This week's episode features my conversation with Australia native (but current Singapore resident) Susan Comiskey about how she makes time for speaking, teaching, and doctoral studies while making a life that matters with her husband and daughter.
Susan Comiskey structures her life around the things that matter to her
Susan Comiskey is an enthusiastic speaker and teacher. Together with her husband, she has pioneered and led churches all over the world. As a family, they've lived and ministered in Tonga, Uganda, East Timor, United Kingdom, and Singapore, where she currently lives with her husband and their young daughter, whom she calls a miracle of God after 22 years of infertility.
A typical day
Susan has two different types of typical day depending on whether her husband is in town or not (he travels about 50% of the time). When he is in town, he and Susan get up around 5 am. She does her devotions, has a cup of tea, reviews her day, makes lunches, and preps breakfast. At 6:30, they wake up their daughter and have breakfast together as a family. At 7, her husband takes their daughter to school.
From 7 am to 2 pm, Susan has a chunk of time to either work at her desk, to meet with people, or to teach. When she's at her desk during that time, she's either studying for her Doctoral degree in ministry or preparing for a speaking engagement or lecture, to meet people, or to teach. Woven through those hours, she thinks about what they're going to eat for dinner and does household chores.
At 2 pm, she gets on the public transit to commute an hour to pick up her daughter and spends that time reading. She'll turn around and make the same commute back home with her daughter and spends that time to bond with her.
They'll get home around 4 pm. From then until 7:30 pm, they spend time getting homework done, eating dinner, and preparing for bedtime. Once their daughter is in bed at 7:30, Susan considers her day done. If she has a speaking engagement the next day, she'll prepare for that. Otherwise, she'll try to relax by reading. But by 9:30, she is done with her day.
If her husband is in town, they'll make a cup of tea and sit down together to have couch-time and debrief one another of their day. They try to cool down from their day and sometimes listen to podcasts together.
When her husband is traveling, she has to be more organized because she is trying to do alone what usually takes two people to do, and that tends to be more fraught. Everything is a bit more compressed because she doesn't have the luxury of tag-teaming with her husband. All the routines stay about the same, but she simply cannot fit as much into those days because she doesn't have the time or emotional bandwidth to do all of it.
During these periods, she has the car, so taking her daughter to school and back is a bit faster, but she does try to build appointments near her school to reduce the to-and-fro. She'll also exercise (swim) and study at a library near her daughter's school rather than near home.
Intentionality is key not only when it comes to running her life but also to managing her daughter's life and emotions as well when her husband is away. She's learned to plan carefully and focus on things that matter. She also thinks about what sorts of things bring joy to both her husband and her, such as people they could spend time with, or people they could be helping.
She's learned to be careful about the words she uses to describe her husband's absence in front of her daughter and uses those opportunities to explain what her father does and how they could be praying for him and to teach her about the countries he happens to be in. She doesn't try to be super-mom during these times. If they have to eat fast food a couple more times that week, it's okay.