Finding Balance with Katie Crocombe

When I wrote a post about how I schedule my work week and how I get it all done as a stay at home mom of a toddler and business owner of a growing, thriving business, the response was overwhelming. I quickly realized how many of you needed guidance for creating your own schedule and finding balance between work and life. I realized that we all want a glimpse of how others are making it work so we can better structure our own lives. 

Because of this, I was inspired to start this series featuring other busy women and business owners sharing how they manage their schedules and work towards work/life balance. My hope in everything I do is that we can make our lives less busy and more intentional so that we find more room for joy. I hope that this series will inspire you in your own life and help you find just the right combination of work and play so you can make it happen too.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business or work.

I live in Atlanta, GA with my husband, Matt, and our 2 girls. I am so used to calling them "little girls" but given that the oldest turns 9 at the end of this month (I'm writing this in February) and the "baby" is almost 7, I think the little is no longer correct! :)

Matt and I were married in August 2015, so we've been settling into a routine as a new family and have been enjoying making new memories and traditions! In addition, since we've gotten married, I've had the opportunity to found Flourish + Co. At Flourish, I partner with women to design an intentional life through my training as a professional life coach, and I also do a good bit of speaking and facilitate workshops, etc.

Take us through your typical day and your main daily responsibilities.

Given that our girls live with their dad 50% of the time, our weeks/days are a little unlike many other people's... but, they have become our normal as we've learned to adapt. The quick run down of the schedule is that the girls are with us Monday, Tuesday and every other Friday, Saturday, Sunday... then they are with their dad on Wednesday, Thursday and every other Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

So, keeping that in mind, I'll tell you a bit about my 2 types of typical days :) Every week day, I am normally up around 5:30 am. I immediately pour myself some coffee and curl up under some blankets on the couch in our sunroom for my quiet time. I journal, read and pray and can constantly see the difference this makes in my days! Then I typically check emails for a minute and respond and then if it's a day with the girls, I'll finish getting their lunches ready to go and their backpacks ready by the door. At about 7 am, I head upstairs to wake them up and "facilitate" getting them ready for school. They can get ready on their own just fine, BUT it's very helpful for me to help ensure we move at a decent pace as distractions can easily present themselves :) We head out the door about 7:20 am and they eat breakfast in the car on the way to school- and, yes, I am the mom who often wears her PJ's, slippers and top knot in the carpool line- proudly at that!

Then I typically head straight home- and get going right away on work... There are some mornings where I wear workout clothes to drop the girls and head straight to the YMCA after I drop them off to get in a workout before starting my workday. And then on Tuesdays and Thursdays I'm involved in Bible studies so I do get ready before taking them to school, so I can head straight to my study after I drop them.

On days when I have the girls, I work until about 4:30-5 pm. My work time is typically filled with client calls, workshop/speaking prep, coffee dates for encouraging women + networking, blogging, marketing and then general business development. I'll also often sneak in a load of laundry or a little straightening around our home when I get up for a little break.

At the end of my work time, I pick the girls up from after school care and we come home for homework time and showers, as well as preparing lunches and coffee for the following morning. Then we eat dinner as a family and they watch 1 show while they eat their dessert before we head up to bed. We typically all head up and read their children's Bible before they go to sleep.

Some nights Matt and I both work for an hour or so at this point and then watch a show and just unwind together from the day. Other nights we don't do any work and just enjoy an "at home date night" if the girls are with their dad... And then there are nights when Matt works late and I will meet friends or have a work event to attend.

What do you wish you had more time for?

For me this is a mix, depending on the week. At times I wish I was able to spend more time with my girls. And, I am actually working towards structuring my weeks so that they don't go to after school care on Monday and Tuesday afternoons for the 2017-2018 school year.

Other times I wish I had more time to spend with Matt... His job is very demanding and he has busy seasons with deadlines that require incredibly long days/late nights. That being said, over the course of the entire year, he does have a decent amount of flexibility so we do get to spend a fair amount of time together. And, we make a point to carve out date nights and various trips.

What is one thing you always make time for?

I am very committed to my quiet time. And, over the past few years, as I've experienced a fair amount of loss and have been reminded of keeping the main thing the main thing, I've focused more wholeheartedly on turning off work and being present for my people... even if that means the to-do list isn't complete and I might "miss" something. I've learned that I really am not going to miss working more; what I am going to miss is being available for my people when it counts.

How do you manage your schedule?

The above has really caused me to manage my time in a more meaningful and intentional way. I am by no means perfect and there are certainly times when I end up scrolling mindlessly on social media or just procrastinate. However, generally speaking there are a few things I've found that help me.

One is having a "to-stop list" - I have learned and been coached that you can't have a good to-do list without having a thoughtful "to-stop" list... I have intentionally stopped a lot as it just doesn't work in this season of life or isn't where I know I am called to be putting my time/energy.

How do you find the balance between work and home?

I think balance can so often feel like an "elusive unicorn". And, I think that's because we often think of balance meaning that 2 things are perfectly even in weight. Since life is typically filled with variables and seasons, I believe balance can look completely different depending on the season of life you're in. With that in mind, there are times when work does take a bit more time than others. I do believe I have a way to gut check though and when I intentionally take time to stop and reflect for a moment or two, I can quickly pick up on how I'm feeling and if life is in a good rhythm or if it's simply too full/out of balance.

So, the practice of taking time to "check in" with myself is very helpful. I myself work with a coach so that scheduled call is a fantastic time for me to dig into how things are really going. And then, also recognizing that there are seasons of what balance is going to look like. For instance, this spring my work is good bit heavier in load as I have a lot of great speaking opportunities, etc. that align with my purpose and passions so I am taking advantage of them. In doing that though, I am intentionally planning to step back a bit this summer to have time available for the girls during the week while they're out of school.

Tell us one thing that you have learned about managing a busy life.

You can't do it all and we weren't ever meant to... we as women typically have so many hats to juggle. Even today, as I am preparing this, it's President Day and so that means the girls don't have school but I do have some work to complete. I am juggling playground time, feeding time, then drop-off with their grandparents so I can work for about 3.5 hours, then back to picking them up and grocery shopping, dinner and then prep for school in the morning... I wouldn't trade it for the world, but giving myself grace and reminding myself consistently that I am doing the best I can, helps my mindset a lot.

I also try to be very disciplined in not being on my phone/email when I do have time with them and then diving hardcore into work when working versus then getting on social media or texting just for fun... keeping that discipline allows me to be more focused and therefore more productive when wearing each hat.

In addition, knowing that I am fully aware of my goals and values and the direction I want my life to be going in is incredibly helpful. And, learning that self-care is NOT selfish has been huge. I lived with a mindset for a while that I needed to put my needs on the back burner because I needed to be serving my husband and children. And, while serving them is wonderful and I am called to do that, I simply cannot do that if I'm on empty. In fact, I really do my harm than good when I attempt to serve them if my "tank isn't filled"- I'm snappy and don't have grace when I haven't taken care of myself.

So, learning grace while juggling, along with owning my life's direction and need for self-care, has helped me manage and find joy in a busy life.

What is one piece of advice you would give readers about managing their own schedule?

My one piece would be to do an exercise that I walk a lot of my clients through and often incorporate in workshops. The exercise is a "Wants List" exercise in which you list 16 wants you have in 7 different categories {financial, vocational, social, family, etc}. Through a process of elimination, that is hard but oh so necessary, you find your #1 want for that moment in time and you also figure out what your top wants are too. Knowing your top wants helps you so much as you feel like you wake up with 30 items on your to-do list and go to bed with 35 items on your list- if you can lay your head on the pillow at night knowing that you accomplished/worked on/addressed at least a part of your #1 want, then you naturally feel so much satisfaction.

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