In October of 2013 when I first established my photography business, I never even thought about children coming into our lives at that time or of the many life changes we would face. I was still on active duty in the US Navy & truly believed I would be working part time on the weekends with my passion of photography as a creative outlet. I was newly engaged & planning my wedding with no expectation of having children anytime soon.
Life had much bigger plans!
A year later, I was married & honorably discharged from the Navy following a move to Virginia, & we were expecting our first child!! Everything seems to happen all at once! I’m sure you’ve been there. When your best laid plans disappear & you have to follow a completely different path!
My part-time hobby had now morphed into my full-time business. I was worried about working with a newborn baby at home & didn’t know who to talk to about that. I soon realized that I desperately needed to find women who had journeyed through this phase of life already, & who had done so successfully while running a business. I appreciated quickly how important it was to surround myself with those who not only shared in this new adventure, but who would encourage & empower me to continue to be the best loving mom I could be to my baby girl while chasing my dreams as a business owner.
Looking for Guidance
After having my oldest daughter in December of 2014, I reached out to my sweet friend & mentor, Amanda with Amanda Hedgepeth, who had established her wonderful photography business in 2010 while entering motherhood herself. Her number one tip for working at home with small children was
It sounded so very easy, but the reality of “mom guilt” can be a huge crushing factor that can destroy your dreams swiftly if you let it.
Too many women feel that they must be “SUPER-MOM” while doing it all (there are many stay at home Dad’s that feel this way too). The truth is, so did I!
I mean, no one wants to feel like they are less than capable of taking care of everything & everyone. I felt like I had to be able keep up with the housework, laundry, grocery shopping, paying bills, while managing my business alone. I felt like I had to tackle all of this while also taking care of this new little baby full-time as my husband was still in the Navy & working from 6 am until 5pm every day (not to include duty days which meant crazier hours). I understood the military lifestyle completely having worked in it for 9 years myself. What I hadn’t anticipated was how difficult motherhood would be while running a business, all alone.
Little Did I know…
I would also struggle with postpartum depression in 2015 & that we would continue to face other life challenges. The biggest being my husband’s debilitating injury that would force him to be medically retired from the Navy much sooner than we ever planned. I was in college at the time too as I worked towards completing my Bachelor’s in Public Relations & Marketing, but I hadn’t quite found the balance between motherhood, school & work yet when he got hurt. I still heard Amanda’s important words, “know when to ask for help” in my heart & mind, but I didn’t want to accept any just yet…I could do it all- right!?
I had even started a new venture in my business by providing Private Editing Services to other photographers from Hawaii to France throughout 2015. My editing mentor, Marissa with Marissa Lynn, LLC. was a stay-at-home mom & married to a military member at the time as well. So, when she suggested “asking for help” too in order to transition to this new business venture, it started to really sink in that I didn’t need to do this alone. That other moms were having help & still incredible mothers plus business owners by serving their family & customers better than ever!
Unfortunately, I desperately fought to do it all by myself for so long that I was exhausted by the end of the year. It was just the roughest year yet for me & my family. That was until my husband, Mason convinced me to look into hiring an in-home nanny to help with taking care of our then 10-month-old daughter, Raylighn.
Getting Some Help
I started looking at caretaker profiles on Care.com & we quickly narrowed it down to two lovely ladies who lived locally. We started the interview process & decided to hire Sarah* full-time & she was fantastic with Raylighn! We also hired the second lady, Tyler* as a backup on days that Sarah might not be available. We used Tyler much less, but due to her own busy schedule it worked out well. Soon enough, Sarah came to stay with us 5 days a week for a few hours to help with household chores while watching & caring for our little girl.
The next step for me was setting up a schedule that would work best in allowing me to focus on getting as much work done with the time available. Plus, handing over some of the household chores really helped me to feel less overwhelmed by all that I felt I needed to do on my own! My house felt clean & organized which caused me less anxiety & pressure to keep up with everything!
With all this new available time, I knew that I needed to physically write out all of the tasks I hoped to finish when working throughout the day. I would feel so much more accomplished by crossing off whatever I finished! It was a huge motivator for me.
Getting Work Done
I also found that if I set aside several hours to edit images, I would easily get side tracked with other projects like emailing clients, updating my website, or posting new business items on social media. So instead I made smaller goals such as 30 minutes of dedicated editing or email time. I would set a timer & turn on my music to help me keep my creativity flowing. This really helped me sail through tasks much faster while rewarding my efforts with small breaks to surf social media.
On days when I didn’t have our nanny available, but still had work to do, I would schedule my work hours around my daughter’s nap & bedtime. Knowing that items like the laundry & dishes would eventually be cleaned, but that my business would bring in income for us to continue to pay the bills or save extra money, I felt that my top priority was to push forward with my business first most. The more time I spent on my business, the more I was able to outsource certain tasks that took away from my passion or my time with my family.
Then there were Two
In 2016 we relocated again after Mason separated from the Navy & then we added a second child to our already crazy life. Once more, our systems shifted again. We found a gym that offered childcare services & worked out a schedule between the two of us that allowed me to work in the mornings while Mason took the girls to the gym with him. We then found a school for Raylighn to attend 5 days a week, but we still had Riya at home with us while we both worked & continued with school ourselves.
Today, I still implement asking for help whenever I need it. We have my mom nearby right now who is happy to help whenever she is available. Plus, we found a local college student, Stephanie*, who comes to our house in the afternoons to help take care of Riya & assist with household chores.
My top tips for working at home with children are:
Running a small business from home can be complicated especially if you’re trying to do it all!
But please know that you CAN create a system that works best for you & one that will help you find balance between work & home life.
In the end, running a business while raising children is completely possible! You just have to find the perfect system that works best for you, your children, your family, & your business.
Best wishes always,
*Name has been changed to protect the true identity of this person.
Kegan Marie is a photographer & private editor based in the hills & pine trees of North Carolina. She is a Navy Veteran & proud military retiree wife, too. A “Stay-at-Home” mom to two adorable little girls. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations & Marketing from Ashford University & is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Administration. She loves to sing, is an avid tea drinker, romance novels are her dirty pleasure, & she especially loves bubble baths. Crafting & crocheting helps her unwind at the end of the day. She loves being outdoors, & traveling the world.
Website | https://www.keganmarie.com/