finding balance parenting workWhen I first started in wedding photography back in 2008, I recall not seeing too many moms working as wedding photographers if they had young kids. Online, I saw the trend that if you had kids, you should be a portrait photographer because, after all, you want to spend more time with more kids, right? And you also don’t want to leave your kids on the weekends, right? Gulp. I am not saying that it’s bad for someone to be a portrait photographer vs. a wedding photographer; what I’m saying is that there’s no cookie-cutter way. What works best for you and for your family is your business and no one else’s. It is about to get personal and vulnerable up in here.

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I poured myself into my work, and then did the same with my online work, too. I felt a need to escape being a mom because I felt I just sucked at it and didn’t know how to be a mom. I once asked a good friend and fabulous mentor, “What do I do with my kids?” You see, I am a mom of boys, and Pokemon, Spongebob, and other strange things are not up my alley. “So, we can’t play house or something, and I dress up barbie dolls as I did growing up in Newark, NJ?”

INSERT—Major eye roll here by the boys. What Angie said to me felt like a breath of fresh air. She said, “They love you and just want to be around you, so spend 10 minutes a day with them doing what ever they want, even if you are just sitting there.” This has been such great advice for me, and it is simple, I know, but it has been powerful.

tips for work life balance

PAUSE. If you are one of those PTO, volunteer galore, Boy Scout leader, Pinterest doer, monogram-obsessed, “my kid SO comes first” moms, maybe you should stop reading ‘cause you may judge me and then dislike me.  It is totally okay for you to walk away right now. I get it and that is awesome that you are able to do that, but if you are a mom who also struggles with juggling it all and having the feeling of guilt eating away at you, or even if you have been there and can offer advice, read on. Feel free to comment.

My true dream in life is to serve God, provide for my kids, be an example for my kids, serve my clients, inspire others and be a great companion to my husband….and still not lose  myself in the process. Family is the foundation, and they are the people that matter the most because everything else, well, it will pass. I can’t be a wedding photographer ‘til I am 70, the kids will soon go to college, and life will take a different path because, as we know, change is the only thing we know is set to happen again and again. I also actually want a social life, ya know, some friends and a “mommy’s night out” once in a while. Let’s schedule that in, shall we? I have some friends that are like family to me, and I’m so glad there’s the interwebs to keep in touch. How about some more romantic dates and adventures? Yes I want it all.

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Three years ago, my priorities were quite different, and I was failing. BIG TIME. I was like that 19 year old who is still in high school because they’ve stayed back way too many times. Teachers pass them on because of their age, or because of their quotas, but they don’t deserve to graduate. Yes, that was me, and my F was not for Feuza: it was for FAIL. My kids were growing right before my eyes, and I was missing out. The core people, my stake holders, were being ignored by me. I have blogged about this before. I hit a low point, and I know I needed a redirection. I had lost myself and was risking losing my family, too. Okay…maybe I am exaggerating there, but if I had kept going on that road, then ten years from now, it could be true.

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My wedding photography business was thriving in NJ, but the urge to move kept tugging at me. The awakening that I had my values mixed up was like that cold ALS bucket challenge, but it was a river. I relocated my business and life to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, two years ago in hopes of a better lifestyle for my kids. I am super happy I made that difficult decision, however it does not mean my problems just went away. This is especially true for anyone who’s restarting their business from scratch.  It has not been a smooth road, business wise. I have moved to a brand new and very different market, and folks are not as welcoming. I am still here taking it day by day, pursing my wedding photography business, and now glamour photography, too. But valuing the simpler things and what matters most.

It is easy to look at myself and point to my many many flaws as a mom, but today I publicly want to celebrate the little wins, and I want to encourage you to celebrate the little wins, too. If you don’t go easy on yourself and celebrate the little milestones, the guilt will eat away at your soul. You will make your family unhappy, you will feel trapped, and you won’t live your full potential. You are special, flaws and all.

I wish I were a better house cleaner, a more active mom, a bigger financial supporter of my husband, a better sister, a better friend, and many other things…like I wish I would lose 20 pounds. But you know what? Life is made of little wins, too. Little moments are what make up a lifetime, so I celebrate that.

TWEET THIS TOO! Tweet: Balancing being a mom & a photography business is hard. Don’t be so down on your self but CELEBRATE THE LITTLE WINS #feuza #getfoundwithfuse
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Here are my wins this week:

  • I actually washed a load of laundry today and I washed the dishes.
  • I actually followed my schedule on most days, left the computer and did not go back while my kids were awake.
  • I cleaned a bit.
  • I cooked some home meals.
  • I played Candy Crush and beat some very hard levels.
  • I tucked the boys in bed and prayed with them every night.
  • I uninstalled Facebook from my phone so I could be more present.
  • I brought Josh’s favorite fruit for him.
  • I brought Lucas salsa for chips and salsa.
  • I started watching a new TV series—House of Cards—but it has not totally grown on me yet.
  • Last week I actually did something I found on Pinterest for a Valentine’s-day craft, which I rarely do.
  • I watched a movie the boys wanted.
  • I signed up the boys for some running school fundraiser.
  • I actually spoke to a friend on the phone like the old days.
  • I hired a proofreader for my blog posts—I hear you clapping.

I had small wins, but I celebrate them.

I used to be so consumed by work (still working on improving this) that the guilt was even worse. I felt guilty doing something for myself or taking a break. I could not relax on trips or vacations. I was not taking care of myself as I should have been. My mom, who owns a salon, would beg me to come get pampered, and I just never had the time. When I went, I was impatient and did not take advantage of the free services I could get. I know…stupid me. It was all work work work.

Work is still there, ‘cause I do love it, after all, but I am looking forward to the little wins and celebrating those little little things and not being so hard on myself. I, Feuza, am giving myself a break! Yes, I could do better, do more, and as my son Lucas pointed out, I let him down because I did not want to watch the Little Rascals modern movie with him. But I did yesterday, and I got Josh the fruit he likes, I tucked them both in, and we laughed and giggled. At the end of each day, I do realize I could have done more, spent more time with them, cooked a better meal, had the house sparkling clean…but I look at my failures and I say, “Well Feuza, tomorrow you can do better if you put your mind to it. What is one thing you can do better tomorrow?”

And I can look at the little wins and not feel so guilty, which lifts this huge weight off my back.

What I want to say is that if you are in this same boat, you are not alone. Remember: you are not perfect, and you are trying every day. There will be some low days, but you get back up, or you snuggle up in bed and applaud the little wins. What helps you not feel so guilty? What helps you juggle it all? What are your little wins?

Stay tuned for another post where I share other things that have helped me juggle this whole “being a mom and wedding photographer thing.” And if you are a photographer dad, I would love to hear from you too. This post is for moms because i am speaking from my experience but I know there are some fellas out there who are juggling being photographers, stay at home dads or full time day jobs. Leave a comment.

Go get your little wins.

And for some laughs.

mom memes

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