As Jonathan's first birthday approaches I've spent a lot of time reflecting on this past year and all the lessons I've learned about what it means to be a mom and small business owner. Every since I was a little girl I've dreamed about being a mom AND being a photographer and I often pinch myself just to be reminded that those little girl dreams are now being lived out. It is a joy to be Jonathan's mom and it is a joy to be a wedding photographer. I am VERY blessed (and I don't use that phrase lightly) to live this life.
But this year has not been free of challenges and like many new moms can attest, it's been a year of learning balance and grace. I have found through those lessons that not only am I passionate about what I do, I'm passionate about seeing others life out their dreams too. I believe that we can be parents AND small business owners and that having a business can indeed fuel the health of our family and our family can fuel the passion in our business.
Today I want to share just a few of the many lessons that I've learned this past year, lessons that have helped me to navigate through parenthood and business. (I've written about my experience before which you can read here.) Seasoned Moms will certainly be able to add to this list and I'd encourage you to share your experience in the comments! But for those of you just starting on this journey to parenthood I hope what I share will encourage you to know that parenthood AND your business can coincide together. You dreams don't end with the title of parent, they expand, morph and grow as you do!
Before I write any further I think it is important to remember that we must be gracious with ourselves. Any mom will tell you that parenting can be hard at times and you're never going to have it ALL figure out. In those moments, remember to be gracious with yourself and know that you're learning the lessons that will propel you forward. It made be hard but that doesn't mean it isn't worth it.
Remember that phrase, "It takes a village"? It most certainly is true. I have found that part of my success over this first year of parenthood is connecting with other Moms who run their own businesses. It has done wonders for my mama heart to talk with other women who face similar struggles and to be given an outlet to talk through challenges and ideas. Often I will walk away from these conversations with a new perspective and outlook that not only encourages me in that moment but propels me in the right direction. Surround yourself with people who will support you and those who understand just what it means to balance family and business.
I truly believe that systems are what keep you a float when you are balancing family and business. Systems are what run my life and keep me organized. I have systems for my emails, client workflow, image organization and storage as well as systems for social media and blogging. There is so much to balance when it comes to work/life and so having a way to keep it current and organized is SO important. It may seem ridiculous to systemize something as trivial as say a Facebook update, but keeping yourself organized in business frees you up to live your life, like going for a run with your baby. (If you'd like me to share more about how I organize each of these areas, leave a comment below!)
Since the beginning of my business I have tried to create and HONOR boundaries in my home life and business. Of course there are those days, especially during a busy season, that you might find yourself staying up late to edit images, answer emails or work on a project. But that can't be every day life. There needs to be clear distinctions between your working hours and your home life, otherwise how can you give your best to either? For me that looks like working when I have child care and closing my computer when the hubby gets home from work. It means working hard throughout the week to have weekends that are filled with family and baby giggles. It means doing what needs to be done during "working hours" so that non working hours are filled with the things that make my heart happy.
You simply cannot do it all on your own. Don't even try, it won't be worth the heartache, the stress, the worry and the anxiety that comes with a Mom who tries to be it all. I tried that. I tried to be the stay at home mom, the working photographer, the small business owner, the wife, the friend and the many hats we all wear. But I failed every time I tried to say I could do it all and have no help. Now Jonathan will head to daycare 2-3 times a week and is babysat 1-2 times a week. My mama heart rests easy knowing that Jonathan LOVES his time away with his friends at daycare and it gives me the freedom to work, uninterrupted. I could never give my clients and my baby my all if I was constantly trying to balance both at the same time. Getting help has given me freedom to invest my whole heart into my clients and our son and has eased much of the anxiety of trying to do it all. Of course this list is just a short abbreviation of lessons mamahood has given me over these last 12 months. And I certainly know that as Jonathan grows my capacity for my own growth will too. Being able to look back however, has given me an appreciation for what we have built together and how Jonathan has not only inspired me as a photographer but has given me a deep joy that translates directly into the images that I create and the relationships I form with my clients. It's a beautiful cycle. I'm ever so grateful to have the title of MOM and PHOTOGRAPHER.