Farai Harreld is another minimalist mom I discovered on Instagram and I've loved taking in her approach to slow living. She has an interesting story and I was so grateful when she agreed to participate in the creative motherhood series. I really identified with how Farai says she never would have envisioned this motherhood path for herself and wouldn't have thought it would be fulfilling. I feel the same way. Also, same with the notebooks - must write everything down! Enjoy! ---Dacy
Q: Introduce yourself, your family, the work (aside from mothering) you currently do, and how that work has evolved as your child has grown.
A: Hey y'all. Farai here. I was born in Zimbabwe, raised in Botswana and then moved to Kansas when I turned 18. People always ask "How did you end up in Kansas?!?!" Long story short, Kansas boy moves to Zimbabwe, falls in love with Shona girl and a few years later I was born. I am extremely grateful and proud of my African and Kansas heritage and it is what inspired my blog name The Hillbilly African. I am a wife, a dog mom, blogger, freelance PR professional and full time mama to my wildling daughter Thandiwe. After giving birth, I was privileged to return to work for 6 months with my daughter in tow. When the infant at work policy expired and I had to look into daycare, I was unsuccessful at finding a solution that worked for us and I left the traditional workforce to work from home so that I could be with Thandiwe full time. For someone who never saw herself having kids, the fact that I am a stay at home mom now blows my mind because I feel incredibly fulfilled. I never would have imagined this career pathway for myself.
Q. Do you wish you could do more or less creative work? How do you manage those conflicted feelings?
A: I am torn. Sometimes I welcome the simplicity that comes with less creative work. You clock in, complete tasks, and clock out. Creative work for me requires some headspace. It feels good to create, but I have to be in the mood to do so. That is when I make my best work. I try to balance it out. In the times when I am not feeling so creative, I try to focus on other things. I do get frustrated and threaten to go work as a cashier at my local grocery store sometimes. That is good work too, but I'd miss creating.
Q: Does choosing to focus on motherhood affect any financial or career goals for you?
A: Motherhood opened my imagination up to career pathways that I never even knew I had access to or was passionate about. I feel motivated in a way that I was not while I was working for someone. In the meantime while I am establishing myself, I have had to adjust to not earning a regular salary but it has been worth it.
Q. What kind of a “village” or help do you have around you?
A: My mother passed when I was six. Somehow I have always managed to surround myself with an amazing, loving, support system: my brother, my partner, friends, mentors, and some family. There is no way I could have achieved any of this without them. I firmly believe in making your own family and when I find someone I click with I hug them close.
Q. Do you feel as though your work and home life lines are blurred? How do you handle that challenge?
A: My daughter is only 14 months old. The only constant with her is that there is no constant. As soon as I am used to her napping at 10 am and plan accordingly, she switches her naps to noon. I have yet to develop a work and home life separation. I fit in work when I can and try not to get too worked up about it. Partly because I want her to learn and grow with me and partly because I am her primary caregiver and it's just us girls a lot. I am embracing these moments because she will never be this age again.
Q. What’s a typical day like and when do you actually get your work done?
A: A typical day starts off in the morning with completing a few chores, breakfast, attending any morning meetings or going for a long walk around the block. Sometimes I will get some social media work or calls completed while on my walk or listen to music or a podcast with her. Afternoons are for naps where I will run around and try to complete more chores or get some work done too. Evening usually ends with another walk, cooking, watching television and then if I am not too tired, working after she goes to bed.
Q. What do you do when creative ideas hit you and you’re in the middle of mothering?
A: NOTEBOOKS! Even though I am a minimalist, I have quite a few notebooks for the different projects I am involved in. They travel around the house with me. I also use google keep to track lists but writing it out on pen and paper resonates much better with me. I have found that if I don't write things down, they are gone. I try to remind myself to write things down often.
Q. Do you have any words of encouragement for other moms trying to do all the things?
A: You can do it. Believe in yourself. Make sure that whatever you are doing feels good to you and makes you feel fulfilled. Don't let anyone make you feel inadequate. Be gentle with yourself, have fun, play with your kids.