Work & Life.
Sigh. Work and Life. Life and Work. If someone out there could share the perfect, fool-proof, best-in-the-history-of-working-people, tips for this topic, I’d owe ya a bajillion favors (or $$….either way, I wanna be you :)). I will preface this blog by saying that my perspective on this issue comes from my own unique lifestyle, approach to my business, and family dynamics. It isn’t perfect, I still have lots to learn, and it may not even come CLOSE to working for anyone else. Regardless, I think that being honest and open about “real” life, is important. For those of you who I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting…a human lives behind this blog! Crazy, right?! :) An imperfect human who puts herself and her work out there and tries to showcase love, create heirloom quality art, and bring a bit of beauty into people’s lives. In addition, I have two little children that I am blessed and so very lucky to stay home with. This leads to an interesting place…where does my work-from-home job start and my primary role of ‘Mommy’ begin? Here are a few ways I have learned to approach this daily scenario (and yes, I daily reflect upon it, test my heart, my motivations, desires, and the needs of my littles) in order to do the best job I can, for both parts of my life.
Planning is Essential.
99.9% of the time, I can’t just wait until a blog idea hits, run to my computer, type it up and click “publish”. I have to write it down (because Mommy brain is a real thing, y’all!), wait until my designated ‘work’ time, and focus on it then. As I type this, it is before 6:30am, I have a cup of tea and a quiet room to myself. I plan ahead to blog, to edit photos, to email my clients. I have designated time that is only for my work. Trying to juggle two little ones that need and deserve my full attention while attempting to come up with coherent and creative content. Not. Gonna. Happen. (At least for me!! SO many amazing, creative Mommas out there can create in the midst of chaos. Sadly, that’s just not how my brain works!) As a super relaxed, non type-A personality, this has been an adjustment. However, it was a necessary one. Many times I didn’t plan well and the aforementioned scenario played out. It wasn’t pretty, I had wicked Mommy guilt, and who knows how much better my post/email/editing could have been if I hadn’t been distracted?! SO. Now I have a running list of blog ideas (I’ll get to them someday! :)), and I have a babysitter come into my home the Monday after I shoot my weddings! This way I can get those images edited, blogged, and out the ‘door’ without sacrificing my kids or my work.
Get Up Early.
I am not a night person, so for some, this may mean “Stay Up Late”! I get up early, time (now that my little ones sleep through the night and have predictable wake-up times!) that is almost guaranteed to be my own. Since I don’t blog everyday, I spend the other mornings, reading, doing yoga, doing a Bible study, or watching the news with a hot cup of tea. It is “my” time, and I have come to love those dark hours alone, to set up my day.
Work During Naps.
Sometimes my sitter can’t come that Monday after a wedding. Or a little one is sick and they didn’t sleep in like I had hoped. I work during naps! In fact, this is when I do the bulk of my emailing, my brainstorming, my social media creeping (ha!), etc.! For me, I worked hard to make sure that my littles nap at the same time so I have a chance to do my work AND keep up with things around the house, etc. (Waking up early helps with spreading out all of those responsibilities. It is almost impossible to do work AND house stuff in one nap…again, at least for me! :)) Also, I prefer to work then because I love my evenings free to spend with my husband when the kiddos go to bed. That is our time, and I’d rather leave it that way. :)
Give Yourself Some Grace.
Sometimes, I don’t get a blog done before the kiddos wake up. Guess what? PBS kids has a bajillion super cute (and sometimes even rather educational!) shows that my toddler will eat up. It’s a treat (that happens more often than I would like!), and I have come to terms with it! Things happen. My child isn’t going to be ruined from a little t.v., heck, I’m not letting him watch Die Hard or anything. (And if that is your jam, no judgement here, Bruce Willis seems like a pretty fascinating dude. :)) You are doing the best you can, so give yourself some Grace and try to let go of some of that guilt.
Have Clear Priorities and Expectations.
Sometimes the kids don’t nap at the same time, or as soon as I sit down, I hear a little voice calling for me. Over time, I have learned to let GO of my work and prioritize them. This has probably been my biggest struggle and also biggest area of growth (with plenty more of that needed!). For me, and my lifestyle, if I feel anger or frustration towards my kiddos for interrupting my work, then my motivations, priorities, and my heart are in the wrong place. I need Grace for me AND for my work. These precious babies are only little once and they need their Momma. My blog, my edits, MY priorities (while well-intentioned and noble at the start) can be put aside until the times mentioned above.
It’s OK if it takes me longer than a week to edit a wedding (and I can’t compare myself to those that do!), or longer than a day to write a blog post. I have to do what is best for me and for my family. I chat often with my husband about our priorities and our expectations when it comes to this work of mine. We are on the same page and working toward the same goal, and this means help and sacrifice from him as well! 14 Saturdays this year he will have the kiddos while I shoot weddings. We are a team, in parenting, in homeownership, in marriage, and in supporting each other in our respective creative outlets.
This leads to perhaps the biggest and most valuable lesson I’ve learned as of late:
Have set times for working and set times for playing. If playing interferes with working, that’s ok, but do your best to not allow work to interfere with play.
Man, that is a good, hard lesson to take to heart. Being part of this era of social media and constant connectedness, it sometimes seems impossible. “If I don’t commend on all of these blogs then I won’t form friendships with other creatives.” “If I don’t respond to that inquiry right away, then I may lose the couple to another photographer.” The thoughts go on. Forever. You get one life, one chance to raise your babies, chat with your hubby about his big meeting, etc.. While I LOVE my job, my clients, and my business, I also am a human that has a life beyond that, that I should also live. Setting boundaries makes me not only a better spouse and Momma, but a better business owner and allows me to be more present and serve my clients to the best of my ability. If I am strung out, stressed, and guilt-ridden I am no help to anyone!
I Don’t Have it Figured Out.
You guys. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t do it perfectly. Some people HAVE to get that blog/edit/etc. out because their livelihood depends upon it. I am in no way coming from that place, and am in no way qualified to speak into that kind of situation. I am sharing my life, what works for my unique position, in the hopes it may encourage and help others. It is not meant to make anyone feel guilty, condemned, or comparatively “less” in any way. We are in this together!! I want to build you up and offer practical advice that has worked for me…nothing more!
Thanks for reading, friends. You are all doing the best you can, where you are. Keep creating!