Parentpreneur: How To Run a Business While Raising Little Kids

POSTED IN : Creative Rising

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Creative Rising Episode 201


Running a photography business is hard.

Running a photography business while raising kids under three years old is even harder.

There’s so many questions about how to handle it all as a new parent:

  • How do you carve out time to work?
  • How do you handle childcare?
  • How do you balance it all?

Our world changed dramatically in April of 2018 with the birth of our son, James, so we’ve been in the tension of loving our family and loving our work ever since.

So I called my best parentpreneur friends to share their honest stories here, and we openly talk about our struggles with identity, childcare, balance, post-partum depression, and asking the biggest question we’re all afraid to ask… (listen to find out what it is.)

Looking for some practical entrepreneurial advice? Like how in the world should you structure childcare??

I also have my friends share what’s worked (and what hasn’t) when it comes to working during naps, hiring in-home nannies, and sharing childcare amongst family members.

Plus, learn all about the idea of the Family Kingdom and how it can help you thrive inside your home – instead of drive you crazy.

In this episode:
Sarah Bradshaw, Sarah Bradshaw Photography
Ginny Corbett, Ginny Corbett Photography
Taylor Abeel, Taylor Abeel Photography
Jane Johnson, Author, Photographer & Scripture Digger

Quick Guide:

  • (01:41) Welcome to Season TWO!
  • (04:43) Were You Scared to Become a Mom/Dad?
  • (14:51) What is My Identity?
  • (17:36) Mental Health & Post-Partum Depression
  • (26:13) The Phrase “You Are Enough”
  • (28:19) Freedom Edits – Get A Wedding Edited for Free
  • (31:07) That Buzzword… Balance
  • (36:08) Pros and Cons of Working During Naps
  • (47:09) How We Share Childcare with Family
  • (51:41) How Sarah Uses In-Home Childcare
  • (53:16) The Family Kingdom
  • (1:01:41) Best Advice for Parentpreneurs?
  • (1:03:53) The True Definition of Balance


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**Listen to the Episode Above or Read the Transcript Below**


Erin: 00:00:00 Hi Friends. Before we launch into this episode, I want to let you know that we are hosting our very first Creative Rising gathering here in San Diego. I am so excited about this! We are taking this amazing Creative Rising community and we are getting all of you together in person live. There is something so powerful about meeting other photographers in person and building face to face relationships. So join us here in San Diego on September 19th of 2019 at our very own skylight studios. It’s at 6:00 PM and the first hour will be mixed and mingle. The second hour we’ll be Jeff and myself talking about what we would do if we were starting a business in 2019 and we’ve been known to end our events here at skylight lately with a good old fashioned dance party. There will be plenty of wine, plenty of cool people. So if you’re a photographer and you’re craving some in person dialogue with other creatives that are just like you and you consider yourself cool people, then head to creative, forward slash gatherings to RSVP and get your spot seats will fill up quickly. Okay, I’ll put that link in the show notes for you as well and I will see you there!

Sarah Bradshaw: 00:01:23 Parenthood is not easy. Parenthood is really hard and it’s really raw and I don’t think I’ve ever cried out for wisdom more frequently at any period or any juncture of my life.

Erin: 00:01:42 Welcome to Creative Rising, my friend, a show about what it’s really like to run a photography business. I’m Erin Youngren, and if you’re not familiar with us, my husband, Jeff, and I are a husband and wife wedding photography team based in San Diego, California. And we’ve been shooting weddings for over a decade, ever since, we got married in 2006, And today, we run three separate photography brands, our wedding brand, which is The Youngrens, an associate wedding photography brand called Clove & Kin, and a commercial photography studio called Bauman Photographers. And I’ve talked about all these different brands on the podcast in season one so to hear our full story and the story of our businesses, start at the very beginning of this whole podcast with Episode 101: How We Built a Dreamie Business.

Erin: 00:02:36 This is really exciting because this is the first episode of season two and I am launching this season by tackling a huge topic that has come front and center for Jeff and me just recently because in April of 2018 we had our baby boy, James, who at the time of this recording is now 16 months old, so a year and four months, and today’s episode is about what it’s really like to be a parentprenuer, run a business and have kids at the same time. For those of you who don’t know it took Jeff and me five years to have James. And if you want to hear our full fertility story, check out episode 103: The Battle of the Creative. That’s in season one of this podcast. So by the time we had James, we were seriously ready to have a family. So in a lot of ways we felt prepared.

Erin: 00:03:33 However, if this past year has taught us anything, it’s that becoming a parent is one of those things that you can only prepare for so much. It’s not until you’re in it that you can really fully understand its challenges. And then being an entrepreneur on top of being a parent adds a whole different layer to the parenting dynamic. When you’re completely in charge of your time and you work from home, the lines between work and family become extremely blurred. So blurred sometimes that it feels like your identity and your autonomy have completely disappeared. So even though it took us five years to have James, when I did become pregnant and I thought about the future of our business, I was consumed with questions. How do I handle this? How am I going to balance it all? What does maternity leave look like? For someone like me who doesn’t have a traditional employer and a traditional paycheck, who will cover that leave? Will we be able to afford childcare? Do I want to use childcare? So for this episode, I called up a handful of my friends so I could hear from other parentpreneurs and ask them these same questions.

Ginny Corbett: 00:04:43 The struggle is real. Then should be the name of your podcast episode.

Erin: 00:04:50 That’s a great idea actually. “Parentpreneur: The Struggle Is Real.

Ginny Corbett: 00:04:56 Exactly.

Jane Johnson: 00:04:58 Yeah. It’s a little crazy and now I’m like, oh my gosh, I’m, I need to be like an octopus in order to have three babies. What am I doing? This is so crazy.

Erin: 00:05:06 I know. Seriously, like what’s going through your head with that right now?

Jane Johnson: 00:05:11 Like I’m going to have a 14 month old that’s going to be super needy and a barely three-year-old and a newborn and I’m going to have to decide, okay, I’m going to have to like triage. Like who’s the most important? Who do I pick up now? Who can stand there and cry? Like it’s going to be chaos.

Taylor Abeel: 00:05:26 Oh, there are days where I just am like, I just want to do what I want. I just want to go surfing whenever I feel like it or whatever.

Sarah Bradshaw: 00:05:33 You really don’t know if you’re an angry person or not until you have children.

Erin: 00:05:37 I love that.

Sarah Bradshaw: 00:05:41 Totally true and guess what? I’m an angry person and I did not know that.

Erin: 00:05:45 These are my parentpreneur friends, Ginny, Jane, Taylor and Sarah. They’re all very different personalities. They’re all running their own creative businesses and I believe that they are incredible parents. And I reached out to them to ask about their experiences of running a business and being a parent. How do they structure their days? How do they get work done? Do they hire help? Do they use daycare? Do they squeeze in work during naps? And I’ll be getting to those questions for sure because that kind of concrete logistical stuff I find is super helpful. But first I wanted to ask a question that I think most of us are scared to ask because we don’t know what it says about us if this thought even exists in our minds. But guess what? It’s something that all of us wrestle with.

Erin: 00:06:34 Were you afraid to become a mom?

Sarah Bradshaw: 00:06:38 I was terrified. I was just afraid of being trapped and I was afraid of losing my business. I was afraid of losing relevance within my business, so I was very afraid.

Erin: 00:06:56 This is Sarah Bradshaw who you’ve heard on the podcast before in season one. She owns Sarah Bradshaw Photography and she works and lives in Washington D.C. Her husband is Buck, who works in International Development for a nonprofit in D.C. And she hastwo little kiddos, London Jane, who’s three and a half and Edmund Pierce, who’s six months old. And for Sarah, this fear of becoming a mom is wrapped up in her identity as a business owner.

Erin: 00:07:23 When you say that you were scared to lose relevance in your Business, talk to me a little bit about that.

Sarah Bradshaw: 00:07:29 I have so many friends who started their business just before or just after they got married and ran it successfully and then started a family and decided that they couldn’t do both and I didn’t want to lose my business and I didn’t want to lose the, the joy that that came from working. And I was afraid that I was going to one, lose my identity as a photographer and as a business owner and that I would lose myself and just be absorbed into parenthood or that my attempts at staying in the wedding world and in the photography world would be futile and that I would go on maternity leave and everyone would forget about me. I was very afraid of that.

Erin: 00:08:18 Do you think that that has come true?

Sarah Bradshaw: 00:08:20 No. If anything, I’ve seen the opposite. I think as Buck and I have worked through the growing pains of stepping into parenthood, as we have realigned priorities regularly checked in with each other about, hey, how’s your heart with work? What’s, what’s the balance like, are we doing okay with our family? Do we feel like we’re focusing on the right things? As we’re having those conversations and as our priorities stay in the right place, people can tell that. People can tell that I am 100% for my brides and I’m there on her wedding day and on Monday after our wedding, I’m 100% there for my family. And wedding planners have a lot of respect for me, for the ways that I set boundaries around my business. My clients will scold me if I emailed them outside of my set business hours because they want me invested in my family.

Erin: 00:09:27 Were you scared to become a mom?

Ginny Corbett: 00:09:29 Terrified. I honestly think that I could have had a touch of pre-partum depression.

Erin: 00:09:35 This is my friend Ginny Corbett, who owns Ginny Corbett photography in North Carolina. She’s been a photographer for over a decade and she and her husband were surprised to find that they were pregnant with two twin girls. And those girls are now eight months old.

Ginny Corbett: 00:09:55 I’m an enneagram seven and some of our greatest fears is of being trapped and in pain. But yeah, there’s never been anything more terrifying than becoming a mom to me. But what I didn’t realize was coming is the love that I was about to encounter. And everyone that I talked to kept telling me, “you just wait till the moment you meet them.” And it’s so true. Like the moment the nurse handed me, both of my babies, I was like this is my greatest joy in the world. This isn’t a prison. This is a playground. I was so excited.

Erin: 00:10:35 Were you scared to become a dad?

Taylor Abeel: 00:10:38 I don’t know that I was scared to become a dad. I was really excited to become a dad. I think I was scared about the loss of freedom. So to me there, and that’s still an issue. I mean, a decade of living that way doesn’t just disappear.

Erin: 00:10:50 Being a mom myself, I find it’s easy to focus on just the experience of moms that are running a business. But I want to be really intentional about using this word parentpreneur and I want to include the experience of dads who also run their own business. So this is Taylor of Taylor Abeel photography. He’s dad to three kids, Paige who’s four and a half, Owen who’s two and a half and Hunter who’s eight months. And before we got married, he spent most of his twenties as a traveler seeing the world and living from adventure to adventure. But after he got married to his lovely wife Emily, and they started having kids, it was this loss of freedom that he learned to trade in for his family.

Taylor Abeel: 00:11:30 Well as soon as Emily told me she was pregnant, those were the kinds of thoughts that were going through my mind. Like, okay, I am not going to just be able to do whatever I want whenever I want. Even less so than being married. You know, in a marriage there’s still a certain amount of freedom to go do your thing. At the time I was volunteering with the maritime museum, sailing tall ships and I was like one of my fun adventures outlets that disappeared quickly after becoming a parent. So little by little, all those extra things just got pushed to the side.

Erin: 00:12:03 Even though Jordan was highly anticipated to say the least and you were ready to be a mom, was there any part of you that was scared to be a mom?

Jane Johnson: 00:12:13 Oh, for sure.

Erin: 00:12:15 And finally, this is Jane Johnson. She is a photographer, graphic designer and author of the book Mercy Like Morning. And if you haven’t heard Jane’s story then definitely get Mercy Like Morning and read the whole thing because it tells the full story of how she and her husband Josh waited for the Lord to give them a baby for 10 years. And in the middle of that 10 year period of delayed fertility, she lost her best friend to cancer. But the best part of the story is that that 10 year wait came to an end with the birth of their son Jordan, who’s now two and a half. And they not only have a second son, Jonathan, who’s eight months old, but they’re pregnant with their third. And yet, even after 10 years of anticipating and longing for her first miracle baby Jordan, Jane still experienced all of those same questions and fears and emotions that all of us feel when she found out she was becoming a mom.

Jane Johnson: 00:13:16 It wasn’t a quiet kind of sit by the wayside wait. It was this really big anticipation of God’s going to do His miracle. It’s just a matter of when. So then when you have this audience of people that are believing with you and rejoicing with you and you finally get your miracle, it’s really hard to kind of have the balance of every emotion that every new mom has of, holy crap, everything’s going to change. You know, like how am I going to do this? And you know, like especially when I was 36 when Jordan was born, or I was 35 when he was born, about to turn 36 and I’d been married for like 12 years. So when you’ve been married that long and you’re well into your thirties you have a certain lifestyle established and certain expectations established and then all of a sudden it all comes.

Jane Johnson: 00:14:05 And it’s gonna upheaval and turn everything upside down and everything else. So it was terrifying. But then I would also think like, okay, well Moses, part of the stinkin’ Red Sea and he was leading an entire country of people across this sea. That doesn’t mean that he wasn’t terrified when he was doing it. I think that there’s a healthy kind of fear of acknowledging that yeah, miracles are amazing and answer to prayer is so amazing, but it’s natural to have this kind of fear of the unknown that goes with it. To have, you know, like, what’s this gonna look like and all this anticipation of being a mother and what if I can’t handle it? Or what if I can’t? You know, what if I fail? All those fears. But there’s a lot more pressure to not necessarily talk about those things.

Erin: 00:14:59 Feeling trapped. Losing your freedom. How am I going to do this? These are all feelings that so many of us entrepreneurs experience as we become parents, especially for moms. When we have kids, our lives change so dramatically that our identity changes in fundamental ways. And it’s, it’s something that’s a little bit hard to describe and this issue of identity is one that I heard several times throughout my interviews, especially when I asked my friends about what their experience was like taking maternity leave. Here’s Ginny.

Erin: 00:15:34 Did you take a maternity leave and if you did, what was that experience like for you?

Ginny Corbett: 00:15:39 Yeah, maternity leave was, I would say, equal parts a gift and a challenge because I realized very quickly that I still had a couple of issues with my identity tied up in my business. There was nothing that really felt like me anymore. That was the most challenging part of maternity leave was I’ve got this tug that I still am a photographer and I need to do work, but the very real reality that I have no capacity to do anything other than feed these babies, get them down for the nap and just survive for the the entirety of that four months.

Erin: 00:16:23 Survival. There’s something so raw and physical about the months after giving birth. If you’re a woman who has just had a child, the experience of giving your entire self physical, mental, emotional over to this little being that you don’t know at all, but you feel like you know so completely at the same time. It’s an experience that is both wondrous and it’s awful at the same time wondrous because it’s simply a miracle when you look into the eyes of your child and I mean it’s nothing short of seeing the entire universe in all of its beauty in the eyes of this little, this little baby, but it’s awful because it’s seriously demanding on your body, on your mind, on your emotions. You are doing the hardest thing of your life while you are functioning at a fraction of your normal capacity. Then add in the element that for a period of time you have to give up another huge side of yourself, your vocational self, the business that you have worked so hard to build.

Erin: 00:17:30 You now have to trust that it will all be okay without you working in it. Especially in a world where it can feel like everything is moving so fast. Letting go even for a short period can feel like you’re losing it all. So the temptation is to go back to work as soon as possible. I mean, we’re all bad-ass entrepreneurs, right? We can hustle, we can make it happen. We’re strong and we’re capable. We’ll rest for four to six weeks and then jumped right back into work. And I know that’s what I thought when I got pregnant and I started considering maternity leave. But what I’ve learned and what I’m so, so grateful that I learned before I took my maternity leave is that if we go back to work too soon, even if it’s just going back to answering emails on our laptop, that can have serious consequences on our physical health as well as on our emotional health.

Erin: 00:18:29 Did you ever take a maternity leave?

Sarah Bradshaw: 00:18:32 So I’ve taken maternity leave with both of my children with varying degrees of success and failure in both. So with London, I did have a set maternity leave of six weeks. I had a wedding five and a half weeks after she was born. So I had to be back to work full time at that point. And I going into it thought that that would be enough time. She was born the end of March so I had a few months off during our off season leading up to maternity leave. So I felt prepared to go into maternity leave. But again that fear of losing relevance overshadowed most of the leave time that I had. And I think I hopped back on emails starting around day 10. So like when she was like a week and a half old, maybe two weeks and was basically working full time by the time she was three weeks one because I love working, but also I was just terrified of my business dying while I wasn’t there tending to it and that, that had a huge impact on my mental health. I think I dealt with undiagnosed postpartum depression for about a year and a half after she was born. Cause I think I went back to work too soon. I didn’t give my body a chance to adjust or my heart a chance to adjust to motherhood. So it was a rough season for me.

Erin: 00:19:54 Tell me a little bit about the postpartum depression that you experienced.

Sarah Bradshaw: 00:19:59 I dealt with it with after both kids after London it mostly looked I think more like postpartum anxiety than postpartum depression. But I did just feel off. I felt regular feelings of intense overwhelm and I was a much more emotional and almost irrational and the response to some things. But I had a, it was almost as if my body’s hormones never really recovered from having her. And I had to go see a specialist about almost two years after she was born. I guess she was probably 19 months or 20 months. When I finally went to see a specialist to help them diagnose the problem, because I could tell something was wrong, I could tell that I was responding to situations with an, an intensity of emotion that the situation did not warrant. And it was almost like I was an outside observer to my own emotions, seeing this huge wall of feeling, responding to something and I would sit there and think, well, I don’t really feel this way and yet I’m feeling this way.

Sarah Bradshaw: 00:21:15 In my mind, I know that I don’t feel this way, but my heart, I’m feeling such intensity that something’s wrong. This isn’t right. So I finally went to see a specialist and they discovered a crazy hormone imbalance and medication. And within two or three months, I felt completely back to normal. But it was, it was about the two year mark where I finally looked in the mirror and thought, I think I feel like myself again for the first time after having her. So that’s a lot. That’s a long time. And it did have a lot of fear with the prospect of a second one because we got pregnant just three months after that. So like I finally started feeling normal again.

Sarah Bradshaw: 00:21:57 Three months later I was pregnant and I don’t really enjoy being pregnant. And it was a, it was like another dark, dark nine months for me dealing with that pregnancy. And then postpartum depression with Edmund hit very soon after and got very bad very quickly. So the point that I called my ob Gyn and tears begging for medication and that was something I never thought I would have done. But I started on medication for postpartum depression and saw quick change, started seeing a counselor and just got a lot of good support from my husband and I feel like I’m in a really good place now, six months postpartum. But it was very scary there for a few weeks.

Erin: 00:22:41 With your first, it took a long time for you to go see a specialist. Do you think that’s just because you weren’t aware that there were resources out there, you just didn’t know what was going on? It was just so new to you or why do you think it took so long to go see a specialist the first time around?

Sarah Bradshaw: 00:22:58 My counselor has jokingly diagnosed me with what she calls, “It’s all up to me syndrome.” I think the reason that it took me so long is because I thought that whatever I was feeling was my fault and that it was up to me to fix it. I thought I have some food sensitivities and I was a little bit looser with my diet when I was pregnant with her. And I was like, oh, just my fault. I need to just like take gluten out of my diet completely again. Or Oh, I’m just not sleeping enough. Or Oh, I just need to not, you know, not spend so much time on social media. So I thought all of these other things were contributing to my mental and emotional state. Well, it turns out that something completely out of my control was causing a very, very strong hormone imbalance. And my responses were actually not something I could control and not something I could take care of apart from medication. And thank goodness for doctors who are able to, you know, diagnose properly and the prescribed things to help. But I do think the reason it took me so long is that I was just convinced that I was the one who had to fix it.

Erin: 00:24:04 What would you say to someone that’s in that position and feeling that way? Like what advice would you give a new mom who’s in that position who is thinking to themselves? I think I may be experiencing a form of postpartum depression or anxiety

Sarah Bradshaw: 00:24:19 Help is worth it. Asking for help is one of the most humbling things that you can do. But one of the best things you can do for your wife, I mean for your husband and your children. I mean, I remember at one point Buck sitting there and I’m in tears thinking, well maybe this is just going to pass. Maybe I just won’t feel this way. And he said, Sarah, I need you to go get help. Your children need you to go get help, you just need to start on medication. This is going to be the best thing for you. I need that firm. I need you cause I need my wife. And that was really helpful for me to hear because I just thought that I needed to power through. I also found that once I started talking about postpartum depression, openly women who came out of the woodwork telling me their experiences as well.

Sarah Bradshaw: 00:25:06 When I was silent about it, I thought that I was, I didn’t, I thought I didn’t know anybody else who’d ever been on medication for it. So I was terrified of going on medication. And once I emailed my, I have our church has a moms Google group and I emailed all of the women in our church and was like, has anybody else dealt with these symptoms or, and, and I had dozens of emails back saying, Oh yeah, I was on medication for three years. Oh yeah, I’m still on medication five years later. Oh yeah. I went on this and it was like life changing for me. Normalizing the struggle cause you hear the statistics. But normalizing the struggle. Yes. Made everything so much less scary knowing that I had comrade in arms, that other people who had been through the same thing, who were cheering for me, who were encouraging me to do the same thing that my husband was telling me to do the same thing my doctor was encouraging me to do. It made it not seem like such a big deal.

Sarah Bradshaw: 00:26:19 There’s this phrase that gets tossed around a lot – “You are enough.” And I actually found that very discouraging and disheartening because it was, I needed to know that I wasn’t enough and that was okay. I needed to know that, that I, I wasn’t enough, but I had a community that could help me, that, that it was okay, that I felt lack and it was okay that I felt like I wasn’t sufficient because I wasn’t, I needed help. I needed my husband to be there to hold up my arms. I needed women who are willing to come bring me a meal. I needed a doctor who was willing to give me medication. I need it. People who are willing to step in and support me because I knew I wasn’t enough and it was good for me to hear that I didn’t have to be.

Sarah Bradshaw: 00:27:02 So I knew that that phrase gets tossed around as an encouragement and I thought it’s so disheartening and it wasn’t helpful for people to say, so I’m trying to be enough because it’s actually too much for you to take on yourself that you’re not meant to do it by yourself. You’re meant to link arms with a community of people. The idea that it takes a village to raise a child, I fully 100% agree with that concept and trying to do it all on my own was just digging me into a worse hole. And linking arms is what, what has gotten me through everything.

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Jeff (Ad): 00:28:20 It’s funny that we’re recording the ad for the parentpreneur episode and literally like James Is gonna wake up at any second and we gotta do it. We got to do it now during his nap time.

Erin (Ad): 00:28:31 Yeah. It’s like if it doesn’t happen, it’s not happening till tomorrow. No pressure.

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Erin (Ad): 00:29:05 The onboarding process was amazing. It was so simple and straight forward and personalized. So what they do is they will set up a meeting with you over Skype and then they have you edit a select handful of your images and they record the process on your screen. So you’ll explain what you’re doing, why you’re doing it. You’ll use all your normal presets that you might normally use, and then they’ll take that recording, they’ll ask you questions, they’ll clarify anything they need to clarify, and then that’s how they will edit your images moving forward. So they nailed it right out the gate almost perfectly. Like there was a few tweaks we made, but it was so easy to get them dialed in.

Jeff (Ad): 00:29:45 Yeah. And it’s, that’s really different than a lot of other companies that we worked with. Like I felt like before with other companies we kind of had to fit into their boxes. Like, okay check which box is your brightness style? Which box is your color temperature? And you’re like, I don’t, I don’t know. Can you just make them look like my images?

Erin (Ad): 00:30:03 It was always so frustrating feeling. Like I have my editing style as unique to me for a reason. That’s how I run my business.

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Erin: 00:31:08 So after becoming a mom, what comes up for you when you hear that word balance?

Ginny Corbett: 00:31:13 I don’t have any balance right now. I can’t wait to listen to this podcast to find some balance to get some inspiration. But I do feel like I’m coming into a season of yearning for it.

Erin: 00:31:27 It would be impossible to do an episode on being a parentneur and not talk about balance. It’s a hot topic that everyone has an opinion on. So I had to ask my parent friends what they think. Here’s our dad Taylor.

Erin: 00:31:48 After becoming a dad, what comes up for you when you hear the word balance?

Taylor Abeel: 00:31:54 That’s a great question. Before balance would have meant time to do the things that I want to do. Now, balance means balancing between taking great care of my clients and taking great care of my family and hopefully in there also finding time to be recharging myself. Well I shouldn’t put myself that low. I’ve come to realize like if I’m not being recharged, if I’m not doing things that make me come alive, then I am not as good of a husband and father and business owner and my interaction with clients isn’t even as good. So it’s threefold. I have to take great care of myself, my family and my clients and it’s really difficult to find that balance most of the time. If I’m honest, I’m the one who probably cuts out most. It’s both of us, my wife and I both end up putting our needs or desires aside for the sake of our kids and our work. So we’re still trying to find the balance for that one.

Erin: 00:32:51 For me, I agree with Taylor in that balance is really hard to achieve. In fact, I think it’s not something that really should be achieved because it’s not helpful for me to try to keep all areas of my life and perfect balance at all times. It’s a standard that just seems so unrealistic. And in my experience, those high expectations, they only cause me to constantly feel like I’m not good enough and I’m always falling short. And Sarah Bradshaw totally agrees with this too.

Sarah Bradshaw: 00:33:22 When I hear the word balance I have a very strong, everything in me wants to say, no, no, no, no. Stop. that’s not a helpful word. That’s not, that’s not what life as a parent and a business owner looks like. I think I’ve shared this quote with you, but “There is no such thing as work life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”

Erin: 00:33:49 So good.

Sarah Bradshaw: 00:33:50 Yeah. So, so when we think about work life balance, we don’t think about the balance so much as we think about living within boundaries and under priorities. So we, if we find a joy in living within those boundaries instead of fighting against them, then there is like life that comes from it. So we think about instead of work life balance, we think about healthy boundaries and then our priority is our God first and then our marriage and then our children and then our work. And if we keep things in those order in that order, then things seem to just work out really well. There’s often tension and there are certain seasons when the amount of time that we spend on certain things is going to be greater than there is in other seasons. But that doesn’t mean that my heart and priority is turned more towards my work than it is to my family.

Erin: 00:34:41 After becoming a mom, what comes up for you when you hear that word balance?

Jane Johnson: 00:34:46 You know, honestly, it’s a trigger word for so many people and it doesn’t really trigger anything for me. And I think it’s because I just, I know that I don’t have time to balance this stuff out, that I’ve just like I’ve taken on just enough of what I can chew that I don’t feel like it’s hard for me to balance it all. It’s more, it’s more of a gosh, I have to concentrate really hard to try and balance my brain more than like my priorities. Watch I say that and next week is going to be like, whoa, Jane, you got to get it together because things are a little unbalanced.

Erin: 00:35:23 So instead of trying to achieve balance, Sarah is saying that it’s about being willing to work within the boundaries of your life and knowing your priorities, what really matters to you in the long run. And the same idea, it seems to be true for knowing what she can handle is a form of healthy boundaries and she understands what’s important to her. She knows her priorities, which I think those two things, boundaries and priorities are really important to keep in mind. As we move onto the next part of today’s episode, which is talking about all of that concrete nitty gritty logistical stuff of how to run a business and be a parent at the same time.

Erin: 00:36:10 What I’ve discovered in talking to a lot of different parentpreneur friends as well as learning from my own experience, is that there’s a couple of options that you can consider when it comes to finding time to work. When you have young kids in the home that are not school age yet. So first you can work during their naps. No help, no childcare. Just working within the times that your kids’ current schedule will allow you to work. Second, you can share the responsibility of childcare between you, your spouse, and other family members. And third, you can pay for hired help either through babysitters, nannies, or daycare. So first, let’s talk about naps. Both Jane and Ginny have chosen to do their work during nap times. So I talked to them about their experiences with it. And what advice they have for other parents that want to do the same thing.

Erin: 00:37:05 What would you say to other moms that are, that want to be moms full time and we’ll have nap times to work. What would you say to them? Like do you have any advice that you can give to them about your experience?What’s worked for you was what hasn’t worked, what expectations you formed? Tell me about that.

Jane Johnson: 00:37:24 Oh Gosh, that’s kind of, I mean I have an ideal of what I would like it to look like. Like I’ve tried really hard to create a schedule of like, okay, on Monday I work on photography. On Tuesday I work solely on Instagram and marketing. On Wednesday I do design projects or whatever, you know, but I, I feel like I’m not that, like I had the split kind of personality where part of me wants to be super type A, super regimented and then the other person, the other part of me wants to be just like creative and free. So a lot of times I just sit down and kind of work on, for lack of a better term, like what I’m craving. So if I like really feel like I just want to sit down and write, I need to get some words out then like that’s what I sit down and do, you know?

Jane Johnson: 00:38:07 But so I have ideals of, I want to be super organized and regimented, but I think I just pretty much have my list of like, okay, these are the things that need to get done at some point this week. And then I just, it’s kind of like go into a restaurant and looking at the menu, I’m like, hmm, what do I want to eat tonight? You know? But I also have learned that I tend to get frustrated when, you know, when Jordan was a baby and he would wake up early from his nap. I’d get really frustrated because I’m like knee-deep and a project and my brain is so engaged in loss and creativity that I get frustrated if that time gets interrupted. And I had to really work on being okay with interruptions. And you know, if they wake up early, I have to be fine with just hitting save and walking away, you know, and hoping that I can get back into that brain space.

Erin: 00:38:53 This has been my biggest struggle with working during naps – dealing with the time it takes to get into a focus mindset and also at the same time knowing that James could wake up at any minute. Naps are not a guaranteed amount of time. And this came up in my conversation with Ginny too.

Erin: 00:39:11 How has your business changed since having the girls?

Ginny Corbett: 00:39:17 Oh man, it’s the business has changed a ton on the back end. I have to fit editing and all my emails into naptimes now.

Erin: 00:39:28 Has that been working or do you feel like there’s some things that need to change?

Ginny Corbett: 00:39:34 It is definitely not working, so for anyone wanting to use me as inspiration, don’t do it.

Erin: 00:39:40 It’s hard for me to get enough focus during a nap to do what I need to do. And then as much as your kids can be consistent with our naps, like you’re like, okay, he always sleeps for an hour and a half. It’s just not the reality that that’s going to happen every time. So they could wake up after 30 minutes, they could wake up at two hours. You just don’t know. And so I’ve always felt like that made it really hard for me to work just during naps.

Ginny Corbett: 00:40:04 Yeah, I mean, you nailed it. It’s like by the time I get them down, I still have so many other things that I have to do to prep myself for the next segment of the day. I am exclusively pumping, so I need to pump, wash bottles, get everything straightened up to prepare. So by the time I do all that and feed myself, I have maybe 30 minutes before I need to, you know, before they wake up. So yeah, there has not been much productivity and if I was as smart as you, I would’ve figured that out a long time ago that wait a minute, can’t work during naps. For some reason I thought that I could do it all. And so it’s been a, it really has been a hard wedding season because I don’t feel like I’m being very productive. And you know, I keep going back to a little bit of, my identity gets caught up in that like, did I do enough today? If I did then cool, you can rest, you’ve earned this break. But I really didn’t have very many satisfying days.

Erin: 00:41:07 Yeah. I mean that shifting gears, that shifting mindset is really, it takes some time. Like that transition time feels like why? Why does this happen? But the reality is that it happens and it’s kind of annoying cause I just want to get to it and get it done right away. But it doesn’t work that way. Like you need that time to transition and by the time you maybe get there, it’s like, okay well time’s up.

Ginny Corbett: 00:41:31 Yeah. Yeah. And that’s, that’s a major frustration for me because a part of me just feels like I’m just not cut out for it or something. But to hear another mom and photographer has the same experience really helps affirm me that wait a minute, it’s not just me, it’s not that I’m distracted or lazy, it’s that it just takes more time to get things done. And then what you expect for yourself.

Erin: 00:41:59 Yeah, yeah. I get that. When you say maybe I’m just not cut out for it. Like I think that’s, that speaks to a lot of my self talk and internal dialogue of well am I just not one of those personalities that can get things done and is that why like are there, there’s got to be like everybody else that runs their own business, there’s so much more productive than I am or they’re able to just sit down and get things done. And I think part of that is that’s kind of what you see online. It’s kind of what you see when you either read books or follow successful people or hear advice. Or for me it’s listening to podcast interviews and that kind of stuff. And I’m like, they must be the kind of people that they put their kid down and they just sit down and just like knock something out in 30 minutes and take their business to the next level and then their kid wakes up, you know?

Ginny Corbett: 00:42:53 Yeah. I wish I was one of those people, but I’m just not, you know.

Erin: 00:42:58 Well, I don’t even know if that’s true. Like I don’t know if that actually, I’m like, I questioned whether that actually exists.

Ginny Corbett: 00:43:04 Well, there’s just so much perfection that’s posted online. You know, we tidy up our lives and you know, we give that highlight reel and it really does set, it messes with people’s expectations. So now all of a sudden, you know, I’ll take my story. I’m a new mom and I’m barely able to just survive nonetheless, shower and feed myself, feed my kids. Now I’m also expected to run this perfect business and to keep up with everyone. And it doesn’t take long before you’re just super discouraged to live this state of I’m just not enough. Like I don’t have what it takes, you know?

Erin: 00:43:43 Yeah, I think expectations is a good way is a good word for that. Like the expectations, they feel so high.

Ginny: 00:43:54 Expectations are so major when you’re a parent and entrepreneur. Like, if I carry the same expectation that I’m gonna now raise, stay at home and raise twins while also carrying in the same rhythms that I had before having kids, then I’m going to constantly live in a state of disappointment and frustration that I really need to like manage my expectations of how much I can accomplish in a day on how many weddings I can take on in a year. You know, things like that. Even the expectations on my nap time, like when girls are awake and play and I’m like okay, when they nap I’m gonna do this, this, this and this. And then when I get to the nap I get one of those things done and then I’m disappointed, you know? So I would definitely say expectations are major right now for me as a new mom.

Erin: 00:44:46 Yeah, business owner. Yeah, definitely. Cause then when you get that one thing done, instead of being excited and proud of yourself, you’re like, well shoot, I didn’t get that. It’s not enough.

Erin: 00:44:56 After talking to Ginny, I realized that expectations are so huge for us as parentpreneurs because they keep our mindsets in check. Having proper expectations instead of unrealistic expectations, that helps us tremendously with finding joy within our boundaries, which in this case our boundaries in naps, instead of dealing with disappointment all the time and always feeling like we’re not measuring up. But we also need to set proper expectations with clients too, especially if we suddenly decide to work limited hours like only during nap times. And Jane is really good at this with her design clients. So I asked her about it.

Erin: 00:45:39 Did you set up the, did you intentionally set up those expectations with them?

Jane Johnson: 00:45:43 I think I just kind of warned them, you know, and I mean I don’t, it’s kind of a tricky balance because I don’t want them to think that I’m only, you know, hardly working at all when they’re investing so much into their projects. But I just give them a warning of like, this is the window that you’re guaranteed. Like, basically I say, if we need to have, you know, a Skype meeting or talk on the phone, this is my best window. And I think that they just kind of understand that that’s when they’re going to hear from me in general. So yeah, it’s worked out pretty well.

Erin: 00:46:10 I feel like there would be a lot of fear for folks feeling like, like you said, like you don’t want your clients to feel like they are like, who is this person? They’re hardly working. I’m Spending all this money, which is coming out of fear. Right? Has that fear actually come true? Like is that real or is that just something that we’re feeling because we want to serve our clients the best way we can?

Jane Johnson: 00:46:36 Yeah. No, I’ve never had a client say, you know what? It seems like you’re hardly working at all. This is not gonna work for me.

Erin: 00:46:43 Yeah.

Jane Johnson: 00:46:43 A lot of that comes into the whole balance work life balance key is that I’ve never really struggled with that because I just kind of set the precedent of like it’s the weekend I’m going to hang out with my husband, I’m going to go, you know, do my stuff with my family and you can hear from me on Monday. Kind of like it’s just black and white and if they, if a client doesn’t love that then I’m not for them and that’s fine with me. They can go find somebody else that will answer their email at two o’clock in the morning cause that’s not me.

Erin: 00:47:12 The second way to structure your work life and parent life is to split the responsibilities of childcare between you, your spouse and other family members, which is what Jeff and I do currently with James.

Jeff: 00:47:23 Do you want to talk through a little bit about the different iterations we’ve been through about with James?

Erin: 00:47:30 Yeah. We’ve been through a lot of different versions over the last year and a half. So I have always been of the mindset that if we are going to shoulder the responsibilities of this business, then I want to take advantage of everything that the business has to offer in that we are not told when we have to work, right. There’s no one telling us when we have to clock in and clock, clock out, we are in charge of our work hours. And so I’ve wanted to really lean into that flexibility and just see if we can make it work between the two of us, between family members. And that’s just been really important to me.

Jeff: 00:48:11 Yeah. I mean to me as well, I think it’s been less about trying to make it work and more about like I just want James to be raised by like us or like you know, family or like people that are going to be in his life for a very long time as opposed to a random nanny or a daycare or something like that if at all possible. Cause that’s kinda like my, my dream right now.

Erin: 00:48:37 Yeah. And childcare, daycare, nanny, that’s all still an option out there. And we may have to do that at some point but you know, we want to make it work with just us and balance everything among family and you and I first

Erin: 00:49:04 So the first thing we tried when I came off of maternity leave was we actually split our days in half. Where you watched James in the mornings and then I worked in the mornings and then we switched midway. And you then worked in the afternoons and I took care of James and that worked for a while. But what was that experience like for you?

Jeff: 00:49:28 I think for me it was difficult for me to then to go from like being with him all morning to then going into trying to work in the afternoon where I had just a few hours. My projects were just bigger than the few hours. And so I was finding that I was like kind of falling behind more than I was moving ahead because they’re all just such big projects.

Erin: 00:49:49 And so we switched to me working two days a week. And your parents and your brother have been so gracious and so amazing and they watched James one day a week so that both of us can work, have one day a week or we’re both working together and both in the studio. And then on Fridays you get to be with James and have your daddy daycare Fridays.

Jeff: 00:50:14 Which is like the best day ever. So I get like three, if we’re not shooting, I really get a three day weekend. I get to wear Aloha shirts. James Wears an Aloha shirt or you go to sea world or the zoo. We have like a totally fun morning and it’s also fun because since Erin’s at work, since you’re at work, I get to spend the afternoon going into the store, getting fun things and then braising something or doing something really well thought out. So when you come home from work, I have like, I should be wearing an apron when you come home. Actually, I’d just be like, oh, I’m just pulling this roast out of the oven.

Erin: 00:50:47 It’s so, it’s so perfect.

Erin: 00:50:49 The biggest piece of advice that I got when I was coming off of maternity leave and trying to figure out what my work schedule was going to look like is that someone said that naps are difficult to work during because your brain is still on, like you’re still in charge of your children. And so if at all possible, find time where you are not 100% responsible where somebody else is taking care of them and you can put your mind completely 100% into your work. And so I’ve really taken that to heart and tried to figure out how to make those hours. So between your family watching him one day and you watching him another day, those hours are 100% on work. I can focus on that only. And then when I’m with James I can really focus on just being with James.

Erin: 00:51:51 And lastly, the third option for structuring your work life and parent life is to pay to have some form of childcare either through babysitters, nannies or professional daycare. Sarah Bradshaw has chosen to have an in home nanny for a set amount of hours each week. So she talked me through this schedule that’s working really well for them right now with their two kids.

Sarah Bradshaw: 00:52:12 So right now we have a nanny who comes to our house at seven 30 in the morning and leaves at one 30 she does that Tuesday through Friday and I, my husband manages the morning routine with the kids. I get up at five 30 and sit down to my, my computer by 6:30 AM and then the goal is for me to be able to wrap up work by one 30 if there’s anything extra that needs to happen in the afternoons during that time I can get that done. But if like today Edmund is a little off on his afternoon nap, it’s not disrupting any work time cause it’s not necessarily depended on. So it’s working really well for our family. I’m able to schedule sunrise engagement sessions without disrupting my husband’s work schedule. I still get quality time with my kids in the afternoon and evenings. My husband was already up early, so it’s just aligned our evening and morning schedules better. So we go to bed at the same time and get up around the same time. So we have good quality time at the start and the end of the day. It’s been a really good fit for us.

Erin: 00:53:16 What I love about Sarah is that when I asked her if she’d be willing to be on this episode and to share her experience of being a parentpreneur with me, she not only said yes, but she shared with me all of these super helpful tips that she and her husband do to keep their priorities aligned in their work life and parent life. So I asked her to share all of those things here and it all starts with this idea of the Family Kingdom. You use this phrase that you got from GK Chesterson who talked about the idea that every nuclear family is in a sense their own little kingdom. So talk to me about that phrase, the family kingdom and how you guys view that in your own family unit.

Sarah Bradshaw: 00:54:04 Well, I think this is actually one of the best ways that we are able to do the whole work life, family thing. Because we don’t compare ourselves so much to someone else because if we think about our own family as our own kingdom and we have our own rules that, that we use within our kingdom to function well, then it only matters if we’re living within our priorities, not what another family is doing. I have other friends here in the DC area who are moms or parents and running businesses as well. The decisions that they make are different than the ones I make. One dear friend of mine has her kids, she has three kids and they’re in daycare full time all year round because that’s what works well for their family and their family. Kingdom buck and I choose to have in home child care for just 24 hours a week, so that I’m able to have a more of an influence in my kids. Not, not that she doesn’t, it’s just a different kind of hands on time with our children because I want that and we’re able to do that. Other families that I know within their family kingdom, they decide that they’re not going to have any out out of home child care, that they’re going to do everything with their kids still at home and only have family watch their children. And that’s their decision with them, their family kingdom. And it’s not right or wrong compared to anybody else’s. It’s just what works well for their family. And that relieves a lot of the judgment I think that we can feel towards other people when their decisions are different than ours.

Erin: 00:55:47 Yes. I love that you say that you and your husband see yourselves as 100% equal in value as in the work that you do is equal to the work that your husband does. So talk to me about that.

Sarah Bradshaw: 00:56:02 This is where I have to sing my husband’s praises because he is the one who has really pushed this idea. And, and that has been the best possible thing for me as his wife to to receive. We view each other’s work is equally valuable and contributing to our family. And that means that I respect him and his work and he respects me in my work. So we don’t have a, his work is more important than mine. I used to, when London was first born, anytime that he was off and I needed to work, I would thank him for letting me work. And I, I realized one day that by thanking him I wasn’t actually being thankful. I was expressing guilt that he had to use his time off to serve our family by taking care of our daughter instead of realizing that every time I’m off I’m doing the same thing. And that’s just what we do because we’re both teammates who are equally invested in the good of our family.

Erin: 00:57:04 So the next thing that you said that I really love is that you’ve said that work needs to be a blessing to the family and at the point when ever becomes a burden, something needs to change. Have you guys experienced that in your work that has become a burden and have you had to make adjustments?

Sarah Bradshaw: 00:57:23 The most tangible example? Yes. We’ve had to make adjustments multiple times. We have, I think the very first time that we had to make that major change was after London was born. We had kind of planned for me to just work from home with her until she was about six months old before getting childcare. And we within, I think she was two months old when we first hired, when we hired our first nanny and should, we started her at two days a week and very quickly went up to three days a week because work had become a burden to our family to the point that we needed to be out for me to be able to focus entirely on work for a period of time. So I could then be entirely focused on the family when I’m with them. And we had another change that we had to make just two months ago when child care got too expensive with two children.

Sarah Bradshaw: 00:58:09 One of the reasons I’m doing since 6:30 AM to 1:30 PM now is because we’re able to work with a nanny who has a lower rate. So we are able to afford to have me working four days a week. It just means that I have to start work very early, but it’s working for our family and it’s not a financial burden. So we have had to make those adjustments there. I think there have been times where work has become a burden because I have found too much identity in it and I’ve needed to take a social media break for a month. So just kind of get some more separation from detach my heart or detangle my heart from work.

Erin: 00:58:48 You’ve also said that you need to know when to outsource, so talk to me about what you guys outsource to make life more manageable in your family.

Sarah Bradshaw: 00:58:58 Yeah. The first thing we started outsourcing was my editing works. So that was the very first thing that we’ve ever started. We started outsourcing and that was just to give me more time. It was to better manage our time with childcare because we realized that it was cheaper to outsource editing than it was to pay for that many more hours of childcare. So I could edit myself. Some of the first thing that we did and that was just to make more efficient use of my work hours. But then we started outsourcing certain things within our family as well. So we have someone come in deep, clean ourhouse once a month we can maintain cleaning and, and organizing and doing surface stuff. But we both just found it really burdensome to try to get to like a deep clean on the bathroom or a deep clean in the kitchen or let’s clean out the fridge.

Sarah Bradshaw: 00:59:45 Like those things were just really hard and with so few weekends available, we didn’t want to spend our full Saturdays, you know, up to our elbows in soapsuds trying to deep clean our house. We wanted to spend it together as a family. So outsourcing that has been really helpful. Just a few months ago, we started outsourcing some of our meal prep. So we use freshly for three nights a week. And that has been life changing for us because it means that I can walk to meet back on his way home from work and get some nice time outside with the kids and feel relaxed coming home. And then we pop our meal on a microwave and it’s ready for us in like three minutes and London gets chicken nuggets for dinner and it’s her favorite thing in the world. So everyone’s happy and that has given us three evenings back. So instead of us spending time cooking and prepping, trying to cram that into the 45 minutes between Buck arriving home and the kids going to bed, we’re able to just kind of have a relaxed relationship oriented evening.

Erin: 01:00:42 What would you say to someone who would love to outsource but they feel like the financial aspect of it is a roadblock for them. Like they’re like, I just can’t afford something like freshly or someone to clean my house. What do I do?

Sarah Bradshaw: 01:00:57 That’s a really good question. We have made sacrifices in other areas in order to be able to do some of those things. We have chosen to not take vacations. We’ve chosen to limit our spending in other areas. We reduced our grocery budget to be able to do freshly because it does it just the freedom that it gives it back to us when it comes to some of the larger things that you can outsource. Sometimes there is a little bit of a of a dip and income when you do have to start outsourcing that, but sometimes you’re able to make that up pretty quickly in the time that you get back.

Erin: 01:01:42 What is one piece of advice or something someone told you before you had children and it was the best piece of advice that you took into parenthood?

Sarah Bradshaw: 01:01:53 Reevaluate everything. Every three months. That was such a helpful bit of advice cause they’re like, you don’t have to decide on like what childcare you’re going to have for the next five years right now. You can change it. That was a hugely helpful.

Erin: 01:02:14 After talking to these four fabulous individuals, Ginny, Jane, Sarah, and Taylor, the overarching takeaway for me as a parentpreneur is that it’s so important to know what ultimately matters the most to you to clearly understand what your priorities are and this is all a part of creating a vision, right? What kind of parent do you want to be? What kind of spouse, what kind of business owner, and then once you form those priorities, create boundaries in your life that will allow you to show up as you want to show up in each of those areas of your life.

Erin: 01:02:48 What would you say to someone that is running their own business and they are about to have children? What advice would you give them now that you’re on the other side of it?

Sarah Bradshaw: 01:03:01 You will never, ever, ever regret the times that you set your work aside to love on your children.

Erin: 01:03:07 What’s the best advice that you’ve received about being a dad and running a business at the same time?

Taylor Abeel: 01:03:15 That’s a good question. You’ll never regret spending more time with your kids. I think it really hit me one day when I was home with the kids and I was doing something on my iPhone. That was so unimportant, I don’t even remember what it was, but I just remember I was on my phone and I just had this thought come to me as my kids are playing, you know, with blocks or whatever or just I’m passing the time while they’re playing and I just had this thought that someday I’m going to look back and just wish I had put my phone down more and paid attention and just watched them play because those little people aren’t going to be gone in a year.

Erin: 01:03:54 As parents, we hear this advice all the time, don’t we? Especially when we have a new baby, enjoy every moment. It goes by so fast. There’ll be grown up before you know it, but Sarah and Taylor are absolutely right. When I think about life many decades from now and I consider what will truly matter to me, it’s exactly this. It will be the moments that I’m spending with James and these are the moments that are happening right now with him while he is at this really young, beautiful age. These are the moments like this happened just yesterday. We were sitting on the living room floor. James was in my lap and I was reading him a book for the 15th time and I was bored out of my mind and time felt like he was crawling. I was exhausted and I wanted a break. But then his hand grabbed my finger and it pointed to the cow in the book and he said “moo” for the first time.

Erin: 01:04:49 And I had been saying “moo” to him for the past nine months with nothing in return. But then he did. And he is. When those moments happen, I feel his body against mine. I feel his little breath in his lungs and then I feel my own body and I feel my own breath in my lungs. And when I breathe a little deeper, it’s like all of my past selves and all of my future selves, they all come and sit down next to me. In that moment and they scoot in close and they say, see Erin, stop fighting and just be, and we’ll be here with you because we’re always here with you.

Erin: 01:05:41 When I was writing this episode, I’ll be honest with you, I got really, really overwhelmed. This was a very tough episode for me to produce because I feel like there are so many stories to tell and there are so many ways to approach a topic like this that is so intangible and big. In fact, season two is launching weeks later than I planned because I wanted to honor this topic so badly. There’s just been something in my gut that I want to communicate, but I’ve had a really difficult time not only getting to whatever that thing is, but also getting that thing out and communicated into the open with you. So I stopped to think about why I wanted to produce this episode in the first place. What’s the point and what do I want you, my listener to feel after you’ve listened to this?

Erin: 01:06:41 And when I stopped to think about, I realized that I want you to feel the weight lifted off of your back. I want you to feel the pressure subside in your chest. I want you to feel air deep in your lungs again. I want your expectations to shift because what I really don’t want is I do not want to be just another motivational speaker that tells you all of the typical things that you should be feeling. I want you to know that you don’t have to be enough. That just like me, you probably don’t got this. That sometimes you are given more than you can handle, and I want you to know that that is totally okay because sometimes the best thing that you can do is to fight all of this tension a little bit less and learn to sit in it a little bit more.

Erin: 01:07:35 Learn to sit in the tension between loving your work and loving your kids and let it just be tension with no judgment and no shame. Sometimes you just need to sit in the frustration and let it be frustrating and then sit in the joy and let it be joyful. Learn to sit in the complicated yet simple present and let it be your past and your future all at the same time and honor the gift that the tension and the frustration and the joy can offer you in the right here and the right now. And maybe that’s the real balancing act. Not perfectly balancing all of your external commitments, but learning to take all of the complex inner things that you’re feeling and experiencing right now and to hold them in your open hands and to just let them all exist all together, all at the same time without judgment and giving them all equal weight. Friend, your work is worth fighting for. Your kids are worth fighting for and your marriage is worth fighting for. And if everything worth fighting for unbalances your life, then instead of fighting for balance, find yourself instead. Learning to live in the present and learning to accept with grace the awkward, the painful and the really magical rhythms that is that good and powerful fight.


We teach photographers to build life-giving businesses that they absolutely love.

About Us

We're Jeff & Erin

We’re Jeff and Erin Youngren – and it’s our mission to help you thrive not just as a wedding photographer, but as a business owner. It’s time to set aside the stress and comparison of a hustle mindset, and build a life-giving business instead.

We met in college, got married, and started corporate jobs before we discovered (and fell in love with) wedding photography. But like many creative entrepreneurs, we were booking anything we could, strapped to our laptops and living dangerously close to burnout.

So we dug in and learned how to build a thriving business that supports our dream life – instead of a joyless business that runs a stressed-out life.

Today, we photograph only 10 Dreamie weddings per year, but we also run two other wedding brands plus a commercial studio in San Diego, CA. And we do it by only working the hours that fit into our life. The other hours? We spend those living a joyful life raising our two beautiful sons, James and Samuel.


Jeff and Erin

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