This is a long post with very little pictures, but I promise it’s worth every word!
Work life balance.
(Please note that this is coming from the perspective of a photographer and a homeschool mom. While this is something I see rampant in my industry, I am certain it is rampant everywhere)
This is such a hot topic these days. How do we make sure our business doesn’t take over our lives, but still get the things done that need to be done? Our worth as a woman is more than just being a mom, more than just being a business owner, more than just being an employee, more than just being a wife. We collectively need to support each other through the guilt of trying to do it all and help each other know that it’s ok to work hard in our business, work hard in our home life, and work hard in our personal life. We cannot do them all at once. We have to know when to say no, when to speak up for ourselves and when to just get the hell out.
The other day I was talking to a dear friend. She is also a photographer, as many of my friends are, and we were talking about life, business, and husbands. This is a topic that often comes up with my female photographer friends (seldom as often with my male friends, but they do talk about it to). We all seem to struggle with the balance. This is a profession that tends to take over our weekends and sometimes our lives.
We were talking about her life (and mine). She recently found out that her husband had been unfaithful and she was restructuring her work life to have more of a home life in efforts to save her marriage. Now, I want to stop right here. I have a lot of things to say about this, BUT I want to make it very clear, this is not the only thing she is doing. THEY are working on things together, but I want to address a few things from the female perspective, because my first reaction to her (besides what an asshole and man that sucks) was, I get it.
I know the hardship of working late nights and weekends to run this business. I hear my husband’s complaints of my late hours, going on shoots leaving him home with the kids and in general the putting of my camera before family.
How dare we blame ourselves for our failing marriage?
Why the fuck do we do this?
Now, I get it, a failing relationship is a two-way street. It always takes two to tango. BUT here is the thing with many women I know, our husbands tend to look at our business as a hobby. They see it as something that takes away from their family, and not as a business. Yes, it might not be profitable this year, but without a shit load of hard work and late nights, it never will be!
There! I said it.
As a __________ (insert business here), I am running a business. A business that will take a lot of hard work and I have to treat it as a business as much as my significant other treats it as a business.
This isn’t a hobby, it’s not something I do just for fun (as much as I love it), and it’s not a side gig.
This is a career.
According to Small Biz Trends, 69% percent of new businesses in 2016 started in the home and a bit more than 50% of those will fail within the first 4 years mainly due to poor money management. Which makes me wonder how much of it has to do with lack of support?
How many of my MOMpreneur friends struggle to balance work + life when all of that runs out of our home and how many have husbands that say, “no it’s my time to take care of the kids while you work”? How many are working nights to get shit done? Would these women get that same dirty look of “oh you are staying up late to work again” if they were leaving the house for a full-time job outside the home? Do their husbands even realize they give that look?
I get it, what we do isn’t conventional.
Yes, I have some flexibility to schedule things in a way that allows me to leave the kids with their father while I meet clients. Yes, he is not the babysitter (I have one of those too), but actually a contributing member of this family. Yes, I don’t leave my house for 80% of my career. Yes, I can wipe my kid’s butt and edit at the same time (well, not exactly the same time, but you get it), but I still have a fucking job to do!
And as I spew all this angst, I get that I am to blame for some of it. I should have set office hours (I have tried this, but maybe should try harder…). Yes, at one point this was just a hobby. I should say more often this is my work time and I shouldn’t just say “don’t worry I will do it.”
Our marriages are two-way streets of support!
Should our husband cheat on us if he doesn’t get enough wife time? NO! He also can’t roll his eyes and say “ugh, working again?” Like everything else, there needs to be communication. WE, have to work together. I will totally support you, your work, and your hobby, BUT I fucking expect the same in return.
I also get that our husbands work hard. Mine often works 70 hours a week to provide for our family life. Here is the thing though, I NEVER roll my eyes and lay on guilt when he tells me he has to work the 3rd weekend in a row. Honestly, my heart aches for him that he has to work that much. It sucks for all of us. I hate that he has to get up at 330 am to go to work, BUT does he ever hate that I have to stay up till 2 am working? Nope, he just gets mad about it.
Sure I am a “stay at home working mom”. We made the choice to homeschool which complicates things too. My days are filled with school stuff, my afternoons with home stuff and my nights with work stuff. I realize that these are choices I made, but fuck, can’t we get some support in them? Would I get more support if I was bartending or a lawyer?
I feel like as women we give, give, give, and then get shit on because we didn’t give quite enough. So to fix the not giving enough, we give up more of ourselves.
So tell me, how do I fix this, not just for me, but for all of us? Instead of sympathizing with the next wife who tells me about her husband cheating on her for working so much, what conversation do we have? Instead of her just deciding to cut back on work because that will solve things, how do we rearrange things to make a marriage and a business work? What do I tell her (and me) to make a difference in this world?
How do we, as working women, get some fucking support in our businesses?
Am I doing things wrong, do I see this problem wrong or do you feel this way too? Maybe it all just comes down to sex right? If we give more of ourselves to our significant other, everything will just be ok? Because I totally want to go to bed after teaching, working in the house, working in my job and give just a little bit fucking more!
So this then leads into another conversation from a dear friend and photographer Maragret. She just wrote a great 3 part series about us as women. She talks about the question, have we done this to ourselves?
“I can’t help but wonder if we as a gender have just accepted the narrative
that our time and skill just isn’t worth as much.
…when we do step up to the plate and admit our worth, we get scared
that we aren’t falling in line with the norms. We worry we’re coming off
too strong, that we’re demanding too much. No one will love us for not
being like everyone else.”
Do we just set the stage that our time and skill, both in the home and out of it, are not worth as much? Why the fuck do we do this? Are we following some made up standard that we are supposed to do everything? We are to wipe every butt, wash every dish, work a job, teach our children and put them to bed. I know I set this expectation in many ways. It was easier for me to put them to bed with a boob, so I did. It was easier to wake up with them in the middle of the night with a boob, so I did. It was easier to just change the diaper, so I did. It was “easier” to work the job from home while teaching the kids, so I did…
This has to stop!
We are worth it.
If you want to wipe every nose, great, BUT we are not the only ones that can do it. Start asking for help. Don’t just complain about it, make it happen. Start demanding it! Start knowing your worth! Yes, they are assholes for cheating, no it’s not our fault! Could we handle our business better? Sure, BUT we need the fucking support to be able to do that!
Would you like a push in the right direction to help with knowing your worth for your business? I know some fabulous mentors to help you learn your numbers to make your business profitable! Just ask me and I will point you in their direction!
Want some help in your home life? Speak up, and know you are worth it! Take control, do the things that need to be done in your life and business.
- Ask for help, from anyone that you think could help you
- Talk to your spouse, be clear in your intentions
- Write out a weekly schedule and share it with the whole house. Put everything on it from kid time to house time, business time and husband time.
- Hire help, trade for help, beg for help. Find someone else to clean the house, have the laundry mat wash and fold your clothes, use a service for freshly prepared meals. Delegate, delegate, delegate!
- Prioritize that to do list, you don’t have to do it all at once
- Have the grace to let the guilt go!
Have any more great tips? Tell me, please! Write them in the comments so everyone else that reads this can read them too. Let’s support each other virtually on how to get the support we need at home!
The momma behind Momma Got Soul Photo and Films, Tampa Bay Family Photographer. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am an artistic storyteller. I stay up late, try to sleep late, and drink lots of coffee and beer (usually in that order, but not always). I grew up in sunny (which means really hot) central Florida, never go to the beach or Disney, but try to hike in the woods as much as I can. I remember a time when I said I would never photograph people, now that’s all I do. I think it started with wanting to explore the world and capture that to share with people. Now I just want to tell people that the real stuff outweighs the fake crap every time -Kelly