My photography business has almost always been a home based business. I started out working in studios about 14 years ago and since then have been in my home so I’ve had lots of practice, but when you throw kids into the mix they always add a special new element. Finding the time to work, what kind of schedule do I keep, can I actually do this!?
Well, the answer is yes, you can actually make it work. I am by no means perfect. I’m not even pretending that I’ve got it all together. But I have figured out a couple of things. There is a such thing as balance and everyone has to figure out what that balance looks like for them. For some, having a messy house may not be conducive for a healthy work environment. For others, a messy house may not be a big deal. And all of this will change as your kids get older. If you have very young children they may be completely happy to sit in your lap while you get some work done (mine never did that!!) and others may scream the whole time if you are not actively playing with them. Some kids may climb the walls just to see the highest mark they can touch and others may sit quietly and color. Mine were the climbing kind…or jumping, or running, or yelling, or smashing…you get the idea. So here are some of the ways I have made being a Work At Home Mom work for me. Hopefully they will help you be more efficient with your time at work and with your family….I’m still working on a few of these too…
1. Work when the kids are napping. When my boys were little, this was literally the only free moment I had. Either nap time or bedtime.
2. Sometimes you just gotta say, it can wait till tomorrow. There were/are days when the boys have to come first. I’m a mommy first, photographer second. If my boys are sick and need me to cuddle them all day long, then that’s what we will do. If they need me to take them on a trip when I really needed to work (please let it be on my schedule) then that’s what happens.
3. My husband and I tag team A LOT. When the boys were younger I would basically wait until he could watch the boys to schedule my sessions. We didn’t have a big babysitting list or any family around since we were a Navy family so this was the only way it would work. Now, if I have to, my mother-in-law is happy to watch them for us.
4. There are some things that I have to just let go. That usually means that my house is messy. I’m only one person and I can’t do everything, and you know what, I’m ok with that. If it means that my kids are happy and I’m happy then I call that a win. My husband will probably be embarrassed that I’m showing you this photo but this is my laundry room…always. At least it’s hidden upstairs. These are all clean by the way. They just never get folded or sorted…
5. My husband and I have set one night a week as a screen free or work free night. Most of my work has to happen when the boys are in bed, as I said earlier, but that also means that it is when my husband is home. So that’s not really fair to him. He works all day and comes home to a wife that is working all night. Next year when my youngest son goes to school all day (he’s only in pre-school and goes 3 half days) it will be a lot easier for me to get my work done during the day. You could start out trying to have one work free night and maybe bump it up to two work free nights a week, because after all, our marriages are our most important relationship that our kids see.
6. Ask for help. Ask a friend or relative to take your kids for a playdate so you can get some work done if you are needing to catch up. I’ve had several friends offer to help me out when I feel like I’m drowning in work. It’s always so nice to know that someone is there to lend a hand. After all, it takes a village.
7. If you have a busy season like I do, just know that there are going to be a lot of times that you will need some extra help around the house. Be up front with your spouse. Tell them that you will need some extra support during this busy time. Be prepared with some freezer meals all made up before you get to that time of year. Depending on the age of your kids, make sure they know that this is a really busy time of year for you and ask them to help out as much as possible (mine have no idea what this means).
8. Lastly, unplug and love on those kids and that husband or wife. Because in the long run, that’s why you are working so hard in the first place!
There is a picture that I saw a long time ago and I whole heartedly agree with it. It says, moms have to choose 2: happy kids, a clean house, or my sanity. If given the choice, I’m always going to choose happy kids and my sanity, hands down!
I’ll leave you with a couple of questions. Would you rather work in a job you hate that pays you millions of dollars a year, or have a job you love that pays you just enough to get by? And lastly, would you rather have an incredibly easy job working for someone else, or work for yourself but work incredibly hard?
Let me know your thoughts.
your friendly neighborhood alamosa portrait photographer