Where do I start? oh yes, that’s right, at the beginning of the week :)
For those of you who wonder how we balance our work life with family life - here is a day by day account of the ins and outs and ups and downs of how we do what we do.
Before I start I want to tell you a little something I heard last week. Balance isn’t something that is so easily achieved when talking about the things that are so incredibly important to you. Lots of the elements within our lives have a pull, and they don’t all pull equally. So while I’m starting this, I’d like to tell you to try not worry so much about that elusive ‘balance’. For us it feels like another of the things to feel guilty about, let it go. Just as long as you turn up to the things that matter as much as is possible for you, you’re doing alright.
In addition I want to point out that our work has to be a part of our lives everyday. We enjoy it and know that we’re so lucky to be able to fit this in around the kids and also really love it. It does mean that at times we really have to be focussed and push ourselves, sometimes working into the night or waking when everyone else is sleeping to catch up on some much needed jobs. Over the years we’ve learnt that having a direction and a goal is so helpful when living the kind of life we lead. (Kinda feel like this is a disclaimer! ah well, you’ll understand as you read on)
Side note - this week is the school holidays so a real life challenge in terms of work and life.
Varying disaster day. For many reasons.
The beginning of the school holidays hardly ever starts well. No one is used to hanging out together for such a stretch of time and the boys have recently decided, after years of glued at the hip type activity, that they are not keen on each other anymore. We know this because just the sound of either of them eating or breathing sets off an argument. So how do we deal with that kind of hostility? Send them to their rooms to pack for the move. I know, genius! Except it’s not, as after five minutes they’ve wandered back into the living room saying they’ve done. In the meantime I’m dishing up breakfasts while James is replying to emails. We have a video to edit for Sara (Me&Orla’s) new book so James spends a few hours down at the office working on that, while I negotiate Logan having a friend over, making a 3D model of something from world war 2, a very clingy Margot and managing Ash who is gradually building up his pre teen powers of insults to later use them on Logan full force. Did I mention that the dog walked through the palette of paint and across the carpet? yes, that too. After a few choice words, James relieves me from my parenting duties and I pop upstairs with a cuppa to work on some Instagram content. While I’m upstairs James feeds the kids and takes Logan’s friend home, while I read books with Margot and persuade the boys to get along (under strict orders) and ask them to play Duplo with their sister. Bedtime comes and everything is a little calmer. I dug out the Etch a sketch so Ash could stay occupied, and Logan sits and reads ‘diary of a wimpy kid’ while telling us after each page how surprisingly good it is! When Margot is in bed, both of us settle down to an hour or two of writing for the course, researching new content for the blog and posting to Instagram. We try to do this every other day now, making sure that the content is relevant, asks questions and allows for people to add their own thoughts and comments. This can sometimes take over an hour to put together but we understand how important it is to keep in touch with everyone who follows us and I actually quite enjoy the interaction!
Ok so Monday was all a bit much for our senses, so we decided to get a hold on it straight away and organise a morning out together, followed by some arts and crafts at home before James did a little more editing and writing for our new E book in the afternoon. Everyone seemed in a much calmer mood (mainly as we confiscated any screens for the previous days issues) and It was an actual joy to see them all having a good time together. It’s always important to us to try to focus on one thing at once, especially where family are concerned, so we promised not to look at phones and just enjoy being out. Bowling it was, didn’t even realise that both James and I have a secret skill with a bowling ball. I only recognised it as we walked away from a strike with that slight ‘I’m a super bowler smug face’. You know the one! Back home and I pulled out Logans Kiwi crates from the past two months deliveries. If you haven’t seen them and like to do fun and educational things with your kids, these are amazing! Makes everyone happy, kids proud of their skills and a provides a much calmer household. James and I spent the afternoon swapping between the little ones and more writing for our course with some extra work in our facebook community group. At the moment we are preparing for the start of our course so like to add in inspirational information for the people who have joined us and also make everyone feel welcome and supported. Again it’s another time consuming element but always worth it. The boys head off to their dads for the second half of the week and as much as it can feel a bit odd, we like to think of it as they get some fun time with dad and we have an opportunity to catch up on things and also spend a bit of one to one time with Margot.
Had a bit of a light bulb moment the night before and decided to move our upcoming course to a dedicated teaching platform. After some really useful feedback from our last course which was hosted on our own website, we’re updating and making relevant changes to make everything run as smoothly as possible and to really make sure we are adding as much value to everyone who is taking part. This can happen at some silly times of the day for us and today it starts at around 5am. Don’t let anyone make you feel as though you have to run to a 9-5 schedule when you are self employed and work from home. James and I are both early risers and are often more productive in those hours than in the middle of the day so we swap working early for cuddles with a sleepy Margot in the afternoon. Feel like this is a pretty great swap to be honest! I take Margot out for a play and some lunch while James works on some branding work for a client. On our way home we pick him up and head up to Sara’s for coffee with Rory, a playdate for Margot and Orla and a lesson in how to use the teaching platform we’ve chosen from Sara. I love being able to do skill swaps with creative friends. One of the BEST things and something we’re always so grateful for is the opportunity to use our own talents to help others and receive a bit of a helping hand in return. I kinda feel like it’s always worth helping people out if you can. Not necessarily because you may receive a payback later, but just because It feels great to use your knowledge for good. Back home for some dinner then bath-time, story-time and bed for Margot. In the evening we work together on different elements. James gets stuck into designing and making new graphics for the course, while I play around with Adobe spark to create some inspirational quotes for our facebook group, write our weekly newsletter and post on Instagram. We check emails before the end of the evening and reply to any enquiries, plus check in on any of our students who we are mentoring 1-1 and add some more content to Tailwind for our Pinterest account, which by the way, is awesome!
James did more work in the middle of the night. He said his brain was still excited to continue where he’d finished the night before so he just got up and carried on with the course. Because it’s not a 9-5 Job, we can have a slower morning if needs be so it doesn’t stop us from being creative when we need to be. He’s pretty tired later on so I make him a coffee and Margot some milk while we all watch a documentary about parrots. As you do. I check through the post on Instagram from the previous evening to see if there were any comments to reply to and then run a bath. Half of what we do is learning to use time wisely and knowing when to take time out to breathe. Even writing this all down is making me want to take a breath so I’m sure you’re wondering when we actually sit down? It is a particularly busy period for us at the moment and I know that’s just how it’s got to be. There will be a time when things are slower and we can take time off to relax more but for now, we have to put the hard work in to see the benefits so we’re just going with it. After breakfast Margot goes to nursery so it’s a little easier for us to either focus on work or choose to have a day date. Childcare isn’t always so easy for us to ask for so we’ve learnt over time though that these days are also good to take a day off together. Day dates are a thing of the future! We’ve paid for the childcare, so no need to feel the guilt. We spend the majority of the day working, I write some blog posts while James works on uploading the content to the course and Editing some images. This afternoon we’re going to Manchester for Sara’s (Me and Orla’s) book launch and we’re hoping to meet some like minded folk and grab something to eat while we photograph the event.
Didn’t feel like springing out of bed so much this morning, it was a long day yesterday and well past our bed time by the time we got home, so we’ve taken it easy. Margot is in nursery for her second day of the week so we have time. We worked on the laptops this morning, it means we can sit with the dog curled up on the sofa next to us and feel cosy while we create. It’s sometimes a weird thing trying to fit yourself into a certain mould when you are self employed. I spoke to so many people last night at Sara’s book launch about working from beds and sofas, it made me realise that we don’t really need to be in the office quite so much. We both added to the course material, wrote some new content for the modules and did some admin with our awesome client database, Studio Ninja. We’re very happy we found it, really makes our work days easier! Later we went for a walk in the sunshine to reset our minds and chat about plans for the next week. We often find it easier to plan and talk openly while we’re outside, something much more freeing than being shut in a room. We’re planning a styled shoot this afternoon to do at the weekend, always one of my favourite things to do! With it being friday and all, it has to be pizza and wine with kids and good friends night.
More of the same. James will often book a few family shoots in at the weekend and need a bit of time to edit, while I will keep on top of social media to keep things ticking over. Weekends are a chance to clean some rooms and do lots of washing before it’s back to school for the boys. Besides, If we didn’t do it, we’d be lost under the mountains of it! It’s important that we keep to some family rituals too so often book in Sunday lunch with family or friends and enjoy cooking and catching up on everything else.
So there you have it - Monday to Friday of a week in our family/working/living life.
It may not look very organised but we try our best to organise how the week will look before hand so that we can plan things in. I’ll be honest and say that we both have been known to work more on the spur of the moment but we know there has to be some form of organisation in there somewhere.
An ordinary week would mean that we have a rough schedule of days when each of us work, James - mon and wednesday while I have margot and thursday, friday with me. While I work Tuesday as James has Margot and Thursdays and Fridays while she is at nursery. It has to be a bit of a rough schedule as we may be booked to do a shoot on any of those days or indeed decide we need to plan a day off but on the whole, we know our weeks will look like this.
Shooting Families can mean that it takes time away from our own Family life, so we carefully choose certain times of the day so that either it’s a morning or an afternoon of shooting and we can plan something in for the other half of the day. In School holidays we pick a few days each week and leave these open for shoots too.
It’s always a work in progress but here’s some tips we’ve picked up along the way to help you manage your work\life and loves.
Oh gosh we are not the best at this but know it’s one of the areas we have to put more effort in to receive the benefits. This year is the first year we have spent a whole afternoon planning in our own personal goals, family goals and business goals together and it has helped us so much already. We went out for the afternoon, found a nice coffee shop and took a pen and a notebook. Ace, honestly, this process is so helpful!
If you are naturally a little more spontaneous in your decision making then you could benefit from checking out Hannah Bullivants THE LIFE BOOK E COURSE she has so many ideas for how to plan and make life more simple for yourself. So worth a look!
Along with our work day routine, we also have times of the day when we do specific jobs. I’m not sure if these have just naturally fallen into place over the years but emails are usually answered in the mornings so that people have time to reply and then again in the evening. I also do most of our instagram stories throughout the day and post on our feed every other day at around 8pm. This usually takes me around an hour to write and respond to any comments.
Basically you just need to try a few ways to plan things out and see how they work for you. Everyone is different but as long as it flows along with you, then it’s perfect!
A little home tip
Aside from work we have a box of fruit and vegetables delivered each week so that we always have those much needed ingredients in the house to make meals (another area I’m still working on improving) They come from RIVERFORD are 100% organic and taste awesome. Even the most fussy kid in our house will give new things a try!
Plan in home admin
This is one of those jobs I will hold my hands up and say I try my best to avoid. But it always comes to bite you in the bum! In this I don’t mean generally cleaning up, washing, vacuuming, that kind of thing. but paying the milkman, calling the bank, booking the car in for a service and remembering to get peoples birthday gifts. You can check me on this later on in the year but I plan to dedicate an hour a week to do this kind of thing. It’s always the one I feel so guilty about!
Time for each other and yourself
James and I both have our hair cut at the same time and place and book it while Margot is at nursery and the boys are at school. Taking her with us at the moment is kinda like haircut suicide so we choose to go alone and enjoy the experience. Sometimes going for a coffee before or afterwards. Everyone needs a bit of adult time!
Time to allow for creativity
This is an important one. If we don’t leave time open to create, there is NOT creation happening. No one can be inspired staring at a computer screen so we try as much as possible to leave an afternoon just for us to go and explore somewhere new. Somewhere quiet where we can think or listen to music LOUD in the car on a drive. Whatever works for you, it’s important to do it. Save an hour each week just for that, if an hour is all you have.
Not sure this is something that can be planned or perhaps it really needs to be in your busy life but having time to yourself for absolutely NOTHING is good. Meditation is so good for the soul and whether you do it in a class, alone in a room or outside on a park bench or top of a mountain. Peaceful moments of nothingness are key to all the rest.
I really hope that you find some elements of this post useful. I know you may not all relate to our way of being but hope the message is received the same.
Remember - Balance isn’t everything. Putting effort in the right places is.