No matter what your life looks like, I bet it's full. You have more things that you want to do than you have time to fit in. Parts of your life threaten to crowd out the other parts, and sometimes it seems like you spend all your time doing what you have to do, and not enough doing what you want to do. How do you find a balance?
I have seven children, ages 1 to 14. I have a full time job as an engineer. And in my "free time", I write and publish science fiction novels. I often hear people say, "I don't know how you do it" and "Where do you find the time?" They think that my wife and I must be super-organized, running our house like a well-oiled machine. They think we must have it all together. (They also think we're crazy.)
In truth, my wife and I are pretty flexible. We don't plan very much, we take things as they come, and we're willing to let some things slide for the sake of what we care about. We're not superhuman. So how do I balance family and work and writing? Most of all, by being clear about my priorities.
My first priority is my family. I spend a lot of time at home. I make dinner, help with homework, change diapers, engage with my kids' lives. This can mean saying no to other things. I don't work overtime very much, even though some of my colleagues do. I don't spend much time with friends. I don't write as much as I'd like. Sometimes those choices cause pressure or stress, but I know what's most important to me.
But... seven children? How do you have time for *anything* else, never mind writing novels?
I have time by letting lesser things slide. I don't exercise as much as I should. I don't always wash the dishes before bed. I stay up too late. I clean up the clothes and toys strewn on the floor only when it reaches avalanche proportions. I don't fix things around the house. Sometimes, this causes stress and aggravation, but most of the time, it's okay. I know what is most important to me. I spend time with my family, and I write.
I also don't write all that much. I've written two dozen short stories and five novels, but that's over the course of 17 years. Writing fits in the corners of my life. I just never stop doing it.
Staying healthy is important to a lot of people, and Becky asked if I could talk about that, too. I'm not an ideal example in this regard: my weight is more than it should be, and my eating habits aren't the best. However, I have been running with my daughter, and we've done a few 5K races. Also, we take long walks as a whole family, often as much as five miles (when the weather is nice). My approach to exercise is pretty much the same as with everything else: I do it to the extent that it fits with my other priorities. I don't go to a gym, which would require time away from my family. Instead, I choose exercise I can do while spending time with them.
Everyone's life is different. I'm not saying my priorities should be your priorities. But if you know what your priorities are, you'll be able to accomplish what's most important to you.