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creative motherhood

creative motherhood: megan jedlinski

creative motherhood: megan jedlinski

As a general rule, I don't follow other personal stylists on social media. I have enough crap going on in my head without comparing myself to what others are doing. One of the only exceptions I've made has been for Megan Jedlinski. Megan is a personal stylist in Chicago and has a similar aesthetic to mine (i.e. no pink or glitter or unicorns). Her daily style is clearly appropriate for real life and her daughter is ever present on her social media, which feels relatable to me, since there are no full work days over here. I really wanted to have Megan on the Creative Motherhood series because she's recently stepped away from working to stay home with her daughter, Parker. I'm constantly questioning how much I should be working or not working, especially with another one on the way, so I couldn't wait to hear from her! Enjoy!  -Dacy

creative motherhood: megan jedlinksi

Q: Introduce yourself, your family, the work (aside from mothering) you currently do, and how that work has evolved as your child has grown. I know you've stepped back from working with clients, but what about managing social media and other projects?

I’m Megan and I live in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago with Steve, my husband of almost 9 years, our goofball of a daughter, Parker (who just turned 1!) and our 10 year old pooch, Winston. I recently closed up shop on my wardrobe editing and personal styling business, to become a stayathome mom to our daughter. When my schedule allows, I share my passion for minimalism, sustainability, wellness and cooking on my Instagram and newly launched blog, meganjedlinski.com.

The decision to transition to my full-time mom role was equally hard as it was easy, as I had no intentions of closing my biz prior to giving birth. The time, money and energy I invested, along with the incredible clients and people I connected with through my business, made it tough to walk away. Not to mention I felt like I was failing somehow if I quit, I wasn’t that mom that could ‘do it all’. But then there was Parker. Growing up week by week, then month by month. It was going too fast and I wasn’t being there for her in the way that I wanted to be (and I also wasn’t showing up to my clients the way I wanted to). Thankfully, my biggest cheerleader, aka my husband, couldn’t have been more supportive of this move and we’re fortunate to be in a position that we can live comfortably on only his income. So, as her 1st birthday approached, I was officially closed for business.

I’ve realized that since becoming a mom, I’ve embraced the progress over perfection mentality and have become a heck of a lot more efficient! When it comes to my blog, I launched before the website was done and I continue to move forward with it, even though I don’t feel ready or have a perfect plan in place. I simply don’t have the time or energy to obsess over small details like I used to. I’m still finding my groove and learning how to better balance my time with that and social media, somedays failing hard, other days totally killing it.

Q. Do you wish you could do more or less creative work? How do you manage those conflicted feelings?

There are definitely times I wish I could do more creative work (and not have major FOMO when Steve and Parker are hanging out!), however, I also wish I would let myself be okay with doing less creative work. While creativity is in my bones, I have this inner-struggle of feeling like I should being do more creative work as opposed to just being creative. Does that make sense? For instance, some nights I just want to turn on the Real Housewives and pick up my new hobby of knitting, but I feel like I ‘should’ be working on my next blog post. Often times, it’s when the shoulds creep in that I end up getting discouraged and neither the knitting or blog post gets done...but you can bet I saw what went down between Kyle Richards and Lisa Vanderpump! So long story short, I’m still learning ways to manage those feelings and trying to be patient with myself in the meantime:)

Q.  Does choosing to focus on motherhood affect any financial or career goals for you?

Absolutely. First of all, I never thought I’d want to be a stayathome mom. My ‘plan’ growing up was to be the one working and my husband would stay home with our kid...plans can be funny like that. In the short-term, it’s affected me in that my financial ambitions and career aspirations as a personal stylist have more or less come to a screeching halt. However, I’ve also changed career paths enough to know that my next passion and opportunity is out there when I’m ready for it. Being a stayathome mom may even open doors to financial and/or career opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise explored. The unknown of what my professional future has in store definitely makes me uneasy and anxious at times, but I’m learning each day to go with the flow and see where this crazy rollercoaster of life takes me.

Q. What kind of a “village” or help do you have around you?

Village or city?! The amount of support I have is more than I could ever ask for. My husband and I are truly partners in this journey of parenthood. The guy has probably changed more diapers than I and even with the demands of his work, makes sure to get in his dad and daughter time every morning and every night. We’re fortunate to have a close knit family that supports each other’s own endeavors unconditionally. My parents and in-laws live within an hour of us and my twin sister only lives about 5 min away (she actually lived with us while I was pregnant and for the first few months after my daughter was born!) My older sister is in Boston with her family, but is only ever a text or call away, not to mention they visit often.

My core group of girlfriends are the kind that will be around for life. They’re there for you at the drop of a hat whether you need an ear to listen or that glass of wine :D. The moms I’ve met since having my daughter have also been really incredible and have helped make the transition into motherhood a little less overwhelming. Can we also talk about this amazing community of creative women I’ve met locally and online? I love being a part of such a supportive group!

And finally, but no less important, there’s my therapist, acupuncturist (my daughter’s too!) and a health coach who have helped me on my journey of personal growth and overcoming my own issues.

I know I’ll always be a work in progress, but I want nothing more than to be the best version of myself for my daughter and I appreciate my ‘village’ for being there along the way.

creative motherhood series: megan jedlinksi

Q. Do you feel as though your work and home life lines are blurred? How do you handle that challenge?

Yes. This was very apparent in the beginning when I still had my styling business. I remember Parker was a month and a half old and I started responding to clients and hosted my first event post baby. I felt pressure (from myself) to bounce back and balance both. I realized pretty quickly that I wasn’t showing up 100% for either my business or my daughter. My husband could always tell when I was stressed with work related stuff and that’s when the conversation started about letting my business go. With starting the blog, I try not to over-commit myself and will give very realistic deadlines and expectations for any collaborations I do. When the blog or social media starts to feel stressful or take my mind away when I’m finger painting with P, that’s when I pull back and take a couple days to regroup and remember my most important role, being P’s mom.

Q. What’s a typical day like and when do you actually get your work done?

Parker usually gets wakes up around 7am and plays with dad while I get her breakfast together. Since she was 7 months old, she started attending daycare twice a week, and will continue to do so because we love it there and she has learned so much. Those are my days for appointments, meetings, coffee dates and catching up on projects (with a stop home to pump once or twice throughout the day). When Parker’s not in daycare, we’re usually heading out to a playdates or classes and I try to take advantage of my to do list while she naps.

My evenings are probably my most productive time of day with projects. Sometimes I’ll get up early on a weekend and go work at a coffee shop, but my early mornings can be hard because 1. I’m tired 2. I’m still breastfeeding and it’s those mornings she decides to get up early :P.

Q. What do you do when creative ideas hit you and you’re in the middle of mothering?

Write it down. This was especially hard in the beginning when Parker didn’t quite know how to entertain herself. We try not to expose her to screens and we didn’t have a play saucer (that minimalist in me!), so I didn’t really have any other choice but to write it down and hope the inspiration hit at a more convenient time. Now that she’s more independent, I can take a few minutes here and there to hop on my computer or phone to explore something quickly or send a quick text/email.

Q. Do you have any words of encouragement for other moms trying to do all the things?

You do you! It was really hard, and still is, not to compare myself to other moms and all that they were accomplishing, all while I could barely get myself showered and dressed for the day (btw, it’s 4 in the afternoon right now and I am definitely not showered or wearing a bra). There’s no right or wrong way. Our journeys are all different. Our experiences are all different. Our children are all different. Take a deep breath, drop the ‘shoulds’ and start trusting yourself. We’re all just trying to figure this thing called motherhood out and I’d say we’re all doing a pretty damn amazing job.

I definitely struggle with the "shoulds" and comparing myself to other moms who appear to be so productive. What a great reminder that stepping away can lead to doors opening in other areas and that we're all on our own paths. Thanks, Megan! You can find Megan on her blog meganjedlinski.com or on Instagram

(family photo credit: Brooke Blakemore Montes

creative motherhood: sarah dobbs

creative motherhood: sarah dobbs

This entry in the Creative Motherhood series is really special for me. Sarah Dobbs is someone that I started following on Instagram maybe two years ago (?) or more. I don't remember how we connected, but I immediately loved her aesthetic, her approach to living mindfully, and her supportiveness of other moms trying to fit work in around being really available as a mother. We had many conversations over Instagram about these topics, but imagine my surprise when she revealed that she was moving to St. Louis, my adopted hometown! Turns out she's originally from here, but I still think of her as a New Yorker, mostly cause she's just so freaking cool. Since Sarah moved back to the Midwest, we've actually been hanging out in person and she's just as down to earth and thoughtful IRL as she is online. Oh yeah, and she just happens to live in one of the most envy-inducing midcentury houses in town. Enjoy her interview.   --Dacy

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Q: Introduce yourself, your family, the work (aside from mothering) you currently do, and how that work has evolved as your children have grown.

Hello, I’m Sarah Dobbs, a woman with a deeply rooted passion in design and I have been creating my entire life. I’m married to Kyle (nearly a decade) and together we are raising two boys; Grey, 6 and Hollis, 4. We recently moved out of the NYC area to a midcentury modern fixer-upper in the Midwest. I'm the founder of a lifestyle company the Home Capsule, where I specialize in professional organization. Having children was the catalyst for my line of work. I became interested in helping myself and other moms build lives that gave them the balance they desired. I do this by crafting ways to organize lives and homes, merging design with function. Time = happiness and having your life in order helps! I started small when my kids were babies, each year doing a little more to build the brand and expand my expertise and services.

Q. Do you wish you could do more or less creative work? How do you manage those conflicted feelings?

Having kids actually reignited the creativity within me. I try to weave feelings of being creative in our daily lives. From kids toys, art, rearranging their room, packing lunches, and helping them find a personal style.  It’s super fun, I’m happy with the amount of work I have but I’m interested in learning some new skills, like photography and woodworking!

creative motherhood blog series

Q.  Does choosing to focus on motherhood affect any financial or career goals for you?

Absolutely! I completely walked away from my career for a solid 4 years. I see peers in my field who are now VPs, etc. I was a workaholic in the most competitive city in American and success for me was being at the top of my field. My definition of success has changed and the financial ramifications will affect us for the rest of our lives, but I wouldn’t make a different decision if given the chance.  The experience I've had with my boys is priceless.

Q. What kind of a “village” or help do you have around you?

I didn’t have a true village until the boys were 2 and 4. I had 2 women in particular show up for me in such a big way that I’ve made it my personal mission to do everything I can to help other mothers.

Q. Do you feel as though your work and home life lines are blurred? How do you handle that challenge?

For a couple years they blurred and I hit a wall. My kids have been on tons of sourcing trips and showrooms. Now I structure my time where I have working hours and hours with my kids. School affords me the opportunity to work this way.

creative motherhood series

Q. What’s a typical day like and when do you actually get your work done?

Each day of the week I have a list of specifics. This is the first year the boys have both been in school full time. I have alerts in my phone that keep me on task the entire day. I put my phone away from 4-8 (after school to bed) and will pick it up again to finish up some tasks before my bed time.

Q. What do you do when creative ideas hit you and you’re in the middle of mothering?

I tell the kids ! They are excellent critics AND they ask a million questions. Which is great because it gets you thinking about your idea even more. I also think adulthood is mystic and mysterious to kids so anytime you ask, “can i tell you about this cool thing I just thought of?” They are on the edge of their chairs with interest.

Q. Do you have any words of encouragement for other moms trying to do all the things?

Don’t do all the things. OWN your particular situation and be proud of whatever decisions you make. Life is a learning curve. Take risks, see what happens, make adjustments and know you are you're own worst critic. So lighten up on yourself.

Thanks so much, Sarah! I love the idea of putting your phone away from 4-8, and of telling your kids about your work ideas - helps to show them that mom is a multi-dimensional person. Follow Sarah on Instagram here and find her website here

photo credits: Heather Moore

Find the other posts in the Creative Motherhood series here

creative motherhood: emily cretella

creative motherhood: emily cretella

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

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Q: Introduce yourself, your family, the work (aside from mothering) you currently do, and how that work has evolved as your children have grown.

I’m Emily Cretella; I’m a mom to two fierce little ladies ages 7 and 5,  a copywriter and content marketing strategist, and founder of MotherHustle.com.

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.

creative motherhood: balancing work and motherhood

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:

  1. 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

  2. Having my own office in our home, no kids allowed

  3. 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

creative motherhood: jaana nugent peltekian

You know how you follow someone on social media for a while and read their blog, and at a certain point you kindof forget that you don't actually know them know them? That's how I feel about Jaana. I love keeping up with her posts about clothes, sewing, her son Stevie, and her complaints about the heat in SoCal (just kidding, I'm so jealous of the weather she gets!). She has a great sense of style and keeps it totally realistic for a mom/casual lifestyle, which is really relatable to me these days. She's also completely hilarious - just read her recent blog post about going on the Price is Right. She's also a photographer and I wanted to ask her about the juggle. I love how she feels like Instagram is a full time job (me tooooo!), that she's finally found a mom tribe, and that she's allowing herself to feel a little of the extra space she's gotten since her son started school. Enjoy! ---Dacy

creative motherhood

Q: Introduce yourself, your family, what your creative work has been in the past, the work (aside from mothering) you currently do, and how that work has evolved as your child has grown.

A: I'm Jaana (pronounced Yawn-a) and I'm a vacation photographer living in Burbank, CA. I've been married to my Paul for 10 years and together we are raising our challenging, but sweet-as-pie-kiddo, Stevie. My creative work in the past has mostly consisted of photography. It was a hobby of mine for many, many years, but I made my money in non-creative fields until I officially started my photography business in 2009. My work evolved so much when Stevie came around. Before he was born, I took every photo job I could get my hands on to build my client list and get more experience under my belt. But when Stevie was a baby, we found out he had a heart condition and I took a year off to care for him. As he has grown, I've had spurts of insanely busy times, as well as long bouts of down time. I've added more responsibilities to my plate, like virtual assisting, but there are ebbs and flows with that as well. When I'm not using my creativity for work, I channel it into writing for my blog, Instagramming (which weirdly feels like a full time job) and learning to sew.

Q. Do you wish you could do more or less creative work? How do you manage those conflicted feelings?

A: Now that Stevie is in school, I obviously have a lot more time on my hands. When I imagined sending him off to 1st Grade, I thought that was my chance to do more creative work. I thought that was what I wanted. I figured I'd start to hustle. Tap into that creativity and build something amazing, whether it be with photography or influencing, I thought I was ready to rock and roll! But... come to find out, I honestly don't mind being less busy. With all the work it took to get Stevie where he is, the quiet time is such a relief. Plus I think I still need to decide which direction to take my creativity, and I have felt very conflicted about that. So I still just dabble in a little bit of everything. I enjoy so many parts of the process, and I'm timid about going all in to one thing.

Q.  Does choosing to focus on motherhood affect any financial or career goals for you?

A: Focusing on motherhood has definitely affected my financial and career goals from the get-go. I always knew I wanted to be a mom. That was my life goal. Therefore I never focused on a career. I am lucky that I fell in love with photography and that I had a husband who has supported every venture that's crossed my mind.

Q. What kind of a “village” or help do you have around you?

A: I am happy to report that we have family close by who have been lifesavers when it comes to helping out with Stevie. His grandparents and aunt are totally hands on and love spending time with him. We honestly can't ask for more than that. But then I was also very lucky to find mom friends that I've connected with. It took me a long time to find them. Stevie and I didn't seem to fit in anywhere because our journey has been so different from everyone else's. But over the last 1-2 years, I feel like I've found my people. And to say that it's changed my life would be an understatement. We went from the two of us having long lonely summers to a fantastic group that includes us for pool parties and birthday parties and museum days. I don't know if Stevie has found his tribe, but I have found mine. And when mama's happy, everyone else is too.

Q. Do you feel as though your work and home life lines are blurred? How do you handle that challenge?

A: The lines were definitely blurred in the earlier days. I would try to work from home with Stevie hanging off me and demanding my attention and I used to get so angry. Like why can't he just let me finish this one thing?? It's still hard some days, but I've had to learn boundaries for myself as well as my son. He's just not capable of playing alone and doing things for himself yet, so I really do work around his schedule. There have been times where it overlaps. I think that's unavoidable. So I either hire a sitter, send him to grandma's, or give Stevie coping mechanisms (hello, lollipops!) when I need to wrap up a project.

Q. What’s a typical day like and when do you actually get your work done?

A: On a typical day, we wake up around 7 to drink coffee and get Stevie off to school. After a quick workout with my husband, I do the usual house cleaning, catching up with emails, getting ready for the day, shooting and editing photos, and then once I pick Stevie up from school, we move onto his schedule -- swim class, therapy, play dates, etc. On the few days a month that I get called out for a job, I try to schedule them in the morning so that I can go in early and be home in time to pick Stevie up from school. If I really have so much to do that it can't wait, I'll work after Stevie goes to bed too. But I typically like to reserve that time to hang out with my husband.

Q. What do you do when creative ideas hit you and you’re in the middle of mothering?

A: Write them down. That's about all you can do!

Q. Do you have any words of encouragement for other moms trying to do all the things?

A: I probably echo a few others when I say DON'T. Don't do all the things. I mean, if you are the type of person who thrives in that environment and can do all the things, I really really respect that. But I'm a much more sane person and a better mom when I prioritize and don't try to do it all. When I try too hard to squeeze everything in, it comes crashing down at some point. These days, I find that self-care and doing things for my mental health often outweigh things that I used to think were really important career-wise. I want to say it's about balance, but I definitely still struggle to find that. I'm just taking it a day -- or hour -- at a time.

Thank you Jaana! Follow Jaana on her blog, This Mom's Gonna Snap and on Instagram. Find the rest of the posts in the creative motherhood series here

creative motherhood: neha ruch

creative motherhood: neha ruch

Researching and writing this series on the blog has allowed me to discover so many other women who are in the same boat as I am. One of those is Neha Ruch, who started the website Mother Untitled. I was honored to share my story on Mother Untitled and now, Neha's returning the favor. Neha was living the glamorous life in Manhattan, working in digital media and branding, when she decided to step back from work to focus on family. Unable to let her creative ideas languish, she started Mother Untitled to tell the story of other women traveling on a similar journey. I especially love the part in her interview where she feels conflicted about not knowing where she fits in between SAHM's and "ambitious women". And I'm SUPER jealous that she's raising her kid in the city. You'll love this interview.  ---Dacy

mindful closet: creative motherhood

(photo: Yvonne Tnt)

 

Q: Introduce yourself, your family, the work (aside from mothering) you currently do, and how that work has evolved as your children have grown.

A: I’m grateful to be included in this collective of creative mothers. I’m still somewhat humbled that I’m in this camp. Someone called me a writer the other day and I tried not to giggle that they think I am one. I worked in advertising before - at agencies for the first part of my career and then running brand at start ups before having my son, Bodie on New Years Day of 2016. My husband, Dan, has always been an incredible supporter of “whatever makes me truly happy” but I give him all the credit in the world for not raising an eyebrow when I decided to dial down work to create space for motherhood. Internally, he must have - I definitely did.  

When we met, I worked longer hours, traveled more and was en route to business school. And then truthfully even before we got pregnant, I left the start up I was at, wanting to do meaningful work and be the wife and woman I wanted to be. I started brand consulting for female founded small businesses knowing I’d have the capacity to dial up and down once we did grow our family. A year into consulting, I had Bodie who I still stare at wondering how I could have possibly created a child so perfect (in my opinion). And then I made the call to be home - to join the ranks of stay at home mothers while keeping myself in the game with a bit of consulting work two days a week. That grey area between stay at home mother and ambitious woman felt confusing, stigmatized and simultaneously, super empowering and happy. I met loads of smart mothers in a similar stage - feeling the pull of motherhood and choosing to take pauses or finding flexible work - and that community gave me comfort in my new mother skin. So, I built my website Mother Untitled a year into having Bodie to bring that conversation and community online.

Q. Do you wish you could do more or less creative work? How do you manage those conflicted feelings?

A: Oh god, more. Always, more. I know I could be moving so much faster if I had my full brain to give. But I don’t. At this current moment, I’m thinking about preschool applications and why lunch turned into a full on food fight. So, I mop up the mac and cheese and get one of six applications out, and the to-dos for the website inevitably get bumped.

We all know the feeling that is bound to follow - a twinge of regret for non-progress at the end of another day. Someone once told me that a woman’s career is a series of interval sprints and thoughtful pauses. I am consciously moving slower right now - I try and lean into the thoughtfulness knowing there will be another time in my life for deadlines and pressure. Those things conflict with my main priority - being present for Bodie.

Q.  Does choosing to focus on motherhood affect any financial or career goals for you?

A: Yes and no. Financially, it’s been a full on shift from being an equal partner and breadwinner to a much smaller financial contributor to our household. It’s something that I still have to reconcile. We are extremely fortunate to be able to still enjoy so much of the life we live but we take a fine tooth comb to our finances month over month and are making cuts in ways we didn’t have to previously. Neither Dan nor I mind the cuts and actually have been glad to grow more conscious of spending and excess. But I do miss my ego in feeling like I earned the life I live and any indulgences along the way. It is one of the complexities that I like to address on the site because it is a heavy reality that is often left unsaid. Open dialog with my husband has helped me recognize that my contribution to our family is a choice we made and our finances are ours to hold together.

I never expected a linear career path and I didn’t have any specific goals within advertising and marketing though I learned a tremendous amount and it somehow led me here. I’ve leaned into the role of Mother Untitled. What this chapter lacks in external validation of a senior title at a prestigious company, it more than makes up for in creativity, connectedness and entrepreneurial energy. I think there is tremendous opportunity in this chapter of life - it unlocks a desire for meaning and impact and a community of energizing women with whom you share a natural bond. I trust that those two things combined will continue to lead me to an even better place.

Q. What kind of a “village” or help do you have around you?

A: When Bodie was five months old, we started working with his regular babysitter, Vicky, two days a week. She is with Bodie on Mondays and Tuesdays which allows me time to dress like a grown up, work on the website, on client work or meet up with women in the city all working or thinking about some very cool things. A year into that set up, we added hours for Thursday evenings to allow a regular date night for Dan and I. She is incredible - calm, gentle, interesting and playful. I also have my in-laws in the city and it’s a constant security blanket knowing any one of them could or would be over if we needed. My parents are simply the most gorgeous people I know. They’re in California but fly in often - especially when Dan is traveling for work so they can keep us company.  My girlfriends - with kids and without - keep me feeling like a full woman and they are over often so my days as a stay at home mother have rarely felt lonely - quite the opposite. The conversations with my female friends are more honest, more creative and more giving than I’ve ever had before. Without feeling that connectedness, I certainly wouldn’t have built the site.

My husband deserves a whole other paragraph. He wakes up every other morning so I can sleep in and answer emails. He cooks the majority of our dinners and doesn’t bat an eye that I somehow have forgotten how to do that in the past 20 months. He comes home early from work on Tuesdays so I can get wine and a bite with friends. And he works harder than anyone I know and still comes home and makes me feel like I did more than him that day. As I write this, I’m reminded to give him a ring and say thank you.

Q. Do you feel as though your work and home life lines are blurred? How do you handle that challenge?

A: Yes. But I wouldn’t have it have it any other way. I grew up in a household with my father, an entrepreneur, taking work calls out of our studio apartment and his employees coming over for Thanksgiving dinner. My husband grew up similarly. So for us, our conversation is often about trading ideas, showing each other emails or talking through what’s not working. We’re happy to have working nights on the couch with wine. That said, Bodie is completely uninterested in all those conversations and unimpressed when I am ever in front of my phone or a computer so my days with him don’t allow for much work. Realistically, my days with him - the feelings we have, the mothers I meet and the issues that come up - inspire the site in a big way.

creative motherhood: neha ruch

(photo: Marissa Zackowitz Photography)

Q. What’s a typical day like and when do you actually get your work done?

A: Our house turns on somewhere in the 6am vicinity. My husband or I go in to get Bodie who wakes jumping up and down. If it’s my turn to lie in, I’ll get out e-mails, do a bit of writing or check in with Mother Untitled’s designer in Amsterdam. If it’s a Monday or Tuesday I head to the Soho House where I work after doing the hand off with our babysitter which still takes us way too long because neither Bodie or I are particularly good at saying goodbye. I tried working at home for periods of time but Bodie knows where to find me and I will always take him up on a cuddle which means we just end up saying goodbye over and over again. I love the global and creative community at the Soho House and I’ve actually made some close friends who are in a similar stage so we’ll have check ins through the day and give each other a social break. On Mondays and Tuesdays, I really try and work through the majority of Mother Untitled’s editorial calendar and social media content for the week and find at least one or two hours to do networking meetings as we explore partnerships with other smart voices in the parenting space.

If it’s later in the week, Bodie and I are happy to have simple mornings. He’s at a stage where doing laundry is as fascinating as a carousel so we’ll shift between playing and puttering around the house for the first few hours of the day. We do a mid-morning class - soccer, music, art, etc. - on most days at different spots in the neighborhoods. It gives us a change of scenery but also lets him have time in a larger group which I always worry he missed since he never went to daycare. We live in the Flatiron so much of our remainder of the day we’ll spend at the Madison Square playground or meeting friends for playdates in the park. In between, Bodie clocks in a solid two to three hour nap which I’ve learned to maximize - meaning skipping a shower to work on MU’s Instagram, collaborate with our designer on upcoming visual needs or work through more content items for the week.

I love Bodie's evening routine from dinner through bedtime - it’s built such a positive relationship for him with sleep which I hope continues and it just winds us both down. I’ve trained myself to save clean up for the very end of the day after he goes down at 7 because previously I was constantly tidying in vain. Our nights after Dan gets home aren’t often more elaborate than a glass of wine and Odd Mom Out (a satire on New York city moms) or a working session side by side before bed by 10pm. Hence why date nights feel necessary - our current favorite is Red Rooster in Harlem where you have a bite and listen to the best live blues and jazz.

Q. What do you do when creative ideas hit you and you’re in the middle of mothering?

A: If I’m super on it that day I’ll make a note in my iPhone. More likely though I’ll try and recall it later during nap or night time and I’ll get some version of it.

Q. Do you have any words of encouragement for other moms trying to do all the things?

A: First, life is a long game. If you’re taking a pause or re-routing for something new or simply moving a little more slowly than you would like in what you love, it will all ebb and flow many times over. Second, it’s ok for something (a few things, in my case) to have to give. Pick the things you really care about, put your energy there and give yourself a break on the other things - I haven’t made homemade food for Bodie for six months but I know he is loved and learning from a happy and fulfilled mother.

Good stuff, right?! Love Neha's approach to being conscious and present in this "pause" stage of her work life. Check out more on MotherUntitled.com and on Instagram

See the rest of the posts in the Creative Motherhood series here

creative motherhood: farai harreld

creative motherhood: farai harreld

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. 

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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?

creative motherhood farai harreld

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. 

That pretty much sums it up, right? Thanks so much, Farai. Keep up with Farai at The Hillbilly African and on Instagram

creative motherhood: chelsie wood

creative motherhood: chelsie wood

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

creative motherhood: chelsie wood

 

 

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.

mindful closet st louis personal stylist

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.

chelsie wood

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.

Thanks, Chelsie! Follow Chelsie on Instagram and her blog, This Is Our Forest.