For my next installment of Work at Home, Stay at Home, I’m happy to be introducing you to Sharon Hoover! Sharon, a fellow member of the Redbud Writers Guild, is the author of Soul Motive to Pray: A Personal Retreat. Sharon is passionate about faith and missions and writes about both at A Journal of Missional Living. In addition to writing, Sharon works part-time as a staff member at a church. It is an honor to have Sharon sharing with us today about her experience balancing a career with raising two children!
1. Let’s start by telling us about your family!
My husband and I have been married 29 years. Our son is in college and our daughter will be a senior in high school this fall. They are active in sports, school clubs, and church ministries. Over the years our family commitments have varied but it is not unusual to be out of the house many nights of the week.
2. What is a typical day like in your household?
Much like everyone else has said in the series, Callie, the most typical day is one that is unique to itself. They all begin the same, though. My husband and I get up about 5:30am. He commutes to work early to avoid most of the traffic congestion. Our daughter and I enjoy breakfast together, then she heads out to school. Then I get ready for the day. This is my treasured, devotional time with the Lord. I try next to get a couple house chores done. I really, really don’t like to clean. So I need to get something done from that list each day. Then, I write! I am part-time church staffer, also. On my days at the church building, I skip the cleaning part (shocking, I know!).
3. When do you get the bulk of your work done?
I do my writing in time chunks. I’ve tried scheduling my day. Not good. Stuff always pushed my allotted time schedule: a chore takes longer than expected, a neighbor needs help, my daughter wants to talk (always stop what you are doing when your teenage daughter wants to talk), or I get immersed in someone’s blog, etc etc etc. I would quickly be off schedule. Guilt spread and pressure mounted. So now, I seek chunks of time during the day. I try to identify a 2-hour-ish block of time when I can write uninterrupted. On Sundays, I review my week’s schedule to get an idea of what is coming up then map out the week. It’s not always perfect but it helps me be proactive in protecting time to write.
4. Writing often requires solitude, which can be difficult to have as a mother! Do you schedule any down time for yourself? What do you do to relax?
I am not as diligent as I would like to be with scheduling time for myself. When everyone is at work and school, it’s just me and the dog but I’m doing all that is needed for the household. My best time to relax is a lunchtime date with myself. I’ll make a tomato-mozzarella salad (yum!) and relax with a good book, guilt-free. Quarterly I try to schedule a morning away from the house at a local park to walk and journal. Precious time with the Lord!
5. Do you have any regular childcare, like a babysitter or daycare?
When my children were younger, we had childcare arrangements in a private home. These half-day babysitter hours were for my hours at the church building. When writing and working at home, though, we did not pay for childcare. When my children were younger, I mostly wrote late at night after they were in bed. I also worked my writing around naps, quiet playtimes, and their favorite tv shows (yes, I admit to the occasional electronic babysitter).
6. Do your children have any special activities reserved for your work time?
This has varied over the years. We’ve always encouraged our children to be able to entertain themselves. They both enjoy reading. At a young age our son would also build Legos for hours and our daughter would draw for hours. I was able to work during these “quiet times.” As they reached teenage years, I’ve worked my writing time chunks around their schedules. While they are at school or sports practice or out with friends, these are the times when I will write.
7. What is your favorite part of this work at home/stay at home arrangement?
Flexibility! I love being available for my family and friends. I love not being on a clock to arrive at a certain time. That is stressful for me. When life gets busy, however, it can be a struggle to find time chunks to write. I occasionally face long hours into the wee hours of the night, but that is ok! Everything comes in seasons. I stay attentive to my schedule and return to my keyboard as soon as the latest craziness passes!
Sharon, I’m delighted that you joined our series! Thank you again!
Sharon Hoover writes to encourage others to seek God in life, play, family, and the day’s work. She recently completed the retreat workbook, SoulMotive to Pray and is developing a new discipleship website filled with simple steps and practical inspiration to equip women on their spiritual journey. She longs to return to her fiction writing where she left her YA characters wandering aimlessly in their epic fantasy land. Sharon lives in Virginia with her husband, occasionally-visiting college-age son, and lovely high school daughter. She blogs at Journal of Missional Living. Follow her on Twitter @SharonRHoover.