Wow! Looking at these photos of my babes at some of my past work events, I'm reminded how blessed I've been over the past 2 1/2 years, and I'm humbled by the love and support and enthusiasm of my friends!
Today's post is the next installment of the REAL TALK REAL MOMS series I've been a part of for several months, and today we're talking about Working and Childcare! Let me start out by saying that I cannot wait to read all the other mama's posts ... I admire these moms so much and want to learn all their working + childcare tricks!
For those who are new to A Daily Something...I'm a blogger here at A Daily Something, I'm a prop [and sometimes food] stylist, and am the founder of A Daily Gathering, an ongoing series of long table dinners, workshops, and retreats. My husband and I have two darling little girls: Zoe is 2 1/2 and Naomi just recently turned 1. I'm going to narrow down this post to a few tips I've learned over the past 2 1/2 years of being a mama and trying to also grow my blog and business. This is more of a "how I do it" post, along with some tips!
In the past 2 1/2 years, life has been a series of juggling carseats, packing and unpacking boxes of props, stuffing diaper bags to the brim, making bottles, mixing baby food, bringing a million diapers, packing everything my babies might need in a 12-hour day, etc. I'm blessed with a job that is very computer-based, which just meetings, photo shoots, and events taking me out of the house. Sometimes I have slow seasons where in one week, I only leave the house for two meetings at a coffee shop up the road. Sometimes I have busy seasons where I have 3 photo shoots and an event in one week.
As a general rule, when my babies were nursing and still sleeping a ton (which has been the first 5-8 months for both girls), I would bring them along to most of my work...photo shoots, sometimes weddings (did this with Naomi when she was 4 weeks; I brought along my sister who watched her the entire time, and I just snuck away to nurse her every 3 hours or so...my bride was awesome), workshops, meetings, etc. Besides casual meetings, where I usually just try to wing it by myself, I would bring along a babysitter to care for the nursing baby when I'm not feeding. Like I mentioned....this means that we bring basically the entire house along... a stroller, sometimes the pack n play, and everything else the baby needs for the day. Lots of changes of clothes. This requires tons of packing and planning and organizing, but it was SO worth it for me to be able to continue working AND caring for my babies...even if I hadn't been nursing, I wouldn't have wanted to leave my babies with someone (even family) for extended periods. Every single job I've had where I had to bring along a nursing baby + a babysitter, folks have been nothing but supportive. It's amazing! THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me in this adventure!
After my babies are weaned (12 months for both of them), it's a lot easier to leave them with a babysitter and be gone for a 12-hour day. It's a bittersweet moment when you no longer have to bring your littles to work...but also very freeing. I feel so lonely and like I'm forgetting a million things, but it does make life easier.
Here are my top 4 tips for working and childcare.
1. Find childcare you can trust.
This is a big one, and pretty obvious (but not so easy). I'm super protective of my daughters, and I would never leave my kids with just anyone (which means sometimes I have no childcare). I don't live in the town I grew up in, so all the connections I had growing up (my family, church friends, etc) are nonexistent down here in VA. We're blessed to live within 35 mins of Joe's family, but many of them have their own children/jobs/responsibilities, so we've had to find other options...people we could trust to help with our babes. It's so important to get connected (through church, mom's groups, friends, etc.) to childcare providers (whether that's daycare or babysitters or whatever). We live in the small town we went to college in, and have occasionally been able to find babysitters for our girls through recommendations at the college, which has been really helpful! I'm at the point where I'm going to make the leap and hire someone to come in one day a week to watch my girls at home. I'll escape for scheduled work activities, or maybe just some alone time at a coffee shop. I am trying to be present with my girls when we're home, which means I'm trying desperately to limit my time in front of a computer when I'm at home and they're awake. We had two awesome babysitters who've since "grown" up and moved away for real jobs. So we're currently searching so if you have any leads of a great Purcellville-based babysitter, send 'em my way. ;)
2. Determine your priorities.
My kids and family absolutely come first, so sometimes I have to turn away jobs that take me away from them on the weekends or if I'm not able to find a babysitter. Or sometimes a job suddenly doesn't pay enough when you factor in childcare, so you have to learn to either turn those jobs away or you have to charge more for your work. It's definitely a learning curve.
3. Make sure you have support.
My number one support is my husband. Joe has come along to all sorts of events and shoots just to hang out and watch baby (when we just had one). He watches them when I have weekend work commitments. He comes home straight from work so I can escape for an evening meeting. He's so incredibly self-sacrifising and encouraging!
Apart from my husband, my friends and the people I work with are awesome. At almost all my A Daily Gathering events, I have a ton of support, as evidenced by the photos above. Whether it be from friends helping out, my mom who drove down from NJ to help wherever was needed, my sweet husband, the photographers, the chefs, etc. They are all 100% supportive of me being a mom (and many of them are also moms) and working and it's great! They hold my babies, feed my babies, change their diapers, sing to them, laugh with them. My support system is amazing, and I would be NO WHERE if I didn't have this supportive community. So, if you're able, pick who you work with, and work with supportive folks!
4. Be flexible and hope others are too.
Just last night I had to cancel my plans to attend a lovely dinner in DC because my babysitter had to cancel, and I could not find someone else to take care of my girls. So, I had to write that embarrassing email just 3 hours before the event, apologizing, explaining my predicament, and hoping they would be understanding. Sometimes childcare options fall through and you have to cancel your plans. Mostly everyone I do business with understands that I'm a mom and that my family comes first and that sometimes plans have to change.
And here are the rest of the ladies participating in this series:
All photos by Sweet Root Village, some of the most awesome, supportive ladies out there!