Motherhood & Murals
If you're reading this, chances are you've embarked on the incredible journey of motherhood (or parenthood) while simultaneously running a creative business. First of all, kudos to you for taking on these two amazing roles! While it may feel like a daunting task at times, trust me when I say that finding a balance between motherhood and your creative pursuits is possible.
I was working full time as a graphic designer for a construction company when I fell pregnant. I thought maternity leave would be a great opportunity to see if I could manage to work full time for myself. When I tell this story at workshops, all the mothers in the room burst out laughing. In hindsight, this might not have been the best time - but I made it work. So in this blog post, we'll explore some practical tips to help you navigate the beautiful chaos and thrive in both realms. Let's dive in!
Embrace the Power of Planning: I had 9 months of pregnancy to plan my 'escape' and I used that time to plan. I updated my website, worked on a new body of work, built my mailing list and worked out ways to take some of the pressure off me as a new Mum (like paying I Hate Cooking to cook meals and hiring a cleaner). Motherhood and running a business requires excellent organisation skills. Create a schedule that accommodates both your personal and professional commitments. Prioritise tasks, set realistic goals, and break them down into manageable steps. By having a clear plan, you'll feel more in control and can allocate time for both your little one and your creative endeavors.
Establish Boundaries: Setting boundaries is essential to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Designate specific work hours and communicate them with your family. I designated a workspace (the garage) as my studio so that I could close the door when I wasn't working to prevent me from 'just quickly throwing some paint down'. It didn't work all the time, and my husband kept stealing my scissors, but it worked well enough. Likewise, carve out quality time with your child, free from distractions. Remember, being present and fully engaged in the moment is key to nurturing both your business and your relationship with your child.
Seek Support: Don't be afraid to ask for help and lean on your support network. Whether it's family, friends, or even fellow business Mums, reach out for assistance when needed. Delegate tasks, hire a babysitter, or explore childcare options. I put my son into a Family Day Care at three months. I always felt horribly guilty about this until I realised his speech and learning was excellerating (and he loved having other kids around him). Purchase pre-cooked meals, hire a cleaner or a gardener and speak to your partner about ways they can support you. Remember, taking care of yourself is crucial for your well-being and the success of your business.
Embrace Flexibility: Motherhood can be unpredictable, and your business may face unexpected challenges too. Embrace flexibility and adaptability in your approach. Be open to adjusting your plans when necessary, and remember that it's okay to prioritise your child's needs during certain moments. Embracing a flexible mindset allows you to navigate the ebb and flow of both motherhood and your creative business with greater ease.
Create a Supportive Workspace: Design a workspace that caters to both your professional and parenting needs. Set up an area where you can work efficiently while keeping an eye on your child. Consider incorporating play spaces or designated areas where your child can engage in creative activities while you work nearby. This way, you can keep them entertained and involved while you focus on your business tasks. Also, don't forget that it's really empowering for your little one to see you working, striving for goals and being all-round the best human you can be.
Embrace Efficiency: Maximize your productivity by embracing efficiency hacks. Utilise tools and apps that streamline your business operations (think Drop Shipping from your website for prints and merchandise), automate repetitive tasks (like chasing clients for overdue invoices with Quickbooks), and help you stay organized (try Asana). Look for ways to optimize your time, such as scheduling social media posts in advance (I use Buffer) or outsourcing certain tasks. Efficiency allows you to make the most of the time you have available.
Nurture Self-Care: Remember, you can't pour from an empty cup. Prioritise self-care to maintain your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. For me, I use sports and fitness as 'time for me'. No one can call me or email me or ask me to make breakfast if I'm swimming laps, doing a downward dog or taking some wayward shots on a basketball court. Find moments to recharge and indulge in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Whether it's taking a bubble bath, practicing mindfulness, or pursuing a hobby, taking care of yourself replenishes your energy and enhances your ability to tackle both motherhood and your creative business.
Celebrate Small Victories: Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem. Balancing motherhood and a creative business is no easy feat, so give yourself credit for the progress you make. Celebrate milestones, both in your personal life and your business, and remember that every step forward is a testament to your dedication and resilience. I am known to celebrate with an end-of-mural massage on completion of the larger works and our family celebrations are to new, fancy restaurants together.
Photos: My son, Koda when he was 12 weeks up to two years old. All pictured in my home garage studio except for the photo of my husband, Koda and me (with my broken hand) at an art show in Sydney. Koda is now 8 years old, and still just as adorable.
Mums, you are superheroes! Balancing motherhood and running a creative business may have its challenges, but with planning, asking for support and looking after yourself can excel in both areas. Do you have any other tips for Mums?
On a side note: I have a You Tube channel with some tips and tricks for artists. My 8 year old son has been asking if he could be in one of the videos. I thought a video interviewing him about his thoughts on having a Mum who runs a Creative Business might reduce any guilt or fear of the unknown for new Mums. I know that seeing something like that might of helped me power forward. What do you think?