Ahhh, busy season. For a family photographer, that is the time between September and November (and even December) when families want to capture back-to-school photos, Fall photos and of course - holiday card photos! Over the last six years of juggling mommyhood + my photography business, this three-month span has kicked my butt each time. Each year, I have ended in tears (ummm, remember the hotel incident of 2014??). And each year, I look at the business as a whole and get a better game plan for the next year. For this year, I am happy to report that I/we have been preparing for months. The team and I have been planning strategies, adjusting the workflow to be the most efficient, and finding small ways for me to delegate some of the tasks necessary to running the business. This included my one month sabbatical in July when I took the kids to the east coast to visit family, and didn't even pack my camera. I knew I would need that time to recharge, so taking a break from being behind the lens was just what the doctor (or in this case, my husband and BBP teammates) ordered. The next item to tackle was time management. My therapist (Nova Goldberg...woman extraordinaire who saves my sanity each week by helping me to balance and re-balance my life...everyone should know Nova or have a Nova in their lives) is great about pushing me to ask for what I need from my family and also to keep me in check with what is feasible to accomplish in a finite amount of time. For example, I love picking up my kids from school each day at 3:00. They are happy, we go on an adventure, I give them a treat and, in general, I get to be "fun mommy". BUT - that means my work day has to end by 2:45pm which really only gives me a 6 hour work day. And 6 hours simply isn't enough to run my full-time business. So Nova takes away the sugar-coating and tells me to buck up and accept that I can't be the afterschool mom for these short three months. As she pointed out a year ago to me, my options are:
- "You can work part-time and have part time care.
- You can work full-time and have full-time care.
- What you may not do is work full-time and have part-time care. You tried that and you landed yourself in a puddle of tears with a depleted system where you couldn't be there for anyone, including your kids."
And she is right. I, like many working parents, want to be in all places at all times. I want to be the classroom volunteer and the afternoon playdate host and the "fun mommy"...but I also respect that this business is part of me. It is something that identifies who I am and helps me grow into who I want to be.
Almost a year ago, I stopped working weekends. Almost 10 months into this change, I have to say it has been a game-changer for me. I have my life back. For this Fall, the biggest adjustment is that I have pre-scheduled three "workcations" for Sept, Oct and Nov. This is where I check into a hotel (I am currently writing this from Hotel Nikko in downtown SF...just 2.4 miles from my apartment...but a world away from my little bugaboos that require a lot more attention than I can offer at this moment.), and edit my heart out. By being away from home and the studio, I am given the creative space needed to recharge, relax, and get...things...done!
I am sharing this post because I know I'm not alone in feeling like the juggling act can be overwhelming at times. I am sharing this because, once I asked for what I needed to "fill my bucket", I was able to become refreshed and move forward with becoming my best self once again. I am sharing this so that other parents can have the idea that the "impossible" (checking into a hotel...in my own city...WHAT?!) can be possible if you look at it creatively and ask for help.
So let's raise a glass to becoming our best selves, one day at a time. And when I finish my shoots on November 13th (yes, I extended it...I'm a softie that way!), I look forward to delivering my final images for 2015 and providing the best captured memories of each and every one of your families. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for giving me this gift of letting me into your lives. Delivering galleries (and videos!) to my clients and receiving their reactions is the reason I do what I do. Your kids keep me fresh, keep me creative, and keep me striving to be better.
Sending love from the Nikko,