Professional mom seeking clarity, balance and a well deserved glass of wine.
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It feels like so very long ago. What did I like? What did I do with my free time? Key word FREE. Because now it seems like time is in limited supply. it evaporates as quickly as it appears. Did I used to have free time? Time to exercise. Time to read the Sunday paper and leisurely drink 2 cups of coffee without them getting cold. Time to have my own thoughts, for longer than 5 seconds.
I think if memory serves me (which is doubtful at this point) I remember being bored on occasion. (insert me laughing my ass off here) BORED! That word has been forever erased from my vocabulary.
Before kids I used to work ALOT! There were many a night when my creative partner, Lori, and I would fall asleep right there at our computers, sometime during the wee hours of the morning. This is no longer possible. I physically can no longer do this. I am convinced, while in some unconscious state, an emergency shut-off switch was implanted into my brain. Once my oldest is finally in bed, we’ll call this 9:30pm, my body goes into auto pilot, straight to the closest wine glass and couch cushion. I’m spent! I’m done! I’ve got nothing left…except for, of course, that “special reserve” I keep that launches me into my alter ego, “Sex Kitten”, so that I can heat up the bedroom for the next 8 minutes (ok, it’s really more like 3.5) and woo my husband while acting out some wild sexual fantasy. “He’s a lucky man!” But that’s a whole different post.
I have to say that working less has actually been a good thing. A GREAT thing for moi. Before kids, I had this false notion that if I worked less than 24/7 my business would go down the toilet immediately. Guess what…it didn’t. I actually work less now, than I’ve worked in 17 years AND I have a larger studio, several employees and a mannequin. Yes, a real mannequin. (try and contain your jealousy, please)
I think when you own your own business you tell yourself a story. The story goes something like this, “I should start work early. I should take a quick lunch or eat at my desk to accomplish more. I should work late. I should not take off time for vacation. I should work 6 or 7 days a week. I should be available to my clients 24/7. I should turn work around immediately. I should respond to every email the second after it comes in. Anyone see a pattern here? The “should’s” are endless and, guess what? They’re BULLSHIT! Let me introduce you to my new list, now called “I DO”…
1. I DO put my family before my business.
2. I DO get enough sleep.
3. I DO pay attention to my own needs.
4. I DO train clients to respect me and my time.
5. I AM proactive instead of reactive.
6. I DO take vacations regularly.
7. I DO create my own hours according to my inner creative voice.
8. I DO come in late, leave early or take a 3-hour lunch if I choose to.
9. I DO get everything accomplished or delegated.
10. I DO make mistakes.
For me, the memory of life before kids is a wonderful memory of endless quantities of free time. My reality now, however, is that I have these two amazing daughters AND a business and I have to balance it all daily.
What I know is this—it can be done.
It is challenging. Every day is a carefully orchestrated adventure, but you’ve got to be flexible. That is my new middle name. I’m in the process of changing it legally. (Just kidding, Mom) Many times the plays have been called, but you just have to punt. I’ve become so good at punting that professional football teams are scouting me.
Let’s face it, it’s never a good time for your kids or you to be sick. It never seems like an opportune time to take a vacation. Your kids will have every federal holiday, government holiday, teacher in-service day, and whatever other “day” they make up OFF. You WILL have to reschedule calls and important meetings. The good news is—I’ve never had a client chastise me for taking time off for me or my kids. Ever! I guess if you do, you may be working with the wrong clients.
Again, take vacations regularly. I can’t stress this enough. Whether you have the money for an exotic get-away or a stay-cation. Some should be with the kids and definitely some without. I recommend taking vacations with your significant other or even by yourself. This is vital to your sanity and your relationships. It can be hard to leave, especially when the kids are little, but it’s sure great having the chance to MISS them. It’s definitely made my kids more independent. They respect the fact that mom and dad need special time together. It’s sacred.
UNPLUG. This is another act of God that can be difficult. I know you think the world will end if you turn off your phone while you’re away, but it won’t. Leave the laptop at home. Leave any work at home. Just go and BE. You’ll remember what it was like BEFORE ELECTRONICS and be grateful for the break. Also, clients will understand when you tell them that you’ll be RE-CHARGED AND READY to talk with them upon your return. They WILL understand. Trust me.
My daughters have spent their faire share of time in my office. Before kids, I had this rosy idea that working from home and having a baby would be so convenient and easy. Let’s just say I quickly removed those rose-colored glasses and smashed them with my shoe. It was convenient when they were babies, but fairly easy isn’t exactly how I’d describe it……
LBK was certainly different and now seems like a very long time ago. Would I go back? NO! Would you?
Stay sane, my friends.