Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Balancing Motherhood & DIY Blogging

The two most time consuming jobs I have ever had are as a mother and a blogger. And both pay the least. Go figure. But somehow I still love both roles enough to keep doing them. Okay, okay...well the first one is a full on heart commitment, right? Even on the roughest of days.
The other, I could let go by the wayside if I wanted to, and yet somehow I don't. I keep trucking on as a mother and a blogger and try to strike a balance between the two. It's tough though...I'm not gonna lie.

Today, I am sharing how I manage to make it work...

So let's start with my journey to motherhood, if you are new to this blog of mine. I am a stay-at-home-mom to two little ones, Hazel, age 4 and Owen, almost 3. I always wanted to be a mother, but was jolted into it two months early, when our first daughter was born prematurely. I struggled with post partum depression when we brought her home (which you can read more about here on my former Typepad blog), and found that motherhood was not what I had imagined all those years prior. Not even close. Probably in those first four months of her life I had about a handful of good days. Seriously.
Then when I was just getting better and getting help for my PPD, we had another huge jolt in our lives: I was pregnant again. And Hazel was only 6 months old. I was honestly terrified about it (and shared those feelings here). They are only 15 months apart, so when we had two under two life was craaaaazy. A blur. I was in full on survival mode.

I have been blogging since 2007, but during that time, I posted about three times a year I think. There was just no room for it in my life then.

Life has gotten easier now that they are out of the baby stage, but we are moving into the days of arguing, sibling rivalry, potty training, testing the limits, etc. Each stage has challenges all its own.
At the end of 2013, I felt drawn back into blogging, so I moved my blog from Typepad and started working away little by little to share my love of home decor, diy projects and life with my little ones. 

The direction of my blog changed from just a personal journal. I prayed about it a lot and felt God calling me to "share" with my readers. Give away the gifts he has given me as an artist, creative person and writer in the form of tutorials, free printables, encouraging real life posts, whatever it might be. I stayed up very late to get everything done. It was difficult and I didn't have good balance for much of the following year.

By the end of 2014, I was in over my head and kept feeling pulled in so many directions. Should I be a "career" blogger and help bring in extra income for my family even at the expense of my kids and my own general well being? I was running on empty and just trying to get stuff done till I couldn't keep my eyes open. It was no good. I was overworked, underpaid, and had done it all to myself! I let the pressure get to me.

At the beginning of 2015, I started to give myself a break with blogging and now I take a different approach. Eventually, I was able to let go of a lot of the pressure I was putting on myself. I strive to only work on posts when the kids are napping or after they go to bed. On weekends, my husband will occasionally take them out for day, so I can try to get a couple of posts done for the week ahead. Like this post here, I am working on it over the weekend when it will go live on Wednesday.

Planning ahead has been the greatest tool in managing this blog. It frees me up during the week, so I can just "be mom" during the day and not worry that I don't have any posts ready for that week. Doesn't always work out, but it is great when it does!

My kids *sort of* know what I do, so during the week, they will occasionally help me with photographs for a post or work on a diy project with me. My daughter Hazel loves "showing others how we do stuff!"

In the past year, my favorite kid related project was working on these woodland collages with Hazel. She was very proud of them, and it was exciting when other moms would tag their own version on Instagram. I would show her so she could see our work in action....showing others how we do stuff.
Another project that we worked on together were these Abstract Art Masterpieces that both kids worked on.
It's always a thrill when moms tell me they let their toddler paint for the first time after reading that post. That is the kind of stuff that makes the time and effort put into these posts worth it.

Another big help that gives me time to get posts and projects done, is that my mom comes once in awhile (or whenever I need her really!) to watch the kids during the day. If I could afford to pay her to be a part-time nanny, that would seriously be my ideal situation. Maybe if this blog ever makes a decent income ;)

For now, I just try to work with the help that I have, let some things go that there aren't enough hours in the day for, and try to focus on the blessings I already have. It doesn't happen every day...but on the days it does...those are the best days.

I honestly admire any mom who can balance this whole motherhood gig with another career or entrepreneurial endeavors. There is no way around it: it is tough. And can also bring in those guilt feelings. For all the things that are getting overlooked, left unfinished, the laundry piled up, the dirty dishes and messy toys all over the house. Not to mention the stuff I just "want to do" like create my dream kitchen and paint furniture, learn how to weave, take more photography courses...(this list could go on for days!).
I have so many goals and aspirations, that on a not so great day, I can feel like quite a failure. But when I look into my childrens' eyes and know that I am imparting love into their loves, that is the only thing that matters. 
In the long run, I know it won't matter how big my blog was, or how many followers I had on such and such social media. I know that God isn't going to be asking me how many diy posts I cranked out.

Those things won't have any weight. What might, will be these two precious souls and how I handled them. Was I gentle even when hurried or frantic about deadlines or losing daylight to get good photographs? Did I put their needs before my own when I felt stressed or just plain wanted to do my own thing? Those are the true tests. And I am grateful for grace because I know I blow it some days...big time.

The best mama advice I ever received was actually one night when sitting in bed, reading Ann Voskamp's blog (something I do regularly right before bed) and I read this post and these words jumped out at me,"Life is not an emergency but a gift — so just. slow. down. There are children at play here and we don’t want anyone to get hurt and the hurry makes us hurt." 
I want to be determined to not let this life and this blogging career, if you will, feel like a race. Something I am losing at when others are lapping me over and over. I have my own journey...and these two kids' faces and hearts who need me the most. Who could really careless what goes on in my analytics or pin counts or ad revenue or sponsorship opportunites or whether our house is up to date with all the latest trends.

They just want me. Just as I am. My little man Owen even tells me he likes me best in my husband's white undershirts and my black yoga pants (my pajamas!). Nothing fancy needed to impress him. Just a mother's loving arms to hold and a warm shoulder to lean on. And a heart that truly listens to even the unspoken needs. I never want any career or personal endeavors to get in the way of that. Ever.

There really is no hard an fast method to my balancing being a mom and running a blog. I do the best that I can and some days just feel like I'm treading water. We all have times like that. You might even wonder why I would continue to pour so much of myself into a blog, when it can be exhausting at the end of a long day of motherhood, to sit down at an uncomfortable computer desk, edit photos, add graphics, write a post, explain how-to's, share on social media...wear all the hats a blogger needs to make this thing work.

The reason is simple really: It's my outlet. My own space. Where I can be more than the role of a mom, which is wonderful in and of itself, but I also crave more...creativity, encouragement from like minded souls, sharing my thoughts here...with you. Yeah, I kind of love that. 

If you are mom and also a blogger, or have an outside career or run your own business, you probably know what I mean. How do you strike a balance? I'd be happy to hear in a comment below. It is always nice to connect and not feel alone in both motherhood and blogging!

Be sure to stop by my fellow #DIYmama bloggers and read how they keep it balanced. I am looking forward to visiting each of them myself and maybe get some pointers to implement in my own journey.

Day 1 Mamas: 

  Day 2 Mamas: