Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The million dollar question for the work-at-home crowd

The thing about working from home is that it's not always clear what you should be doing. Or when you should stop doing it. And exactly how guilty you should feel about it.

If you don't have set work hours and the nature of your work means the projects come in ebbs and flows -- I alternate between OMGSOMUCHWORK to Hmmm-I'm-busy-but-not-crazy-busy, I-wonder-if-I-should-be-busier?

Yes, you can keep strict office hours and refuse to work outside of those times. But my freelance work means that I have to work mornings, afternoons, evenings -- whenever interviews can be conducted, and children can let me write. It's all over the place. 

Summer is slower in the freelance world. I'm not lacking for work, but I'm also not drowning in it. I'm getting paid less frequently, though, as office admins and accounting types go on vacation (freelancer pay is not a high priority at many places).  

So on the slower days, when I manage to check everything off the list, I feel a panicked need to get ahead on tomorrow's work. And so I do. But you know what I'm (slowly) learning? The work never fully gets caught up. 


There are "worky" things I could do. I haven't updated my corporate site is a million years (hardly an exaggeration). I have so many half-written blog posts I have to finish and publish. I have folders of photos waiting to be shared on the blog. 

There are house-related things I could do. I have housework to do. Projects. Organizing. Light bulbs that really should be replaced. 

There are things I'd like to do. Having my sewing supplies in my home office is torture some days, because I refuse to ever let myself even THINK about sewing during the day.

There are freelancers who take advantage of this flexible lifestyle, but I feel guilty even entertaining the idea. I always try to fill these precious work hours with as much paid work as possible. Anything else feels ... frivolous. 

And so, right now, at 2:25 p.m. on a day I'd planned to work until 5 p.m., I'm frozen between wanting to get started on tomorrow's work and wanting to call it quits for the day. 

I thought I could come to a decision by the end of this post, but I haven't. Maybe it will be clear after I hit "Publish."


Let's see. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The end of naptime

We've had some major schedule shake-ups in our house over the past couple of weeks.

The kids spent a week at (morning-only) day camp, which was awesome because I could work uninterrupted for three full hours. But it also caused problems because Darling Husband was only off in the mornings, and it was like ... why are we paying for camp if you're here to be with the kids, and why are we putting them down for "naps" during the 1-2 hours a day they would actually see you? *crickets*

So we decided that as long as he's on this schedule (working from mid-afternoon until about midnight or 1 a.m.) it made sense to have me work a couple of days a week from 9 a.m. until he had to leave for work, and then I'd stop working mid-afternoon to be with the kids. It would also free me up to have a day or two mostly "off" each week during the summer.

This mean scrapping "naptime" (ha -- yeah, like they were REALLY napping every day), and it's actually worked out pretty well, as I explain in my parenting column this week ...
It all started because the scales of nap justice were grossly unbalanced in our house. Both kids were marched up to their rooms after lunch for “quiet time,” in which they had to either nap or play quietly. In a perfect world, the oldest would play quietly and the youngest would nap, right?
Alas, in a cruel twist of fate, the oldest (who shouldn’t be napping) would happily nap and the youngest (who really needed to be napping) refused to nap. It was nap anarchy.
Read the full column

Monday, July 27, 2015

DIY dollhouse from old shelves

My mom is getting ready to leave the house she's lived in since I was eight, which means she's majorly downsizing. I've been pilfering little items (and not-so-little items) that I can't bear to see sold or donated, or items that I think I can remake in my weekly DIY column.

One of the things I've rescued was this beat-ups set of wooden shelves.

Inspired by Young House Love's figurine cubby, I decided to make a place for the kids to organize and play with their little homeless figures -- you know, beloved Happy Meal toys, tiny princesses, board game pieces that have been adopted as toys.

Good news, DIYers! I’ve found a way to combine the most joyful elements of crafting — brightly-coloured paints, polka dots, pretty scrapbook paper, chevron, gold leaf, stripes and glitter — all into a single project that’s easy to create while watching your favourite TV show. 
We’ve been doing a lot of major projects around our Handmade Home over the past couple of months, from making over our master bedroom/bathroom and redoing our kitchen cabinets to turning our entry closet into a mudroom — so this week’s project was a nice break from power tools and days of manual labour. 
As much as I love tackling the big projects on my ever-growing list, it’s also satisfying (and less expensive!) to work on a smaller piece using materials we already have. Plus, anything I can create while watching a few episodes of Scandal is a win in my book.

View the full tutorial

Check out the full tutorial, break out your fancy glitter, and make your own. Oh, and then comment telling me how much you love Scandal, because OMGSOGOOD.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

How to make a backyard water blob

A lot of my real-life friends (a.k.a. Not My Blog Peeps) joke about how they pin all the live-long day but they rarely make any of the projects they see on Pinterest.

I'm not sure what that would feel like, but I suppose they would save themselves a lot of time and money, but also have a life that's very lacking in hilarious Pinterest fails (and Pinterest wins)?

I'm a contributor for an amazing new parenting magazine called Family Matters, and my column is called "This DIY House" (my clever editor knows about my YHL obsession and came up with the name -- isn't it perfect?).

For each issue, I choose a kid-friendly DIY project and explain how to make it. I also put together a fun video that breaks down the steps, and it always includes cameos of C and D.

This month's topic? How to make a backyard water blob!

See the full tutorial

There are a few tutorials floating around on Pinterest, but I found the steps about making the seal kind of confusing. So I hope the video makes it clear. Shoutout to Darling Husband for his mad ironing skillz.

I'd love it if you popped over to the magazine's website and read the full tutorial. It's such a fun project, yours kids will love it, and you won't need to water your lawn for two weeks. Maybe three.