Balancing Babies and Dreams
By Lucy of Lucille in the Sky
It’s often assumed that motherhood calls for women to abandon their dreams without looking back. As for me, I didn’t pay any attention to my dreams until I became a mother, It was my children who taught me that life is precious, and short, and we better start today, or we’ll regret it tomorrow.
What do I dream? I dream of writing and being read. My words come in the form of novels, essays, articles and blogs. These days, I write a personal blog at lucilleinthesky.com about living for your highest self. I am also working on the second draft of my first novel, a story about a young American career woman who leaves her precious job for a new life in Thailand.
I dream of healing others with herbal medicine, which led me to start a tea business, Herbal Philosophy Teas (herbalphilosophy.com), with the help of James (my husband) and Ava (my intern). We make herbal artisan teas, organic and hand crafted. Each tea is loose-leaf, fragrant, delicious and effective. We offer remedies to assist in alleviating common complaints such as stress and depression, hangovers, sleeplessness, excess weight, poor complexion and more.
How do I balance the writing with the business with the family? Quite precariously, to be honest. Through trial and error, I’ve discovered a few tricks, which I will share with you now in hopes of inspiring my fellow mothers to remember their passions and go after their dreams. Because a happy, fulfilled mom is the foundation for a happy, fulfilled family.
Get support. And, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Herbal Philosophy would not be what it is today without the help of my friends and family. James designs my labels, marketing materials, etc. Ava helps make the tea and she is preparing to get involved with the sales and marketing side. Megan in Northern California (found her on Craigslist) slings tea on the side, as does Julia in Coos Bay, OR (my sister), Paula in Kirkland, WA (my mother) and Jimmy in Seattle, WA (my brother).
Herbal Philosophy Teas are now sold online and carried in a Seattle-area Whole Foods Market, a coffee shop and a restaurant. I’ve conducted tastings at Whole Foods Market and Live Ocean events (liveocean.org), the non-profit we support with a portion of our profits. Last year, I sold tea at a farmer’s market, baby strapped to my front or my back. In fact, I do a lot of things with a baby on my back, including mixing teas.
Let your kid see mama work. If you’re self-employed, and if they’re old enough to entertain themselves or young enough to sleep, take them along to make deliveries or follow-up sales calls or whatever it is you need to do to take care of business.
Use your best judgment. Kids are generally better received when you’ve already established a relationship with whomever you’re meeting. By letting your kids participate in your work, by not sheltering them from your “other” life, you’re instilling in them a strong work ethic and teaching them what it takes to survive in this world.
Hire help, if you have the means. In my experience, hired help is more valuable than new toys and frequent manicures. No matter how I spin it, I can’t do it all. I can’t deep clean my house, cook organic meals, spend quality time with my kids, work while they sleep, give my husband the attention he needs and deserves, and stay sane. For this reason, it is my belief that if you can find the means, whether by cutting into your savings (you’ll make it back in no time, right?) or rearranging your budget, you should hire some help.
Along with asking grandma to entertain the kids, I found a responsible, hard-working college girl to play with my one-year old daughter while I hide in my home office. We’ve used her off and on for the past year, less than 10 hours per week, depending on our needs and budget.
Recently, my husband and I hired a cleaning service, and although skeptical, we haven’t regretted it once. We are stimulating the economy and giving other people jobs while making our lives easier and therefore, happier.
Create an inspiring work space at home. Whether it’s a corner of the kitchen or your bedroom or the guest-bathroom-turned-herb-room, keep it clean, and your kids away from it. Or at least try to. If you find they’re attracted to your desk drawers like bulls are to red, it may be wise to satisfy their curiosity by opening the drawers and allowing them to peer inside. (It may also be wise to first remove all contents from the drawers so they can see how utterly boring and empty your desk is.)
If you’re planning on working while the children are awake as well as sleeping, and while being cared for by you, try to set up a work space near a play space. Even five minutes of focused play means five minutes of uninterrupted work. Five minutes, day after day and week after week, adds up. It may take you the whole day to write a blog entry, but it’s better than no blog entry. If your kids interrupt you after five minutes, give them the attention they want. Because if you don’t, the mommy guilt comes knocking, and no mother is productive or effective when she feels guilty.
Be patient. Take it one day at a time. There are some weeks I neglect my teas, my blog and my manuscript in favor of my loved ones. Writing a novel, starting your own business, these are not small feats. To do it right, it takes time. Lots of time. Lucky for us, time is not money, time is a river. If you believe that you have enough, you will. If you believe you can do it, you can.
Lastly, don’t forget what really matters. Stay true to your volition. Never give up.
Balancing it all is a continuous challenge, one that I must rise to everyday. I’m still a novice, looking for answers. If you happen to know them, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.