**Disclaimer: Long, rambling post ahead**
I'm writing this post from my heart today - not to share client photos or talk about a contest or give a sneak peek. I'm writing this as a New Year's Resolution. I know, we typically expect New Year's Resolutions in January, right? That's the time of year when we think of new beginnings and naturally assess our lives and take stock of where we are and where we thought we'd be. But, this past January, I didn't make any resolutions...I was knee-deep in preparations to launch my business and set up this blogsite. It was a huge leap of faith - I had a few really great friends and clients who were referring me to their friends and family, but I had no marketing plan, paid for no advertising, and was still working with a designer on my logo and trying to figure out how to become "legit" (licenses, tax forms, etc.).
I could never have imagined how fast my business would take off! It's been an amazing 5 months - 43 sessions from the beginning of February until the end of May! And while I'm absolutely THRILLED that I have so many people who have chosen me to capture their special memories, I feel as though I've forgotten that I already have a full time job. And here it is:
Two things happened last week that tipped me off to the fact that I may need a 12 step program - or at the least, a little balance.
1. I fell asleep on the couch, sitting up, with the laptop on my lap at 10am. Which is not necessarily surprising since I've not been to bed before 1am in months. The only time my house is quiet without anyone who needs mommy/wife/sister/daughter/niece/friend is between the hours of 10pm and 2am. So, that's when I work, editing, putting together storyboards, uploading client galleries, ordering prints, burning CD's, oh, and maybe getting caught up on Facebook. ;) Then, I'm up between 6:30-7am with my little ones who never nap at the same time during the day. As all of you stay-at-home moms know, it is a full time job when you have children under the age of 5 in your home. And yet I'm squeezing in about 40-50 hours of work each week. (Yes, that's about how much time it takes to complete 3 sessions a week from start to finish, plus respond to new client inquiries!)
And then this happened:
2. My 4 year old was drawing on her doodle pad and when I asked her a question she replied, "Don't bother me, Mommy - I'm editing." Wonder if she's heard that a few times recently? :( The same day, my 1 year old was playing while I was desperately trying to respond to some e-mails. He was doing that whiny-attention-cry that babies often do when you don't pick them up immediately when I said, "Just a second, honey" (trying not to lose my train of thought). He quickly came over to where I was sitting and pushed the lid of my laptop down as hard as he could as if to say, "ME, Mommy! Pay attention to ME!" He looked at me with those gorgeous big blue eyes and I realized that I'm missing it. I'm capturing all these memories for the families who hire me, but I'm missing my own memories...the ones happening right in front of me, all day long.
So, I'm in search of some balance. I love this job. It doesn't even really feel like a job. I enjoy hanging out with people, making kids giggle, playing peek-a-boo with babies, snuggling with newborns, and oh, my - when I'm privileged to witness a new life entering the world? I feel totally blessed by the opportunities I have right now. But, is it possible to do it all? Maybe. But in order to do it all right, I'm going to have to make some changes.
With that in mind, here are my Two on Tuesday steps toward some balance.
1. I'm instituting "office hours". I always try to answer client e-mails within 24 hours, but realized that I'm answering them 24 hours a day! I am often pulled by the "ding" or pop up notification window when I'm doing something else that tells me I have a new e-mail. (Or the lure of the notification on my new phone if I'm not sitting with the computer). I need to turn that feature off and only respond to e-mails at certain times of the day. I'm thinking one hour in the morning and a few hours in the evening - and only M-F.
2. I will adhere to the times stated to clients for getting their sneak peek and galleries up and for getting orders to them instead of pushing myself so hard to complete them early. Sneak Peeks are up about 48 hours from a session and full galleries are stated to take about 2 weeks. Most of the time, I feel pressured to get them up within a week. I'm not sure if it's my Type-A personality or if it's simply knowing that someone is waiting on something from me that makes me feel as though I need to stay up until 2:30am to finish it before the deadline is even looming. It's funny, too, that I feel such enormous pressure when, on the flip side, I give 10 days for clients to order and almost always, it's the full ten days before I hear back from them!
So, that's it. No more 2am bedtimes, no more "just a minute, honey" to my kids. I am resolving to put my kids and my husband first. I love all of my clients and I am honored that you have chosen me out of the countless photographers and studios in the area and I truly hope that I can continue to offer you superior customer service and beautiful portraits of your family's precious memories. But my New Year begins today, June 1st, 2010. And I'm so excited to share it with my family and yours.