You know how everyone's always telling you to live your dream? I feel like Chelsie Wood is living my dream. She and her family downsized so that they could live by the beach. She's created a work life for herself that completely allows her to be the mother she wants to be and she has two adorable boys. I love how she wants her boys to see her working for what she's creating, what a great perspective. 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.
A: Hi! My name is Chelsie and I am a wife to Miles, and mama to two little boys, Luca (4) and Harlow (14 months). I am also many other things! I have been blogging since 2013, and still find so much joy in that entire process. It truly is my favorite work . I love the opportunities it has provided me, especially getting to meet some really wonderful people along the way. I am the author and illustrator of the children’s book, “Before There Was You,” and I am a contributor to a local magazine here in San Diego called Encinitas Magazine. We just moved to Carlsbad, CA and I have found a new city to love. I couldn’t be happier with our new hometown. My idea of work prior to having children was truly traditional, as it was the thought of leaving my place of home, going to an office space of some sort, Monday through Friday, 8 hour days, etc. My vision of work then was really naive and parameterized. Since becoming pregnant with my first son, my work and definition of work has evolved completely and tremendously. I no longer see work as a separate entity to my character, but rather I find it really hard to differentiate the two bleeding lines of work and life, especially because so much of my work is my lifestyle. In the end though, as my children have grown, I have actually started to work harder and definitely add more odd hours to my work day to ensure I can put the time in! I really want my children to see me working hard to make a life for them, but I also want them to grow up and know that they always came first and were the driving muse & purpose for nearly all of my work.
Q. Do you wish you could do more or less creative work? How do you manage those conflicted feelings?
I wish I could do more, always, no matter how much I’m already doing. Isn’t that all of us?! It really comes down to priortizing what’s most important right now, and filling in the gaps elsewhere when I can.
Q. Did choosing not to work full time affect any financial or career goals for you?
Absolutely. In choosing for me to not work full time, we have experienced so many financial hardships, I couldn’t even begin to tell you, but I have gained so much life experience, have truly developed as a human being, and better yet, have made so many crucial emotional discoveries about myself and what’s truly important to me. I don’t ever regret staying home, I don’t look back and think “what if,” because for me, the work I do within the walls of my own home has been the hardest most rewarding work I’ve ever done, and there isn’t a price I can put on that.
Q. What kind of a “village” or help do you have around you?
It truly takes a village, doesn’t it?! Right now, I have my grandmother, my father, my sister, and my in-laws to help me with my boys. My sister is the only one who lives local to us, so the rest of my “village” requires a bit of notice and planning to help us, but it never goes unappreciated. I’ve really had to learn to accept help when offered, and have learned that in allowing others to help me allows for me to be a better mother. Attachment is so important, especially during these younger years in their lives, and I know when the boys are away from me, they are fostering other extremely important relationships, as well as learning how to love and be loved in return.
Q. Do you feel as though your work and home life lines are blurred? How do you handle that challenge?
Absolutely. I somewhat answered this in the first question, but to add to it, there really isn’t a separate entity of work and life for me, because they are one and the same, and I also don’t believe in any type of work/life balance. I think it’s about giving 100% of yourself to whatever you are doing in that moment. Someone once told me, “It’s extremely hard to sit on the floor and play legos when you are thinking of all the other things you should be/want to be doing.” I think you have to do your best to live in the present moment and give all of yourself to that moment and those surrounding you in that moment, and from my own experience, it’s a practice you will have to choose over and over again. You’ll never be able to even out the playing field 50/50, so just recognizing what efforts you are putting forth and where are really what it comes down to. Everything worth anything is hard work, I’ve learned this lesson time and time again, and that includes all the good things--happiness, career, family, mothering, you name it. All of those wonderful things are beautiful, but they are constantly demanding. I’m not saying it is easy, but it is so, so worth it.
Q. What’s a typical day like and when do you actually get your work done?
Everyday is different around here. It depends on so many factors surrounding all the different facets of our lives. Some days are crazy busy with appointments and errands to be run. Grocery shopping is somehow always on my radar, and I have an ever evolving to-do list. Something gets checked off, and two more things are added, and that’s just how it goes! It never ends—and don’t even get me started on email practices! I do try and keep a few constants and routines in my life, mostly just for the purpose of sanity! I almost always wake up and have a slow cup of coffee, take the time to homemake breakfast, and every night we keep the same bedtime routine for the boys. I always take 20 minutes at night for myself and take care of my skin. I find those little consistencies to be therapeutic and calming amidst all the chaos of life and raising two little ones. Most of my work is done “after-hours.” I get a bulk of my work done when the boys have gone to bed. Some nights I’ll stay up until 2 a.m. I’m way more creatively charged at night, thankfully, but regardless, those are the hours I have at this moment in time if I want to get anything done! I do my best to work with what I’m given, and sometimes those nights get cut short, and other nights they are carried out way too long. I have to photograph for the blog during the daytime, so I will try and carve out blocks of time where I can shoot multiple things at once on set days. For everything else, I simply rely on nap time and the fringe hours.
Q. What do you do when creative ideas hit you and you’re in the middle of mothering?
My mind is always flooding with ideas, and I have to stop and remind myself to refocus on what I currently have going on. I’ll quickly jot down those "pop-in" ideas for another day, and if they are meant to be, they'll get to be seen through during a more convenient time.
Q. Do you have any words of encouragement for other moms trying to do all the things?
Don’t. Seriously though, you will wear yourself down to the point of insanity. No one has it figured out, believe me. Sometimes it might feel like you have to prove something to those around you, or even to yourself, but you don’t. Oh, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. It doesn’t make you any less of a person.