I was not prepared for all that parenthood was going to throw at me. Add to it the fact that my business was doing better each year, and it really started to take off the year I had my first child, almost 6 years ago…and you have one crazy mama. At the time, I was regularly reading lots of other photographer’s blogs and wanting to excel my business and do everything that everyone else was able to accomplish. But I was tired, and stressed out, and my house was a mess on top of it all, which stressed me out even more. I slowly realized that things were not really working that well, and I needed to find some solutions.
The first “A-Ha!” moment came when I opened my studio in January of 2011. The impetus was being able to do more shooting in the winter months and to have a place where I could work outside of my home. It was brilliant, really. It made me a better worker when I was working, and most importantly, a better mom when I was with my kids. I will admit that some evenings after the little guys are in bed (or for example, now, when the toddler is asleep and the kindergartener is at school), I fit in a bit of work. But I don’t try to answer every email and edit every shoot on those days. The lines are more clear.
This was a HARD place to get to because I wanted to be able to do it all in my business. I thought it entirely unprofessional to say to a client, “No, I can’t schedule you that day because I have my kids.” But who was I really impressing? I doubt that many, and yet I found my stress level increasing every time I had to juggle daycare and help from friends just to slip a shoot in. I’m happy to say that I’ve finally set some boundaries. If someone thinks I’m a lesser photographer for it….well, I’m not sure I need that person as a client…and I’m ok with it, because I’m respecting myself, my family and my limitations.
So tell me, why do we insist on thinking that as mothers we need to be superheros? What service are we doing to all parties involved? People told me time and again that we as mothers need to take care of ourselves or we couldn’t be good mothers…and I would nod my head and say, “Oh, that’s so right.” But I wasn’t really doing anything about it. But see, now, I finally get it. It’s not fluff to make us weary warriors feel better. It’s a fact. I now feel confident turning away jobs that might conflict with my whole life picture. I’m alright with having to leave work one hour a week to volunteer at my kid’s school. It’s a known fact to my husband now, that I will be having girls’ nights out on a regular basis, and that he, too, is encouraged to take his turn…guilt free! And…here’s a big one…the most incredible decision I’ve ever made, perhaps…I hired a cleaning person. A-MAZ-ING! Why do I have 10 minutes to sit here writing on a Wednesday afternoon? Because I’m not scampering frantically around just trying to keep up with the mess, let alone CLEAN anything. Twice a month, that’s it, but it is going to help me so much. In fact, if the cost of it ever becomes and issue, I will start selling things in my house to pay for it. I’m not kidding.
Here’s the nitty gritty schedule these days so you won’t wonder why some days I return an email 5 minutes after I get it, but sometimes it might take a day or two to hear back. I have a 2 year old that I would rather not put in full-time daycare. I do, however, have him there 3 days a week. Wednesdays and Fridays, I’m with him and in the summers, my big kid too. In the event that I feel I can take on more work, or when I feel I’m getting behind, I will certainly add a day of daycare to his schedule. Understandable. But often times, I quite often work any evening because that is when there is the best light. Saturdays are usually taken up by weddings in the summer, and if one is free, I can consider booking a portrait shoot. Sunday is my day…my day for God and family, and if you don’t understand the importance of this, I just don’t know what to tell you.
So there you have it. I guess it was only fair for me to explain it to my clients and anyone else who might be listening. If anyone happens to be reading this that can empathize in some way, perhaps it’s time to look at the big picture and draw the lines where they need to be. Sometimes parenthood can feel like a battlefield, and working moms feel it the most. Make a plan, don’t just run out, guns a blazin’ thinking that that’s just how it has to be. That’s actually quite a horrible strategy. And yes, you’ve heard it before, but remember that our children will be all grown up by the time we stop and look around. Oh, gotta go…naptime’s over!
I’ll leave you now with a lovely family…
…with two working parents.