I wrote this post a year ago, before Devon was mobile, reading back through not a lot has changed, this wedding season has been as much of a juggle as the last and I still struggle with the work, life balance…
I will be the first to admit that I had a lot of misconceptions about babies before I had Devon, one was that they slept more during the day. I was imagining 2 hour naps in which time I would be able to sit down and attack the admin or get to grips with the newest calligraphy chalkboard order. Little did I know that my child was to be a power napper, with half hour to 40 minutes being the norm. Then on the rare occasion she sleeps for anything longer I spend so much time expecting her to wake that I am reluctant to start any chunky piece of work.
I also wrongly believed that routine would be the key for us. I read books on routines and how to get a baby into one, I would proudly exclaim to anyone who asked how I was going to cope with having a baby and a small business, that my baby was going to be in a routine and she would feed and eat at a certain times and I would be able to schedule my work around her napping. The books made it sound so easy! How wrong was I! As soon as we got Devon home any idea of a routine soon went out of the window and that was before I had even attempted to do any work. I soon realised that both Devon and myself were not routine people, every day for us is different especially in wedding season so there is no way we could ever have followed a routine.
When she was very little before we had the monitor setup and when you are constantly told to always be in the same room as your baby, she would nap in her moses basket and I would be sat just outside the bedroom door, on the landing floor, silently working on my laptop. Feeling massively accomplished if I manage to reply to all the emails from the previous day.
Whilst I was expressing I actually found I was able to massively grow my Instagram presence, being attached to a pump for at least two hours every day being unable to move and with not a lot else to do, I would spend my time scrolling, commenting and sharing on Instagram and my engagement jumped up. As soon as I stopped expressing those 2 hours soon got absorbed back into daily life and now when I look back I have no idea how I found the time to express!
I am very lucky in that I have a very laid back baby who loves a trip out. She has accompanied me on wedding setups, pack downs and venue visits, brides are often disappointed if she doesn’t put in an appearance on a venue walk around. I have found the key for keeping her amused is to find a good tree she can lay under or somewhere with good lighting as she has an obsession with lights. As I mostly style barns with high ceilings and tipis surrounded by trees and open space this has proved invaluable. She’s also a massive smiler who loves to charm strangers, she gets pretty cross if people don’t respond to her sparkly blue eyes or big smile, she has become my secret weapon, a great conversation starter, she loves to draw the couples in at wedding fairs.
I know all this won’t last, this year I have taken full advantage of her immobility, next wedding season I know it will all change and she will spend more time looked after by my husband and grand parents. While she has been so young I couldn’t bare to be a part from her and I didn’t want either of us to miss out on anything, so she has followed me around wherever possible, she’s travelled around in vans, setup styled shoots whilst I carry her in a sling and melted hearts at wedding fairs. I have loved having her by my side, it makes me more focused as there is no time for indecisiveness and I haven’t been met with the guilt that I am leaving her again.
It certainly hasn’t been easy, I get up early before she wakes in the morning and I work late at night when she is asleep. My to do list gets constantly longer never shorter and my website update gets pushed back further and further. There have been periods of time during peak crazy wedding season where I haven’t known what day it is and I have forgotten to even drink as I have been so focussed on entertaining Devon and The White Emporium, squeezing chalkboard repaints into periods when she is content to play under her baby gym for 5 minutes.
Sometimes wishing that I didn’t have my own business when the NCT mums are all meeting in the park for a picnic whilst I am dancing round the kitchen like a crazy lady attempting to clean tea lights as Devon thinks it’s hilarious and it’s the only way to get it done whilst she is awake. But then knowing in the long run it will work out for the best as they all return to work yet I will still be able to spend time with Devon when possible and my work can be done in the early mornings and evenings so the day time is for us.
I must admit in peak wedding season at times there has been no room in my life for anything other than work or Devon, husbands, friends, exercise have all taken second place. I was told that as a mum and a business owner you would always be consumed with guilt, guilt that you were working when you wanted to be with your baby and guilt that when you were with your baby you would be thinking about work. I don’t think this is true just of business owners but off all mums, most mums will have to return to work and those that don’t talk of the guilt of having their partner as a sole bread winner, the guilt is just part of being a mother and shouldn’t put anyone of from fulfilling their own dreams and ambitions.
Babies and business can go together it’s just a constant juggling act, it’s accepting that the house will never be spotless as time spent cleaning could be time spent emailing. It’s getting smart with the cooking and putting meals in the slow cooker when she is content and happy to play, so when she is asleep evenings are for work and not having to worry about preparing dinner in those short hours. It’s also about lowering expectations and not getting down hearted when you literally feel like you have done nothing in a day other than keep a baby alive. The most important part is trying to find the balance between work and family and I admit I am not there yet but I am learning to make time for both in my life and at times to switch off completely from work and be fully in the moment with my little D.
A selection of phone images and one take from: Cat Lane Weddings