I wanted to share something with you that has been weighing heavy on my heart for quite some time and it has to do with work/life balance. I’ve been very emotional lately but it’s the happy cry because I think I have finally figured out this little thing we call work/life balance. There have been a few posts recently by other photographers and it has inspired me to write my story. I think that we can all take something from every story and hope that more photographers in our industry will share theirs as well. Even if you’re not a photographer and have a hard time balancing work and life, I hope this is beneficial to you in some way.

When I started this journey in photography, it was solely a hobby. I wanted to take better pictures of my son, who was an infant at the time. But my creative love, need to figure everything out side would not let it stop at a hobby. I began taking classes in 2007 and was hooked. I was working at an amazing company in Human Resources… my cup of tea. I have a love for helping others, building relationships and just people in general. When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter in 2009, my husband and I sat down and made the decision that I was going to be a stay-at-home-mom. We were not dependent on my photography income at all. I had no idea or plans Son Kissed Photography would turn into what it has today. I am very blessed no doubt, but it has been a very difficult, confusing and hard-to-balance road.

Fast forward to 2010… as I said before I love people and building relationships, therefore, I could never say no. I wish there was a guide on how to own your own business because I’m pretty sure I did everything absolutely wrong. What’s sad is I have a degree in Business… I guess I should have paid more attention in college. 😉  All joking aside, my calendar was horrid. I found myself working every weekend, trips to my in-laws stopped because I was always working, watching my nephew play sports stopped because I was working, even spending time with my family on the weekends stopped because I was working but all of that never crossed my mind when I was booking and shooting sessions (hindsight is always 20/20). I was all about making my clients happy, and essentially that’s how it should be.  My husband said several times that I should be home on the weekends and my response was always, “This is my job, just like you work during the week, I work on the weekends.” But he was SO right. I only wish I would have listened to him. I have to give him so much credit for supporting me during my journey. Aside from him wanting me home on the weekends he’s never once complained about anything else. What a guy.

My first big wake-up call was summer of 2011 when I was sitting at the studio on Saturday photographing a newborn session. Baby was nursing and I picked up my phone to pass time and there was a text message from my husband. I opened it and he was sending me a picture of my son with a fresh hair cut, grinning from ear to ear. Tears slowly flowed down my face as I realized at that very moment that I had been so busy that I didn’t have 30 minutes to cut my own son’s hair. And that moment I vowed to make a change. No more newborn sessions on the weekends unless it was a special circumstance. By the time I drove to my studio, set up, photographed the session, cleaned up and drove home, the entire day was gone. That was easily 6 hours of my day. Gone. Every weekend.

Fast forward to February of 2012 and wake-up call 2… I was browsing images from a workshop that were snapped of me and found myself in utter disbelief when I came across an image of myself setting up a shot. I was mortified at what I saw… a very overweight person in the image. I seriously could not believe it. I had let myself spiral out of control, eating habits were horrendous because I’d be in a session all day or sitting at my computer all day so when I finally snapped back to reality several hours later I found myself starving. By that time it would be time to pick up my kiddos from school so I’d hurry through the drive-thru and pick up something extremely unhealthy but never thinking twice because I was short on time. Before I let myself get so out of control I was working out regularly and slowly I just let it all go because I got busier and busier. I always put work before myself, because that’s what people pleasers do.

The Lord has given me several taps on the shoulder the past 2 months and I’ve finally listened. I went to the doctor to have my health checked because honestly… I was scared. Did I have high cholesterol? High blood pressure? Thankfully everything came back normal and we talked about healthy eating habits, what to avoid and what to consume. I’ve taken my health very seriously and proud to announce that I have lost 15.7 pounds since my appointment. It’s still a very long journey but I’m so proud of myself and I don’t say that very often. It took waking up and getting out of work zombie mode. Another nudge the Lord gave me was when I woke my son up for school one morning and with his tired eyes he looked up at me and said, “Where are we going today?” My heart broke inside. My babies had no structure and I was so furious with myself. How could I let this happen? I am supposed to be the one providing structure and I’ve not even paid any mind to how this is affecting my children. My kids are enrolled in a Mother’s Day Out program on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s and I have two dear friends that would watch them for me on other days I had things going on (which was a lot). I’m so grateful for them and how well they took care of my kiddos. But that didn’t change the fact that I had failed at providing structure. I did a lot of soul searching and praying for God to give me answers on what I should do because I was a mess. After a few days, we made the decision as a family to enroll our kids in a 4 day-a-week, curriculum-based program. I feel so much peace knowing that they will have structure and for the first time in my career as a work-from-home-mom, I have structure. Going forward, I have set business hours and will not be booking appointments Fri-Sun. I’m so proud of myself for taking the “time” to figure this all out. I feel at peace and feel that this is going to work well for our family.

Thank you for taking the time to read my work/life balance journey. There are so many more points I could have added and so many more wake-up calls. We all have our stories and our journey but it all boils down to having your work life and family life balanced.

Articles that you should definitely check out :

Amy Boring : The Photography Industry and Relationships

Hands Free Mama : How to Miss a Childhood

With all of this being said, I absolutely, 100 percent love what I do.  That is why I was in the situation I was in.  I’m going to love what I do even more now because I have a happy family, I’m healthier and I have structure.

Much love and big hugs,
Kristen

… to be continued