"Mommy! I don't have socks!"
"Mommy! Do you know where my violin is?"
"Mommy! Sorry, but I spilled water on the floor.... again."
"Mommy! Ethan is so annoying! He keeps messing up my legos!!!!"
"Elli scratched me again!"
I write this blog in hopes that all moms out there can relate to the sounds of the words above. In hopes that my family is "normal" and that everything is going to be ok. :) I didn't know that today was International Women's Day until a few days ago when ShootProof invited us to be featured in a campaign that they were doing for women. It came out this morning and what an honor it was to be part of something like that and connect with other entrepreneurs in the area!
I've had many comments like, "Unchong, I don't know how you do it. How do you raise three children and run a business? How do you have it all together?" Here's the answer: I don't. Are you kidding me? I don't say that "trying" to be humble. I honestly, truly, like really don't. I may seem like it on social media or when I meet with people, but the fact is, I'm a hot mess. As any mom would agree, being a mom is beyond a "full time job". It's a calling... it's your life. So is being a business owner as well. Our business is my 4th and 5th and 6th child. I have to feed it, raise it and take care of it just like a child. And, I love it... But yes, it is hard. It is overwhelming... all the deadlines, all the schedules that I have to remember, the workflow for each client, every email that comes in adds onto the stress and my daily responsibilities. And do I even need to say that raising children is hard? I think we all know that... I thought that surely as our kids get older that it will get easier. But, I was clearly wrong. You have different types of challenges in each season as kids grow up, but as far as "busyness" is concerned, it gets crazier. As your kids get older, they begin to have responsibilities of their own and when you have three kids like us, you have to triple that. Yes, it can get stressful. Just keeping up with all the school events, tests, homework, what they have to take to school for that day, money that they need for school, their projects, etc.... all the while making sure you feed them the right food, clothe them, have enough outside time, device time, sleep time, personal hygiene, discipline, clean up.... I mean just fill in blank because I know I missed many things. But, I think you see my point. There's a LOT to juggle!
I'm no expert and trust me, I take any advice that any wise moms out there are willing to share with me. I absolutely love meeting with moms and just have heart to heart talks. I may get timid when I see a stranger, but if that stranger is a mom with three kiddos, I know exactly how to connect with her because I know we share similar joys and struggles. I can talk to her for hours and become best friends at the end of that convo. :)
Today, I celebrate women especially moms out there who work because that's who I am in this season of my life. I celebrate you because you are amazing! Give me a virtual high five! It's been a hard couple of weeks emotionally and mentally because of some things that happened and it shook me up a little. Well, a lot. Both of the "mom world" and the "business world" is so demanding... there's just no end in how much you have to constantly give, give and give... I love giving, but sometimes it's exhausting especially when there's only 4-5 hours of sleep a night. But through the solid rock on which I stand which is my Savior, my husband, my mom, and my amazing friends, I feel yet again encouraged. Encouraged and energized to keep going.... So, if you've ever felt that way before, please know that you're not alone. That's why I believe in community because we need each other when we are down. When it's not you that's down, you can bring someone else up... we all go through different seasons and we are part of a community to build each other up, and I'm so grateful for incredible friends who speak truth in my life.
Now, if I may share a few practical things I do to make this household run, here are a few points. But, please read them with a grain of salt because again, I'm a hot mess and so is our home. Perfection is our biggest enemy, don't you agree? Well, guess what? I've given up on being "perfect" and that's the best thing I've ever done for myself! I used to be one of those people that put makeup on just to go grocery shopping, but no... one day I said to myself, "Who am I kidding?" It's ok.... really, no one cares. Yes, you have to find balance in that and if I'm going to see a show with my husband, I will do my best to be presentable and appropriate. And my house? HA! I have decided that unless someone is coming over, cleaning up can wait. :) Even if someone is coming over, it's ok that my house isn't in "perfect order". I will of course clean up the necessary things like the bathroom, tidy up as much as possible, wipe here and there and vacuum. But for the most part, we keep our kitchen and dining area clean because that's where we "live" 90% of the time. Everyone cleans up their own room and then we are done! Stressing over it just isn't worth it. But, if I end up on being on the Hoarder show, you guys have my permission to get me some counseling.
As I'm getting older, I realize that I need to be as efficient as possible with my time. So, here are a few things that I do (as much as I can) on a daily basis when it's a "typical" school day for us.
1. Have a daily to do list.
I put EVERYTHING on my calendar. EVERYTHING! And, this syncs with every device I have as well as my husband's. So, there's only one calendar for our household. This is KEY to our business and to our personal life. It tells me what to do everyday. So, if I get an email from one of the kid's teacher for upcoming events, I put it on the calendar IMMEDIATELY. For our business, our system communicates with our calendar, so if we book a wedding or a portrait session, it automatically puts it on the calendar for us. This way, we all CLEARLY know exactly what's going on. Even if I make any casual plans with my friend, I put it on the calendar, so that my husband can see it right away. Then, if he's on the phone with a client and plan any meetings with them, he knows to not plan anything when I'm gone so that our kids won't be left home alone. :) If I have to go to the bank for example, I put it on the calendar. All these little things become my to do list for that day, so the first thing I do when I wake up is look at my calendar. For one, it reminds me of everything that I need to get done. It reminds me of everything that each child needs for school or whatnot. I review my day and as each thing gets done on the calendar, I delete it. That's my digital way of "checking off" my to do list. Now, some things I keep on there like any of our business events like weddings, portraits, etc... for other business purposes. But things like if my kids took $1 to school for ice cream day, then I delete those things.
2. Designate each hour and prioritize
Moms, when you get up in the morning, what do you have to do? (This only applies to moms who have kids that are school aged of course.) You have to get your kids ready! Meaning, you have to make breakfast, make their lunches and get them out of the house so that they can do what they gotta do for that day. Obviously, this is not going to be the time to catch up on emails or social media posts. So, I know that until the kids go to school, I'm all theirs. In those few hours I have while they're gone (and we all know how fast these hour pass...), I have the option of doing pretty much of the following... I can work, run errands, work out or have fun (time for myself). Everyday looks different for me. Whatever takes precedence for that day is what I get done. There are days when I just type away for various things for the business. There are days when I just run errands like go to Costco. :) Yup, that's where we get 90% of our groceries. When kids come home from school, I'm back to being a mom and it's snack time, homework time, dinner time, bath time and then go to sleep time!
Now, I don't know about other moms in the business, but the second half of my work day begins when our kids go to bed. This is where I wish I can change so that I can get more sleep, but the reality is.... I can't. Not in this season... until our kids are at a place where they are more independent, I have just accepted the reality that 4-5 hours of sleep is the best I can do. So, after they go to bed, work begins again for Craig and I. Depending on what we have to get done, we work together in the office or I'm sitting on my bed with my laptop on my lap and I type away again... :) I try my best to make my bed time 1am. But, there are days when it's 2am or 3am. The cycle just begins again the next day...
3. Turn it off!
If you read our blogs (which I so appreciate!), then you probably have read "How We Work Together and Stay Happily Married" posts. There, we listed ways to keep boundaries for our marriage. Same way, one biggest boundary as a mom for me to keep is to turn my phone off. My laptop off! The TV off! I love media, but I'm sure you guys will agree that it's highly addictive and when it gets to that point, it just ain't good for us anymore. I feel like the best mom when I give snacks to my kids as soon as they come home from school and then take them outside! I purposely leave my phone in the house and take our butts out either with our neighbors, backyard, to a park or just somewhere to get some fresh air and play with them. They're tired from being in school listening to rules all day as well. I respect that and feel that they just need some time of "freedom". As soon as we do that, I get dinner ready (usually with my mom who is an incredible cook) and you know how the rest of the evening goes. But, phones... oh my gosh theses phones! They need to be put away. I don't know about you, but it's the biggest distraction in my life and I'm so happy when I don't see it until it's work time. This is an area that I want to be better at everyday. There's always room for improvement! As media takes over our lives more and more, I feel that we need to be more in control of it.
Moms, you are truly amazing... when I speak to each one of you, it's so neat to hear about how you go about doing your thing. The ways you have in making your kids' lunches happen, meal plans that you have for your family, the way you handle finances to make ends meet, the way you discipline your children, the way you teach them the word of God. The most healthy moms I have met are the ones that know how to embrace the season that they're currently in. Yes, there will be times when we can complain and just need to vent, but overall, these moms know how to have true joy and despite the challenges, enjoy their job. My goal is to be like that. This is the life that I have chosen. No one forced me to be here. I desired to have kids, so I'm grateful to my God who graciously gave them to me. No one made me become a business owner. No, not even my husband. It was my choice to be in this journey, and I'm so happy that I did.
I celebrate all moms who work out there. For me, I celebrate myself today because I'm a woman, but I also celebrate the man who stands by me in everything that I do. That's Craig, my husband. Everything I mentioned above, I share those responsibilities with him. If I stayed up late getting a project done, my husband is there to wake up in the morning and make breakfast for the kids. There are days when I can't pick up the kids so my husband just does it. When I'm cooking, he's out there playing with the kids. If I'm sick, he's there to do homework with them as well. We are a team in everything, I mean EVERYTHING that we do and for that, I'm grateful for this life I have with him. I never have and never will take all the credit in being a "great mom". I definitely am who I am because my husband is always there for me. He has my back and I have his. :)
So to all the ladies who are moms and business owners out there, cheers!
As always, thank you for reading and Happy International Women's Day!