I knew having a baby would change my life in a million different ways, big and small.
I now consider 7:30am wake ups a ‘lie in’. I now desperately want bed by the time its 11pm. I never get to finish a cup of coffee, and I’ve accepted that our home will never be perfectly tidy for very long.
I never really thought *that much* about how work would change for me when I was pregnant, which sounds really naive. But I guess I just thought, well when he’s small he will sleep a lot, and I can work then. After that period, I can work when he goes to bed at night. Easy.
It’s fair to say my whole work routine has had to make a major shift in direction, and my goals have changed too. So I thought today I’d share some of the things that have changed, for those who are interested!
1. Even spontaneity is planned
I used to REVEL in creative spontaneity, and only work on certain things when it felt most motivating to do so. This often meant working at night for me, as this is naturally when I get my best ideas, and feel most alive. However since having a baby, and trying to run a small business alone; I’ve had to become a queen of planning everything down to the little details. So these days it’s extremely unlikely I’ll randomly pick up a paintbrush and just see if I feel like it. I don’t have that sort of time and freedom anymore! And working into all hours of the night? Forget about it. I’m exhausted by 9pm. So these days, I plan each day out really well, to ensure I’m still working away hard whenever I can. I write a to do list every morning, and every time River takes a nap, or is invested in a toy for more than 2 minutes, I quickly tackle something on my list. It might take me all day to complete a task that would have only taken me an hour last year, but I’m slowly getting through the workload. And as soon as River is in bed, I’ll eat, get a shower, and work on illustrations in bed at night to relax. I don’t stress myself to work too long, and I’m always asleep by 11pm ish. Which brings me to point 2….
2. Sleep is important
Yep, there was once a time I’d be awake until 3am painting or drawing or whatever, not a care in the world. Even if I had to be up early, I’d say ‘screw it’ and revel in my freedom. I can’t think of anything worse now. I’m not saying I wouldn’t like to still be like that, but it’s just not possible with a baby who wakes at 6am, and a whole day of running around like a madwoman. I have to prioritise sleep now, or I lose my mind. Literally. I can still remember those first 6 weeks having a newborn, when he woke every 2 or 3 hours for a feed, and I’ve never felt more like my sanity was disappearing. And the better sleep I get? The more I can work effectively anyway. So yes, I love an early bedtime now.
3. Does it spark joy?
To quote Marie Kondo, Does it spark joy?! This is a question I regularly have to ask myself when starting new projects, or considering custom pieces for people. I need every single penny I can get, to help towards looking after a baby on a low income; but I also need to make sure I’m enjoying what I do. I no longer work on anything I don’t want to; which I may have done before having a baby. Life is short, my time is precious, and I’m tired. I simply cannot spend any little time I have working on something that I dread.
4. Sharing behind the scenes
I’ve always been one to share a snippet or two of my work behind the scenes on Instagram or whatever. But these days I do try to make sharing my work and personal life, a huge part of my social media presence, for a two reasons. One, I know people enjoy it and are interested. Two, it helps my customers be really patient and understanding with me. People see that I’m looking after a baby alone (when Gary is in work), trying to ship orders, trying to plan next months projects, trying to look after myself, AND trying to work on their custom piece. And after all that? They are much more understanding about me taking a week to complete something that may have taken 2 days in the past. The other nice bonus, is sometimes I might get the odd person who really wants to help and support me when they see I’m struggling, and they will share my work for me. This is so so important, and means a lot to me, and I try to show how they’ve helped me if I can! So as much as I’d like a bit of a social media break sometimes; it makes a huge difference to my life and business to keep sharing.
5. It’s okay to embrace a change
And finally… I’ve accepted that life is not going to look how I thought it would! I’ve changed, my work has changed, my routine has changed, and what I NEED has changed.
We made the decision to put River in daycare, and he starts early September. He will be going two mornings a week, from 8am to 1pm. This is something I never thought I’d do, just because we are on a low income, and I didn’t think it would be a problem waiting until he’s 3 and can go to nursery for free. But I never realised just how much I’d need the help. I live 300 miles away from every single family member, and friends with babies. I have only ONE chance a week to get things done without River, when he goes to his grans for 3 hours. It’s hard guys. Really hard. On top of that, he’s never around any other babies or even small children, and it has made me sad for a while now. So enrolling him into daycare is absolutely the best option for us, which I never expected. He’s already had a trial day there, and he LOVES being with other children, so I’m thrilled! And it’ll mean I have more of a chance to get work done, and look after myself. Which is especially important, as next month Gary starts a course at University; and will be at home even less. I’m sad about that, but it’ll be SO worth it for him to get into the career he really wants.
Basically, I’ve discovered life is a lot different than I imagined it being with a baby. And my job has had to change in many ways too because of that.
I’d love to know if anyone else’s job/work life changed much after having a baby?
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