Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Time is Valuable

It's good to know we all struggle a little being confident with our writing. Thanks for the comments yesterday--you guys rock.

So yeah, today I'm writing about time management again. It's something I think about A LOT.

Confession. I have not brought home a penny for our family since my first daughter was born almost six years ago. Yup, that's right--I am a freeloader.

Luckily my husband has a good job that has allowed me to stay at home with my kids. Neither of us are big spenders so his income has always been more than enough to keep our family fed, clothed, housed, and educated. I am SO, SO, SO grateful for his willingness to support our family while I stay at home.

But even though I don't make any money (yet), I still feel like my time is valuable.

I am often presented with ideas from friends about how I can make money for my family while I stay at home. These ideas range from selling Mary Kay to learning the art of crazy couponing, and my response to these ideas is always, "would it really be worth my time?" Because while I might save $30 on my weekly groceries if I became coupon savvy, if it takes three or four hours of my time to save that $30, is it really worth it?

My time is limited and there are a lot of things that I want to accomplish every day. I want to have snuggle time with my kids, I want to go to the park, I want to sit and read stories with them and help them with their homework, I want to write, I want to exercise, I want to learn more about writing through reading blogs and books and beta reading for friends, I want to spend the evenings with my husband watching movies, playing games, or just talking. Is it worth saving $8 an hour if I have to give one of these things up? The answer (for me) is no.

The answer might be different if we needed that $8 an hour to keep my children fed and clothed. The answer might be different when I am in a different phase of life (like when I no longer have kids at home 24 hours a day). The answer might be different if it was something I would enjoy (like if someone would pay me to taste test chocolate cake or something). But right now my time is better spent on things that make me (and my family) happy. So, you probably won't see me clipping coupons or selling Mary Kay--you may all sigh in relief--anytime soon.

What is your free time worth?


Jennifer Shirk said...

My time is VERY valuable, although maybe I don't always use it wisely all the time. But still, if anything tries to impede on what little I have, I scream. LOL!
It's not worth it to me either. I rather do without some things than sacrifice my time.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

This is a big reason why I left teaching. In order to teach well, you have to devote huge amounts of time. Before children, I could do this and taught happily for five years. I stayed home with my boys for six years and returned to the classroom for two.

It was fantastic to be known again for something I did well (those of you who write and are stay-at-home moms know what I mean: not a lot of praise coming your way for what you do. Your family supports and loves you, but much of your outside contact comes in the form of rejection from editors, agents, and the like). I loved being with kids again and miss them dearly (I was on campus just yesterday and stirred up fifth grade's PE class just by walking by...sorry, Coach!).

Still, my writing, my family, and ultimately my students (in my opinion)suffered. Even though my principal and (most) parents loved what I did in the classroom, it wasn't my best work. My writing became limited to revision only during the school year, if that. My family ate way too many junky meals. I was too exhausted. I wasn't giving my best, and my best is what I want to give.

So I quit. My supportive principal has let me design an after-school book club that allows me to talk about what I love and spend time with children I love. How fantastic is that?

We're living with less. I've said good-bye to my housekeeper (my teaching perk). We've cut back on a lot of extras.

Some days I want it all. I want to be able to do everything I enjoy and do it to the fullest. But in reality, I can't sustain the quality I want to give, so I've learned to cut back. It works for me.

Marybeth Poppins said...

Time is insanely limited when you are a mom/writer/crazy lady who NEEDS to read lots of blogs (talking about me here...)

I'm trying to keep up with some part time work at home, but finding it quite difficult to find time to write now. Before all my free time was devoted to writing. So I totally don't blame you for not selling Mary Kay!

Lazy Writer said...

I know exactly what you are saying. My kids are all in school now, so I'm feeling the need to find a job. My husband has supported us for years, and I think it's time I help out. The problem is, I still insist on being home when my kids are and there aren't many part time jobs out there that, as you say, would pay enough to be worth my time.

beth said...

I totally respect your position. I feel my time is valuable, and if my family didn't need my income to survive, I would be doing the same as you!

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Thank you for posting this. I've had a long-standing disagreement with my mom on whether I should be driving across town to the other grocery store because they have TP on sale this week. I refuse. Do it all in one place. Who has the time?

Good for you for knowing your priorities. Makes for joyful living.

Patti said...

I totally agree with you. There are some things in life that are just a waste of time. Sometimes when I'm bored and I sit down to watch TV, I say to myself "This isn't worth my time." and I try to go do something more constructive.

Anita Saxena said...

I think time is my biggest commodity. My pet peeve is when people waste my time. I think people who are happy and achieve great things in life are people who realistically manage their time.
Great post!

Beth said...

I just did a post about time management, too!

I totally hear you on saving time for things that make you and your family happy, I think that's something we all want more of! If it makes you feel any better, I've been freeloading for almost 5 years and I don't clip coupons either ;P

I will most likely go back to work (unless I can make enough from writing - here's hoping!) when my kids are in school full time, but I'd like to find something so that I can be there when they get home, too.

Dawn VanderMeer said...

I agree with you, especially since writing is a full-time job in itself: writers are works in progress, and growth requires a lot of work/time. But if you DO hear of any jobs where people get paid to taste chocolate, be sure to let me know! ;)

Tabitha Bird said...

You could not buy my free time. It is priceless. And I am like you, what I do with it is very important and there are plenty of things I say no to in order to do those things that make me and my family happy. Great post Natalie. And I was just thinking about the little pleasures of life today too:)

Anonymous said...

Sorry, since I spent all my time reading the post and the great replies, I don't have time to offer anything of value. :-) Great post.

Linda Kage said...

If I could stay home with my baby and be the one to raise it, I definitely would. Heck, my child is four months away from being born and I aleady feel like I'm letting it down because I won't be the one to change its every diaper and feed it its every meal.

Family comes first I say, so I wouldn't worry about that measley $8 an hour if I were you. Do what you love because this'll be the only life you live. Might as well enjoy it.