Picking up from my blog last week, Long Weekend in Charleston SC… Part One, and still reminiscing about my time in Charleston with women who literally have changed my life.
You see, running a small business from home while juggling all of the other responsibilities of everyday life can become overwhelming trying to differentiate home life from work life. Most days my “office” is my couch; trying to blog, edit pictures, market, answer messages, all the while the laundry is running, the cats are sitting there staring me down to pet or play with them, I get frustrated if the house is messy and torn between putting business aside to clean, if the kids are home it gets crazy too, while they truly are really great kids, it seems the minute I get on the phone or laptop they argue with each other which leads to me yelling at them which I really hate doing. This is my first really busy summer since I became a legit business owner so my juggling act looked like a cheap circus side show!
Back to the women who changed my life… At Ashton Kelley Photography retreats, Ashton ensures that in all of the awesome squad members presenting that there’s topics to interest all of the attendee’s. Going into her workshops and retreats there is always that one person I am excited to hear from and take away valuable information and then there is always one who I am surprised by how much I connect with them.
At the Charleston retreat, I was excited for everyone, but I was anxious to hear Amanda Hedgepeth speak. I have followed her work and blog for a while. Amanda is a married momma of 3 little girls and a successful photographer so I wanted to know her secret to balancing life and work from home! I met this sweet tiny lady in person for the 1st time when she had me blocked in the parking lot and we had a quick chat about “mommy vans” and I let her know how excited I was for her talk the next day.
Forward to Friday, I’m taking notes, listening so intently to what she’s saying waiting to hear that big secret to her life balance and she says “I couldn’t remember the last time I talked to my daughter and looked her in the eye” and at least have the room breaks into tears. You see over 1/2 of us in there were momma’s to little ones. That hit me hard, so many thoughts came rushing through my head of things I have said to my kids “hold on, let mommy check this message” “hold on, let mommy edit this picture” “maybe we can swim later, I need to finish this” “in a minute” “maybe tomorrow” and so many more excuses!! Alligator Tears are rolling!!!
Ashton says “Sarah you will be talking more about work balance tomorrow but would you like to say anything today?” So then Sarah Houston begins to speak briefly and she says what totally did us all in, she says… “My business ruined my life. My husband looked at me one day and said you choose us or your business and I chose my business” (disclosure; they are back together and totally happy) Oh Hunny, talk about tears!!!! Big Ugly Crying! I am texting Reg to tell him I love him, ladies are leaving the room to call husbands, tears are flowing.
Bethanne Arthur spoke the next day about business practices and legalities but she is a married sweet momma of 2 so she gave some insight on how she balances her juggling act. A door on her office where she can disconnect and have her space, working when kids are sleeping, etc. More tears. Bethanne came up to me on the way to lunch hugged me and said “I love your heart, you need to work smarter not harder, raise your prices, you can do all this.” And we sat and cried and talked for 30 minutes just she and I. She truly has no idea how much that hug and those words meant to me!
At the end of the retreat, we did leave with lots of wonderful information on how to better grow our businesses and serve our clients, but we all left with the goal of making it work better for our families and spouses and shaking that mommy and wife guilt that so many of us carried.
So on that note, here is one of the 1st things I am implementing into my business plan. OFFICE HOURS!!! I have been trying to train myself on this since coming home, and let me just say, my evenings with my kids move smoother and I feel like a better mom and wife. I think back to an evening last week when my little girl got in the car from school and said “Momma what are we doing tonight, how much work do you have to do this evening?” to which I replied with my new plan, “Momma isn’t going to be working in the evenings anymore unless it’s to shoot a quick session.” She got so excited that it made me sad, sad on how happy she was, because it had been so apparent to a 6 year old how non existent, even though I was present, I had been in the evenings. Since then we have crafted, swam, actually read bedtime stories without hurrying through and just hung out together. My sweet boy, even though is almost 11, still likes to cuddle at night sometimes, by taking time to do that and not rush him, we have had some precious conversations. I fall asleep with my husband more nights out of the week than not now rather than hurriedly tucking kids in bed and going downstairs to edit, make phone calls, etc. He has a demanding job and many nights is asleep by 8, but I try to lay with him and wind down with our favorite shows or talk about our day when he is up later. Our little family is happier and running smoother in the last 3 weeks than I feel like we have been in a long time.
So here it is…
My office hours for returning messages and phone calls will be Monday – Friday from 8:30-3. I am sure there will be occasions where I may do office work late at night after everyone in my house is asleep but not often, and I am planning on setting up auto responding messages for those times.
Yes I will continue to shoot sessions in the evenings and weekends because I am human and understand that not everyone can have pictures taken in the middle of the day on a weekday.
I am excited for this and I think not only can I be physically and mentally present for my family more, but by being more relaxed and happier, I can serve my clients better!!
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