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2117 Grover Road
West Falls, NY, 14170
United States

a little bit art. a little bit me.

A little bit art.  A little bit me.

Schedule It!

Jennifer Calkins

The toughest part of trying to be a work at home mom, for me, has been figuring out a schedule (Do I call myself a work at home mom?  I’m not really “working” but I suppose I am because I am making something to sell?  I don’t consider my pottery and artwork to be “just a hobby” but is it?  I have no idea.  I won't make a ton of dolla dolla bills from it but I'll make enough to, say, buy myself a pair of kick ass red shoes.  Am I a Stay at Home Mom Artist?  Perhaps I’ll come up with a better term.  Better yet, maybe it doesn’t need a label?  Yes, I like that option of non-label.  I digress.)

I’m a creature of habit, an organized one at that, and I need a schedule.  I’ve always kept my son and I busy, we have certain things we do on certain days, etc. and it’s helped us both stay sane.  We most certainly do NOT stay at home all day every day.  Unless there’s a driving ban because of an insane amount of snow.  In that case, heaven help us.  He’s like me that way, he does well with a schedule.  So do I work at night after he goes to bed?  Do I find time during the day? 

For cards and other artwork, I can do that while my son plays during the day.  He’s actually really good at entertaining himself for twenty to thirty minutes at a time and it’s good for him to play by himself at some point through the day.  He has plenty of toys and an easel and chalk wall by my "office."

(photo: Designs by JJK)  An easel and a chalk wall for kid sized fun close to mommy!

(photo: Designs by JJK)  An easel and a chalk wall for kid sized fun close to mommy!

However, pottery is a little different and harder to take breaks from.  First, my studio takes up half of our one-car garage, the other half is packed with tools; not really a place for a small child to play.  Second, when I am covered in clay it’s tough to take a pint sized human to the potty within five seconds of said pint sized human telling me he needs to go potty.  So that leaves evenings and weekends for pottery.  Except this doesn’t work for me either.  By the time we eat dinner and clean up and have family play time?  I’m exhausted.  I’m sure every mom is exhausted by this point in the day.  Plus I feel guilty for playing “tag, you’re it” with my husband as I fly out the door and head to my studio before dinner is even finished (give my son a snack and it’s gone in thirty seconds, but dinner?  It’s a marathon event in our house.)  My husband is one of the hardest working people I know and his job is quite demanding during the day.  So he’s just as, if not more, exhausted as I am in the evenings and on weekends.  Even when he tells me to “just go make stuff” I still feel guilty.  Does that ever go away?  (That’s not rhetorical, I’d love to know!)  And weekends?  Well, we typically are pretty busy most weekends.  So that doesn’t always work either.

So what do I do?  Well, I use my retired parents as free babysitters, that’s what I do!

This year I have high hopes and a new direction for my work.  But the only thing making it possible to focus on my pottery more and get this website working, is the fact my son started preschool two mornings a week and the fact that not only is my dad retired but my mom retired January 1st.  So I have free babysitters one to two mornings a week.  Which is HUGE.  That's about eight hours of studio time weekly for me.  I’m sure I’d figure something else out but when you are a stay at home mom on a budget, you use your free resources!  I’m incredibly grateful to those free babysitters.

Occasionally, like this past weekend when we had zero plans ALL weekend, I take advantage and spend the time in the studio.  And my son and husband got some good quality boy time in.  They probably had lengthy philosophical discussions.  Or maybe they just played with trains and cars.  You know...boy stuff.

Everyone has bad days though and the same goes for my son and I.  Like yesterday when it took me two hours to complete a thirty minute task because of play-dough falling on the floor, potty breaks, missing listening ears and snack requests!  Or some days my free babysitters back out to go to an appointment (golfing?!) or something.  That’s life and that’s where being a stay at home mom/work at home mom has the advantage of being flexible.  And I love that.  I love a schedule but I love that if it needs to change for a day, so be it.

Most important?  I love that I can pursue my creative ambitions.  I am so very grateful for that!

So for anyone worried about making that transition to work at home mom?  Do it, follow your passions.  You figure out the details and you evolve.

I’m sure as my son gets older things will change.  Things are always changing, kids grow so fast as do their personalities so perhaps in six months he’ll play longer as I work or perhaps he won’t want to do that at all?  We’ll figure it out.  Always do.  Plus, sometimes you can take Lego breaks!