As a mother, how has your work-life balance evolved? We’d like to share our new mama and working mama journey with you. It’s truthful, and we’ll admit – we feel a bit exposed – but how else are we going to get to know one another?! Of course, transitioning into motherhood isn’t JUST a challenge. There is also JOY in those early years, but we’ll leave that for another time.
We’d love to hear your experiences, good and bad, in the comments field below. What did your early days of motherhood look like? And pray tell, what are your secrets to managing your many priorities?
I became a mother after spending a decade building a career in print design. After my daughter was born, I continued working 8:30 to 5. At an office. With other adults. I wore “fancy clothes”—complete with high heels, make-up, flat-ironed hair and “jewels” (my daughter learned much about the art of accessorizing). Each evening I spent my commute home plotting dinner, which usually involved Trader Joe’s freezer. I chose those dinners to enjoy precious moments on the floor with my daughter – rather than standing at the stove. After all, I tried to manage my priorities.
After the bedtime, I’d do laundry or clean bathrooms. When the housework didn’t happen, the stress mounted. I kept lists at work for things to do at home, and lists at home for things to do at work. Fortunately, I had wonderful co-workers, many of whom were also mothers. But, I wondered if I was making the right choices for my family and myself. I was playing priority tug-of-war. On one side of the rope: providing for my family financially and nurturing my creative career. On the other: time with my baby. No winner, just a lot of tugging.
In the end, time is my most valuable resource. So, I found a part-time design job and attempt that lifestyle. A year and a baby later, working no longer made financial sense. I was officially, suddenly, and shockingly a stay-at-home mom. So much family time, and yet I had a deep unrest. What would I do as the children grew?
And that is more or less, how I ended up creating All Wrapped Up Parties with Julia. Owning a business and creating my own hours comes with new challenges for my family. Valuing our past experiences, we continue to learn as we go, altering routines and expectations.
Before I was a mama, I used to teach 6th graders. I’d teach them a lot of important things, including juggling. “Start with two balls,” I’d tell them, and demonstrate throwing one up in the air – then the other – and catching them in opposite hands. My students caught on quickly, because I was a good teacher. I loved teaching, but decided to pursue something I had always wanted: to stay-at-home with my children. In this new role, juggling took on new meaning.
Sun up to sun down, I worked tirelessly to meet the needs of my growing family, which accounted for many, many balls in the air. I loved being a mother, but there was so much more to juggle than just being a happy mama. What of the house? The obvious time for cleaning was when baby snoozed, but watching The Today Show and Price is Right was far more interesting. And then there were meals, which eluded me terribly. I tried to plan them on Sundays and shop Mondays, but could never stick to any sort of schedule. And playdates, which I felt were great fun, if only I could get out of my pajamas! I created pressure on myself to juggle all these balls – perfectly – because I had a new job now, and it didn’t pay. One thing was certain, however: it sure was work.
On top of the self-imposed pressure, it didn’t take long for me to miss working with children and having professional colleagues. Staying home was a challenge, and though I knew it was where I wanted to be, I felt a longing to be doing something different. This feeling mounted with every passing year.
I welcome my new juggling ball: building All Wrapped Up Parties from the ground up with my new colleague, Alexis. My family is easing into my role, and I am being gentle with myself as I learn these new ropes. It feels amazing to, once again, be working professionally towards something I believe in. My enthusiasm motivates me, sustaining my energy for the challenge.
The tug of our priorities led us to create All Wrapped Up Parties, where we continue to learn, grow and draw from where we’ve been. Our experiences as mothers unite us. No matter what our work-life situation is, we’re all on a journey. We work hard. We question our actions and feel the ever-present tug of our priorities.
Because so many things are important to us simultaneously, we learn how to juggle. It’s an evolving art form, truly! Parties are another ball in the air, and can often look like another chore, another task. In our new roles as small business owners, we work to give parents freedom to honor their priorities.
So, here’s to motherhood – however you make it work for you! And here’s to celebrating our children together.