I loved this idea! A while back, someone requested I have an open part of my New Mom Series for specific questions. The most flattering thing in the world to me is to be asked mom advice, especially because I’ve only been doing this for two years! But because I run a business at the same time and still invest so much time (well, finally nowadays) in family…I feel like I’ve been labeled a good mama role model in the area of business owners and among some wonderful people who have supported us for the past few years. Thank you SO much for that!
With that said, I have some anonymous questions from people I decided to answer via blog post because it just COULD help someone else, too! Some of them are nursing questions, just an FYI if that bothers anyone..but I’m not sure how it could. It’s a pretty normal thing you know 🙂
How in the world have you been working if it’s not comfortable to sit down?!
It’s been really hard hahah! I have no torso, I am five feet tall. Sitting in a chair and editing is actually painful most of the time so instead of my previous big long streaks of editing an entire wedding in a sitting, I had to break it up by only editing Preceremony, then taking a lunch break or laying down, then ceremony and then setting the rest aside for another day. It’s hard being this short and sitting in a chair with a child the size of a watermelon in your belly hahah! And………….my husband rubs my back and shoulders EVERY single night. He is truly amazing. That saves me! I also at one point put my computer at a lower point and sat on an exercise ball and edited weddings hahah! It HELPED!
How do you handle interruptions? Do you have certain times/areas where Cammy knows she can’t interrupt you, or do you try to only work in the evenings so you can’t get interrupted?
Interruptions kill me. I can’t stand them but they are a part of motherhood that need to be expected, planned for and anticipated. Like all the time, at the worst times, in the middle of serious crunch time and work. In the middle of that inquiry email you are desperate to answer. During editing. During blogging. In the middle of working on your website. Am I complaining about her? NO WAY. She is a toddler, and children in general need attention and I believe it’s wrong to hold that against them. We might get frustrated and it may be something like answering a wedding inquiry which technically leads to supporting your business and family but you can’t justify treating your baby/child poorly or resent them for interrupting you, so it’s REALLY important to find a healthy balance and schedule.
SCHEDULING YOUR WORK and working with your spouse on that is so absolutely key.
The only time I am truly able to edit is when Mike is watching Cammy or when she is at a babysitter. Occasionally during a nap time of hers I will be able to complete a session but nap times and lengths are unpredictable, and with a newborn coming soon? There is no way I can guarantee to ever have time to edit without someone else in the house helping.
Other things like marketing, answering emails, etc are scheduled to be done in the morning for 30 min-1 hour while Mike is home before work and then usually during “in between times” during the day when Cammy is playing and occupied, or napping. Also once at night I’m able to squeeze that in, too! You have to find a system that works for you but mostly– SCHEDULING and getting help from babysitters and others to be able to work CONSISTENTLY and UNINTERRUPTED is key!
How do you schedule work around the newborn schedule and pumping? I feel like I’m either feeding her, changing her or pumping milk for her. How do you start back up when this little person takes so much time?
Well I have to be honest– I DO have my babies in the off season for a reason hahaha!!! No but really, this is a hard thing to manage. The thing with having a baby is, especially when it’s your first, is that you have never had to learn to manage your every hour and move around another human being before. Going to the bathroom, showering, stepping out of the room, running errands, etc. It ALL changes. I remember thinking I was overwhelmed with work and busy before Cammy came, and then I realized I was just kind of lazy and a poor scheduler of my time. I don’t know WHAT I thought was keeping me busy before me, but the truth is– it was lack of motivation! It was also a lack of organization. When baby arrives, you have to use your time differently. Your schedule becomes tighter and you have to move faster. Working smarter but not harder is the ultimate goal.
This means, yes– scheduling pumping if possible. I didn’t pump a lot during my pregnancy with Cammy because I just exclusively nursed for a while. I nursed for 16 months and only pumped when I had somewhere to be like Key West and New York, really. This pregnancy I KNOW I have to pump at least 5 mornings a week to build up a great supply for when I’m in the British Virgin Islands, to let Cammy and Mike feed her more and because I want to be able to donate some milk, too! This is where Mike REALLY comes in though. Your spouse or family or mommy friends are there to help if you just ASK! Even something like picking up dinner or making it for you so you can skip that step in your day and have more time to pump. My mornings where I used to just answer emails and work on blogging and marketing for that 30min-1hour? Now I’ll have the pump hooked up and my hands free pumping bra on while doing it. Multitasking is what it’s ALL about when it comes to being a mama and I’m so determined to work smarter…not harder..and faster, because in the long run it makes things SO much easier!
How on earth do you pump at a wedding? Do you write that into your contract, how long of a break do you take? How often?
Oh y’all, my first year of Cammy being here and nursing and shooting weddings– BIG trial and error learning experience on the pumping/nursing front. I did have a hand held pump that I could bring with me and do it in the bathroom stall on my breaks, but that’s the key– GETTING a real break. Right now, I have it in my contract that I get a 30 minute break during weddings to eat/collect/rest/get my equipment organized/work on same day slideshow/etc. Do I always get this time? Not always..but most of the time, I do! My brides are THE best brides though and they totally understand! I’m not going to leave in the middle of the ceremony and start pumping..but during my meal break if I REALLY need to, I will be able to. The thing with me is though, I could probably go the whole wedding without doing it because most weddings I shoot are around 8 hours of coverage, so I literally pump RIGHT before I leave or right before I go in and then there’s my knight in shining armor when I get home, Mikey, standing at the front door with the pump all hooked up to bottles ready for me to get to work because he KNOWS how much pain I’m in from waiting the whole day to pump again! This won’t work for some people, but I have a way of getting through it somehow although I know it’s not ideal, it tends to work for me. HOWEVER—– if I am shooting a 10 hour, 12 hour wedding? Oh yes I will need that break time to pump. I just HAVE to have it then because otherwise I will cry and be in enormous pain! I did go 12 hours without pumping during one wedding and I literally couldn’t breathe it hurt so badly..lesson learned! Also if you have an adapter in your car and you can do it there and park close enough, that’s another way to get it done during your break 🙂 Make sure you eat while doing it!
For me, there was no other option but to keep up with breastfeeding because A) we really wanted the best we could for Cammy and I am a big advocate of it, from bonding to health reasons it was so important to us and B) financially we KNEW it made so much sense! I will tell you right now that there is no way we could have afforded all of the L-series lenses we did that first year without saving money via nursing! So if I have to take some pain at weddings and feel like my chest is going to explode– so be it!!!!! From chugging water every 5 minutes to taking Fenugreek to eating 3000 calories a day to pumping around the clock to build up the supply when we got home from the hospital when I thought I was losing it– it was so worth it for us!!
Just in general how to balance the three: wife, mom, business owner?
I can’t say I already have this down! Well, I think I am getting closer, but it took a lot of work and changes to the dynamic of my business and family time to get there. So I think I got it down AFTER Cammy turned a year old haha! I will be honest in saying the number one game changer that gave me my family back was not accepting sessions on the weekends. This is sooooo hard for our business and a decision that is nerve wrecking to make because you don’t want clients to be put off because of it, but most of my clients are able to accommodate this thank goodness and it’s something I announce fairly early in the inquiry and booking process. When I was shooting engagements and sessions on the weekends, it seems just like a couple of hours to be gone working..but in actuality..it’s preparing your equipment before, getting makeup on and getting dressed (I USED TO in the very beginning rock the yoga pants to shoots, because I was my own boss right? I changed my mind on that awhile ago and decided that professionalism was the better way to go- read this: No More Yoga Pants), it’s driving there, shooting for 1 1/2-2 hours, driving back, coming home, backing up images, selecting a sneak peek, posting, ETC! It’s actually several hours and probably a full half a day invested into it and when you have a family and husband that works 8-5 on weekdays, you REALLY want to see him on the weekends. I thank my clients so much for being understanding about this and it’s helped to create the best family and work balance for me!
Of course, everyone and their spouses jobs and their dynamic is different, but I DO think that scheduling bigger time consumers like editing and knocking them out ALL AT ONCE is a way to get more time with family, too! Having a to do list written down in a notebook that says what things MUST get done in a certain time period, sticking TO it and getting it done. Having your husband on baby duty while you knock out that list so that later you are free on time and can hang with them without thinking of that one other thing on your to do list is so helpful! Also scheduling daycare/babysitter time to get these things done, so important. This year, the weekend after a wedding I had Cammy go to a babysitter that Monday while I sat down and edited an ENTIRE WEDDING in a day (about 6-8 hours) … I already had it culled and ready to go from the weekend and categorized in Lightroom. You just have to find systems that work for you but mostly you have to remember to work through your tasks and not break them up and get distracted while doing them! I know it’s hard!! Trying to work with a baby around when you’re the only one watching them is usually something that doesn’t work for me so I have to wait until they’re at the sitter or someone is home to take care of them because interruptions totally kill my workflow!
Pictures from the weekend, one of our last weekends as a family of THREE 🙂