How I Survived the Transition from Business Owner to Biz Owner + MOM | Part I of the Mom Series

It has been a year and two months since we have added a third person to our lives and business – Jaxon Pierce Gray joined our team November 7th, 2013.

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(image by DavidMolnar.com)

It seriously has been such a blast having a kid, but as with any new addition to a family, there’s always adjustment that takes place.  Many of you have wondered how we are making it work and so I (Jody) thought that we would dedicate a blog post to share not only our journey of adjusting with Jaxon now being a part of our lives, but I also wanted to let other full time moms who are also business owners share how they are balancing the act of being mom and business professional.

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First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a… business!
I always thought that I would be one of those women who needed a career once I had kids… just for sanity’s sake. You know, trading the shirt covered in spit up for a cute top and have some good ‘ol adult, human interaction.

Then I had our first kid and that all changed :)

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(image by DavidMolnar.com)

A little over a year and a half ago, we found ourselves pregnant, and because we had no idea what to expect, we planned and prepared to take a few months off once Jaxon came into this world. Our little Jax was born, and it was a fun time of stepping away from our business and just being able to focus on this new little person in our lives.

Soon, it was time for both of us to head back to work. Zach was ready to go at it (honestly, he was getting a big stir-crazy) and I was ready too, but it was way harder than I expected. For those of you who may not know me very well, I’m a type A personality. I love being focused, I love things being done right and perfect :), I love tasks, To Do lists, and I love getting up and working and ending the day knowing I worked hard and gave it my all, and of course checked off my little boxes on my To Do list! Checking off To Do boxes means I accomplished something that day!

Weeeeeeell, let’s just say with a little one that all became a LOT harder.

I would start the day with these grand goals of accomplishing all these tasks, and feel frustrated at the end of the day when I only completed one task because my time with Jaxon didn’t go as anticipated. Even with the great sleep, eat and wake routine he was on, it still flexed so my work time wasn’t set in stone every day, so that would throw me off because I couldn’t work at the specific time I had in mind (expectations!). So then, I’d put him in a bouncy seat facing me but he’d coo and make noises here and there and it kept pulling my mind and attention away from the work I was trying to get done. And that of course, didn’t make me feel good either!

My son was familiarizing himself with my profile instead of my face and ME.

And then it got really bad.

I started getting frustrated not at myself or at work, but at my son.

As soon as that happened, I knew something had to change, but I didn’t know what or how.

I remembering posting this image online and saying the below:

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I love this little man so much, but I am definitely relating to the other women out there who work for themselves at home and have to get stuff done but also have kids who need them simultaneously. Luckily, I’m not alone here and have Zach, but I am definitely in the midst of this struggle and do NOT like my focus and attention being divided between two important things (one a bit more important than the other :). I’m an all-or-nothing kind of person. Looking for the happy medium…

Quite a few women wrote some great encouragement, and some of the comments really stood out that I would like to share for those of you walking through the same struggle:

“True success is providing for and loving my family deeply. The evil one wants to steal those precious moments with you. Be on guard.”

JennaShriver

“God has given us women a VERY important role when he blesses us with a child/children. We need to do absolutely whatever we can to make sure we raise them and train them up to be lovers of Christ and we need to set that example through not only our words, but our actions. Parenthood is the most important job you will ever have in your life and they aren’t going to be little for long. You will never get these years and moments back. Ever. Now, I’m not saying you should quit (obviously) but thankfully you do have Zach. I would seek The Lord very strongly about where He is leading you for the time being. Here is a little poem that is hanging on my girls bedroom wall that I read often and it has such a huge impact on my heart: ‘Cleaning and scrubbing can wait til tomorrow… For babies grow up we’ve learned to our sorrow. So quiet down cobwebs… Dust go to sleep… I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.’ “

Jodielj

I reminded myself: Jaxon was important. Jaxon is what matters most.

Not my To Do list.

Not my job.

Jaxon is my To Do list.

Having Jaxon was (and is :) a gift, and the whole reason we work for ourselves is SO we can have the flexibility to honor what is most important – our son.

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I don’t want to leave my kid five days a week so I can work and get my “adult” time in. I thought that would be me, but that’s not me.  My calling is him. (And to those of you who have day jobs: please hear me out – I’m not saying you’re a bad mom. We all have different paths for us and there is nothing wrong and it’s totally ok if you are a mom who has to go to work every day. More power to you that you are able to do that. Luckily, there are amazing care givers out there who can love on our precious kids while we do work!)

I would love to tell you the ways I made it work. I would love to tell you all the tips and tricks that enabled me to miraculously balance being a full-time mom and a full-time business owner all by myself. I would love to tell you how I rocked it. But I can’t. Yes, I made it work, but not in the way I initially thought.

After a lot of prayer, talking through things with Zach, and speaking with a few mentors in my life, I made the decision that I needed to pull back from the business. Not completely. Our business is “Zach AND Jody” afterall, but there were things that I could let go of (ouch! So hard) and entrust in Zach’s hands as well as to our office manager.

I could already see Zach being willing to step up to the plate and start to take over tasks and responsibilities that I always took care of (who is this man and what have you done with my husband?). God was beginning to show me that I could step away from the business a few days a week and it wouldn’t fall apart.

A hope began to spark…

We could actually maybe make this work.

Here was what we did:

#1. Selected days that I would be Business Owner and would work in the business
#2. Hired a nanny for those days
#3. Designated the remaining days for me to be Mom

We decided I would work two days a week (Tues & Thurs) and those would be the days our nanny would come to the house and watch Jax.

The days our nanny isn’t here, my To Do list for that day is to be Jaxon’s mom. To love on him, nurture him, and be there for him. He is my top priority, he is my To Do list. And hey, if he goes down for a nap and there’s a few things with work that I can catch up on or check in with, awesome, but if I don’t get those done, no worries, because it’s not on my To Do list that day. It’s a bonus.

This really helped my head space and has been amazing.

It’s crazy just how changing the expectations on myself has made a WORLD of difference. When I work, I can be fully devoted to work, and when I’m with Jaxon I can be fully focused on him.

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Was the transition easy?

Yes and no. It’s always hard bringing in someone to watch your kid because first off, they aren’t you, and also, they don’t know your child like you do (at first). They can’t tell the differences between their cries, they don’t know that when your kid makes this certain face he needs something in particular, or whatever. It takes time to communicate everything and for them to begin to understand your child. So that was a transition to be made. Once it’s made it’s AWESOME. Jaxon adores our nanny Makinze and the days she is over are great days because I know Jaxon is in good hands and I can focus on work (she even does some extra house cleaning for us, which is amazing and so helpful).

(Jaxon and our nanny, Makinze!)

The transition of letting go of some tasks was hard (and still is) and sometimes it takes every fiber of my being to try and not micro-manage our business but I’m trying to get better.

So that brings us to the reality of where I currently am with functioning as both mom and business owner. My time is limited. How do I practically make it work?

I know I don’t have it figured out yet (heck, I’m only a little over a year into it) so I thought that in addition to me sharing some practical tips, I thought that I would enlist some other mom’s to share what they have done to help make this work!

Stay tuned for Part II where I will share the Top Tips for Mom-tographers!

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Can you relate to what I shared? I’d love to hear from you and engage with you in the comments below :)

 

  • Tianna

    So needed to read this today! I had my first just a little over a two months from Jax’s birth and I’m still struggling with finding the balance!

    • http://www.zachandjody.com Zach & Jody

      I honestly don’t know if that PERFECT balance will ever be found, but the best we can do is try and make sure our kids come in at #1. So hard! Keep it up :)

  • Erin

    Oh my goodness–I am reading this at my desk (4th day back to work since the birth of my 2nd child) and I love it all. I am only working 3 days a week now, but I love that you set all else aside on those other days. Thanks for this–I needed to hear all of this today!

    • JodyDGray

      You bet, Erin. Thanks for reading and congrats on kid #2!

  • Brooke Holmes

    I’m still in this struggle as well… I’m a mama to a sweet, funny and very busy 17 month old girl, plus being a full-time student affairs professional at a university (which is often more than an 8am-5pm job), and then also trying to feed my passion with my part-time photography business. I’ve tried to put boundaries on my time – when I get home from work, it’s family time – time with my husband and our daughter. After she goes to bed, and usually when my husband goes to bed, then it’s time for me to dive into the photography/blogging side & tackle that to-do list. I’m glad to say I’ve been pretty good at keeping family time as a priority, but it’s exhausting to be working until midnight and then be up at 5:30 the next morning to get started all over again. I’m fearful of burn-out or running myself down physically, but this is what seems to be my option at this point.

    • JodyDGray

      Wow. You’ve got a lot going on, momma. Way to fight to keep your family and kids first. it’s hard. Make sure you take care of yourself so you don’t burn out. If you don’t HAVE to bring in an income from photography and it’s simply a creative outlet, maybe relieve some of the pressure you have on yourself to blog every session, and do all this crazy (but awesome) stuff for your clients, and simplify it a bit. Maybe in this season you are simply a “shoot & burn” photographer (yes, I said it ;o). Anyway, thanks for sharing.

      • Brooke Holmes

        That’s definitely something I’ve been praying about lately – whether to follow my heart where it’s wanting my business to go, or to be content with what it is at this moment as a part of a bigger whole. My word for 2015 is BALANCE so here’s to trying to make that a reality in the day-to-day. Thanks (as always) for your honesty and encouragement!

  • Jess Robertson

    Great post, Jody! Love your openness and couldn’t relate more! I remember editing/working while nursing most days my first year as a mom. And feeling the same way you described (type A here too!). We also found an amazing nanny for 2 days a week and it made a world of difference! I wasn’t perfect but I finally got better at separating my mom/business owner roles. Then everything got disrupted when our 2nd kid was born last year ;) now I’m having to learn how to do this all over again and it feels much harder this time around! Would love to hear some advice from stay at home working moms with 2 little ones!

    • JodyDGray

      You will get advice on Thursday from a mom who has THREE kids. Whew. I’ve often wondered myself what my business involvement will look like once kid #2 comes around. :o/

      • Jess Robertson

        Awesome! Looking forward to it! It’s so different from one…just when I thought I had it figured out haha :)

        • JodyDGray

          ha! I bet!

  • Jessica

    I love this post! It’s so nice to know that I’m not alone in this struggle. My precious baby came 2.5 months early in the middle of wedding season (my water broke 45 minutes after I got done shooting a wedding) and was in the hospital for 6 weeks and let me just say it’s been haaaaard! But you touched on a key thing there and that was expectations. I have had to keep those in check. I thought I was busy before the baby and didn’t have time but boy was I in for a rude awakening. I’m in business by myself and unfortunately I have neglected it a bit because I realized I just can’t do everything and my baby is more important. I remind myself this is only temporary. One day my baby will be in school and growing up too fast and I will have more time back (maybe ; ) but I don’t want to regret not being more present in the early days. It’s my job to raise my baby and show her how to be happy, healthy and not stressed. Thanks so much for this post.

    • JodyDGray

      Ah! Are you kidding me! Your water broke right after a wedding? Oh my word. That’s crazy. Lol. What a good story ;o) … Glad you are ok. Thanks for sharing, and you’re right, this is only temporary.

  • Phillipa

    Love it! We have such similar stories, pre baby and post baby now too! My work days are Tuesday and Wednesday, so I better get back to it! Thank you for sharing so honestly and reminding me to make my little one my only to do list on a non work day. I needed that reminder.

    • JodyDGray

      You bet :)

  • Laura Matthews

    Oh yes, Jody! As a mom to an 8 year old boy and business owner, it’s hard to find that balance. And I am still trying to find it as my son’s needs change at every stage. It gets better once they are in school, trust me. :)

    • JodyDGray

      I can see how having them at school does help! Whew!.. unless we home school AH!!! ;)

  • Christin

    What a great post Jody! Thank you for your honestly and willingness to open up this discussion for all of us mamas out here. I have 3 boys, 10 yr old, 8 yr old and 2 yr old. My husband and I had our fist son right after getting married. I tried to start my photography business and couldn’t seem to figure out this struggle you have just described. So, I put my photography business dream on the back burner and this year have decided it’s time to figure out how to make it work! Thank you so much for this post. I’m looking forward to Part II!

    • JodyDGray

      Yeah, I honestly have no idea how some women are able to start a business when they have a kid. I have to admit- it’s really, really hard and I can’t imagine doing it. What you are doing right now is the biggest thing you will ever do, and I pray that you get to have your business once they get a little older.

  • Angela

    This speaks to me completely right now.. I have a 19 month old and I feel like I’m going crazy some days. My husband works full time and any and all of our photography business needs fall in my lap. I found a wonderful nanny but she went back to school and is never available anymore so the couple days I had for my business are now cut down to maybe 8 hours a week. I’m frazzled frustrated and exhausted.. I look forward to part two!

    • JodyDGray

      Ah, that is so hard!!! ESPECIALLY that you’re pretty much trying to do it on your own. I pray that you find someone new who is AWESOME and can help you out :)

  • Carissa Kennedy

    Awesome Post Jody! This has been our #1 area that we’ve been trying to work on in the last 8 years with our 3 kids. Sometimes I wish I was one of those moms that could just sit and read a book like normal moms during nap time. It is SO HARD stepping back when you have a business/entrepreneurial mindset, but you’ll never wish you worked more!! I have a lot of respect for you! Now my youngest is at preschool- so time for me to get to work!

    • JodyDGray

      So true! Thanks for sharing Carissa – hope to see you guys at WPPI!!

  • http://www.victoriaeasterwilson.com/ Victoria Wilson

    Oh man, that is EXACTLY my story – right down to the Tues/Thurs work schedule! I do still struggle with staying focused, and even on my part-time working days I feel SO DRAWN back to my daughter. I miss her, I want to be with her. I’m working on “where you are, be all there.” Because, at the same time, it is such a gift to be able to have an outlet and to do your thing, even while being a mom. Can’t wait for part 2! Great insights Jody.

    • JodyDGray

      Yup, I struggle with the focus thing too. Not only 10 minutes ago did Jaxon push on my office door and walk in with our trailing nanny behind him. He came right up to me and said “up.” Having him close for occasional snuggles is the BEST, but definitely kills my focus. ha ha. #stillsoworthit :)

  • Juliana Evans

    Thank you so much for sharing it! I have a 3 month old baby and his name is also Jaxon ( I had a similar journey to finally have him). I am having the same frustrations and I don’t know why I am feeling like that. I wanna do all my tasks and love on Jax but I founded out that it is impossible and it is making me feel awful. Your blog brought so much hope and encouragement to my heart. You were truly used by God and I am so glad that I stop to read your blog! Be blessed!

    • JodyDGray

      Congrats on your miracle baby (and great name :)! Give yourself some time to adjust. It’s only been 3 months. Sometimes the laundry needs to pile up and sometimes you may just have to re-set expectations for clients on turnaround time and when you’ll be available. Whew. Hang in there!

  • Emily Troutman

    I can totally relate! It’s a total juggling act all the time and it can leave you feeling defeated. Still working on finding that balance!

    • JodyDGray

      Best of luck! I feel like I’m still working on it daily. ahhhhh :)

  • http://www.alittlebitcountrystudio.com Danielle Loncki-Young

    I’m with you Jody! It has taken three years for me to understand that it IS alright to have help, like bring in a housekeeper once a month. Does anyone have suggestions for where to find a reliable and amazing nanny? Thanks for the post – it resonates with me!

    • JodyDGray

      I have found that word of mouth is the best for finding a nanny. There are sites that interview and vet nannies so you can go look and have your pick. Not sure the name of them at the moment. I know here in TN, we have “Nannies of Brentwood” – more local nanny finders.

  • Sara Bruno

    Jody, thank you for starting this series! My business partner (my sister-in-law and best friend) relate to the two of you often, because we are a family business, Two Brunos Photography :-). We are in a slightly different situation, in that we waited until the youngest of our childchildren stared school to start our business. We have been very successful in our business, and as we enter our 4th year this spring we constantly count our blessings.
    However… my point I want to tell you about, is that you need to consider that your role as mom will still need to be strong as they grow up. My daughters are 15 and 10, and my nephews are 10 and 7. The are all VERY active in school and sports. We find ourselves torn between work and mom duties often. We were so incredibly busy before the holiday break that we didn’t have time that we usually like to take during the holidays to make gifts for the kids teammates, or paint ornaments for grandparents, stuff like that, it was very hard, and discouraging to be upset with how busy and blessed we were with business. This slow season we are in right now has allowed us to work on our homes, and make winter gifts (since they weren’t ready for Christmas) and reconnect with ourselves as mothers and homemakers. It is an ongoing struggle. So, I am happy for you that you are prioritizing now, and recognizing that you time with Jaxon is limited and precious, his needs will change, but even as he grows, you will still have a lot of mommy stuff to do. Hang in there! And thank you for opening up your journey for us all to discuss! I plan to share this post with my sister and our husbands!

    • JodyDGray

      Sara, thank you for your insight! It’s easy to look down the road and think that things will get simpler, but I guess that’s not the case. Boo! ha ha. Thanks for sharing and I hope this next Christmas will be filled with peace and more cookie making with the kids!

  • Natalia Castañeda

    What helps me the most is an early bedtime and training them to sleep in their own bed and staying there! I only have a 3 yr old little girl, but it took me a while to take her back to her bed everytime she would get up in the middle of the night. A set routine and structure has been the best thing for us. It’s true sometimes we tend not to do certain things because she’s in bed by 7:30, but I rather miss out on a few late dinners or outings than never really knowing when I will get her to sleep so I can work on my own things.

    • JodyDGray

      That’s good! Thanks for sharing!

  • Miranda Kitchen

    Great words, Jody. I’m a full-time mom of three who homeschools and has a daughter who just started in the church youth group…all of which requires my time. I still need my sanity, though, so I manage between 5-15 (I know, a wider range) of weddings per year plus family shoots here and there. I also discovered several years ago that I needed someone to stay with my kids. I picked oit 2 days a week as well that dedicate to my business. Luckily, I have an amazing husband who is a successful business owner himself…so my earnings are fun money for the family and sanity for me, but in order to keep on top of the business, I found hiring someone to step in and to school with my kids was the right answer. We have had amazing college age Christian women who have poured into my kids the last few years. Without them, I almost lost my mind trying to “do it all.” Keep up the good work. And you’re right. This is our most important job. Finding the balance is difficult…but worth it.

    • JodyDGray

      Miranda, thanks for sharing! Got to love and be SO thankful for community.

  • Audra Starr

    Love this – thanks so much for your honesty! I wrote a blog post not long ago dealing with the same struggle: http://sitwithusblog.com/slowdown/
    I think it’s an everyday battle trying to pick your priorities, and we must fight to protect the ones that are good and true. You got this mama.. fight the good fight! :)
    xoxo

    • JodyDGray

      Great post. I LOVE what you said here: “You know what else I realized? I don’t think that’s how God intended things to be. This is not how we’re supposed to live.” That is SO true. How do we get back to how HE intended it to be? Loved this part too “I don’t have to be all things to all people. He is. I don’t have to get all of these things on my list done right now. It’ll happen when it’s supposed to happen.” Thank-you for sharing!

  • Kelly

    Thank you SO much for writing this and being SO honest. I have had this internal battle going on for a while between my kiddos and my work, I’ve done some of the things you suggested like designating work days and bringing in help on those days, that was a life saver! As my youngest is about to go off to full time kindergarten in the fall I say to you enjoy every moment, you have made the best decision to balance your worlds! All the best, before you know it they are off to school on the bus which is sad but exciting all at the same time!

    • JodyDGray

      The struggle is hard! Congrats on your youngest going to Kindergarten. They grow so fast!

  • http://brookebryand.com Brooke Bryand

    Giiiiiirrrrrl, you hit the nail on the head. None of it is easy. My kiddos (5yrs and 2yrs) were slowly slipping on my priority scale as I worked more and more to keep up with the business. I worked my hiney off to build the business over the last 6 years, so the thought of “leaning out” was beyond my DNA. Then…I hit a wall in November (see blog post here: http://brookebryand.com/2014/11/19/why-im-holed-up-in-a-sf-hotel-room/) and I hope I never, ever look back. I have cut my work days to 3 days a week and finally announced that I no longer shoot on the weekends (family photographer). I…feel…liberated. And I feel like a Mommy again. Best of both worlds. Thank you for sharing your own vulnerability…it isn’t hard but it is REAL!

    • JodyDGray

      Such a great, and real post. Now you need to outsource your editing and think how much even MORE time you’ll have :):) Thanks for sharing!

  • Tonya

    Aahh, so good for you and amazing that you are creating those boundaries early on instead of discovering it years from now or on the second or third child. You are fabulous and what a loved little boy! You’ve got this!

    • JodyDGray

      Thank-you!

  • Kristy Straub

    Jody I cannot identify with you more! Actually with both of you! You guys remind me so so so much of my husband and myself – personality wise, both individually and as a couple! We absolutely love following your posts and appreciate everything you guys do and how “real” you are. (We also enjoy the constant Dave Ramsey plugs bc we are also obsessed).

    I love the poem you shared and will be making something to creatively display it in our home! I may change “cobwebs” to dishes — that’s my major stressor! Lol

    We have 3 kids now, all aged 5 and younger and I have been attempting to find that balance every single day since my first son was born. Each time I believe I have found it, something changes and I lose it again.

    I have admittedly barely slept the last year as the business continues to grow alongside our family! There just aren’t enough hours in the day! (If only we could be Joshua some days!!!). My “problem” is that I know my kids and my relationship with my husband are top priority over the business. We (hubby and I) like you and Zach, hate to be apart, even if it’s just in the next room, silly as it sounds. So it’s very hard for us when things pull us away from our time together. I also thought I would NEED time away from my kids to go to work and it turned out I was wrong about myself as well!!!

    All I can say is that it is VERY clear that God has created you for and called you to these specific roles in your life, and we know that by the fruit! It is difficult to do, but just trust that God will continue to guide you and compel you and give you strength and direction!

    Whenever I feel overwhelmed or stressed, I think about the wife of noble character in proverbs 31. That chick was a BEAST and somehow pulled it ALLLLLL off! Clearly she did this with God’s help and strength — the same God who offers us the same strength, direction, and personal relationship with Himself!!!

    Thank you so much for all that you (both) give and keep up the good work(s)!

    – Kristy <

    • JodyDGray

      Such great words of wisdom. Thanks for sharing.

  • Michele

    This is so beautiful and honest. Thank you for sharing. I struggled the same way. Always getting an “A” in school, worked until I went to sleep, cleaned the house for fun, and counted every calorie. I worked hard after college and never thought I would be a stay at home mom (but that actually lead to pursuing my 15 year dream of photographing weddings). Now, this business is awesome, but it is hard. I have figured out the things I have to let get so that I can be with my boys. They are a few years old, so I can schedule 2 hours a day to do office work, but I realized the same. THEY need me to be mom. We homeschool too, and that is awesome.

    Thank you so much for posting things!

    • JodyDGray

      So true! Thanks for sharing your own journey.

  • http://psalm27creative.com Mary Clark

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this post. I am currently knee deep in this same struggle and it is such a blessing just to know I’m not alone!

    My husband and I shoot weddings together, but he works a full time job, so I am in charge of the business, editing, communication, etc. We had a baby this past June and are trying to figure out what it looks like to run a business and raise a little person. Strangely, our business really picked up when we came back after welcoming our little one. It’s a wonderful adventure on both fronts, but the adjustment has been a BIG challenge for me especially!

    For a while I was trying to work after the baby was at sleep at night. But after a short time I realized that was not doable long-term – I was so exhausted all the time (and really not my best self)! Now that she’s a bit older, and actually takes naps, I’ve been trying to do some work during the day, but I feel like I’m being pulled in about a thousand directions. I’m constantly dropping the ball with business tasks because I have more important mommy-tasks to attend to, and then start stressing and worrying about all I need to do for our business when I should be focusing 100% attention on my daughter. There is no sense of work-life balance…it all just bleeds together.

    My husband and I have been trying to make the decision about whether or not to get some childcare help a couple days during the
    week. But I have really been struggling with the idea of the expense and the necessity. I mean – I should be able to do it all, right? Wrong! I’m so glad to hear this has helped with both your business and mommyhood! What an encouragement!!!

    Thank you so much for all you share with our community of photographers. I, for one, am incredibly grateful!

    • JodyDGray

      Mary!!!!! I feel your pain. It’s amazing that you’ve tried doing it all yourself this long. Definitely time to get some help :) Tomorrow’s post with more tips will help too!

  • Misty Dawn Pfeil

    I’ve been struggling with this as well – my daughter is just 10 months old. This was such a great read, if for only one reason being that I know I’m not alone or crazy for feeling this stressed in trying to find balance between baby and business. Can’t wait to read part II!

    • JodyDGray

      yup, definitely not alone. T minus 11.5 hours and the post will be up! yay! ;o)

  • Shelbie -5star

    Thanks for the reminder for sure! I have been doing this stay at home mom thing for 14 years! (wow am I really saying that?!) I started my business 2 years ago. I am still learning for sure! I have 3 kids, home school 2 of them 2 days a week and I have a 4 year old at home every day. Some things I have learned: i get up early for plenty of coffee and a little bible reading, making list of my most important business priorities helps me realize a lot (like scrolling FB is never on the list and the edits that are due in 2 days are more important than the uploading from yesterday’s sessions), my ‘office’ has to be mobile (you never know when a 7 yr old will work better on the kitchen table or the living room rug), kids will always scream when ur on a business call so walk outside or simply tell the caller ‘hey my kids r with me so be prepared to hear anything’, outsourcing is great!( spending $20 on something that will save me 8 hours is a no brainer!), I stay up late often so I can have 100% of my brain to return emails, don’t sweat the small stuff it’s too small, and most of all “Sometimes you just have to leave the mop bucket in the middle of the floor and go outside to play with your kids” (words from my husband’s grandma) . It is worth the struggle for sure! I have waited for this exact position for 23 years now! (wow did I just say that!)

    • http://psalm27creative.com Mary Clark

      Yes! Awesome words of wisdom :)

    • JodyDGray

      Good advice!!!!

  • Emily Faith Donohue

    Thanks for sharing. I have a 13 month old son and also struggle(d) with the transition. What a perfect set up you have with Zack being able to take over more responsibilities. I schedule a couple days a week for work and get a sitter for those days, too. I also turn off my push notifications on my cell phone when I am with my son. It helps to avoid those distractions that take me away from him mentally. I also started flagging emails when I check them during the day during naps. This way I can remember things I need to follow up on for that evening and not feel stressed thinking I will forget the emails if he wakes up while I am in work mode. Thanks for sharing this. I look forward to reading your tips!

    • http://psalm27creative.com Mary Clark

      Great tips, Emily! I like your ideas about turning off notifications and flagging emails for evenings or work times. Thanks for sharing!

    • JodyDGray

      Good reminders. I hate push notifications!!

  • http://char-co.com/ Char Newswanger

    I took this same approach and I got my life and sanity back. Good stuff. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jessica Smith McMican

    I went back to work full time with both of my boys. Partly for my own career goals, and partly because financially we needed my income. Over the past year I have had a huge shift in my thinking and similar to you I came to the realization that my family was my first priority, secondly was fulfilling God’s plan for my life. Jan 23rd will be my last day at corporate america so I can spend the next 6 months with my youngest before he enters Kindergarten, start a women’s bible study and pursue my photography and wellness coaching career – things that I am passionate about. Good for you for deciding to pull back, you’ll be amazed at how your business can still soar when we obey God.

    • JodyDGray

      wow, that is amazing. What a great step of faith. God will bless you honoring your priorities!

  • Jenny Sawyer Photography

    Whew, Jody, what a great read! Thank you for sharing your
    heart. I love that you are so proactive and have taken bold steps to keep your
    prioritizes straight rather than accepting it as the “new norm”. While building
    my senior portrait business, I’ve had 4 children (6yrs, 5yrs, 3yrs and 1 yr
    old) and homeschool two days a week. So last spring I hit the point where I knew something had to
    change as I was exhausted and NOT doing anything GREAT). You just can’t be 100%
    focused to being a stay-at-home mom and 100% as a full-time business, so I
    hired an assistant to take over my scheduling, calendar and email. My advice is
    to figure out what tasks take you the longest or the things you are not great
    at and pay someone else who is very efficient at those tasks. We also outsource our housecleaning and yard work as those tasks take away family time.

    I intentionally raised my prices so I could take on less clients and
    make the time I do work, a financial blessing to my family. I’m currently
    reading “Hands Free Mama” and it is rocking me to my core (so good for us
    workaholic mamas). I’m still up most nights really late and haven’t figured it
    all out, but I’m praying that God will guide my actions to reflect my
    prioritizes every day. When we ask for wisdom, God will give it and I love
    that.

    • JodyDGray

      Great pointers and I’ll have to check that book out! Thanks, Jenny :)

  • Shanda

    Just what I needed to hear. I’m mommy to three beautiful girls, 8, 2, and 2 mths and still have been trying to keep my business a float but I’ve felt like I’m drowning lately and needing to prioritize what is most important for me right now. I really needed to read this! Thank you for sharing your journey!

    • JodyDGray

      You are so welcome. Whew, you’ve got a 2 month old. Give yourself a bit more time to adjusting to being a mom of THREE (yay!). Your business will always be there…

  • Raven191

    It’s true – you will never get these days/moments back. Sounds like you figured out what works for everyone. They grow up in the blink of an eye.

    • JodyDGray

      So they say, and I’m starting to realize that! Can’t believe my son is 14 months already!!

  • Sabrina Fields

    Jody (and everyone who’s commented!), thank you SO MUCH for this. In about 5 weeks I’ll become a first time mom and I’ve been running my own business from home full time for the last 2 years. Hearing all of this now and being able to pray about it before our daughter arrives is so huge for me… Some days, my husband and I think I’ll be able to do it all and other days I realize that once she’s here, there’s no way I’ll be able to. But everyone is so right… Our first responsibility is to follow God, then work on our marriage, then focus on our children and THEN we can take care of our businesses. I just don’t want those priorities to get out of order from the beginning. So thank you for the reminder of where our focus and attention needs to be… And that it really is ok to let go of some things!! :-)

    • JodyDGray

      You are welcome, Sabrina! So excited for you guys :) :)

  • http://www.menningphotographic.com/blog Danielle Menning

    Thank you, Jody, for sharing this & for sharing your vulnerability with being able to let go of the To-Do list! It’s helpful to know that other moms/business owners struggle, too. I’ve been trying to plan for when my first baby arrives in a little under 6 weeks & I don’t have it all figured out, but I know that the baby will be my first priority and that organization and communication will be key between my husband (co-business owner) and me. We’re also very blessed that our parents and many close family members live close by and are more than willing to nanny for us when it’s time for me to be a business owner. Thanks for the tips & I LOVED looking back at all of the photos of you and Jax from the past year. What a beautiful year it has been for him and your family! <3

    • JodyDGray

      Danielle – it is SUCH a blessing that you have family and friends to rely on. I definitely wouldn’t mind that here. — USE THEM! :) :) So excited for you guys!!!!!

  • Jessica Fike

    I had to do the same thing. I am a stay-at-home mom who also has a photography business. I wanted to watch my kids as much as possible, but also work on my business as much as possible. But I quickly found out i couldn’t do both. I would get mad, frustrated and irritated with the kids because I had business stuff to get done and they weren’t letting it happen! But that wasn’t fair to the kids at all, and it wasn’t fair to my husband because I was miserable at the end of the day. So we sucked it up and found daycare for Jack and added another day to Ally’s preschool week. Now I have three days each week as “work days”. But there’s another struggle…I sort of want more than that! I’m not sure that my calling is to be home with my kids, even if it’s just for a couple of days. Of course I love them and I want to take care of them and spend time with them, but I also think I’m a “working person” that needs to have other responsibilities and fulfillments to keep balanced. But doesn’t that seem terrible? I’d rather work than be with my kids? I’m with my kids every evening and sometimes all weekend…can I be the mom I am supposed to be…or need to be…in that time?? Ugh. This isn’t easy!

    • JodyDGray

      Yay! Glad I’m not alone :) :) I know it sounds so cliche, but definitely pray about. Pray that the Lord will change your heart and feelings if you’re supposed to be at home with your kids more. He’ll guide and lead you. Praying you hear clearly!

  • http://vandaphotography.com Anastasia Borisyuk

    I can relate to this on many levels, though it’s a little different because I started the business after having children, they were the ones who inspired me to go back to my first love of photography despite the fact that I have my degree in Interior Design. Building the business from the ground up takes 2-3 years, with kids it will take me 4-6 years! :) I’m on year 3. Doing weddings part-time, loving it, and hoping to do more in 2016. I already know that as much as I love doing my own editing and love being in control down to the fine details, I will have to let that go and outsource to a trusted friend because there is no way I’ll be able to keep on homeschooling the kids if I have 3 weddings each month to edit. I know I’m never really going to find a perfect balance, but I know as long as God, my marriage, and kids come first, somehow the business side will work out with some concentrated effort. I need to think of some sort of childcare swap a couple of days a week with another local, homeschooling, business owning Christian mom. :) It is really hard, there are days I feel like throwing in the towel, days when I feel I’m doing it all at the same time and my head spins, days that are fantastic – a little of everything and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

    • JodyDGray

      Yup, it does get overwhelming at times… and I only have one kid! ha ha. Outsourcing is definitely key. Hang in there!

  • Sophia jordan

    Jody and Zach, thank you for this. I know many people read your blog and comment but I hope you know your blog and words are really helpful and encouraging, especially for working women aspiring to be mothers. The fact that you’re honest with yourself is encouraging as well. May God continue to bless your family and business to do great things in His name!

  • Echo

    Having my daughter {child #2} was a total game changer in my workflow. I’m still working on it, but I learned much quicker that my to do list meant nothing to holding my kids and meeting their needs first. Thank you for being so open and honest. Makes me feel better knowing I’m not alone in the struggle. <3

  • http://www.clippingpathindia.com/ MD Yusuf

    Your writing well. Its most important part of life to take care your child. I’m still working and also take care my child.

  • Johanna B

    SO yes! Thank you for sharing! My biggest struggle was letting go of (have A done by 9, have B done by 11:30) a real schedule and swapping it into a routine, Do A then B, and only committing to three business tasks per day… the rest are bonus ;) Big hugs!!!!

  • Jenn Kelly

    Oh man, I am just even contemplating how to get back to my business after having my son in December. I don’t work with my significant other so it would be really hard for me to only work two days a week. But right now I cannot even fathom being away from him for the lengths of time I am used to working. It will be a tough decision on how to proceed from here :/ I like what I do, but I love my son more.