Today is the last day of the year and the last day of a week that some call the most productive week of the year.
I’m not so sure that term fits for work-at-home moms like me.
In fact, I’m not sure productivity is the highest goal during a school vacation.
The week started with after Christmas cleanup: finding homes for new toys, putting things together, taking down decorations.
I got a new laptop for Christmas and I spent what felt like much of Monday trouble shooting with technical support about a webcam that wouldn’t work. After more than three hours on the phone trying various fixes that didn’t work, I stood in a long line at Best Buy to return the first laptop. Then I stood in another line waiting to purchase another one. (The new laptop is working fine.)
I worked a three day week spread out over five this week, working during early mornings while my kids watched Phineas and Ferb and on two longer days when my sitter came by to help out with the kids. I didn’t have any expectations of getting any work done for my own business, and I didn’t. (Evidence: see neglected blog, here.)
Mid morning Wednesday, when a colleague called me for a scheduled meeting, I had to ask for a few extra minutes to deal with a puddle on the bathroom floor and one daughter who didn’t make it to the potty in time. When she called me back a few minutes later, I closed my office door to the happy noises of kids at play, and prayed for an interruption free meeting (didn’t happen.)
On Thursday morning, while talking with a friend on a somewhat business related topic, I had to end a phone call because one daughter was (literally) screaming and stomping right in front of me.
At some point during those days, I realized that this might not become my most productive week of the year.
An article I once read outlined some tips to make your week the most productive week of the year, whether you are working or not.
The author wrote that during this week there would be “fewer distractions and… in general less competition for your time and attention.”
Not since summer have there been this many beautiful distractions in my home and such competition for my time and attention. My email box may be emptier but the barrage of real life requests from my girls is unending. One daughter wants to bake; another has a stack of new books from Christmas that she’d like me to read to her.
Can we have a chips and salsa party? Can I go out on the deck in my bare feet to dance in the snow? I’m BORED. Can we use our new glitter pens? What’s for lunch? I want a friend to come over. Why are you still WORKING? She hit me.
During this week we enjoyed:
- an impromptu birthday party for my now five year old, with bouncing, slides, friends, and brownies from a box (because that’s what she wanted.)
- some Skype calls with some friends and family far away (thank you, new laptop with a working webcam!)
- company for lunch, with home baked bread and soup that everyone helped to make.
- lunch out with my brother and his family, five girls all together.
- cozy fires and lots of time for reading aloud together.
- some hair-pulling and hitting.
- some already broken Christmas gifts.
- one girl sick in the middle of the night.
When I approach this week next year, it will not be with an expectation of productivity but of surrender (thank you, Susan Mazza.)
I’ll realize that though I may not have the most productive week of the year, it will be a rich week: a week of flexibility and negotiation, perhaps; a week of making memories; a messy week; a fun week; a week full of love and cuddles; a week of interruptions; a noisy week; a sometimes-crazy week; a joyful week; an up and down week; a week for choices and plans and the unexpected.
Just like the rest of the year.
I am the founder/CEO of the Weaving Influence team, the author of Reach: Creating the Biggest Possible Audience for Your Message, Book, or Cause, and the host of the Book Marketing Action Podcast. I’m a wife and mom of three kids, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, coffee, and dark chocolate.
Becky, it’s hard for someone to understand the life of a working mom unless they’ve lived it. Your post brings to life the struggle to balance being present to the richness our precious children bring to our lives and all the other competing demands. How do we enjoy their childhood, knowing they grow up so very fast, and at the same time build our career and nurture ourselves and our other relationships? I remember during those years feeling like being in balance was a moment I would pass through as my life tipped in one direction or another. I was constantly calibrating. I love your conclusion that this week might not be the most productive, but it could be one of the richest. The topic of your last post makes so much sense here because being a working mom is all about starting and stopping. One of the things I’m most grateful for in 2011 is meeting you, Becky. Warm wishes for a wonderful 2012.
Hi, Becky. I SO relate to what you’re writing!!
Is it our stage in life with our children the ages they are? Or is it the simple differences of motherhood and fatherhood, and how they play out on our families? Or is it just vacation-time – full of fun and chaos at all times, because nobody is on a schedule they’re used to having?!?!
Regardless, I keep reminding myself to treasure these moments. They won’t last forever, and I’m afraid I’ll wake up one day wishing my kids were still at home.
This year was especially odd for me, being in a new home city and also suffering from a freak illness and hospitalization. I still found myself looking for (and finding) the bright side of things, as I know you do!
Becky, thank for sharing your thoughts and writing. It’s like a hug for me sometimes, knowing you’re there, and knowing we share so much in common. You are a blessing to me and others. Keep doing what you’re doing, because even though it might be hard to find the time, you touch people’s hearts and lives – min included!
Great post Becky!
The last line was absolutely perfect–brought it all together and really resonated with me.
So many times we think “perfection” or “accomplishment” or “success” will be at some time in the future…
What if we looked at everything we had in front of us, right now, in all of it’s wonder, frustration, joy, and even sometimes bland ordinariness–as the accomplishment, opportunity, and success?
“Like the rest of the year,” the special moments might be much more inf front of us, right now, than we imagined.
Thanks again for a great post, at just the right time!
Thank you, Bryan, I appreciate your words and I am glad that my words could make a difference for you.