Makelight

Reflections on Juggling Motherhood and Business

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By Emily Quinton

in Balance

This week is half-term, so I thought it was a perfect time to write some thoughts about being a mother and a business owner.

This week I have managed to organise my work, so that I'm just working one day and am spending the rest of the week with my children. I'm checking in on emails, the Members' Facebook group and my social media accounts but I am not putting any pressure on myself to work on our holiday days.

It has been super lovely so far and relaxing for all of us. There has been time for craft, trips to the park, a Valentine's tea, plenty of playing, cooking together and sorting some house stuff out too.

I made a plan at the end of last year to organise my work to fit around the school holidays as much as I can and making it work for this first half-term week of the year has been a great first step. I am going to try my best to plan the rest of my year in blocks of time that line up with the school terms.

How I have made it work

Here are the things I have done differently this year or improved on from last year.

1. Looked at the whole year

I have often focussed on one month at a time and then broken that down into weeks. That is great but months go past quickly and two weeks into a month you really need to think about the next month. It can be so easy to forget that.

So, this year I got myself a big year wall planner and have been regularly looking at the whole year at once. It can feel a little daunting at first and also feel like the whole year is flashing before you! But it can also feel really good to see what's ahead and for me, clearly see where the school holidays are and what I need to do to keep things going during the school holidays.

I already know what I am putting out over the Easter holidays for example, so it's easier for me to fit this work in over the next six weeks. I have even planned some of the content for the big Summer holiday too!

2. Been kind to myself

I have been looking after myself really well. I have had evenings off to relax and watch TV (this never used to happen!) and I have been meditating and exercising each day.

I still have lots to work on with my self-care but I am consciously looking after myself. And I am also making a note of what happens when I do. I really think this has helped me to be more productive and also have a calmer approach to everything in my life and work.

3. Batching

I am probably not going to stop talking about this all year! But seriously it has made a huge difference to my life. It makes me feel so positive and energised too. This morning I made 7 videos! I had all my outfits ready to change into and felt amazing when I had finished. Tick, tick, tick!

I am also batching in my home life too. Thanks to my lovely friend Bethie I have now started meal planning again. I actually made four weekly lists when I did it at the beginning of this week just like my Mum used to do when I was younger. I batched the batching!!

My next step is to plan my outfits for the week every Sunday. My Mum always did this before she retired. She might even still do it! And she always looked amazing and together. Even when mornings might have been a bit crazy, she knew that she could step out for work feeling great about what she was wearing.

These small things can make a big difference with all the juggling!

4. Output before Input

I have to really, really remind myself of this one throughout the day and especially in the morning. Output should always come first. Have you ever written your to-do list for the day and felt amazing and ready to go...and then opened your emails and either lost the next 1-2 hours or possibly even worse than that...ended up feeling deflated and sad?

Do not open those emails at the start of your day. You might also need to not open social media if that ends up the same way for you. Emails and other people's content are all about inputs. Suddenly the inputs are directing your day and your energy. Your outputs are what drive you forward. They are absolutely necessary. Yes, answering emails is important too but wait until you have done at least your one main output for the day. You will get so much more done and keep your positive energy flowing for the work that you have decided to do that day.

5. Scheduling in quieter days

It can be hard to sustain lots of super productive days in a row. I find it particularly tricky in the Winter months when we just don't have so much day light to energise us. So, I have been learning how to balance my week a little more. To mix up days where I'm super productive with quieter days where I let my to-do lists be intentionally shorter, where I make time for prop box sorting or studio tidying. Important work but just of a quieter, less obvious kind.

I have also started to regularly schedule in time for myself too. I might meet up with a friend, go for a long walk or swim, potter about at home or read a book.

As a mother of four my evenings are very often full of children, bigger children staying up later or younger children waking up and needing me. Or with school admin...why is there always another letter in the book bag?! I never mind giving up my evenings if I've had some time for myself at a different time during the week.

I find this time really important for thinking about my work and life in a more creative, calmer way. Ideas will come to me when I'm not expecting them to. Sometimes I don't have any ideas at all on the day itself but I know that it all contributes to everything working better.

A happy me really does make a happier home and a happier Makelight! I hope you agree!

Even if you are not juggling a family with your work, I hope that these thoughts inspire you. xo

I'm Emily Quinton, photographer, writer, teacher and mother of four. Along with my husband Stef I run Makelight – a membership community for creators, makers and doers.

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