Finding balance as a blogger. A few tips to keep you focused on what matters most

I've been blogging for nearly four years now and as I mentioned last week, I am starting to make money through the writing and publishing of this blog. 

I still very much consider myself a stay at home mom.
The money that I make generates enough income to be considered a part time job, 
{all be it, a very poorly paying part time job!}
 There are a lot of reasons why I chose to become a stay at home mom, 
none of those reasons have changed just because I started a blog or because my blog is making money.

I've read several blogs this year, blogs that I have read along with for years, whose bloggers have decided to either quit writing their blog, or to take a step back from blogging to focus on their family more.
I've read their posts and through their descriptions, I am thankful that I haven't been sucked into some of the common blogger traps that suck away family time.

I'm no expert, but i'm hoping that I can share a few ways that I find balance as a blogger and still maintain my home and family life.

1. Set realistic goals for your blog
When you have a realistic goal, you will be able to cut out other unnecessary things that may suck the time away from meeting your goals and distract you from your home and family.

I would love to publish original content five days a week, but after attempting that for a year, I realized that it's more realistic for me to attempt to publish three times a week {Monday, Wednesday, and Friday}. It's a priority for me to have my three posts scheduled at least the week prior to them going live, though that doesn't always happen.  I get most distracted when the kids have a school break or during summer vacation.
I make it a priority to schedule three posts a week and with a little planning that is a very do-able schedule for me.  There are times when I have had to carve time out {I skipped Bible Study today} to make this possible, but publishing three times a week is a realistic goal for me.

2. Set bonus goals
My family comes first, but there are times that I find that my family is taken care of, my home is cleaned and organized and I have bonus time.  This is mostly because I have three kids in school {I don't know how moms with small children blog!}, because believe me, if they are around, there is no bonus time!  
Like I mentioned before, my priority is to publish content three days a week.  There are weeks that I get five or six days of new content scheduled.  That would be a good week!  Reading other blogs is another bonus goal of mine.  I like to spend time being inspired by other bloggers.  It is afterall, why I started blogging in the first place.  Another bonus goal is cleaning and updating my blog.  Obviously, it's a super bonus goal since my tutorial page hasn't been updated in two years!  
3. Schedule
I wish I knew about scheduling my posts when I first started blogging, but I must say, I did't realize that I could schedule posts until I had been blogging for over a year!  It makes an amazing difference and gives me peace of mind, knowing that I have content that I can plan out.  Scheduling makes it possible for me to take trips with my family and never miss a beat.  Once a post is scheduled, there is very little maintenance I need to do.  Sure, it would be great if I joined link up parties, or if I pinned my posts but if I have scheduled a post, all of that is secondary for me, especially if I am spending time with my family.  
Last summer my family spent two weeks traveling on a great midwest road trip. The extent of my blogging during that time came down to responding to e-mails {less than 10 minutes a day} since all of my posts were pre-scheduled.
4. limit social media
I must confess that this is getting harder and harder for me now, especially since I got a smart phone.  I find myself getting drawn in to instagram or facebook because afterall, they are part of my "job".  Hands free mama wrote a great post about How to Miss a Childhood.  It's a great reminder for me as a mom to not get sucked into my phone and to be present with my children.  My husband and I have made it a priority to put aside all electronics during our evening date time.  Every night from 8:30-10 we disconnect so that we can connect. It's shocking how distracting a little hand held device can be.
5. focus on your priorities
As I mentioned before, my priorities as a stay at home mom have not changed just because I have started blogging.  I still very much want to be present for my children, I still want to volunteer in their classrooms or  at their schools and I want to cook dinner and take care of the house in the same way that I was before.  If my house isn't clean, I don't blog.  Blogging doesn't come before helping in a kids school, nor does it come before taking care of my family.  
I have between 9:45 and 2:30 Monday through Friday to get everything that I need to get done during the time that my kids are at school.  This includes running errands, making/completing projects for blog posts, cleaning, prepping dinner, and loads and loads of laundry!  That time can sometimes go very quickly during the day, and there are days that I don't even get a second to think about my blog.
To be completely honest, I could grow my blog bigger.  I could put more effort into social media and marketing.  I could do 100 things to make my blog more user friendly.  I could spend more hours on my photography.  I could go to blogging conferences, I could update my page, I could make more money, I could accept every opportunity I was given, I could, I could, I could.  But I don't.
This year, I wrote about a few blogging goals for myself.  Those goals were written to keep me more focused on what I want to achieve as a blogger this year.  Really, they all hinge on making relationships with other bloggers.  Relationships are important, especially those relationships that we have with the people who live in our homes.  Make them a priority.  They are what matters.

pitfalls for bloggers
If I could sum up what I have read is the demise of other bloggers, it is that their blog keeps them away from what matters most.  Bloggers are working long hours into the night on projects, editing photos, answering e-mails, writing tutorials.  Sometimes bloggers take the time out to be with their kids during the day, but then blogging takes place of their time with their spouse at night.  Staying on top of social media can suck hours out of the day and while you may be in the same room as your family, are you really present?
The things that bloggers love about blogging {making our own hours and working from home} are the same pitfalls that can distract us. The work never leaves us.  You have to find balance in your own life and sometimes that means that you say "no" I won't be a guest contributor or "no" I won't take that job this month because it would require more hours of my time than I would like.  It may just mean that you put your laptop down after naptime or that you set a timer when you use social media so that you don't get sucked in for hours.  It may mean that your blog doesn't grow at an astounding rate and that your analytics go down, but in the end, the only numbers that matter are the number of people in your home that are receiving your love and your attention. 
Do you have any tips on finding balance as a blogger?
I would love to hear them.

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