strive to put my family first, but I'm so easily distracted by the chime of my email and when I spend too much time cleaning and keeping the kids from killing each other, I get frustrated with the lack of "me" time.

The problem of balance is certainly not unique to etsians, but for some reason, I have more difficulty walking the line since I started my store. Perhaps it's harder to separate my life from etsy because , unlike a job outside the home, it's only ever a click away. Perhaps it's the constant advice from others about how to succeed, including endless amounts of forum posting, networking, blogging, listing, etc. not to mention actually designing and making pieces to sell.

I'm sorry, I don't have answers for you on how to balance your life and etsy, but I do have some unsolicited advice. Whether you are trying to balance school or etsy or a full time job with your family or just yourself, it all comes down to choices. You must make the effort to actually choose what is most important at this point in your life. My kids are so young that they need me most of the time, but they won't always be that way. When they are older, I can spend more time on me, my husband, my craft and perhaps I can actually find some friends in the physical world. If you need your full time job to pay your bills then that is clearly more important than your hobby, but that doesn't mean you can't slowly grow your hobby until it can replace the job. The key, I think, is patience.

You don't need to do it all right now, have a little patience in your lives and try not to bite off more than you can chew. Most of the opportunities you come across now are not the once in a lifetime kind and while I agree that you should seize the day, you should be sure that you are seizing the right days for you. Sorry if that metaphor got messy, but I think you understand my meaning...right? You may have to resort to scheduling your time, but if that allows you to do a little of everything that makes you happy then it's worth the effort. My mother-in-law shared a bit of advice with me about paying yourself first. Even though that is about saving your money, but making sure to give yourself a small share now, it applies to your time too. Make sure you give the individual inside the mom/wife, dad/husband, student or employee a few moments everyday before you give the rest of your time away.


Waterrose said...

and then there's the enjoyment of reading others blogs, like yours. Before I know it days have passed and have missed some great posts. Luckily my kids are grown up and off to college so there aren't little ones needing me. now off to put a roast in the crock pot to buy myself a little more "me"

Stacy said...

Very, VERY well written!! I am really struggling w/ the whole balance thing right now, especially with the weather warming up ~ it's hard to justify sitting inside on a computer and/or crafting when it's beautiful out and there's yardwork to be done. Then there's work and family/friend commitments . . . I'm trying to make it all work but so far that has meant getting far too little sleep. I think I could use some of that "patience" you speak of!

Rachael said...

I got out of bed at 4.30a.m this morning as I had a headache. I had a headache as I didn't make enough time for myself to drink any fluids the day before. I thought I'd have a cup of tea and go back to bed but no, I've been drawn into doing something every hour of the day since.(It's now 5.15 p.m) The days just aren't long enough and there's just too much I want to do and too much else that needs doing.
I really enjoyed reading your article, I think you speak for many people.

kiddlebug said...

True words! We have been discussing balance alot lately. It is hard to take time to smell the roses sometimes, because you can't clear your mind enough to appreciate them.