A couple of weeks ago I was chatting to a friend of mine about our days and I mentioned that I had spent most of the morning working whilst Hadley was having a snooze. She looked confused, 'working?' she said. 'I didn't know you had a shoot this morning, how did it go?' I realised that even though I do have many friends in the wedding industry who are self-employed and work around other jobs and commitments, to the casual observer it can be a bit confusing as to what in the world we do on a regular basis!
Over the next few weeks, I'll be talking to other vendors and wedding professionals who attempt to chase the dream career: one in which you are participating in someone's most joyous event but balancing the preparation and post-production for that with having a family/social life/other job as well. We are all after the same thing in this life: to find something that we love, do it well and make a living out of it.
When I made the very difficult decision to leave my full-time job at the end of my maternity leave so that I could give my full attention to setting up Squid & Pearl Photography and stay home with our daughter, I had no idea of the challenges I'd face on a day-to-day basis. Taking time for marketing, editing, constantly researching new techniques, social media, wedding fairs, family and lifestyle shoots wherever I could squeeze them in, all whilst doing my very best to not spend all day glued to my phone and staying present in my time with Hadley and making sure she always comes first...it's a constant internal battle full of the occasional mama-guilt but also knowing that everything I'm doing is to give her and her dad an amazing life with a mama and wife who is in love with her (unreal, hugely fulfilling) job AND has time to switch off at the end of the day and be with them.
Here is just a small glimpse into what a typical (non-wedding shoot) day is like for me:
7:30 AM WAKE UP! Somehow we seemed to have won the baby lottery with our Hadley Pearl...she's a night sleeper! Not a huge one for naps in the day but she usually wakes up only once in the night around 3 or 4 am and then sleeps until 7/7:30. DREAM BABY. (Please don't shout at us, it's really nothing we've done!) So we're up for the day, Micahel fetches our girl and changes her whilst I make morning bottle/coffee and we all get back in bed with Hugo the Cat. I am straight for my phone, checking emails, looking over social media reports from the night, & mentally planning the day. I try to shower before Michael heads to work (this doesn't always happen, I'm not great in the mornings!)
8:30/9 AM 'BREAKFAST MEETINGS' We've been doing baby-led weaning with H since she was six months old and while I know it's not for everyone, it's been awesome for us! Hadley takes a good half hour for each meal so once I've finished, she carries on next to me in her high chair (bonus of BLW, no spoon feeding!) and I pop into the command center and respond to emails and website queries, pay and raise invoices and plan my social media strategy for the day. I like to post only once or twice a day and prepare these posts in advance, rolling them out at random intervals. At this point, I work out my next couple of blog posts.
9/9:30 AM We switch off for the next couple of hours, H and I sometimes go to a baby group or class depending on the day or we just set ourselves up on the floor in the living room and hang out.
11 AM-NOON NAPTIME! Our daughter has never been into naps but she goes down like clockwork for her morning snooze. This usually gives me an hour or so to write the next blog post and queue it up. I like to stay at least one post ahead so once I've finished, I'll save the draft and carry on with any editing I have left from the previous weekend's shoot. Even if I didn't have a paid session, it's nice to continue playing around with Lightroom and Photoshop. Since I've largely self-taught in terms of post-production, I'm constantly taking online courses and tutorials and experimenting with the magic of digital editing!
12:30-3:30/4 PM MAMA ZONE When Hadley's awake I really work hard to stay focused on her and anything else we need to do for the day. We try to get out of the house everyday, even if it's just to nip to the shop or meet another kiddo for a playdate. I keep my phone close by and do pick up any work-related calls (and I'm not perfect about totally switching off but who is?) but I largely like to hang out with the girl!
4-5:30 PM DAD'S HOME! Michael is home around 4 from work most days and is so excited to hang out with H that I use the time for a bit of uninterrupted office hours. I finally can return calls, contact venues and brides, prepare the next bi-weekly newsletter, brainstorm offers and mini-sessions, crack on with editing...there is literally always something to do. I'll try and arrange any Skype consultations during this time as well when I know I won't be interrupted.
5:30-7PM FAMILY DINNERTIME, HADLEY'S BATHTIME/BEDTIME We do our best most nights (depending on whether Michael's at rugby or not) to eat as a family and bathe Hads together, alternating who puts her to bed.
7-8:30 PM LAST OFFICE HOURS I like to squeeze in one last burst of productivity before fully switching off for the night. Since it can be anti-social at this hour to make calls, I fine tune my marketing materials and start planning the next day before doing my very best to turn off my phone and spend time with Michael.
And there you have it! Obviously every day is a variation of this but it's certainly never boring.
Now it's your turn: how do you balance work/parenthood/your relationship/social life? What are your tricks to make the most of each day?
I can't wait to hear from you and keep your eyes peeled for our follow up posts from other amazing working mamas!