Being a mother is a balancing act. You walk a tight rope—shaping lives of little humans while doing house chores, cooking meals, managing the family budget, keeping tabs of everyone’s schedule, doing the laundry.
Now add working from home and being a creative into the mix and you can just imagine the internal (and external) riot.
I bet putting these words together is already stressing you out:
(1) Creative (2) Work-at-Home (3) Mother
Well, I see you, lady. Hold my hand, I know what you’re going through.
I know because for the past 4 years, this has been the story of my life.
I have been working remotely ever since our 4-year old twin girls were born, and I’ve had my share of ups and downs and love-hate with my work-from-home situation.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m beyond blessed to have landed a job that allows me to do what I do while spending as much time as any parent could ever wish to have with her young kids.
However, if you’re a work-from-home mom, you know that there is a very thin line between work and life—a line that is ruthlessly crossed by cute, clingy and demanding little humans on a day-to-day basis. I’m not one to deny, I sometimes miss having a regular location-based job where office means work and home means everything else.
And I have to add a special emphasis on being a creative mom.
As creatives, there’s this restlessness inside of us that makes us want to create something—whether art, or music, or photographs, or a piece of writing, or a website. It’s a restlessness that doesn’t go away, even after we birthed babies and our days are suddenly filled with domestic and motherly duties.
And so we have to carve a space for creative expression in our lives, or else we would be stuck feeling just like that: restless.
Have a peek into the life of a work-from-home, side-hustling mother of twins
I got a full-time job in a digital marketing agency when our twin girls were 5 months old. Four years later, I’m still with these guys not only because of the flexible hours and work-from-home benefits, but also because I’m able to provide for my family while also keeping a career.
Our girls say hi! :)
It’s the best of both worlds, and I never take this opportunity for granted.
However, I can’t also ignore that creative restlessness I was just talking about. I know I can’t stop creating, so I have to intentionally make room for it even when it means a lot of hustle.
My husband and I started a Dessert Buffet business when our twins were 1 year old. This had a good run for a year until we decided to close it down (a story for another time). I launched my Branding & Website Design Studio when the girls turned 2. I pioneered the Pursuit Manila community when they were 3 years old, and produced the Passion Cards and several Chasing Dreams merchandise around the same time.
Through all of this time, I also didn’t stop blogging until last year when I hit the proverbial wall and needed to take a much-needed creative break. And so I did, and I talked a lot about this when I relaunched Chasing Dreams.
But even when I was on a “break”, my mind did not stop reeling with new creative ideas, maybe for a new business, or a new brand, or a new product. I also thought a lot about relaunching Chasing Dreams, or resuming Pursuit Manila, or maybe reviving the Passion Cards.
Our creative giftings are deeply engraved in our beings, and being a mother or a wife doesn’t change that.
There’s this restlessness inside of us that pulls us to create things and to connect with people.
And so we have to live within that tension—of balancing marriage, motherhood, career, and creative pursuits, and knowing well that since we couldn’t set aside marriage and motherhood, we sometimes have to set aside career or creative pursuits instead.
As someone who’s right smack in the middle of it, here are some of the things I’ve learned.
1. Acknowledge that being a wife and a mother is a calling.
I am well aware of the fact that I’ve been using the word “career” and “job” instead of “calling” prior to this point; consider this a conscious use of words.
A job is a piece of work or a set of tasks that you do for an agreed salary in a specific period of time. A career is a job or a set of jobs that you’ve been doing for a long time, whether you’re passionate about it or not.
For example, I’ve been working in the Digital Marketing industry for over 10 years now. You may be working in the medical field, or doing business, or an engineer, an accountant, a lawyer, a broadcaster. That is your career.
Calling, on the other hand is something that goes beyond salaries or time. This is something you know you would do even when you’re not paid to do it. I have always believed that our past experiences, skills, gifts, even our past jobs—everything that has happened in our lives, in totality, is preparing us for our calling.
Marianne Williamson said it best—
“Jobs come and go, but a calling is something you were given the moment you were born. You can lose a job but you can’t lose your calling.”
Calling is something you will do for the rest of your life.
For us mothers, it’s our life’s calling to love, to guide, to provide for, and to raise our children until they’re able to stand on their own feet. But even when they can stand on their own and have their own families to raise, motherhood doesn’t end. It’s our life’s calling to continue to love, to pray for and to support them as they figure out their own paths.
Once you’re a mother, you’ll always be a mother. It’s not a “season” or a “phase”. It’s what you are for the rest of your life.
We have to remember to see motherhood in this light, especially in moments when we feel like we’ve been robbed off of our careers and passions and strength and time. Or times when we have to put our business ideas on the shelf, or when we feel like we lost our will to chase our dreams.
When you have embraced motherhood as your calling, you realize that everything else—your schedule, your goals, your dreams, your ministries, even your career and your job—should support this specific calling and not take you away from it.
2. Your creative passions will hunt you, you have to do something about it.
I’ve already said a handful about how this creative restlessness inside of us is something that will not go away, even when marriage and motherhood come into the picture.
You know this, you’re familiar with this. It’s the thing that keeps you up at night and keeps your mind reeling throughout the day. You know this because it hurts deep inside of you. And even when you do a good job at concealing the pain, you know it’s there somewhere eating you up.
It might be an idea for a creative business, or a book, or a product, or maybe a song playing in your head. It might be a burden for missions, an advocacy, or a community.
It’s the thing that fills up the pages of your journal, the thing you wish you would do when time or budget or life is not in the way.
I tell you, whatever that is, it will hunt you every single day. On some days it would almost feel like you can live without it, but there are days when the pull is so strong you know you have to do something.
I say, go for it, make the first step!
And no, I don’t mean you risk all of your savings to a business idea you haven’t tested out. Take baby steps. Write a business plan. Buy that domain name. Share your idea to a friend. Test the waters. Dare to pray about it relentlessly.
My Pursuit Manila story
When I came across Pursuit Community in November 2014, it made me restless for days. I knew in my heart there’s a need for a community of Christian creatives locally so I prayed about it and sought the Lord’s guidance. And then I did the one thing that started the ball rolling—I emailed Karen Stott, the founder of Pursuit Community, to ask if they’re willing to make room for a local community in the Philippines. (Hint: She said yes.)
I then reached out to some ladies to see if they share my desire to build a community for Christian creatives here in Manila. I emailed some very close friends, people who knew me since I was a kid. I shared to them my vision and asked if they’re willing to do it with me. Some of them were on board and excited.
I also emailed people who didn’t know me at all. I introduced myself and shared with them my dream. I asked them it’s something they would be interested to be part of, or if they could at least help me promote or refer me to their friends.
And well, the rest is history.
Take note that all of that started with hitting the Send button on a piece of email.
Don’t let the passion fade away, or worse, don’t let it leave you hurting every day.
I don’t know what “the first step” looks like for you, but I bet it’s something you can do while your children are taking a nap. I say, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. And maybe you’d find out later on, that the world needed you to make that first step.
3. Embrace the changing seasons.
I’ve been reading the Magnolia Story book lately. The book dives into the journey of Chip and Joana Gaines, the adorable couple that hosts the hit HGTV series Fixer Upper. If you don’t know what it is, it’s a reality show that takes people through the process of purchasing a “fixer upper” in Waco Texas, flipping it and turning it to a beautiful home.
One of the many things we can learn from Chip and Joana is that, they embraced their seasons and knew how to make the most of them.
- When they were newlyweds they hustled hard and put in a lot of hours flipping houses. Since Joana didn’t have past experience in real estate or interior design, she made the most out of this season to develop skills, grow her portfolio, and learn the ins and outs of the business.
- While they’re at it, Chip encouraged Joana to pursue her dream of opening a boutique home décor shop. Not having kids yet, she invested her time learning about business management and nurturing her passion for designing homes.
- When they had 2 kids they decided to close the shop so that Joana can focus on the children. Sounds familiar, mommies? Joana knew that it was her season for raising kids and while it was hard for her to close up shop, she knew that her dreams can wait and setting it aside was temporary. Investing on her kids while they’re still young, however, can’t wait.
- By the time Fixer Upper became a hit TV series, Chip and Joana and their family are ready. They have 4 young kids but by this time they’ve already built a well-oiled business empire. It’s a season to reap the harvest of their hardwork, and to continue to plant seeds while they still can.
Now, not all of us will land a TV show nor have a business empire like Chip and Joana Gaines.
Each story is different, but our seasons as mothers are more or less within the same playing field. We’re all going to care for babies, maybe resign from our jobs to raise our family, or maybe close up shop to focus on our young children’s formative years.
There will be a time when changing diapers, cooking dinners or attending school plays are more important than growing a business, writing a book or pursuing a dream.
The thing is, seasons are often fleeting. They come as fast as they go. And this is evident in the way babies seem to grow so fast. We know it and we wax poetic about it—wasn’t it just yesterday when they were so cute and small and needy?
We should know enough to embrace these seasons or else we miss out on the beauty of each one.
We only have a small window of opportunity to shape our children’s hearts and minds.
However, if we approach this season with a present mind and a creative strategy (maybe a project or a business that involves our family), then we might be able to do this without ignoring our own creative dreams.
The Ultimate Challenge for us Creative Moms
The ultimate challenge, I believe, is to find the sweet spot that fuses our family life, creative passions and career.
For me this means doing a job (Content Marketing) that is not far off from my creative passions (writing and digital design), while working from home.
For Liza this means DIY-ing bows and accessories for her own little girl and scaling her production to create several more pieces to sell.
For Joana Gaines this means creating a business around creating beautiful homes for families, while she raises her own.
I don’t know what it looks like for you, but here are some practical action steps that you can do today:
1. Make baby steps everyday.
There are things you can do one hour in the morning (while the house is still quiet) and one hour before you sleep (after you tuck in the babes). Or things you can do while the kids are taking a nap or watching TV. The important thing is to keep going, no matter how slow or how small the progress is.
2. Consider starting a blog.
A trivia: Joana Gaines was discovered by a producer because her beautifully styled home was featured in a blog. Here’s another one: I made a $10,000 part-time income in 18 months, because several years ago I dared to launch this blog.
As a creative mother, you may not have time to start a business, but sure you have an hour or two each day to start a blog. Or maybe you don’t know yet what kind of business you want to pursue, in such case I think blogging may be a way for you to discover all of that.
You might want to join this free Blogging E-course I created for creatives like you and me:
Take the Blogging with a Purpose E-Course
A FREE 7-day e-course designed for bloggers and creatives who want to take their blog to a whole new level of meaning and purpose.
This e-course will take you back to the drawing board, unravel your passion and purpose for blogging, with an end-result of creating more intentional blog content that will attract the right target readers.
3. Invest in getting help.
As work-from-home mothers, we have non-negotiables. Things like giving baths, homeschooling, tucking the girls in. And then there are things we can pay others to do, like maybe laundry, cleaning the house, ironing clothes.
Consider the tasks you enjoy doing and can do yourself, and the tasks you can outsource. You’d be surprised at how much free hours you have in a day if your ask help from others.
This also translates to launching a creative business. Know what your strengths are and invest your time there. And then outsource the tasks that would take you hours to do because they’re not your expertise to start with—maybe tasks like copywriting, brand design, website development, or social media management.
When you outsource these to those who’ve been doing it professionally, you find that they don’t only make your business look good, you also have more time to focus and do your job better.
Hope this helps! If anything, I hope this post assures you that you (and I) are not alone in this journey. Nope. Not at all! :)