To close out the week, I had the idea to share a DIY, but I have been more focused on putting mulch around our raised beds then doing a DIY post, which I absolutely am okay with. The other night though I realized I hadn’t really updated you on how things have shifted in our life and business in the last 6 months. A lot has changed. All wonderful and right, but it has changed. Since, I strive to offer a clear and honest view of what it means to own a business, live simply, be a mom, and still make money to pay for life I don’t want to fool people into thinking we just live in a fantasy world because we don’t and I hate creating realities for people that aren’t actual realities.
This last year I gave up a lot. A lot of dreams I thought I wanted in order to discover what I really wanted in life. It sounds silly, but that is where the phrase came from “you can have anything you want, but you cannot have everything” in our home. You may have noticed some things have shifted around here. You may not hear me talk about design work, business things, or about working with Mike as much. The truth is all of that has drastically shifted. After having Hayes my world turned upside down in a way we never anticipated in our work. I deeply struggled to find my footing as a parent and creative. I have talked about this a few times, but I haven’t really talked about how it affected Mike and I as business partners. Many times, we keep chugging along forgetting things shifted and they weren’t really talked about. We talked many times about how to share this, but I think we will just get down to what happened why.
During those first 6 months with Hayes, I thought I would go back to working with Mike on our design business. I thought we would find our groove again and pick up just where I left off before I took maternity leave. It didn’t happen. Our business went from me being the forefront to Mike having to take the reigns on design work and our bank account of savings we built to give me room to get back to work was dwindling because the work wasn’t coming in like it used to understandably. At this same time, we were selling our house, moving, a lot was shifting. Mike took over a lot in our lives in order to give me the room I needed to really figure things out. I will forever feel grateful for this. He shouldered a lot of the financial and personal stress we had during those first 10 months of life as new parents. He allowed me the space I needed and tried to keep me away from as much stress as possible. It didn’t come without stress on our relationship. There were really tough days, but days that looking back now made us stronger.
Just like any major transitional time in life, we grow, we find a new version of ourselves, and things become that much clearer (hopefully anyways). During those stressful months, Mike took a creative director job for a startup app company for a few months as a consultant. Before we had Hayes Mike struggled to feel he had a clear purpose in his creative work. He was always feeling unclear about his identity. But when he took that job, even in the rough sleeplessness I saw his eyes fill up with a sparkle. He felt he had found his place in the creative world. He loved working with startups. He loved energizing them and giving them the position and tools they needed for success. He loved the energy of it. It was something he always did within our business for us and our clients and I knew that about him, but to see him really recognize it was amazing. I knew then our business would be shifting dramatically.
Months down the road around the time we moved to Michigan, Mike moved into a new position with another client he had been working with and they wanted him to be available on a full-time basis for them. It was pretty much a dream for him. It was another startup company that was internal within a Fortune 500 company. We knew it meant Mike’s time with me shooting and being a part of the blog would begin to slow down and it meant I would have to take the reigns of caring for Hayes while balancing the blog. He was working with a corporate team and had scheduled meetings and needed to be available for them even if he was working from home. This was hard on me. For so long, I had been the forefront of career in our family. It was all about chasing my career so this shift wasn’t as easy as I would have hoped. I got a little selfish and angry at times. I lost sight that this was a long game. This was a moment for Mike to pursue his dreams. He was so invigorated by the work he was doing and the feeling of ownership over his creative career in a way I don’t know if he ever really had, that looking back I wish I had noted it sooner and released my selfishness quicker. Thankfully I figured it out after some very rough months between us. I realized I was being selfish and that we were in this together working for a common goal even if it was different than I had anticipated. It was selfish of me to not support him in the way he was supporting me the best he could by being the large portion of our income and offering me the freedom to find my footing again here and beyond.
It was a struggle. I won’t lie. It took me time to see how this was us still working together to achieve things and our dreams. We had a dream situation of Mike happily working and pursuing his career from home. I was given space to dream and be me and figure my things out without financial pressure. Though I missed our old days of working together, I realized that we very much were and are still working together it just looks different these days.
After a while, I began finding my footing as a parent and creative. I finally felt like the fog cleared (for reference, this was also about a two months after stopping nursing…serious hormones are monsters). I felt I knew my path clearly enough that I felt okay to financially hire a sitter for about 20-25 hours a week so I could have the freedom I needed to get back to really pursuing my work on the blog that I loved.
Now, we know that Mike works from 8-6 M-F every week. I don’t expect him to help because he is our income base right now and that is 100% okay because it has given me freedom to pursue my dreams without the financial pressure I used to have. I don’t do well being the provider. I hate working that way. So, I see it as the best gift in the world he has given to me. We have an amazing sitter from 9-3 M, T, Th, and F. So that is when I work. I focus my days on specific tasks so I can get as much done as possible when she is here. Monday and Tuesday I write blog content for the week and week ahead always trying to get as far ahead as I can. Thursday I work on emails and allow to be my creative pursuits day whether that is planning the blog or working on a new product for Creative Market, and on Fridays I work at a local farm in the morning and then work in town catching up on loose ends for the week. After our sitter leaves, Hayes and I hang out. We garden, cook, and clean or do laundry together. He loves it and it gives me designated time to be his mom and catch up on house things. Wednesday is my 100% off day, which I need. I do a little Instagram sometimes or catch up on some emails if I have time, but there are no work expectations. This way I can be stress-free to be with Hayes. I do some reading on these days. We go for hikes or to the beach. It is amazing. There is no doubt there are things that don’t get done, I don’t travel like I used to, my career is slower, but my life is so full because I am so happy right here doing just what can be done instead of constantly looking to do more and more. I feel content, settled, and happy in ways I didn’t know were possible. All of it because we shifted things, got serious about what mattered most for us as a family and ourselves. I know I could go bigger. I know I could pursue things beyond where I am, but I also know it comes with a sacrifice of other things I love too much to give up. Everyone is different, but when I realized this, it made it easier to know I was right where I belong.
I was always unsure of what my career would look like as a mom. I wanted to be present, but I didn’t want to give up my career. I also never wanted to be half-way there as a mom because of my career infiltrating my life at home when I should be present with him. It has been hard to figure this out. I had to ask what I really wanted and what I really needed. I realized I needed to figure out what I wanted out of my career, what I wanted out of life, and what I wanted as a mother. At the same time, Mike had to ask the same things and it hasn’t come without a lot of growing pains for all of us. It was about making room for what we absolutely love and eliminating things that stole room for love and happiness to prosper. It is a wild balance between career and life every day, but I feel we have somewhat found it at least in a way that works for us.
So, the truth is Mike and I don’t work together in the way we used to. He is more or less running the design business. This is much as of the reason Working Together became silent. I felt it was no longer an authentic conversation about working together when we really don’t work as much as we used to. Mike spends most of his day working with one large client that he is the consulting creative director for right now. The rest of the time he works on a few other design projects. These smaller projects, I am involved in about 20% on. I come in on the creative concepting calls and help give Mike direction since I am the wild idea person between us. On these less corporate projects he needs my vision to get him in a direction. From there he either executes himself fully or hires out to one or two designers to help him. He works a lot of hours, but he loves it. We are still working on getting him more time in our family and finding that balance, but it is in his blood to work like that and I understand and value that part of him. He is wonderful at turning it off and mentally being present especially when his list is checked off so I am okay with his long hours as long as he is. We have learned we are wired differently in that way.
That said, Mike still shoots for TFE unless otherwise indicated. I simply schedule shoots around when our sitter is here or Hayes’s naps and Mike’s call schedule. This is why creating a 2-3 month out content calendar has been extremely important. This way I can have a list of shoots that need to be done, Mike and I meet about it and we schedule them all. Obviously, things shift, but this way everything is communicated between us so everything can get accomplished.
I really wanted to share this with you guys because I know I look at the internet or Instagram and wonder how parents do it. I constantly wonder how they make it work and what is really happening outside of the frame. I love how things have balanced out in our lives and to not share the real deal of how things are working in our life and business doesn’t feel as if I am being genuine in a space I value being as honest as I can be. I have given up some big dreams and have taken a slower approach to my career, but I have not one regret. In some way, I think I always wanted it this way, but always felt I was “failing” if I slowed down at all. Now, I realize things don’t all have to happen at once and that it is most important to enjoy the now and to let things happen how they are intended. We work hard around here, but we also play hard because that’s what we believe in it just seems to look a little different than I thought it would. It actually looks far better than I could have imagined.
So there you go, a catch up on how our business is working, how money comes in around here, and how behind the frame things are really happening. Maybe you never wondered, but I looked at our Instagram one day and realized if I didn’t know more than those frames, I would wonder myself.
One other note as long as I am catching you up on life here, this next month we will be doing a little switcharoo with our friend’s we rent from. We will be moving into their house in downtown Traverse City for the summer and they will be staying out at the farmhouse we have been in. They love spending summer out here, and I don’t blame them. So you may be seeing our life shift a little. We switch back with them in September or so, so we will be back out at the farmhouse till our own farmhouse finishes this winter. Just in case you wondered what the hell we were doing haha, because I would.
Happy Friday! Happy to answer other questions if you have them!