Managing Work-Life Balance After Divorce

Managing Work-Life Balance After Divorce
Dena Landon

By Dena Landon | Apr 30th, 2019

When I first started building my freelance business I wasn’t very picky about my clients. If they offered me a gig, I took it. As the business has grown, I’ve become more selective about my projects. But it’s become difficult, at times, to manage my workflow.

The reality is that most freelancers struggle with a feast or famine workflow. And I’ve seen this when I worked in an office, too. All of the projects would be due within a two-week timeframe. Someone wouldn’t submit their information on time, or it would be incorrect. However it happened, it always seems to have the same result – I’m writing after my son goes to bed or working late in an office.

I’ve found that managing work-life balance after divorce it quite different. For one, I have a week on/week off custody schedule. What this means is that, if I’m not careful, I cram all of my work and projects into my “off” week and arrive at Monday afternoon, ready to pick up my kid, exhausted. No matter how hard I try to spread them out, he’s my priority when he’s with me so my workflow ends up lopsided.

The problem is that, while I’ve paid off the divorce, I owe almost $18,000 in legal bills for post-decree matters. I’ve been in court four times in the last twelve-month period, and never at my instigation. Every time I get them paid down, a brief gets filed and I have to pay my lawyer to appear.

There are no words to describe how draining and exhausting it’s been. And I know many women, whether still getting a divorce or post-divorce, can relate to the constant barrage of legal harassment that comes at them. This has been happening as I’ve built my freelance career, and it’s saved me from the debt situation being worse. But it’s also taught me a few things.

It’s rough and it’s brutal but I also know it won’t last forever. And I’ve planned a little trip with my son for when it’s done, a bit of life to look forward to.

When the feast arrives, you eat. Which is to say, when a client offers me a big, time-sensitive project, I say “yes.” I had one website which had a re-write project in December. There were a lot of articles I could have taken but I was traveling with my kid and thought they’d still be there when we returned. Unfortunately, other writers snapped them up and I lost out on the opportunity to make a lot of money.

When I landed a new real estate client a month ago who is building a blog before raising funding, I knew it was another short-term opportunity to make a lot of cash. I’d learned from the past experience. I shuffled other clients aside, prioritized my work and cut back on my workload elsewhere, and took on as much work as the real estate blog would give me.

There are times in our lives when we can’t balance work and life. No amount of tips, or how-to’s, or advice to outsource cleaning the kitchen will solve the problem that the scales won’t be even. One – work, or life – will rise higher than the other.

Right now, I’m making cash to pay down bills. I’m working on my lunch break at my day job. If I don’t have my son, going home and writing until bedtime. If I do have him, I wait until he’s in bed and stay up until midnight working.

It’s rough and it’s brutal but I also know it won’t last forever. And I’ve planned a little trip with my son for when it’s done, a bit of life to look forward to.

One of my favorite Ruth Bader Ginsburg quotes is “You can’t have it all, all at once. Who—man or woman—has it all, all at once? Over my lifespan I think I have had it all. But in different periods of time things were rough.” To me, this means I can have a happy kid, a good job, and a messy house. Or a clean house, happy kid and no job. Or debt and fun, or work and getting debt-free.

The point is that balance is reached over time and over a lifetime. There will come a day when my life will balance out, likely in two months. Or I may not have much work and the life side of the scale will rise higher. Maybe we really aren’t supposed to have it all at the same time, and should focus more on our lifelong trajectory towards happiness.

Over time, however, I’ve learned that I can’t stress out about it. The work will come when I need it, and so will the fun. I just have to walk through the doors that are opening and trust in the Universe to take care of the rest.

Dena Landon

Dena Landon


Dena Landon's bylines have appeared in The Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, Salon and more. The proud mom of a boy, she specializes in parenting and divorce.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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