The Art of Balance series was created as a way to encourage and inspire those who find themselves balancing the demands (and JOYS) of parenthood and entrepreneurship. For me that takes the shape of Mom and Wife as well as owner/photographer of a successful New England wedding photography studio. I’ve shared extensively here on the blog on what it looks like to be a Mom while growing a business. It has been a joy to walk through this journey with you from pregnancy to baby to toddler and this series has become one of my favorites to write and share.
One of the many wonderful things about being a Mom is that there are many other women out there who are leading the way, setting a beautiful example and parenting in their own unique style. I’ve loved following along the journey of other Moms who are balancing their own business and families and realized that these women have so much to share! And that is how the Mommy Interviews were born.
Over the course of 2015 I will be introducing you to some amazingly talented, dedicated, beautiful women who are walking their own path of Mommyhood and entrepreneurship. I hope that their wisdom, knowledge and perspective will be an encouragement to anyone learning the Art of Balance. I couldn’t be more excited to kick off this mini series than with my friend, accomplished athlete and the face behind Run Far Girl, Sarah.
Sarah, I'm so excited to have you sharing on the blog today! Let's start things off by asking, how long have you been a Mum?
I can’t believe I’m about to write this...but FIVE years! Yikes. Our daughter, Sophia turned five in December which also means I’ve been doing this whole mom thing for a half a decade. Honestly I don’t feel old enough to be a mom to a five year old, but it’s true.
You seem to love being a Mom and fit naturally into the role. Have you always dreamed of being a Mom?
Honestly, when I dreamed of my future life when I was in my late teens and 20’s motherhood didn’t really fit into the picture. I really wanted a successful career first and thought marriage and family would come later in life. But I ended up married at the young age of 21 and Sophia came along (as a bit of a surprise) five years later and our son Jack, three years after her and we are expecting number three in May. Three kids! I always assumed that I’d have to abandon my personal interests to become a “good mom,” but I’ve learned that pursuing my interests is not only essential to my well being and to who I am, but is also a great example for my kids as well. One of the primary things Sophia plays is “business,” she’s mimicking what I do and I think that’s great! Obviously there’s a bit of juggling and sacrifice that goes into balancing both motherhood and my interests. There seems to be an ebb and flow to where I am able to focus my efforts and energy, but it all works out in the end.
How has parenthood changed you? Was it what you were expecting?
Parenting has totally changed me. I like to be in control, have all my ducks in a row, have a predictable and reliable schedule...in other words I’m a bit OCD. Motherhood has forced me to shift my priorities, knowing that it’s more important that my kids feel loved and valued than have a reliable schedule or an uber clean home. I’m much more relaxed (and learning to relax more all the time). I tend to be more flexible and I am still working on patience and graciousness when life doesn’t line up with my expectations. I think the biggest thing about parenthood is that it never really matches your expectations, it’s so unpredictable and even when you think you’ve equipped yourself for certain situations you can never really be fully prepared. Little people are so unpredictable! Ha!
You started Run Far Girl after the birth of your first baby, Sophia. Would you mind sharing a bit on why you started the blog and how it has transformed into the very popular Run Far Girl?
I started writing my blog because I found myself needing an outlet. I had left my job as a high school English teacher and as a stay at home mom with a napping newborn I wanted something to do during those down hours. I also had all these new thoughts on motherhood and I needed a place to express them, even if no one read it. It kind of served as a personal journal for a while and then as time progressed it turned into a bit more. I chronicled running through my pregnancy with Jack and that proved to be a huge resource for other mother runners. And after getting my running coach certifications (USATF and RRCA) I’ve been able to continue to be a running resource. I also talk a lot about eating disorders and eating disorder recovery; I struggled with bulimia for nine years and have been “sober” for almost six years. Candidly sharing that journey and how I found freedom seems to really be a breath of fresh air for some readers.
How do you find time to blog, run your online store and workout while balancing the responsibilities of being a Mom?
I get up really early (and go to bed really early). And I have a very supportive husband. I try to spend an hour to an hour and a half doing work in the morning, then workout or run. I try to be ready for the day by 7am. And on Saturday mornings my husband takes the kids for a few hours while I play catch up or try to get ahead on the coming week. I use those weekend hours to manage the store and schedule posts for the coming week. I also use naptime to manage and post to my social media platforms. I pay Sophia a few dollars each week to help me pack orders (she’s a pro!) and we make scheduled trips to the post office each week to ship orders (which the kids love because they get lollipops). Some days it runs smoothly and others not so much. And like I mentioned before there’s an ebb and flow to where I invest my time and energy. Sometimes I’m really focused on my blog and shop and then other times they are the last thing on my list.
What would be your advice to Moms out there who are balancing a business and family?
Be OK with the ebb and flow. You can’t give 100% of your energy to 100% of the things you’re involved in 100% of the time. And the thing is you could always be doing MORE. I just finished reading a great book on maximizing your social media platforms called “The Art of Social Media.” I walked away with some great ideas and strategies, but I also walked away thinking ‘I can’t do ALL the things they recommended (like post to Twitter 25 times a day AND post 12 pins AND post to Google+ 10 times AND post to Facebook 4 times AND post to Linkedin).’ I am not a social media manager at a major firm. I’m a one man show. I am chief diaper changer, chef, house cleaner, shipper, writer, shop manager, nose-wiper and hug-giver. So you have to quiet that voice that tells you you’re not doing ENOUGH and be content with what you can give in the season that you’re in. Also, don’t be afraid to say NO. Not every opportunity, as good as it may seem, is going to fit into your life and if you do try to fit in more you’ll wind up stressed and burned out. Which is no good. Be gracious with yourself and make sure that you’re choosing the right thing at the right time; really only you know what that is.
Would you agree that raising a family “takes a village”? Have there been people or resources in your life that have helped you be a great Mom?
I think that raising kids does take help. My husband and I are a team, but honestly he pulls more weight than I do. He’s such a great guy. He is pursuing a masters in Marriage and Family Therapy, primarily because he wants to be a better Dad. He’s constantly reading about childhood psychology and development and parenthood and sharing his thoughts with me. I learn so much from him. My mom was a great resource to me in the early years of motherhood, I’m not sure what I would have done without her help. And my mother-in-law is over every Thursday so my hubby and I can go out on a date. That time together is essential for me, for us, to be great parents; it’s like a strategy session and a chance to connect. I’ve also had friends step in and watch my kids so I could go for a run: my primary way to de-stress and get my head on straight. So yes, parenthood is an “all hands on deck” kind of scenario!
As an athlete, you have to find time to train and run for events throughout the year. Do you have any advice for us non athlete types on how to squeeze in regular exercise during a busy workday/week?
For me running is more than just exercise, its the quiet calm before my day starts where I think and de-stress. I like to call it moving meditation. Last winter and spring I trained for my eighth marathon and it took a huge chunk of time, but setting that big goal had me out there when it was cold or I was too tired. Goals can be a huge motivator, but it doesn’t have to be a marathon. If running is your thing sign up for a local race, if it’s not, buy a punch pass to a local studio and agree to meet a girlfriend each week. I’m a fan of morning workouts because I get up, get it done and get on with my day. Morning workouts mean an early bedtime, so plan accordingly. But naptime can also work as a workout time. I’m a huge fan of Jillian Michaels DVD’s as most kids nap for at least 20 minutes and if you change into your workout clothes (or if you’re like me you’re already in your yoga pants) before you put them down and start the DVD right after they’re asleep you can bang out a 20 minute workout before they wake up. Make the commitment, find someone to help keep you accountable and look at it as a lifestyle change, not something you want to do for the next month or two to get ready for swimsuit season.
You recently announced your pregnancy. How do you envision adding a third child will affect the way that you blog and run your business? Any tips for Moms with larger families and busy workloads on how to navigate the many responsibilities that brings?
Honestly I have no idea! And I’ve had a few “Meltdown Moments” thinking about it. How will I manage it all? But the thing I keep coming back to is that life has seasons and I’m not going to be able to do what I’m doing now after the baby arrives, maybe in a few months or a year I’ll be back up to ‘full speed’, but it will look different that what “full speed” looks like now. I also come back to the fact that I felt the same way before having Jack and I’ve managed to navigate two kids and still accomplish many of my personal and business goals.
What has been your greatest joy being a Mom?
Cozy snuggles. Sloppy kisses. Unbridled curiosity. Blossoming creativity. Seeing the world through little eyes. The happy mess of it all.
Anything else to share?
If you have a dream or an idea, go for it. Don’t sit on it thinking I’ll do it when the kids are XX age. Find out what you need to make it happen and take the first step. You’d be surprised what you can do NOW and how educational it can be for you kids to watch your journey!
If you'd like to connect with Sarah you can find her at RunFarGirl where she blogs about every thing from running, Mommyhood to her victory over an eat disorder and more. Following along with her family and running adventures at @runfargirl on Instragram and connect with her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She's also on Facebook, Twitter, DailyMile and runs an adorable shop of running gear here.
To make this post even more sweet, Sarah has graciously offered to giveaway one of her lovely shirts from the RunFarGirl shop! I bought one last year to wear while I was training for my 1/2 marathon and I love it! It's one of my favorite shirts to workout in and wear on the weekends, super soft and it comes in a beautiful variety of colors:)!! Don't miss out!! Enter to win by liking this post, leaving a comment below and visiting us on Facebook! The contest begins today ands at 10pm tomorrow. We'll be sharing the winner on Monday! Good luck!