Imagine my delight when Erin Loechner, queen of slow living, agreed to participate in this series. If only I had re-read this post before my recent meltdown over being overscheduled, it would have saved me some grief! I began following Erin years and years ago on her blog Design for Mankind. I always appreciated her aesthetic sensibility, but more than that, loved that it seemed she was striving for simplicity in her daily life. In 2012, she changed the game with a blog post called "The Rebirth of Slow Blogging" (essentially, blogging when you have something to say, instead of what your schedule says). Her book published earlier this year, Chasing Slow, is a must-read if you have ever tried and failed to simplify [*raises hand*]. Along the way, she's had two kids, and here's how she manages it all. -Dacy
Q: Introduce yourself, your family, the work (aside from mothering) you currently do, and how that work has evolved as your children have grown.
Hi! I'm Erin Loechner, and I live in the Midwest with my husband, Ken, and two kids (my daughter Bee is 4; my son Scout is almost 1). I'm an author and blogger (for 12 years now!), and truly, my work has evolved many, many times in the past decade plus. My kids are still young and underfoot, so they're my first priority, and I've found them to be such a positive catalyst for the evolution of my work. When you suddenly begin valuing your time - truly valuing it - you gain laser focus on the things that matter. I've learned to accomplish more in less time simply by dropping the many things that are "expected" for my job, but no longer feel aligned with my values (here's looking at you, Instagram Stories!).
Q. Do you wish you could do more or less creative work? How do you manage those conflicted feelings?
Oh, I'd love to do more creative work, but I also know how beneficial those limitations and restrictions on time can be. Training myself to work when I have the time available (rather than when I feel like it), has honed my craft immensely. You learn very quickly that writer's block is a real thing, yes, but is nothing to fear. You commit to writing something (anything!) down anyway.
Q. Did choosing not to work full time affect any financial or career goals for you?
For us, choosing not to work full time was the goal. We started a family later in life knowing we'd want a solid foundation on all fronts, including career and financial stability. We never wanted to be in a position where our life was 100% fueled by and centered around work, especially given the incredible responsibility, energy and time parenthood calls for. Yes, it takes sacrifice elsewhere (we're no longer climbing corporate ladders, that's for sure!), but for us, the trade-off has been a no-brainer.
Q. What kind of a “village” or help do you have around you?
So much help! My husband and I both work from home and have flexible (albeit opposite!) schedules, so together, we're a pretty solid partnership. And my mother-in-law is two doors down, popping in often to take Bee on field trips to the hardware store, or inviting her over for a history channel sleepover. ;) A large reason we love living in the MIdwest is that we're surrounded by a strong, secure home team and deep family roots. We're very lucky.
Q. Do you feel as though your work and home life lines are blurred? How do you handle that challenge?
You know, I'm a big fan of compartmentalization, so my lines don't blur often. I work very early in the morning, and when my kids wake up, the laptop is shut and the phone goes into a drawer. It's just home life from there!
Q. What’s a typical day like and when do you actually get your work done?
You're going to laugh, but I wake at 2am to work, write, read and enjoy some peace before the kids wake for the day. I LOVE this time, so it doesn't feel like a chore for me to wake that early (and don't worry - I'm in bed by 7pm each night!). Once the kids are awake, we have school and play at home in the morning (reading lessons, tower building, art, etc) and we generally get out in the afternoons for trips to the grocery/library/playdate/park. It's a beautiful rhythm that works fairly well for us right now, but Ken and I are often switching it up to ensure we're both getting a bit of time for ourselves, too.
Q. What do you do when creative ideas hit you and you’re in the middle of mothering?
Sometimes, I'll dig my phone out of the drawer and email it to myself, only to find later the idea has lost its luster and I delete it. Par for the course! :)
Q. Do you have any words of encouragement for other moms trying to do all the things?
Busyness isn't inherently destructive, but busyness for the sake of busyness (out of distraction or avoidance) is. If you're feeling constantly overwhelmed and overscheduled, it sounds like you might need to shift your focus to the end goal. What do you feel will be important to you in 25 years? 50? Work from that place. List the resources available to you, then list your priorities and values. The "things" you should be doing will be at the intersection of those two lists, and for this particular season, everything else must go. Be ruthless in this edit.