'Stay at home' vs 'Working full-time' ...
Often, I hear the debate about choosing between being a 'stay at home' mum and being a full-time 'working mum'. I don't often hear about the mum that wants to be both these things. Perhaps it's just my far over-reaching ambitions, but at least in my own mind, I really believe you can be both these things. Granted it's not easy to get it all off the ground, but this is precisely where I am in my thinking.
I've done the morning drop offs, and still do. The rushing around like a mad woman at 9:00am/9:30am, considering it's still only the start of the day at this point; then arriving into work often late and looking a little worse for wear. When you see other mums looking ‘fresh’, it can make you question ‘what am I not doing? - I’ve tried waking up earlier but I still end up looking like I’ve had a 6 hour day by 9:00am.’
Time to focus on your baby ...
When you come from a family of confident, strong-minded women like I do, armed with the self-belief that ‘I can achieve that dream-job’, which is a great mind-set to have without a doubt, you can imagine that a few months after the bubble of the 'fairy-tale birth' bursts and the screaming nights take-hold, having been some- way off from the peak in that ‘dream career’, I began to wonder if this really is a case of, 'now I am a mum, are my career choices limited?'. If this was to be it, then I knew for a fact that the kind of person that I am, would have struggled to choose between focussing on being a mum and achieving that 'dream job'. It's not a case of being ungrateful with my beautiful girl, because I love her to the moon and back, I just knew I wanted both!
'Could I still achieve it?' I would ask myself as I looked down at my helpless daughter, because now, surely, it would mean even more to provide the very best for her, not just through my love for her, but through the material things. Are these not important too? Controversial to admit it but, 'yes' the material things still mattered to me'. I completely believe in charity but also believe we have the right to be able to afford nice things for ourselves and our families when we can afford to. I come from a working-class family so I knew I was going to have to work my socks off to make sure I could provide such things for her. At the same-time, I have worked some ridiculous hours in my life and I didn’t want to work to the point that I would arrive home when she was already in bed. I still wanted to be able to read a bedtime story to her every night before she fell sleep. 'What a state of maternal confusion!'.
'That moment' of realisation...
It hit me when sat down on the sofa one Saturday evening, watching the BBCs’ 'The Voice UK' with my husband, another 'sob-story' of this woman, gifted with a totally amazing singing voice, close to getting a record-deal when she was younger, but after finding out she was expecting a baby, put it all on hold to raise her son and make-sure he received her full attention. 'I am completely in awe of this woman', I thought to myself.
"It’s been 19 years, and now that my son has just gone to uni, it's time to focus on me".
'Huh?19 years?.. She definitely has more patience than I ever could'.
Despite her 100% amazing performance, it dampened my hopes that none of the 4 coaches turned for her. 'So is that it for her? What next?' I wondered! But then I quickly ridiculed myself. 'Who am I to judge what's next for her?.. since she obviously did things in a way that suited and were most important to her.
This got me thinking about writing this blog...
Since then, I have searched high and low for that 'ideal' balance. Working part-time, but it rarely pays enough. Working night shifts, which is much worse than it sounds. Running a photography business, which is tough if you can't always commit to the hours, especially for wedding photography, which is highly demanding with no room for mistakes.
I have a great admiration for single mums, since I am not sure how I would be able to make this balance possible without my husband giving our daughter that quality time she needs, so by him being a great dad, it some-how releases me from the 'guilt' of spending hours on the computer trying to start-up my own business. At least that's what I thought, but now I can see that it still means I am not there for her as much as I would like to be. A sacrifice in the short-term perhaps, until it all takes off. One can only be optimistic. I often told myself that had I known then what I know now, maybe it wouldn't have been such a bad idea to explore all these ideas before I had become a mum, but life is not for regretting.
So that's where I am today and ‘Swanky Portraits’ here I come.
Self-belief vs Self-doubt ...
I registered ‘Swanky Portraits’ as a business in January 2016 and have plugged into it quite fiercely ever-since. It's been tough and has demanded many hours, sweat and tears to get to this point, but I can't help but feel that with all that I have learned, however negative it may have seemed at the time, that I am finally hitting that peak of where I want to be in my ambition to achieve that 'balance'. Working on a Stall at Spitalfields in the freezing cold, with barely any sleep, promoting my business. ‘What fun!’ you might think. But for me, 7 hours in 2 degrees of a freezing, Saturday in February, with my fingers nearly falling off, somehow seemed irrelevant, because I was proud that I had come this far.
I am still working full-time so it’s pretty challenging, but finally I have a business that I can feel proud of. I started it, I have poured my soul into it and I hope that it will be the future that carries us forward as a family. Self-employment with a young toddler is certainly not easy to say the least but every bit empowering once you make those first few sales. The thought of being in control of my own hours and not being answerable to anyone if I am running late after a school drop-off, keeps me going. Given what it has taken out of us financially and emotionally to get to this point, it's definitely onwards and upwards from here.
So don't give up! ...
Hang on to what ever it is that is important to you and what makes you happy. Self-doubt is ‘normal’ so don’t let that deter you, and though we may not all strive for things in the same order or style, every mum has her own ideals, goals and challenges and there should be no judgement placed on her, since the end goal is the same; a better life for our kids.
IMAGE SOURCE (Drawn by me) - inspired by :http://www.spanishdict.com/
About ‘Swanky Portraits’
Swanky Portraits creates personalised gifts, illustrated from photographs.
The range continues to grow and this is the latest in the range with children’s books, where children get to star in their own story, illustrated from their photographs.
If you have a business idea in mind but you are not sure how to get started or how it will all works, I am very happy to offer any advice based on my own experience. Leave me a message below and I will do my best to get back to you.