It’s the number one thing I get asked via instagram or email and quite possibly the thing I feel the most unsure of: how do you balance motherhood and all that you do? This past weekend I was a speaker at the Declare Conference in Dallas (such an amazing time, such amazing women, more thoughts on that coming soon) and I got to sit on a panel concerning this very issue. Since it’s on my heart and y’all ask so much, let’s try and dig in with some grace. When she introduced the panel this weekend, Kristin Lemus made a gentle call for us to not compare. And I’m going to do that here. Let’s don’t judge or compare where we are in our “other things” to one another and let’s not compare what one woman feels called to against what we feel our call is.
I think the best way I can start this post is to talk about where I’ve been. Because certain seasons call for different situations and I’ve had many as it pertains to balance and motherhood and all the things. I’ll try to keep it brief.
2007-2010: During these years I blogged and participated in online life in the fringes of my day. I’d blog at night or at naptime (you know, hence the name Naptime Diaries). There was a period of time where I’d leave the house on Sundays from 4-9pm each week. During that five hour block, I’d go straight to Starbucks and write. A lot of what I wrote I posted, a lot of it stayed on my computer and there it lives. I would have never fathomed getting childcare to blog and I didn’t have an iPhone. I didn’t make money blogging and I was thrilled to write guest posts for people or larger contributing sites for free. Nothing felt like an obligation, it felt like such a cool outlet to connect with other women in an otherwise isolated place. I shared a laptop and phone with my husband and while I had a growing readership, the internet didn’t demand a lot of me. My very small babies did. (sometimes, I really miss these days)
2011-2012: This is where things got a little hairy. We had started our scripture print shop and in early 2012, we launched Influence. I was working somewhere between 20-40 hours a week, with very, very little childcare. I worked a lot of nights 6pm-2am and a lot of naptimes. We didn’t have the money for full-time childcare and I’m not totally sure we wanted it. Looking back, I think I committed to a lot of things and felt the burden to do a lot of things that weren’t life giving and also didn’t bring profit (financial or eternal). I really wanted to squeeze in as much time with my kids before they were school-aged and I was also homeschooling our Kindergartner. I was surrounded by women who were stay at home moms and genuinely felt I’d be judged if I wasn’t JUST a stay at home mom. Maybe I would’ve, maybe not. I regret a lot of those days, mostly because I just wasn’t fully living. In hindsight - I wish I’d said no to more online and sprung for a little more childcare so that my family was getting the best of me and not half-working, half-present me.
2013-present: In August 2013, a major shift happened in that our three oldest went to school full time, all starting on the same day. While I was majorly missing them and mourning our “baby days”, I was also MAJORLY freed up to have work hours that made sense for the first time. Yes, we still had Cannon at home, but he’s a fairly consistent napper and was so content to play while I sat beside him working. I also got childcare twice a week for Cannon so that I could really create content and be more present when it was just him at home.
With the kids going to school, we also had a major shift in that the church plant work really began. I found myself needing to be present for Nick during the week or making myself available to hang with women from the church. I’d sometimes feel overwhelmed and busy, but for the most part - it was nowhere near as difficult as it was those past two years. Plus Nick’s schedule was a little more flexible and that helped a great deal. I had time to work 20-30 hours a week, volunteer at the kid’s school, be mostly with them fro 3-8pm each day, and not work too many nights or weekends.
Our plan going forward: This fall the kids are back in school and Cannon will have a nanny three mornings a week 7:30-12:30 (most likely). Him being with a nanny during those hours makes me able to go work out with Nick (the other days I’ll work out from 7:30-8:30 before Nick starts his day), come home and work a few hours, then be with him from 12:30-1pm. He naps at 1 and I’ll be able to work just a little bit more before I have to pick kids up from school. On those days when I don’t have a nanny, my plan is to be present with him, hang with women from the church, do grocery shopping and errands, take care of our home, and maybe answer a few emails while he’s taking naps. I would love to say I won’t work nights, but ya’ll I love my work. I genuinely LOVE it. So sometimes it’s just fun to crack open the laptop on a free night and do a little writing or email responding.
The other work time I super try to take advantage of is 6am-7am. I wake up at 5am most days and have a quiet time and then sneak in a quick hour of work before I have to get the kids ready for school. I’m assuming I’ll work somewhere between 25-30 hours a week and when I say work I’m considering the following: this blog, Naptime Diaries Shop, Influence, Gospel Community, prepping for speaking events, and prepping to write or writing books.
Some other things you should know about this current motherhood + balance deal:
I get help. My mom helps with my kids when we go out of town as do close friends from our church. About once every other week, my mom will call and say, “Can I take the kids to the aquarium?” and all of a sudden I have a free afternoon to play catch up. I don’t take this for granted and it’s a huge part of why we moved to Charleston, to let our kids grow up around extended family.
Nick and I share a lot of stuff. Nick helps with the dishes, occasional cooking, he does his own laundry, and chips in to help with the kid’s laundry a lot. He takes the kids to school and I pick them up. While I’m usually up mornings with the kids, he’s awesome at overseeing brushing teeth and putting them to bed. We do absolutely believe in marital roles, but we’re really comfortable with how God has drawn those lines in our marriage. I don’t feel like any less than a wife because he cooks better than me. He doesn’t feel like any less than a husband because God has blessed the business that sells my prints. I pray that the work I do online and in our home does esteem him, his leadership, and the way he pastors our family “in the gates” like Proverbs 31 says.
Others help with our business. We have three employees for Naptime Diaries and Hayley and Mike Morgan co-run Influence with us, along with at team of four amazing, hard-working women. For us, we’d rather take home less money ourselves from our businesses and pay other really qualified individuals to help us reach our larger goals.
I’ve shared all that to say, ya’ll - I’m not superwoman.
I do recognize that God has given me a larger plate and I’m so grateful. I still get scared so often. I still feel overwhelmed. Sometimes I want to quit it all and go back to those days six years ago when I shared a laptop and a phone. But I know these are the lines God has drawn for me, and goodness gracious, they are pleasant.
BUT. I’ll also say this. I am tender about motherhood in a way that I haven’t been in about six years right now. I cried like a baby leaving my kids to head to Dallas last week and that hasn’t happened, ever. I feel like our family is healthy, our marriage is healthy, but I so want to keep it that way. I realize that we can go off course at any moment - work too much, travel too often, focus too much on the church, get lost in our iphones.
I’m counting on God’s discernment and this tender beat in my heart to keep me where I’m supposed to be. The business stuff is fun and my family is incredibly important, but my soul is eternal and answering to God is of the utmost priority to me. And it is for you too. I pray that wherever this finds you, whatever situation, you stop and talk to Him today about YOUR balance, your roles, your conviction. I’m praying for you too.
On August 20th (next Wednesday) I'll be teaching a one hour class on this exact topic. Where this blog post has covered the bones of what I do to make it work, the class will cover the heart issues to keep in mind and also some widespread tactical tips for every woman, whatever stage she is in. If you can't make the class, buy a spot anyhow - you get emailed the full video recording just afterwards!