November 1st, 2018
This month is all about wrapping this up before baby girl arrives. I’m really excited to finally get this post up because it’s probably been one of the most requested blogs and questions I get asked all the time. How do I balance running a business and having a baby? (Spoiler Alert: I don’t) What does it look like? When do you work? How to do work? Who looks after J while you work?
I’m telling all in todays post and also sharing what I learned along the way. As cliche as it is to say, you really do have to experiment to see what works best for you and your family. There is no one set path, I learned week after week by testing out different scenarios and figuring out what worked for us and what didn’t.
I’ll also spill a little about what I plan to do now that we’re expecting another little one in just a few weeks (time is flying!!) I keep it really real in the post in hopes it helps you get a real honest behind the scenes look at my particular journey transitioning and navigating become a mother while running a business.
Let’s start right back at the beginning, right after J was born!
0-2 Months – “What is happening?!”
Being our first baby, I had no idea what to expect. I thought it won’t be so bad I’ll just squeeze in work while he naps! I naively assumed I’d have a bunch of spare time to take photos, answer emails, do some shoots etc (I want to go back and hug this sweet Anna who knew no better). Aside from adjusting to being a new mom there were so many other emotions physically and emotionally happening that it took a minute to get adjusted.
I remember the first time I had to leave J to go pick up a dress for my brothers wedding bawling on the highway from leaving him. I remember blacking out from exhaustion because I didn’t want to leave his side for a second and felt uneasy whenever someone else was holding him and felt it always had to be me to soothe him or cuddle him. J has never been a good sleeper. Even at just a few day sold he was the king of cat naps. These mythical babies who would nap for hours? Lets hope my second is better than her bother in this department…
I digress, in the two months he was born, I launched the Greece Collection for our shop and did an entire photoshoot for it. I had the entire village over that day (aka: my mom, mother in law and sister in law – image below). Thank God for them. But I took on WAY too much too soon. I remember called my best friends after the shoot being like “why didn’t you guys stop me form this madness when I was talking about doing it?!” They laughed and replied…”We did!” “You didn’t listen…”
Oh yeah, they did warn me but I’m stubborn and like to learn things the hard way I suppose!
Simultaneously while I was launching the collection for the shop (and doing all the shipping, fulfilment and customer service) – I was also trying to keep up with my blog, put out social media content and just stay afloat. I had some photoshoots booked as well for a few months out. At the time I didn’t have anyone working for me…(I now have someone who runs all shipping & fulfilment for our shop, and assistant who helps me with emails , this blog and whatever else that comes up and recently a graphic designer who assists as design projects come up).
Let the trial and error begin.
I knew the only way I was going to figure out how to make working and motherhood give was to test out different scenarios and see what not only worked best but what I felt most comfortable doing.
First test: Having someone come to the condo to watch him while I squeezed in some work. This was usually my parents or in-laws over at the house – and they were so sweet and would say go get some work done! And I was just kinda standing around deer in headlights for most of the time lol. I would feel bad and then I wasn’t able to focus (being in a condo everything is in the open, so its not like I could close a door and get work done – any sound happy or sad J would make I would jump up to go comfort him or watch him smile and make adorable noises). I quickly learned this scenario was not going to work…
3-5 Months – It Takes a Village
Enter month 3: November.
I should point out that this was the month I really learned why the phrase “It takes a village” exists. I was very scared and shy to ask for consistent help at the beginning. Truthfully, I felt bad. I thought I should be able to figure this all our on my own – we decided to have kids, this was ours to figure out.
I was exhausted, frustrated and so burnout by this point and just wanted to get through the holidays and enjoy them with our new addition (real talk: because I didn’t prep for a maternity leave before at this point I started to really resent my work).
Running a shop theres a lot of holiday prep that happens – then all the shipping and fulfilment etc. So Ko and our immediate families were urging me to use them and let them help. I had pumped stored milk so I technically was able to leave for at least 4 hrs to get some uninterrupted work done, and SO I slowly and reluctantly decided to give it a go.
I will never forget the first time I left Yianni.
I drove up to my in-laws, dropped him off and was going to a Starbucks with my laptop to work for 3-4 hrs to prep for our Black Friday sale. I cried the entire drive to the Starbucks, then in the car and then in the Starbucks. I called my mom from the car to cry some more and told her how guilty I felt leaving him to work then I called Ko saying I’m going to shut everything down (yes, I was very dramatic lol). I didn’t know it was possible to feel this kind of guilt. Apart of my brain clicked ‘Ah so this is what Mom Guilt feels like? Got it. Sucks.’
I did this twice a week leading up to the holidays and by the 4th or 5th time it did get a smidge easier. I had to focus while I was there and was shocked at how much work I could get done in such a short amount of time when I was laser focused because I needed to get back to my baby.
This is more or less how I worked up until the end of January. Few hours at a coffee shop, couple times a week where I did what I could. Then the work I needed to do at my desktop (at the condo) I would do during the evenings or on Sunday when Ko was around. It was a juggle, a bit of a struggle and I like all working moms it’s a muscle you need to practise and its not fun all the time.
By the end of this phase I did take a lighter approach to it all. I was committed to testing out different work weeks and different work times to see what felt right. One week I felt like my work day stretched out too long and I felt anxious so the following week I was sure to keep it shorter etc.
6-12 Months – Getting the hang of it…kind of
Come February I knew I needed to kick it into gear and get back to work/work not just do the bare minimum. I breastfed until about 8 months so this part was a little tricky. I needed a schedule, something I could rely on and that I could predict when I would get my work done. We decided I’d have 3 working days. He’d go stay with my in-laws twice a week and once a week with my mom. I would usually get my mom to help out on one more day for a few hours for a shoot or errands I needed for work – even if J was in tow it was always nice to have an extra set of hands.
This was when I finally started to throw my hands up and admit I needed proper consistent help. I don’t know why it took me so long to get over it, but it did. I also realized ‘mom guilt’ was never ever going to go away but instead of looking at it with time away from my baby I looked at it like A. I was working for my family and B. its good quality time with loving grandparents!
I’ll forever feel so grateful that my mom and mother in law were able to watch J so I could work. I know thats not the case for everyone. If I didn’t have them – knowing myself I would have likely traded with my besties w/ kids – I’ll watch your kids these two days for these many hours and you can watch J for these two days so I can get work done!
So come February I was working 3x a week + 1 more half day/full day for shoots and anything else I wanted to create for social + the blog.
This was basically my schedule right up until we left for Greece just after J turned one.
A few Q’s to answer for you that I get often when people found out I only worked 3x a week for the first year.
Did I still work in the evenings and on weekends? Yes absolutely.
Did things fall through the cracks and emails left un-asnwered? Definitely.
Did my business not grow as quickly as it once did? Yes. And that’s totally okay.
Did I still feel mom guilt? Yep, I don’t think this ever goes away.
Working 3 days a week from previously working 6 days a week was and adjustment but one I was happy to make. I only took on a few photoshoots, I was very choosy with which collaborations and sponsored content I took on and put my energy into the shop. I kept things afloat and I did my best.
I learned during those 12 months to embrace the seasons of life you’re in. The reason I started my business in the first place and worked 6-7 days a week for years was to have this flexibility when we started a family.
Two things in particular this schedule did that I loved was it made me SO focused during the 3 work days I did have. I would listen to podcasts on the way home from dropping J off, get inspired and fired up to dive into my work day full focus and got things done. One thing I will say, having a kid makes you work (or rather made me) work way more efficiently and effectively.
It also made me SO excited for our days it was just us two. I’d looked forward to these days like you wouldn’t believe.
We worked this way right up until he turned 1.
Then we took off to Greece for one month and I pretty much completely unplugged.
13-24 Months – We found our groove
Our break was amazing in Greece but towards the end as we were coming home I decided to make some changes to how I was going to be running my business. I realized I couldn’t keep doing it all and be the mom and wife I wanted to be. It wasn’t working and wasn’t making me happy. SO, I decided to slow down certain parts of my business and completely stop doing others temporarily during this season of growing our family. You can read more about that here.
Ko and I also decided at this point that I needed one more working day so we made that happen too. As soon as I got back in October I went to working 4 days a week!
I worked this way up until this past September when we put J in pre-school part time so since September I’ve had 5 working days which was been great since I had a lot of catching up to do from taking some unexpected time off during my first two trimesters with baby number two.
Baby girl arrives soon and I know it’s going to put a new spin on the way things are being operated! What I learned from these past two years is to not be afraid to ask for help. Weather it’s trading with another mom for child care, asking for evening help etc.
Another adjustment I had to make was getting used to working in the evenings. I’m such a morning person, it’s when I get my best work in but being a mom as you know you don’t have your mornings to yourself to work. I’ve had to train myself to do little rituals in the evening to get my groove going and squeeze in 1-2 hrs of work when I can!
Hope you found this post helpful ! I’ve gotten SO many requests for this one so hope it give you some ideas and inspiration to how to juggle and make it work! There is no RIGHT or WRONG way. I admire ALL moms equally. We are all different so it’s important to test / experiment and figure out what works best and feels best for YOU….here is the best part once you figure it out and think you got a groove – the babies change, life changes and you have to re-work and figure it all out again haha.
It’s important to be patient and kind to yourself in the moments where you feel frustrated and anxious – that means something is off and instead of being hard on yourself analyze what it is (for me this was usually: worked an hour or two longer than I wanted on a weekend – and the fix was – have a nice long morning with J next day before I had to drop him off).
Now that we are expecting a second little one I’ve cleared my schedule for the first 2-3 months of her life. Though I cannot shut down completely and will likely still be posting on social and doing a few collaborations there will be no new launches or large photoshoots until she’s a bit older. I have no idea what kind of baby she will be, how the delivery or my recovery will go so I’m being very generous with the amount of time I’m going to take to enjoy all the newborn moments (which I’m sure with a toddler in tow will be a new fun and wild experience in itself all together!).