I am beyond blessed to be pursing my two life long dreams – being a mom/wife and running a successful photography business. Both jobs make my heart sing. Most of the time. But I won’t lie. There are times when I just want to hide under the covers with a big carton of chocolate ice cream and tune everybody and everything out. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen often – mostly during the Christmas season when I’m tripled booked and have seen so little of my family that I’m starting to forget what they look like; or during a full moon when both of my girls are melting down and having tantrums and the toddler starts biting the 6 year old and the 6 year old starts crying and my husband wants to know when dinner is and I’m in the middle of editing one of many sessions, have a list of client phone calls to return and a bunch of marketing emails that need responses.
*I* used to melt down a lot at the beginning of juggling both careers. However, I’ve come up with some systems that have made things a little easier. It’s not perfect and there are times when I don’t use my “systems” and I get over stressed.
The biggest most helpful system for helping me balance mom life and photography life has been making up schedules. I’ve always been a list girl. But even with all of my lists (including a list of my lists) I was still overwhelmed. However, I started carving out a general schedule for the weekdays. It’s not always the same every day, as a couple days during the week I go to the studio to do newborn sessions. One day a week, I take my two year old to a “Bear Cub Club” at the local zoo. But just having things written down in black and white has proven helpful, even if the schedule gets altered or shifted a bit. The schedule includes time for getting my older daughter ready and to school and some play time with my 2 year old. Then it includes specific types of business tasks – for instance from 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM I respond to client emails and return phone calls. Then I stop to give my daughter a snack. Then I work for another 1 1/2 hours or so on packaging up orders and emailing the clients to arrange delivery. Then I stop for an hour for lunch with my daughter and some play time. Sometimes, that hour lasts longer, as she doesn’t always nap and instead just needs extra snuggles with me. After that, I get in an hour or so of blogging and/or marketing before my older daughter gets home from school. When she arrives home, it’s snack time and dinner prep time and a little time with my 6 year old to hear about her day. After that, I prepare and schedule my social media posts while dinner is cooking. After dinner, I go to the studio for consultations and sales sessions. When I get home, my husband and I put the girls to bed and I update my client files. I do some editing for a couple of hours and then I complete some homework for one photography class or another. I’m constantly taking photography classes, be it in person or online. Photography is a never ending learning process. I always want to sharpen my skills and be on the top of my game. After about an hour or so of studying, which is often around midnight, I call it a night. Then start the whole process over again the next day.
I’m still negotiating my weekends. I don’t really have a set schedule as I have sessions at all different times on both weekend days. I try not to book more than 3 sessions on each day but a lot of my sessions are scheduled around my clients’ nap times. If there is a big enough gap between sessions, I will run home and upload my images, cull them and back them up, so I don’t have to do all of the sessions at once. At this time, I don’t have much “family time” on the weekends. However, if I know of an event way in advance, I will not book any sessions during that time, so I can participate. I’m still trying to balance out the whole weekend part. I am planning to to pick a week for vacation in the summer and block it off now so I don’t schedule anything during it. In the past, I always worked on my vacations. I wouldn’t do any photo sessions during that week, but I’d always answer emails, make phone calls, edit, market, etc. But I realize that I need a week of absolutely nothing but family time and relaxation. One of my 2016 goals is to have a complete work-free vacation.
Over all, this has been working for me. Although, it does make me sad when my 6 year old complains about not having enough “mommy and me” time, or both of girls want to have a tea party and I just don’t have the time. But like everything else in life, this balancing act is a work in progress. I will continue to hone it until I’ve struck the perfect balance of family life and work life.
I’d love to hear how other moms and dads balance home life and career life. Please comment on social media.