The Reality of Balancing Motherhood & Running a Business
Being a mom and running a business from home is dang hard. I'm not going to sugar-coat it for ya, it's not easy. BUT it is 100% worth it, and I want to write this blog post to do a few things:
- Share with you my experience of being a new mom and running a business from home.
- I'm a big believer that being open and honest can only help others, and my heart behind this post is not to complain or boast or maintain any kind of perception. Instead, I want to help anyone who may be wanting to pursue this same path.
- Give you encouragement. Like I said, this journey isn't easy. A little encouragement can go a long way, and if I can be that encouragement for you then this post is 1000% worth every word.
Now without waiting any longer, let's dive into MY reality of balancing motherhood and running a business...
Ya'll, I'd wanted to be a Mom for years.
Ask any of my friends in high school, I was the girl who wanted 8 kids and to be at home. When Jackson and I were in the early days of dating he asked me what a wanted to do as a career and my answer was "be a Mom". I've always wanted to be a Mom.
A newer desire of mine has been to be a business owner who could work from home. This desire started about a year into dating Jackson, during my Junior year of college. I started hunting for a career path that would support my two dreams: being a Mom, and running a business from home.
Two years into our new marriage I was able to achieve this dream. I shot my first wedding and Katie Graham Photography officially took off. I spent the next 3 years growing that business to a point where I was shooting weddings full-time, and able to be home 100%. It was amazing!
Eight months ago I gave birth to our daughter, Beckley, and I was thrilled. I'd done it! I'd started a business that allowed me to work from home, AND I was now a Mom. I'd achieved my two dreams, and I was so excited for the coming months of living into those dreams. What I didn't know, was that the image in my head of the next few months and reality would be vastly different...
The first few months started out like a dream.
Honestly, I felt like a super-mom. The first two months were my self-given maternity leave, and as soon as week eight finished I hit the ground running. I was running a business, starting this blog, and learning to be a first-time Mom all at the same time and I felt invincible. I was doing all the things, and as an achiever, I felt a lot of pride in this.
Too much pride.
Our wedding season started in late May, and that was where I started to notice a change.
Beckley's naps were no longer 3.5-4 hours long. When she was awake, she required more 1:1 attention. Friends and family were no longer dropping off regular meals. My to-do list was steadily growing. My work hours grew longer. Due to wedding season starting my inbox was flooding with emails.
Jackson and I had strategically planned to try and get pregnant at a time where I would give birth during our "quiet season" for weddings. We succeeded, which was WONDERFUL for taking it easy and not having to cancel any bookings, but it also meant that I was living my new life in a false feeling of "I got this." It felt easy--too easy. That is, until the quiet season ended.
Once weddings began I realized that I was quickly drowning in work. Editing took me three times as long. One email would take me over an hour to write, and in the time it took to write that one email three more would arrive. Timelines would take two hours to create, and then endless revisions would need to be made, all with MORE emails to communicate those revisions. And that's just a fraction of the business side...
Then on the motherhood side Beckley was needing more attention. I started going to pelvic floor therapy which was 2 appointments a week. The endless rounds of dishes, laundry, feedings, diaper changes, trying to get outdoors once a day, preparing meals, etc. Etc. ETC.
Eventually, I hit my limit. My armor cracked. The achiever could achieve no more.
I FELT CHEATED.
All I'd wanted was to be a Mom and run a business from home. I'd achieved that, and yet I was drowning. It wasn't what I expected. I thought, "I didn't sign up for this". I felt cheated of the dream I really wanted. This couldn't really be it, could it?
Let me tell you friend, that is a horrible feeling. To achieve a dream you've worked so hard for, and then to feel like it's wrong and you've been cheated out of the real prize? That's rough.
I felt this, and I let myself sit in it for too long.
A couple months ago I had a string of particularly bad days, and one evening while I was getting ready to do the dishes, feeling like I was about to crack under all the pressure and unending to-do lists, I did something different from my normal routine. I turning to Jackson and simply asked, "Would you rather put Beckley to bed, or do the dishes?"
It was so simple. I asked for help.
Jackson was always more than willing to help, but I didn't allow space for him to do so. I was trying to do it all. But with that simple "would you rather" question, my evening became much easier. This "would you rather" question is now a question I ask Jackson almost every night. "Would you rather put Beckley to bed, or do the dishes?"
That simple change triggered a chain reaction in me.
I realized I had the power to make a change. I could reset the expectations I'd put around myself. I had control over my business, my house, my day-to-day actions. If I want to make a change, I had every means to do so. After all, I'd worked dang hard to put myself in a position where I had that kind of freedom.
I started asking for more help. I stopped beating myself up over the laundry not getting done. I stopped working while Beckley was awake and told myself it was "okay" if not every email got answered right away. I changed some rules within my business to shift how I do things and the expectations my clients have. I'm planning on outsourcing editing for next year, which will life a HUGE amount of work off my plate.
I started making changes, and those little changes began giving me the freedom I needed.
Friend, running a business from home and being a Mom isn't easy. It's dang hard.
I still have bad days where it feels like too much. I still have to make changes and shift methods to adjust for this new life of motherhood. Sometimes Beckley has a bad day and that throws everything off-kilter. It happens. It's okay.
If you find yourself in a position where you're feeling overwhelmed with work and motherhood, and you're moments away from cracking under the pressure, here are some things you can do to help:
- For the love of all things holy, ASK FOR HELP. Trust me. I was so resistant to this at first, but man am I quick to do it now! It helps, really.
- Practice deep breathing. Count down from 5. Take a moment. Sometimes those 5 seconds and a few deep breaths are all you need to hit the reset button.
- Take some time for yourself and don't👏🏽feel👏🏽guilty👏🏽about👏🏽it👏🏽. You can't pour into others when your cup is empty. Take care of yourself, friend. Put on some makeup. Take a bath. Read a book. Whatever you need to give yourself some time to just be YOU, do it.
- Stop picking on yourself. Just quit it. We are so hard on ourselves, when we would NEVER be that way to our friends. If you had a friend cracking under the pressure of expectations and commitments, what would you say to them? How would you encourage them? Say those things to yourself.
- PRACTICAL TIP: Let some tasks take a back seat. Focus on what is absolutely necessary to get done that day, and the rest can wait. If you get some extra tasks done, then great! But don't force it.
Ya'll, I love being a Mom. I love running a business and being home while I do it. And I've had too many confirmations in my life that this is exactly where God wants me to be to let it all fall to pieces just because the road got a little tough. If you're going to take anything out of this blog post, take this: your worth is not in your ability to do business well or be a super-mom or have a home so clean you could lick the floor. Your worth is 100% found in Christ and your relationship with Him. So when the rubber hits the road and life get's hard, lean into Him. When you feel like you're getting hit on all sides ask Him for strength and He will provide. And PRAY. Pray, friend, pray!
I hope you found this blog post helpful, encouraging, or at the very least you feel like you aren't alone if you're in a similar situation to my own. I'm cheering you on, friend!
Thanks for reading!