The photo above was what I imagined balancing professional blogging and motherhood to look like. Baby having fun, me happily giving them attention while I got my work done. In reality, it's only like this for about 30 seconds a couple of times a day.
“They” say nothing can prepare you for changes you experience by being a parent. I would have to say that's a gross understatement.
This year I had a baby. I am not a “Mommy Blogger” and could not imagine dishing out advice about parenting. Especially if you saw me on Monday, with a screaming baby… frantically running around trying to get everything prepared for a business trip, losing my keys, getting to the post office 5 minutes after they close, missing deadlines, unanswered emails, spaced appointments, and an apartment that looks like World War Z hit it. Apologizing to everyone for something I did wrong. I'm losing my mind. I feel crazy, I know I sound crazy to people and can't help it.
Those scatterbrained moms I passed judgement on? I am truly sorry (See? Apologizing!). I am now one of them.
I don't know if it's just because of my baby and am paying attention, but it seems like a ton of fashion bloggers had babies this year. Budget Babe, Parker etc, Fashion Bananas, 9 to 5 Chic, Honestly WTF, Glitter Guide (pregnant), Dream Sequins, Shop Sweet Things, there are more, but you get the drift, there's a lot of new mom bloggers that aren't mommy bloggers. Which makes sense, being as they are women of child bearing age. I don't want to say “inevitably” because a lot of people decide to forgo parenting, which is completely understandable. I could have gone either way.
The Myth of Working From Home
Fashion blogging seemed like the ideal career, it's fun, you can make a living if you play your cards right, and the hours are so flexible!
Fashion blogging seemed like the ideal career, it's fun, you can make a living if you play your cards right, and the hours are so flexible! It could give you the perfect scenario for having a family if that's what you decided to do. You could have the benefits of a satisfying career while being able to spend quality time with your family. Or so the legend of “working at home” promises, even more so if you work at home and you are your own boss. What more do you need to “do it all?”
With all the debate about women deciding to be work or stay at home to parent, not much has been said about the moms (and dads) who stay at home and work. Even with work-life trends changing for everyone as people of both genders, parent or not are more people are opting for a variety of work styles. Once I read about a woman who could bring her baby to the office with her to work, which gave me the idea that working from home with my new baby would be a walk in the park. This has not been the case for me. I have a wonderful baby who is pretty mellow, but I'm still doting on him throughout the day. People have said to blog while the baby naps, but my baby– like me, doesn't sleep a lot. When he naps, by the time I hit my stride, he's back up again. Should I try to use an iPad to entertain him while I work? Should I drug him? Should I neglect him and let him cry? There is only so much I can do, only so fast I can work.
Should I try to use an iPad to entertain him while I work? Should I drug him? Should I neglect him and let him cry? There is only so much I can do…
Does blogging allow for career flexibility? Absolutely. However just because you don't have a person to call your boss, you still have to answer to your readers, your clients, and your advertisers if you want to keep your career going. Perhaps if being a mom is part of your brand persona, you can always fall back on this, but from what I see, the mom-brand-people tend to be so organized it's almost superhuman. At least beyond my human abilities.
Taking an extended break is not a feasible option for professional bloggers.
I ended up taking only three weeks of full maternity leave, of which I had to pay out of my own pocket to keep the sites going. Why? Like many careers, momentum is part of the job. It's highly competitive in the blogosphere, it takes a lot of work to cultivate a following, and if you take a break for a year, they'll find someone new to follow, and you'll have to start all over again. From scratch.
This is the week I cry “uncle.” After trying not to have to send my baby to daycare, or get a nanny, after trying to have my cake and eat it too. I've found I am not exceptional, especially when it comes to parenting and blogging. Trying to be all things to all people has made me a lunatic, a flake and a bit of a liar (especially to myself) and LATE FOR EVERYTHING. It was necessary to try… seeing how much you can handle is a luxury of creating your own career.
Can professional bloggers really have it all?
Becoming a professional blogger will not automatically mean you can “have it all.” Of course, some bloggers are able to do it, that's another post. The truth is, each person has their own threshold of what they can handle. I apparently need daycare just as I would if I worked for someone in an office to maintain (and grow) the level of professionalism for my career. Was it still worth pursuing the dream of professional blogging? Absolutely. But I wouldn't advise banking on professional blogging as a career that will enable you to “have it all.” Professional blogging is like any other career, any other job, it's not a magical unicorn that will make you a rock star. Become a professional blogging because you love blogging and you love your niche. That way, the time you spend away from your family is truly worth it.
[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]