Blogging with a full time job is easier than you might think!
Today’s a bit of a different kind of post for me – it’s all about how I manage to have a great work, life, blog balance!
I’ve been asked a couple of times lately how I manage to balance a full-time job, a happy home life and blogging so I thought I’d share a little bit about my life and tell you how I do it.
First, a bit of background.
One of the reasons I started this blog was to document our journey into living a more frugal lifestyle – something that we needed to do as I wanted to have the flexibility of working less when my children were younger.
Our lifestyle changes meant that I was able to reduce my hours at work to part time and pretty much be there for the kids whenever they weren’t in school. Something I did from nursery age right through to the day that both kids started secondary school.
At that point, things changed as I realised that they were getting to the stage where they wouldn’t need me to be around as much so I started to think about what I wanted out of life. I applied for a new job in the same company with slightly more hours (still not full time though) and loved it.
I spent the next few years working as hard as I could while at work and then coming home and spending as much time with the kids as they’d let me and opening my laptop to blog when they retreated to their rooms to Snapchat/Insta/Xbox with their friends – which you’ll know is pretty often if you have teenagers.
It worked really well for us as a family and I felt like it was a good balance but then, without wanting to sound all Fresh Prince of Bel Air, life got turned upside down by a couple of changes at the start of the year to my job.
Nothing disastrous but a change in location meant a 45 minute commute each way rather than the 20 minutes I was currently travelling. I was also asked to do a slightly different role which means that now I’m working different shifts rather than the set hours that I’ve worked since the kids were little.
(on the plus side, I got a new car for the commute)
That was then. This is how I balance home and work now.
When I knew things were changing at work, I sat down and thought about all of the things that would need to change at home to ensure that I could still have that work, life, blog balance that I felt like I’d always had.
Here’s what I came up with:
I’m not the most organised person in the world so I have both kids timetables up on the fridge door along with a calendar page that I print out each month that both Mr Frugal and I write our shifts on for each day we’re at work along with any important appointments or events.
This means I know exactly where everyone is (or should be) and can make plans based on that.
I needed to adapt the meal plans I wrote so that I could cook more meals that needed less effort so I started to incorporate more slow cooker and Instant Pot meals into my plans. I wanted to still be able to cook great meals but I didn’t want to spend any more time than necessary in the kitchen.
My meal plans might look simple (I share them over on Meal Planning Made Easy) but they’re actually planned with military precision.* I look at the days I know I’m going to be late in or have less energy after a day of meetings etc and plan an easy meal on those nights – so I might use something from the freezer that I batch cooked earlier or plan a slow cooker meal that I can prep before work.
The kids each cook one night a week and although the meals they cook aren’t necessarily culinary delights, they’re definitely better than I could have cooked at their age. These nights are planned for nights when I’ll be home as I like to be there to keep an eye on them – I actually just sit at the kitchen table while they do all the work and I’ll often use that time to check in on my blog emails from through the day so it’s time well spent.
The nights when I know I’m going to be around and have the time and energy to be more adventurous are the nights when we’ll have mid-week roasts or other meals that take anything more than minimal effort on my part.
I do cut corners where I can these days with cooking and my freezer drawer filled with frozen veg is pretty much my hero!
*I could be exaggerating slightly when I say military precision. 😉
Jobs around the house
I’ve always believed that in a family home, everyone makes the mess so everyone should clean up the mess so my children have always had their own daily jobs to do after school.
The jobs they have are the jobs that make the house look instantly tidy if that makes sense – one hoovers upstairs, one hoovers downstairs, one tidies the shoes and coats up and one tidies the living room and then they both have to tidy their own rooms.
Mr Frugal is in charge of kitchen cleaning so he’ll always wash any pots and clear the surfaces before he goes to work and on a night after tea. He also does the ironing where it needs doing – we try to avoid ironing as much as possible though.
I’m happy to do most other things to be fair but we do have family house cleans whenever necessary.
The thought of having less family time was a big thing for me when I found out about the changes at work. Spending time together just used to happen naturally when I was at home more and although it still happens now, I do find that I need to find ways to squeeze out extra time with the kids.
We are quite a close family and we enjoy spending time together but the older the kids get, the less time they want to spend together naturally as they have their own lives and social circles that are way cooler than doing things with us. There are still a few ways that I can get some bonus family time in though – I won’t bore you with them all but I’ll share a couple so you get what I mean…
- For some reason the kids love a trip to Costco so we make a monthly trip there where we not only stock up on things we need to save us money through the month, we also spend a fair amount of quality time with the kids. There’s the drive there and back where we talk, the shopping where we save money and then we always stop for a hot dog and a drink so we have that time too. Not a special activity by any means but one that I plan in when I know both kids are free as the likelihood is that they’ll come with us.
- We don’t really watch TV that much but Miss Frugal wanted to watch Love Island this year (I know, I know) so we decided to watch it with her meaning that every night over the Summer she’d come downstairs, plonk herself on the settee and we’d have an hour to spend with her. Her and Mr Frugal got right into it and the time we spent watching it was a real highlight – she had no idea that we were only watching it because we knew she would watch it with us. Similar to Mr Frugal who loves a couple of shows on Netflix, we watch them with him even though we’re not huge fans.
I realise that I probably sound a bit pathetic but honestly, I’m just conscious that they’re 17 and 14 with lives of their own so I want to spend whatever time I can with them while they still want to. These little planned ‘bonus’ times that we have them really help me feel with my work, life, blog balance.
And here’s where the blog fits in.
(feel free to stop reading at this point if you’re not a blogger – I won’t hold it against you. ;-))
I’m going to start here by saying that I love blogging and that’s the only reason that I still do it. I’ve made some amazing friends and had some fantastic opportunities but it’s more than that – it makes me feel proud to see what I’ve achieved and happy to be able to look back at all the adventures we’ve had over the ten years that I’ve been blogging.
If I didn’t love it then I couldn’t keep spending time and energy on creating and sharing and planning and everything else that blogging involves. I can balance the blogging with everything else because I want to and because it’s part of me now so it’s not an option.
To keep track of everything I need to do or remember, I use an app called Trello and have done for a good few years now. It’s available on an app but also on desktop so I can use it to keep track of ideas that I think of on the go using my phone and then it syncs to my desktop (and vice versa).
I’m going to write a post dedicated just to Trello on its own as it’s great for all aspects of life, not just blogging.
This is what I love more than anything – the rest of the things I do below are just a necessary evil. 😉 It does take time though so I usually set aside weekend mornings just for writing although I need to be super organised and plan exactly what I’m going to be writing otherwise I’ll get easily distracted. I write a to-do list in Trello and work through it until I’m completely done before I let myself put Youtube on in the background or check in on Facebook or Instagram.
I do have other time to write posts though – through the week for example when the kids are busy doing teen stuff and Mr Frugal is either at work or on his Xbox for an hour or so then I’ll open my laptop and write whatever I fancy writing. This post, for example, wasn’t planned but everyone is at the Boro match so I thought I’d write a quick post to share tomorrow instead of the post I had scheduled which I’ve moved to later in the month.
DIY / Crafty content
I’ll often have a weekend every couple of months where I’ll just create and take photos of what I make ready to write up at a later date. I’ll take rough notes of what I do and then move on to the next project I have planned. I’ll try to do batches of similar things to share out over the course of the next few months. My homemade soaps and sugar scrubs are a fab example of this, they use the same base recipe so I’ll make several different versions and write them up separately and space them out.
I rarely make anything specifically to share on the blog when it comes to food so what you see are basically just photos that I take when I’m cooking something for us. Which is the reason why my foodie photos are never that good. 😉
Monday’s potato salad recipe was made for a BBQ I was going to and until I was halfway through making it, I hadn’t even though of sharing it with you on here.
Sitting down and planning my content is something I do properly once a month but actually work on all the time. Basically, I have a board in Trello where I write down any ideas that come into my head throughout the month so that when it comes to my little monthly planning session, I can lift the ideas from there and add them into my content plan which is set up in Google Calendar.
Once I’ve written up my plan, I’ll write a list in Trello what I need to buy to go with the content and when I have some spare money, I’ll order anything I need from Amazon or wherever so I’m ready to go when it’s time to write that post.
I’ll work on posts at least two weeks in advance, often more and I use my Google calendar to change the colour when I’ve finished a post so I can see at a glance when I look at the month ahead what’s done and what’s still to be written up.
One last point on content planning before we move on – I have a basic blog plan so I know what I have going on and when – Mondays are foodie related, Tuesdays are for money posts, Wednesdays are family/me kind of posts, Thursdays are thrifty related posts and Fridays are my #5FrugalThings posts.
My emails (of which I receive approximately 11 million a day) are checked whenever I have five minutes and I rather brutally delete a lot without fully reading them – if it’s a generic email or someone calls me by the wrong name then it’s gone. I also have some canned responses which I send to a lot of the email contacts that I get. I used to send personalised replies but I just get too many to manage which isn’t ideal but it’s necessary or I’ll just be consumed by them.
Instagram is something I don’t do for blogging reasons, it’s another thing I enjoy so I’ll just do that whenever. I do use Later for scheduling for when I do want to share a blog post – this is another thing I might write a post on as it really helps me for the small amount I use it for so if you use Instagram for blogging then it’s a game-changer.
Other Social Media Sharing
The rest of my social media sharing has been pretty much taken over by Miss Frugal who helps me use Co-schedule and Missing Lettr to set up social campaigns across my Facebook page and Twitter.
I feel like I have so many things to say about the things that help me take shortcuts when blogging that I might start a cheeky little series of posts (just every now and again) to share some of the things with anyone who wants to save time blogging. What do you think?
Don’t miss out on future posts like this – receive updates directly to your inbox by email by adding your email address here and hitting subscribe. You can also follow me on Twitter or BlogLovin and I’d love to see you over on my Facebook page and on Instagram. If you’re interested, you can find out more about me here. 😉
Why not pin ‘How I found the perfect work, life, blog balance’ for later: