September 10, 2018

How to Balance Life As A Boss Mom

How to Balance Life as a Boss MomHow to Balance Life as a Boss Mom: Make Every Second Count

My photography journey began in 2009 about a year after Travis and I were married. Seeing our wedding photographer in action ignited a spark in my soul and I remember thinking “I could totally do that.” Knowing very little about photography, I worked my way in slowly. Photographing anyone and everyone who would let me while building my portfolio and deciding if I was really serious about this.

I never in a million years would have imagined where this side hustle would lead me today. It was never a dream of mine to become an Entrepreneur, I knew nothing about business, and really had no idea what I was getting myself into. All I knew was the I loved photography and I wanted to give this “business thing” a try!!

In 2012, I decided to take my business seriously, start charging what I was worth, pursue this big dream of mine AND go all in!  At the time, I was working as a nanny and had a 1 year old baby. I didn’t have the time to commit to growing my business as fast as I wanted. I was so discouraged the first couple years comparing myself to all the photographers I admired who seemed to be doing everything I wanted to be doing.

What I realized was that every single person I was comparing myself to, was not in the same place that I was. They didn’t have any children, some of them weren’t married and almost all of them only had 1 job. Here I was working 5 days a week, raising a baby, and wondering why my business was growing so slowly. A couple years later, I got pregnant with our 2nd child, and then it seemed like business slowed down even more.

It took me several years to realize that my slower pace was the perfect pace for me. I started owning the truth that my kids wouldn’t be little forever, and that my top priority was to be a mom FIRST, not a business owner. Can I just tell you, that was so hard for me to swallow. I wanted so desperately to be successful with my business.

 

I constantly felt this pull between being awesome in business,or being awesome at home.

Always, I felt like I was dropping the ball somewhere. If business was doing well, then my family and my kids weren’t getting as much attention and if I was spending more time with my family, then my business was suffering. It has taken me many years some tough times to discover these 5 secrets to balancing life as a boss mom. Are you ready!!? Let’s get started.


Secret #1: Throw Out the Word Balance


I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but balance in life just isn’t a thing!! Here is the legit definition of the word balance.

bal·ance even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady

There will never be a time in your life when all of your roles are getting an ‘even distribution’ of you! It just isn’t physically possible to calculate and divide your time with that kind of precision. There will be times in your life when certain roles require more of your time than others.

Let’s look at a few roles that you might resonate with:

  • Daughter
  • Sister
  • Mom
  • Grandma
  • Believer
  • Wife
  • Friend
  • Mom
  • Neighbor
  • Business Owner

I’m sure there are several titles that you can relate to. Would you agree that it’s impossible for you to equally divide your time spent in each role? There are going to be times in your life when your priorities shift and maybe your role as one title requires more of your time.

In the stage of life that I am in right now, my kids are young and so my MOM role requires more from me, than my business. When my youngest goes to school next fall, and both of my kids are in school, then the majority of my time spent during the day will be working on my business and connecting with friends.


Secret #2: Remember Your Why


Why Did You Start?

I used to compare myself to these amazing entrepreneurs whom I so admired. I would long for their success and wonder why I wasn’t further along in my business. On the daily, I still have to stop and remind myself why I started in the first place. I wanted to provide influence, stability, flexibility and freedom for my family in the following ways.

  • Influence: by having the opportunity to stay home with my kids, raise them, play with them and be there for all of their firsts!
  • Stability: by providing a clean, healthy, welcoming and safe place at home for my entire family where we can make mistakes, learn and grow.
  • Flexibility: allowing me to create memories with my family while managing my schedule on my terms, planning play dates and going on vacations at my leisure and being my own boss. 
  • Freedom: to provide financially for my family while being able to enjoy all of the above perks of being a business owner.

Putting Yourself First, Your Spouse Second + Your Kids Third

  • Self: It is vital as women for us to take care of ourselves first! If we are not taken care of, we cannot take care of our family. This means making sure we get enough sleep, have time to prepare and eat healthy meals, exercise, self-care and occasional coffees with friends and shopping. Of course add in anything else you need for yourself!!  Now as a disclaimer, this is not an excuse for your to go crazy and be totally selfish, this is just a chance for you to truly get your needs met by making sure you are taken care of first. Make yourself a priority. This sometimes means having to wake up before everyone else does in order to make the time for yourself, saying no to social media before bed so you can get extra sleep etc. 
  • Spouse: Your spouse is going to be in your house far longer than your kids, so make sure you take the time to continue to grow your relationship with each other. The reason why so many couples get divorced after their kids move out, is because they skipped this step. They put their kids first and along the way forgot to date their spouse and work on their marriage. Some ways to put your spouse first is to; find out their input for dinner, offer to help with tasks you know they don’t enjoy, look for ways to surprise each other. Leave love notes and send texts during the day to let them know you’re thinking about them. Have at least 10 minutes of meaningful unplugged conversation. Talk about your day, discuss important topics, upcoming events, finances etc. The more meaningfully conversations you can have face to face the less explosive arguments you will get into later. 
  • Kids: I’m just going to say it. Kids are downright exhausting. There are days, when I just don’t feel like playing or talking, but I love my littles and I know how much they love me and look up to me, so some days I just have to fake it. I have to put on a happy face and pretend to enjoy playing with them. Sometimes I would rather be working on my business because it comes easier to me and I feel like I am in control, but I have to sidestep those feelings and know that my kids are worth it. Nothing worth something ever comes easy. It always takes hard work and perseverance. Studies show that just 15 minutes of one-on-one time per day with each child will greatly increase their self-esteem, create connection and eliminate behavioral problems. I make it a priority in the morning, to greet each kiddos with a good morning hug and kiss. I ask them how their sleep was and that I missed them while they were sleeping. My kids now crave this conversation and connection and will remind me “Mom, you forgot my good morning hug”. It’s seriously a small gesture, but it goes a long way. I’ve always made it a priority to get that 15 minutes of special time with each of my kiddos everyday. With my daughter we call it “Special Mommy Scarlett Time” and she knows that this is her time to choose what we do. She looks forward to this and asks for it often. We also read books with our kids a lot to foster that connection and special time. 

Get Unplugged

Think about how hard it is for us as adults to unplug from our devices, cell phones especially. I cannot even imagine how hard it’s going to be for our children who have grown up never knowing what life was like without technology. This is my biggest struggle. I feel a constant pull to my phone. Always feeling like I need to be connected and knowing what’s going on. Feeling like I can never miss a message or a notification. Wanting to always be surfing social media and staying up to date with what’s going on in my friends and families lives. When in reality, I know that the world will not end if I don’t respond right away. There is nothing absolutely vital that I need to know about that won’t still be there in a few hours or the next day.

I want to create a legacy for my children that doesn’t involve “mom was always on her phone”. My family needs to know that they are more important than my phone. I want to prove to myself that I don’t need to constantly be entertained all day and distracted by social media and information overload.

To Be Fully Present You Have To Unplug


Secret #3: Set Goals + Prioritize


  1. Allow More Time: When I first became a mom, it was really hard for to set realistic goals and expectations. I emphasize the word realistc, because I didn’t realize that the amount of things I used to be able to accomplish before having kids. Back then, I was far more productive. I had to get in touch with the reality of how much time NOW it takes to accomplish those same tasks. {Laundry, Making Breakfast, Meal Planning + Grocery Shopping, just to name a few} Things now just take at least twice as long. Then adding a 2nd child into the mix made things even HARDER to accomplish. So now I have to really lower my expectations and set reasonable goals knowing that they are just going to take longer when my kids are around.

  2. Prioritize: Knowing how much longer tasks will take has forced me to hone my prioritizing skills. There are certain tasks I know can be done with my kiddos around, things like laundry and dishes that they can now help me with, but things like creating a meal plan, blogging, and content planning are things that need my full attention and have to be done without interruptions. I’ve mentioned Trello in previous posts,  but it seriously has been my saving grace. Organizing and sorting my tasks in order of importance allows me to see everything I need to do at once, but in list form so it’s more manageable. I have a master to do list that has all of my tasks separated by business (photography related, photobooth related and then personal). My son attends pre-school twice a week. I know that on those two days I have to get all of my work related things scheduled and completed. I also have lists on my Trello board with my work days and add the priority items to get done that day. It really helps keep me productive and stay on track. 
  3. Set Boundaries:Schedule work hours, and stick to them! This has been an extremely hard one for me, and many fellow business owners to follow. Since our work is right at our fingertips it’s so easy to feel the need to respond to messages and notifications right away. I had to turn off all Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram notifications. They were just too distracting for me. I was on social media all day checking notifications, commenting and responding to messages. It was not a good use of my time. I felt like I was contasnlty checking e-mails and texts. On my scheduled days off I found myself drawn to my computer and sitting down to do one task led to a couple hours of work and it was no wonder that I was feeling like I never stopped working!! Here is my typical work schedule: 

Monday: 8:30am-3:00pm {Errands + Office Work}  6:00-8:00pm {Sessions + Meetings}

Tuesday: 1:00pm-3:00pm {Office Work}

Wednesday: 1:00-3:00pm {Office Work} 6:00-8:00pm {Sessions + Meetings}

Thursday: 8:30am-3:00pm {Meetings, Errands, Office Work, Sessions}

Friday: 1:00-3:00pm {Office Work}

Saturday: 6:30-8:30am/4:00-7:00pm {Sessions}

Sunday: OFF

4. Curb the Guilt: If you only take one thing away from this whole post, I hope it’s this. It is okay to want to be a good mom and a good business owner!! You do not have to choose between the do, and can do both well. Just know that your business might grow at a slower pace and that is okay.

You will have your entire life to work, but you will not have these precious years with your littles forever

Soon they will be grown up and needing you less and less. You will long for the days when you had the whole day to just sit on the floor and play and your biggest worry was some spilled milk and toilet paper strewn across the bathroom. Love your family with all that you have, be the best mom and wife you can be and your business will be okay with whatever you can give.


Secret #4: Make Every Second Count


Find Creative Ways to Work

  • Take Your Kids to Chic-Fil-A or McDonalds: When you just need some time to work these fast food play places are a lifesaver!! You can enjoy a cold brew while your work and let your kids play.  
  • Trade Babysitting with a Friend: If you don’t have any friends that live close by, try joining a moms group in your area. This is a great way to meet other moms and I guarantee they all are looking for a break as well. 
  • Take Full Advantage of Nap/Quiet Time: I still rely on my kid’s quiet time to get things done around the house and especially in my business. Before my son was in preschool I really had to plan out my time. If you kids no longer take naps and you aren’t already implementing quiet time, I highly recommend you start. The rule in our house is that you can play quietly in your room and read books for 1.5 hours. They are not allowed to interuput me while I am working unless it’s an emergency.
  • Look in Preschools: This was seriously a game changer for me! As soon as my kids turned 3 I enrolled them in preschool. My first born 

Automate

  • Instagram: Planoly is my favorite tool for planning all of my Instagram content. 
  • E-mails: Creating canned response e-mails is the best use of my time. No more searching, and copying/pasting previous messages. I used Gmail canned responses and save templates as I find myself writing new e-mails. 
  • Pinterest: Tailwind is a great tool for automating and scheduling Pinterest posts. 
  • Facebook: plan out your facebook content weeks in advance and schedule auto-post dates. 
  • Honeybook: is the best CRM {Client Relationship Managment} tool that I have ever used!! It keeps track of all of my inquiries, bookings, invoicing, messaging and contracts with all my clients. Honeybook also has tons of automation tools and templates to make doing business an absolute breeze!! If you’re interested in checking them out, you can earn 50% off by using the link here.  

Batch Your Tasks

This is by far my favorite tip!! I’ve heard it over the years several times, but I hadn’t implemented it until recently. As a business owner, we all wear many hats such as; photographer, account, social media manager, blogger, secretary, e-mail marketer, etc. We are always bombarded with so many different tasks and if you’re anything like I used to be you would jump from one task to another as the came to mind for fear of forgetting to complete the task. What I have learned is that it takes my brain time to shift from one task to another and I have to shut of one part of my brain, fire up another and continue these chaotic transitions throughout my entire day. At the end of the day, feeling frazzled, exhausted and extremely unproductive was not ideal.

Now, when tasks come to mind, or notifications come through that I need to answer, I will add them to my master Trello list. If it’s something that needs attention later that day or the next day, I will set an alarm in my phone to remind me. A physical alarm, not a reminder!! Sometimes I miss reminders completely, but alarms I do not miss. When I have a few extra minutes here and there I will refer to my Trello list, prioritize those tasks and maybe move some over to my work days for the week.

When I start working on a certain task I will give myself a time limit, set a timer and when that timer goes off I have to move to the next task. This ensures that I am not spending too much time on certain tasks and helps me work more efficiently. I also have to force myself to take breaks. Get up, walk around, physically leave my office, get a snack etc. Sometimes I can be sitting at my computer for hours straight and not even realize that 3 hours have just gone by. I have found it so important to take frequent breaks and allow myself to recharge for a few minutes.

What Tasks to Batch?

  • Content Planning: Instead of thinking of new content to post on Social Media every day/week I batch the content on a monthly basis! I search topics by hastags for certain days and it gives me something to talk about. For instance #mondayhustle is when I will talk about what’s going on in my business #timeouttuesday is when I will discuss what I’m doing to take care of myself #weddingwednesday is when I share helpful wedding tips or blog post etc. This helps me curate my content and only have to switch that part of my creative brain on once a month. 
  • Images: After I have all of my content planned for the month, I can start gathering images and planning what photos I need to take/have taken. Since gathering images that goes along with the content is a complete shift in my brain, I sit down and select all the images for my content in one sitting.
  • Captions: I spend a lot time carefully curating my content so that it is well thought out and valuable.
  • Blogging: I repeat the same steps for my blog as I do with social media. First I plan my content, outline the post, choose the images, and then start crafting the actual post. After the post is written, I move on to proof-reading, formatting and Google optimization. The process takes several days, but it’s much easier to approach the task of blogging with multiple steps over multiple days during multiple batch sessions.
  • E-mails: I used to answer e-mails as soon as they came in. I no longer do that, since learning it’s more productive to answer e-mails only 1-2 times a day. I do check e-mails as they come in to make sure they aren’t urgent. Inquires are an example of an urgent e-mail. I always respond to inquires right away. 
  • Housework: I like to set aside blocks of time to get housework done. Instead of always feeling like I am cleaning, I set aside 15 minutes a day to tidy up the house or deep clean one area. I will set a timer and when it goes off, I have to stop. It’s fun for me to race against the clock. 

    I hope that you have enjoyed hearing more about How to Balance Life as a Boss Mom. Remember to make every second count!! 

    Stay tuned for more business posts where I will share more tips about navigating life as an entrepreneur!! I always promise to keep things real and never sugar coat the truth. We are all in this life together and we need to be there for each other with support and no judgement.

    I would love for you to leave a comment below and tell me what are your biggest struggles as a boss mom?

    If you are looking for a photographer to document your wedding day, let’s setup a coffee date and chat details. I can’t wait for us to connect!

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    How to Balance Life as a Boss Mom

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