I was pregnant with my daughter when I announced to my husband I wanted to turn my hobby into a business. I was actually petrified to say this out loud, but my husband was extremely supportive and encouraging to go after my dream. When Ben was 2.5 and Callie was 7 weeks old, I took an online course that outlined all the steps I would need to take to make this a reality (Anyone interested, I highly recommend Business From the Ground Up). At the time, the longest stretch of sleep I was getting at night was about 4 hours. Through my sleep deprived fog, I managed to get through the course with more determination than ever. My to-do list to complete was a mile long. And, yet, I knew this is what I wanted to do.
There were so many stumbling blocks along the way. Raising a toddler and newborn is not easy. Starting a photography business with a toddler and a newborn is even harder.
Stumbling Block #1: Time
As a full-time stay at home mom, we don’t have childcare because I am the childcare. Which meant every hour my kids were awake I was parenting. Every try to do anything with a toddler and a newborn in the house? It’s like trying to juggle plates, while riding a unicycle, with a mini-tornado rips through your house. My advice: just don’t even try it. I quickly realized I was unable to do anything productive during my kids’ waking hours.
Stumbling Block #2: Breastfeeding
Oh, the breastfeeding. Because I am a stay at home mom, we never had a reason to use bottles. When baby girl needed to eat, she was able to get what she needed straight from the momma-tap. This was never an issue, because I was never away long enough to need another system. That is, until I needed to start leaving for a few hours at a time for photoshoots. We tried introducing bottles again at 4 months old and she had no interest. Little Miss Priss would only take her momma milk from momma. Which made leaving the house for any period of time near impossible.
Stumbling Block #3: The Guilt
Mom Guilt is a real thing. When I was with my kids, but thinking about business, I felt guilty for not giving them my 100%. On the rare occasions I could leave for a photoshoot, (which were perfectly timed with her feeds so that I would breastfeed before I left and come back in time for her next nursing session) I would worry that my daughter would get hungry early. I felt guilt for leaving my husband with the childcare, even though he was wildly supportive of this dream, and absolutely willing to take on this role. Whatever it was, I felt guilty about it.
I am happy to say that over the course of starting my photography business, I’ve began to figure out how to deal with most of these obstacles.
Fix #1: Time
There was no magic fix for this one. I work when the kids are asleep. Sometimes that means, instead of going back to sleep, working after my little one wakes for her 5 AM feed. Side note: please tell me she will start sleeping in soon. I work when they are both napping. It’s not ideal, and I sometimes get interrupted, but oftentimes I get at least a solid hour of time to focus. (In writing this post, I’ve gone into my Ben’s room twice to tell him to lay back down because it’s still nap time). And I try to spend an hour or two in the evenings after the kids have gone to bed working. Because I have such limited time, I actually find that I am more productive with the time I have. I know that as soon as the kids are awake, my role of entrepreneur has to take a break and the role of mom begins.
Fix #2: Breastfeeding
Unfortunately, there was no magic solution for this one, just time. Eventually we tried the bottles again and Callie figured it out. And by 6 months old she was beginning to eat solids. This really opened doors for me. I could leave her home with my husband and he didn’t have to rely on solely bottles. It allowed me to leave for longer periods of time. I still breastfeed before I leave and when I come back home, but I am not stressed about her needing me in the in-between. Talk about relief.
Fix #3: The Guilt
Fixing the guilt meant fixing my mindset. I began to turn my guilt into pride. I feel proud to show my kids that I can be a mom, and an entrepreneur. There is a huge sense of pride in the example I am setting for my kids. Momma can be mom during the day, mom boss at night (or nap times, or super early morning hours). When my husband tells me that he is in full support of me taking time to work, instead of self-sabotaging and feeling guilty, I choose to believe him, and know my kids are in the best of care with him.
So while it may have been a crazy time of life to decide to begin a photography business, it wasn’t impossible. And I’m pretty stinking proud of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.