I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting over the last few months about what it means and how it feels, for me, my family and my business, to have my kids present at work or my work present at home all day every day and I was wondering what your thoughts on the matter might be.
The fact is that since my daughter’s arrival in 2016 there has always been a bit of family-life/work-life “contamination” as I used to offer lessons right from the comfort of my own home to allow me to juggle being a new mom and make some extra cash or if I was at school managing my role as educational director I would simply take her with me. I wanted to be the best mom I could and that meant putting her needs before anything else. It was tough but it was necessary and I just made everyone around me accept that if they wanted me, it was a package deal. Eventually, due to the need for more flexibility (and a few other motives that need not be shared) I decided to venture out on my own as a business woman and open a business license. Working more from home meant working more with my little one too and as she grew she needed me more and more. It became difficult to manage.
A few years, nannies and pre-schools and both my family life and work life seemed to have found a sort of balance. Then, COVID-19 hit and thought it was time to head back indoors.
The lockdown certainly brought on its challenges and one of the biggest, for me and anyone who had to work remotely, was most definitely having to make raising a family and getting your work done coincide. I wasn’t really worried about it. My daughter is amazingly well-behaved and I am amazed at how helpful she can be but the lockdown was a pressure cooker for stress: 1) to stay healthy, 2) to keep money flowing into the family, students satisfied and business a float, 3) to keep positive when you just didn’t know what was happening or going to happen. My daughter’s stress was more the third case. She was happy to be home but confused as to why noone had any time for her. She just wanted attention and I couldn’t give it to her. I tried everything and bought every possible “tool” on Amazon to help me out but she wanted ME. Too bad I needed me too.
I made a lot of mistakes, unavoidable mistakes some might say, but mistakes nonetheless when it came to managing my daughter in those first months. I did what I had never done, planted her in front of a screen and let the Disney Channel and Cartoon Network keep her busy. If she wanted a snack, she got it. If she wanted mountains of craft supplies, she got it. If it wouldn’t kill her and it kept her busy and happy, it was ok.
Thankfully, the lockdown “ended”, investments and plans were made so that business ran smoothly and I had more time on my hands. I could finally look up for a moment from my computer screen and when I did I realized that changes needed to be made. At that point there was no difference between family and work time but I couldn’t have my daughter’s brain melt in front of a monitor until things got back to normal. So I started treating her like a student and business partner. I started coming up with ways to include her in my everyday work life. Lessons, projects, social media material creation…I even built her her own classroom inside the studio. AND SHE LOVED IT! What’s more is I LOVED IT! I have literally transformed the studio into an expertly designed and fully stocked kid-friendly environment. And just in the nick of time!
We’re expecting a little boy this October! YAY! But things still haven’t gone back to “normal” and even if they did I have no plans to separate my work, which I love, and my family time, which I love. What I’ve learned from the last 5 years and especially over the last 2, is that nothing brings me more joy than spending my time, all of my time, doing what I love most. Everyone told me it would be impossible for the two things to coexist. People questioned me, to my face, about whether or not I thought it was possible to be both a good mother and a good businesswoman/teacher. Everyone thought it was crazy, naïve, stupid, irresponsible, irrational and a down right waste of time and effort to make my family and my business a priority and to not accept that one would have to suffer for the other. EXCEPT ME.
It is a constant full time job (that pays no overtime…or sick pay or maternity) to juggle, manage, organize, rearrange, plan and invent ways to make it work but I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I think about all I have been witness to and all the joys I have shared with all the people in my world it makes it all worth it.
Stay tuned to hear about the trails and tribulations, successes and glories that we are sure to face in the next few months. Be a part of it. It’s going to be a hell of a ride!
Now what about you? What has your experience been? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your opinions and stories so don’t hesitate to share them in the comments below! And remember, we don’t have to agree with each other we just have to be respectful to one another!