In recent years, Andrea Hartman's blog, Seasons and Salt, has become one of my favorites. I love her minimalist style and real life wardrobe. She actually lives, walks, and mothers in the clothes she blogs about, instead of just putting together pretty but unrealistic outfits for a blogger photo shoot. She focuses on ethical fashion, but in an approachable way. Andrea has three kids and runs a really active blog, so I was curious about how she manages it all. Enjoy. --Dacy
Q: Introduce yourself, your family, the work (aside from mothering) you currently do, and how that work has evolved as your children have gotten older.
Hello! I’m Andrea, and I run and write the blog Seasons + Salt, which is about simple, conscious style. I’m from Oregon, and our family of five recently moved to Portland. We love it here!
My kids are 3, 5 and 7 and only one of them is in school full time (for another week at least). When they were younger, I was able to work during that precious afternoon nap and frequently after they had gone to bed for the night. Now that no one in our household naps any longer, I feel like I scramble a bit more to find the time to work. I had a friend watch my kids one day a week for a few months, and that was a tremendous help. Lately, I’ve let them watch an hour or two of TV, and that’s when I try to grab my work time. And then, of course, lots of late nights. This is not ideal for me, but it’s the best way I make things work for now. In the fall I’ll have two in school full time and my littlest in school part time. I’m hoping for a major work-life balance shift when that time comes.
Q. Do you wish you could do more or less creative work? How do you manage those conflicted feelings?
I definitely wish I could do more creative work. Every once in awhile I’ll see opportunities that seem like a great fit, but I realize it’s just not practical for me to be away from my family for so many hours of the week.
Those feelings are hard. I want to have success and achieve goals, but I also want to have a peaceful household. The busier I am the more hectic everyone else’s lives become. As a mom I feel like it’s really hard to have your cake and eat it too. If I were to work 40 hours a week, who would help my daughter with her homework? Who would be kissing my three-year-old’s knee when he scrapes it up playing? Who would play with them all summer? Though my reasons for not having a traditional 40 hour work week come in the form of three beautiful children, I still have the desire to do more creative work. I manage my conflicted feelings with the reality check of where life currently sits (as the parent of three young ones), and I remember that this time that my children are living at home is going by quickly.
While my children are young, I hope the work I am doing now is laying groundwork for what’s to come professionally when I have more time and they need me less.
Q. Did choosing not to work full time affect any financial or career goals for you?
I am one of those odd birds who always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I was a standout student in high school, and I graduated from college in less than four years, but I knew when the time came, I wanted to be at home with my children. But that desire doesn’t make staying at home/working from home any easier. It is harder than I anticipated to be out of the professional world. I miss having coworkers and being recognized for doing good work. I think in some regard that is why I started my blog. I needed an outlet for my skills and creative passions.
Financially it would be much easier to live in this expensive city with two full-time incomes, but that would come at the price of my time. I am very thankful to run a blog that allows me to stay at home, but also contribute to household expenses.
Q. What kind of a “village” or help do you have around you?
So many wonderful people! I can’t tell you how many times my friend has picked my daughter up from school with her daughter (they are in the same class) and taken her home for a playdate, especially in times I’ve been busy or tied up. My husband and I are also very thankful to have both sets of our parents living in Oregon, just a short car drive away. They are quick to take the kids for a weekend when my husband and I need some time together.
Q. Do you feel as though your work and home life lines are blurred? How do you handle that challenge?
Yes! Sometimes it is hard to stop working when you live in your workspace. I try to designate times for working, and limit my work to mostly those windows. But it takes a lot of restraint and discipline. This is a big area of struggle for me and I don’t have a good answer.
Q. What’s a typical day like and when do you actually get your work done?
It depends on the day and the editorial calendar for my blog, but most days involve errands/groceries/school pickup. I try to work for an hour or two in the morning, answering emails, replying to comments. If I am on deadline for a blog post, my husband will often take over bedtime duty for me so I can get writing right after dinner. Sometimes I work until 11pm at night. This probably happens about two days per week. I am so thankful to have a partner who takes on extra housework and parenting, without complaint, so I can spend time working. His support is invaluable.
Q. What do you do when creative ideas hit you and you’re in the middle of mothering?
This seems to happen to me a lot when I’m driving! I will use the dictation feature on my phone to take a note.
Q. Do you have any words of encouragement for other moms trying to do all the things?
Don’t give up on your dreams, they are so valuable! Don’t give up on quality time with your family, it can often refill your ‘cup.’ Keep wrestling through to find the best of both worlds, and know when to say ‘no.’