No Regrets

As I sat at my desk today immersed in photo editing, my daughter asked me to take her outside; she loves watching the bumblebees buzzing around the garden we planted this spring.  Tempted to respond with my usual, “Ok, sweetheart, let me finish this work first and then we’ll go outside…” I stopped myself.  I’ve been taking a good hard look at how I’ve been spending my time lately, and I’ve come to the realization that I am not spending enough of it with my family.  Isn’t one of the perks of being a business owner supposed to be the flexibility to make your own hours?  To be able to work from home so you can be around your family more?  But I think spending so much time around my family while working has made me complacent when it comes to carving out quality time with them.  What did I do before when I worked a full time job while starting up my business?  Where did I find the time to get it all done?  Ok, I know where I found some of the time to get it done; I went without A LOT of sleep.  I’d go to work all day, meet with a client after work, then come home and spend as much quality time as I could with my husband and daughter until bedtime.  Then, to the sound of soft snoring and the glow of my monitor as a night light, I would edit photos into the wee hours of the morning.  One can only carry on such a schedule for so long before the body starts showing some wear and tear.  That’s no way to live, and I am so grateful that I was able to quit my full time job.  Now that I have those 8 hours to edit photos instead of going to work, I’ve been getting the sleep I need, thank goodness.

When I first quit my job, a went through this amazing sense of elation at the new freedom I had–it was a fantastic feeling!  All those things I dreamed about finally came true.  Sleeping in!  Making my own hours!  Going places during the day!  Not having  to request vacation days off a month in advance!  Being a stay at home mom!  (This was the big one.)  I was positively giddy.  I expected to have more time to edit photos.  I expected to finally get the sleep I needed, and I knew I would have more time to be with my daughter.  But something unexpected also happened.  Without the defined boundaries of “This is when I work” and “This is when I spend time with my family” that came with having a job, I found that being a work-at-home mom blurred those boundaries.  I found myself mixing together work time and family life, with no real set time when I began and finished work.  I didn’t have to get up early for a job anymore, and as a result, I never turned off my night-owl mode.  I don’t know when exactly family time is, and neither does my daughter.  Not good.

Time waits for no one, my dear friends.  No one ever says, “Gee, I wish I had worked more hours instead of spending time with my family.”  I don’t want to wake up one day and realize that my precious daughter is all grown up and I missed half of her childhood.  I’m changing the way I do things, starting today.  I won’t be able to change everything overnight, but I can start with this: no matter what I have going on, I want to carve out time for my family every day.  Will I still have to work a lot of hours to get all my work done?  Of course.  Will I have to set  boundaries for my family so they know when work time is?  Definitely.  But when my daughter asks me for attention, I’m going to try not to put her request off until ‘later’; when I give my attention, it’s going to be undivided, even if it’s just to go outside and watch the bumblebees.  Here’s to having no regrets.

Suzanne - Wow, Thanks so much for writing this Sandy! I have been thinking the same thing lately. Working part time and trying to start my biz has me burning the candle at both ends. I decided to spend the day at the pool with my son. No Regrets. Love it! Photos are gorgeous!

Mary - Such an important truth… I had very similar feelings when I quit my full-time job to do photography. Although I don’t have any children yet, I have realized it’s very easy to drift back to my work instead of spending time with my husband. Good for you to recognize this now instead of later! Hope it works out well!

Sandy - Thanks, girls! It’s nice to know I’m not the only one!

Amanda - So true. I burn the midnight oil a lot. The worst though is that since you are your own boss – you can never really escape the boss. My day starts every morning with editing. I wake up around 7 or 8 (depending on how late I stayed up the night before) I sit up in bed, pull my laptop over to me and start editing photos. I do that for at least an hour before I even get out of bed. Then it’s breakfast – more editing – lunch – more editing – usually all my client meetings or sessions are in the early evening. So around 9pm I find myself away from home and unable to use my laptop! That’s when “my time” for the day starts. It’s amazing how many things you can actually do in the dark like walk the dog (its cooler), grocery shop (no lines), shop for houses (bring a deer spotlight)…etc. But this is no way to live. I’ve been trying to make a good go of it to make time for at least a walk every day and get some sunlight instead of glowing computer screen. My family always says that they never want to ‘bother’ me because every time they ask if I’m all caught up with editing I say no. I can’t get them to understand that I will NEVER be all caught up. If you’re caught up, that means you’re not working. You shoot, edit, shoot more, edit, edit, shoot, etc. Sometimes you just have to give yourself permission to be a normal person and stop working for the day.

P.S. Your new macro lens is sweeeeeet !

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