I'm nervous, but excited to begin a new series today chatting about motherhood and small-business ownership. This is something I am super passionate about, as I have totally struggled with the balance of needing to do it all, be it all, and be the best at both. I'm the first to admit that I don't have all the answers, and I definitely don't have a perfect plan, but it's absolutely something that needs to be discussed more.
My word for this year was balance. This process was verbal personal and involved me discovering the meaning balance in family/work life, in my client workflow and experience. After a year of hustle and going as fast as I could, a year of bringing balance back into my life is truly needed. Without balance, you will easily get overwhelmed, overworked, and forget why you are passionate about what you are doing.
Wedding Photography means missing a lot of evenings and weekends, which is difficult when Emerson is in pre-school 5 full days during the week. Last year, in my 'year of hustle' I was missing SO much time with her- it felt like she was at school with her teachers, or with a sitter for a wedding, with Michael when I was out at a session. Even when I was home, I was trying to catch up, and would be on my laptop. It was exhausting and I totally got burnt out. After a few good crys, talks, and prayers, I knew that something seriously needed to change.
In comparison to last year, I have made some big changes, and it has helped so much in my marriage, time I get with Emerson, my client relationships, and my mental health! I started outsourcing some editing for weddings (if you haven't looked into this yet- you totally need to!) Having set office hours, scheduled days off & unplugged evenings. Summer is different, because it's supposed to be more fun... so, here's what balance is currently looking like for us this summer:
-Skipping school at least one day a week. On these days I wake up before anyone else to answer emails and get some client work done. Then I spend the rest of the morning with Emerson, we head to the pool, go to the museum, or go to a movie together. This one-on-one time is crucial for me and it's always so much fun. Now, each week, I am so tempted to have an extra work day to catch up, but every single time I've kept her home from school, it's been such an important time together.
-During the summer, Emerson's school goes on a field trip once a week. Because I work from home, I block off these field trip days to go on these field trips with her! Again, I will wake up an hour or two earlier than anyone else to get work done for the day, and then finish up work that afternoon when Em is having her quiet time.
-Scheduling days off on non-wedding weekends. Oh guys! A Saturday without a wedding can feel like such a treat, being able to sleep in a little, wake up slowly, drink my coffee while it's still warm and stay in our jammies. We can run errands, or head to the pool. It really is such a nice, relaxing time!! I end up feeling way refreshed and more encouraged to pour into my creative side and my clients.
One of the most important things I am still trying to get through my own head is to give grace. GIVE YOURSELF GRACE. I don't have to be a perfect Mom. I want people to know that I do not have it all together. Moms shouldn't be expected to do everything perfectly. Give some grace, encourage each other, rewash that load of laundry for the 3rd time this week, and know that the world's expectations of motherhood and business ownership is stupid.
Ashley Eiban is a Wedding & Portrait Photographer based in Central Virginia. Serving Lynchburg, Charlottesville, Richmond, Farmville, Roanoke, and surrounding areas. Available for travel worldwide. Currently booking limited weddings for 2016 and 2017. Contact us today for additional information, or just to say hi!
Thanks to Kelsey Schwenk for the family photos!