How I Do It All: My Two Secrets to Balancing Work & Life
My two secrets actually aren’t secrets at all. If you ask me how I “do it all” or make the comment that I seem to do it all, I will tell you straight up: it’s because of school and my husband, Brian.
But after thinking about this a little bit more, I realized there are actually three secrets! So I’m adding BOUNDARIES to the list, too.
I was inspired to write this post because more times than ever before, the words “I don’t know how you do it all” were coming out of my friends’ mouths recently, and frequently. What an illusion I have created! Yes, I’m active and busy and wear many hats, but I am definitely not doing it all…
Secret #1 to Balancing Work & Life
BRIAN. Yep, the first secret is my hubster. If it weren’t for his support and complete willingness to tackle the kids on his own each time I have a wedding, session, event, or meeting, I would certainly not be doing many of the things I’m able to do. In fact, JFP might not even exist. He recently shared with me that when I started my business back in 2009, he thought I’d make very little money and that we’d have to live off of his income. But he was still okay with me doing my own thing! And guys, sometimes, when I get home from weddings, Brian has cleaned the house and planted an entire garden…while watching the kids! I have no idea where and how he gets his patience, but I know I can leave him with the kids for a long day and everything will be just fine.
I also tease and say he needs a JFP business card that says “business consultant” because I sometimes share even the littlest of decisions with him. Sometimes he even helps choose a picture for a sneak peek. 🙂
Side note: Brian makes few appearances on social media. It’s not on purpose, he just avoids the camera and things like “Facegram” and “Pin-interesting.” (That’s how he refers to the social media tools.) So I thought this would be a good opportunity to include his face and our family pictures from this past fall that our good friend Katie of Sonlight Imaging took…
Secret #2 to Balancing Work & Life
SCHOOL. I have four full work days each week because the kids are in school. Ally is in second grade and Jack is in our public school Pre-K program, so they’re in school five full days each week. Natalie goes to our local Montessori school four full days each week. So on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays I am completely alone from at least 8:30am to 4pm. It’s almost as if I have a 9-5 job like the majority of working folk! Of course weddings, sessions, events, and meetings often times happen beyond that daytime schedule, but I try to strategically schedule those so as to not be working all day and all night…and all weekend. And that flows so well into the final secret…
But before I share that, let me also share that putting our kiddos in daycare and school earlier than needed is something I’ve struggled with a bit. It’s not been a serious struggle, but it’s something I think about from time to time when they’re not home with me during the week. Shouldn’t they just stay home with me if they don’t have to be in school!? After we had Jack five years ago, I quickly realized that I wasn’t cut out to be a stay-at-home mom and not have alone time to work. I needed people and creativity and responsibility and something for myself, and that was and still is JFP. As the business grew, that meant the kids needed to be elsewhere. Thankfully Brian was okay with this decision and we’ve seen the kids make friends, experience wonderful teachers and learn so many things that they wouldn’t have learned while at home with me.
Secret #3 to Balancing Work & Life
BOUNDARIES. If you know me well and have followed me for a while, you know I love to preach about having boundaries! As a small business owner who does a large chunk of my work at home, I would be completely overwhelmed and imbalanced if I gave into the temptation of working “whenever” because the work is so readily available at home. The kids being in school has set a schedule for me and things like not having email connected to my phone has helped keep that schedule. I email from one device only…my desktop! This helps me from getting distracted by emails on my phone in the evenings and on weekends when it’s family time. I also try not to do any computer work at night after the kids go to bed. Sometimes I make the exception and catch up on editing or social media posts, but 90% of the time that’s Brian and I’s time together. Even if we’re just sitting on the couch watching our favorite shows, we’re together, alone. My kids need my time, but so does Honey Hot Cakes. 🙂
I also try to be strategic with my calendar as a whole, especially when it comes to things that need attention beyond the four work days like sessions and weddings. If I have a wedding on a Saturday, I will try my darnedest to keep my Friday evening and Sundays clear so I’m not away from home two nights or two days in a row. And during the week, I only schedule two evenings of work (the exception is sometimes made for a third evening) so I’m not gone too much in one week. So yes, I may be completely free for a session on Wednesday evening, but if I already have a Tuesday evening and Friday evening appointment, I will say no to Wednesday.
Brian, school and boundaries all come together and allow me to be a mother, wife, friend, AND small business owner. So I’m not actually “doing it all.” I’m not watching my kids all day, every day. I’m not working all day and all evening. I’m not taking every session and I’m not attending every event. But I am hanging out with the kids and Brian…I am emailing and editing and writing blog posts…I am shooting portrait sessions and weddings…and I am hanging out with friends and attending community events. I am doing a lot of things, but I’m certainly not doing all the things.
So to all my parent friends and small business owner friends…you really CAN do it all! You can do all the things that you want to do, and you can do them all during this time in your life right now. You just need to be aware of the big and small pieces, that when put together in the appropriate amounts, allow you to make it all happen. For me, it’s simply life practices put into purposeful place.
And if you’re not sure what those pieces are and would love some guidance, please feel free to reach out! I’d love to share some ideas with you and talk a little deeper into my secrets. 🙂
Until next time, here are some more family faves from our fall portrait session…