So, in the online business world, there are these things called coffee chats. They're kindof my worst nightmare - I mean, who would willingly choose to talk on the phone, and not only that, but to someone you don't know?! However, my friend Becky set me up on a coffee chat with Emily, and it was so refreshing and validating to hear from another mom trying to build her work around her kids. Not only that, but she has a whole site devoted to this working mother thing. I knew I had to have her on the creative motherhood series. I love her positive outlook on the unlimited potential when you're working for yourself. 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 grown.
When I first became a mom, I knew that “balance” between career and motherhood would be hard -- I mean, it’s all you hear about as soon as you become pregnant. But I didn’t understand that “balance” did not mean having all life priorities equal at all times. It took some time for me to realize that balance instead should mean feeling like life is in alignment -- and that working full-time as the Director of Strategy at a marketing agency was not going to allow that to happen for myself or my family.
I quit my job the morning after I found out I was pregnant with my second daughter, and I’ve been working for myself ever since. I never thought entrepreneurship was an option -- it was so out of my comfort zone and frankly the future vision I had crafted for myself -- but it is the BEST decision I’ve ever made (after marrying my amazing husband, of course).
Today, I partner with super talented women writers to outsource some client work and help me run my copywriting business, which gives me room to run my passion project, MotherHustle.com, which is an online publication and community for women who are running their own businesses.
Q. Do you wish you could do more or less creative work? How do you manage those conflicted feelings?
When you get paid to practice your craft, it can be difficult to continue practicing it for yourself. You get burnt out by your client work. I think that’s one of the reasons I felt drawn to the idea of creating MotherHustle. It allows me to write for ME, and to express a side of myself that I don’t get to through my paid client work.
Like all writers, I do have “Write A Novel” on my bucket list. I’ve started and stopped probably 100 stories during my adult life, and I would love to one day finish one. However, I also believe in the saying, “If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.” So far, I haven’t found a way. So one day, perhaps, it will be more important to me to make it a priority.
Q. Does choosing to focus on motherhood affect any financial or career goals for you?
I think it’s opened new goals for me. As I mentioned, before I became a mom I would have never been motivated to start my own business. I saw my career either becoming stagnant (I was already Director level at my agency, so I would have had to move on to another agency or corporate job to move up) or even more intense. Before, goals seemed like a stressful thing.
Today, it’s different. I take both financial and career goals more seriously now, because I DON’T see a limit to the possibilities. When you work for someone else, they set the possibilities for you. When you’re an entrepreneur, you craft whatever possibilities you can imagine.
Q. What kind of a "village" or help do you have around you?
We are insanely lucky to have family close by … as in, 5 minutes away. My husband and I met in college, and when we went home for school break we realized that we had been living 5 minutes from each other our entire lives (just in separate towns). So after we graduated, we moved back to the area. His parents, my parents, one of his brother’s families and my sister’s family all live within 15 minutes of us.
I also have a wonderful group of mom friends in my physical life AND online. MotherHustle has a panel of writers who consistently contribute to the site and they are AWESOME. Their willingness to be raw and vulnerable in their essays has made the project what it is. That emotional support is critical.
Q. Do you feel as though your work and home life lines are blurred? How do you handle that challenge?
Oh completely. I always say I’m building a family-focused business, so my kids and my family always come first. It is challenging, but there are a few things that make it work:
Having a completely supportive husband who wants my business to succeed as much, if not more, than I do, and is willing to help make it happen
Having my own office in our home, no kids allowed
Only taking on right-fit clients who respect and understand my boundaries on time and availability
Q. What's a typical day like and when do you actually get your work done?
My work schedule revolves around my kids’ schedules, which is actually a little easier now that they’re both in school. But as an example, I get up at 4:30 a.m. to work before they wake up, I work while they’re at school, and then (only if completely necessary!) I can finish up some stuff when they go to bed.
I’m definitely a morning person and cannot write anything good after noon, so I really hate working at night and try to avoid it. And I LOVE getting up in the dark and quiet, having a cup of coffee and writing something I’m proud of before anyone else get up.
Q. What do you do when creative ideas hit you and you're in the middle of mothering?
I send myself an email, or I add it to Asana, which helps keep me organized. It’s moments like those that remind me how lucky I am to have access to technology and to have an online business. I used to have random scraps of paper all over my house with snippets of ideas that would just get lost in the, well, #motherhustle.
Q. Do you have any words of encouragement for other moms trying to do all the things?
Stop trying to do all the things. Because once you do all those things, there will be other things for you to do. Find ways to give some of the things to others to do, and keep only the things you WANT to be doing -- in business and in motherhood.
And it doesn’t have to be all or nothing; you can delegate over time. It’s taken me a long time to hand over control of certain client projects, or MotherHustle tasks, or even housekeeping, but now that those things are not on my list, I never want them back!
Thanks so much, Emily! What a great quote - "Because once you do all those things, there will be other things for you to do." Please follow Emily and MotherHustle on Instagram and Facebook! Find the rest of the Creative Motherhood series posts here.
Images: Kristyn Miller