Good question! This is something I am constantly wrestling with, and I am not sure I will ever find the perfect balance. As my husband is often saying these days – it is not a problem that can be solved, but it is a tension that can be managed. The tension is, we can never do everything we want to do – we only have so much time, energy and resources, so we have to make choices about what we do with them.
I, along with my husband, have chosen to homeschool our children. We have many reasons for this, and firmly believe it is the best option for our children, but this choice requires a huge commitment of (especially my) time and energy. It is also something I am willing to sacrifice for, whether that sacrifice is time hanging out with friends, the ability to make more money, or just the prospect of having five minutes to myself in a house that doesn’t constantly look like a paper bomb went off in it. The privilege of being with my kids all day every day and being able to have an enormous input into their lives is a hill I would die on. If I had to choose between homeschool or my business I wouldn’t even think about it. But so far I have been able to do both, which is a sweet deal. Honestly I think that a home business and homeschool go together quite well, and one of the reasons I want to live with the tension of doing both is that an entrepreneurial mindset and business skills is high on my priority list of things I want to teach my kids. I try as much as possible to involve them in what I am doing and share with them the lessons I am learning in the adventure of having a home business. So they may not have a mom who spends her evenings scrapbooking their life with beautiful buttons and bows, but they do have a mom who talks to them about serving customers, building web sites and how to use Photoshop. The fact that my five year old likes to discuss which pictures would look good in black and white, and that my eight year old is always dreaming up business ventures, makes me smile.
So I am able to do both, but only if I keep them in the right proportion. Not long after I first started my photography business, I had a week where I did 3 shoots, and at that time I probably took at least 15 hours to edit each shoot. I was totally exhausted and I felt like I was neglecting my family. I told my husband in no uncertain terms that I was quitting, it couldn’t work for our family. Thankfully my level headed husband encouraged me not to quit doing something I enjoyed so much, but to find the right boundaries around my business even if that only meant shooting once a month. I figured I could handle once a week, so that is what I took on and it has worked very well for me. It means I have built my business pretty slowly, but in a way that has been manageable. Another boundary that I mostly live by is that I only edit after my kids have gone to bed, unless my husband is home. Often I even get my husband to password me out of the computer so I am not tempted to use it during the day.
So homeschooler by day, photographer by night, where does marriage fit in!? My husband and I schedule a connect time every evening after the kids go to bed, where we sit down and totally focus on each other, share our day, talk about whatever we need to talk about, do a devotional and pray together for each other and for our kids. We also make a priority of going out for a date night at least twice a month. We figure this is not a luxury, it is an important investment in our marriage (as David says, it’s way cheaper than counselling). Wednesday is our sacred day – we do no school, no work, (and most of the time we don’t even answer the phone – gasp!) we keep meals simple (making them in advance sometimes), we try to get out in nature, and do things that renew us and bond us as a family. It is tempting to feel like we will get behind when we take this kind of time off, but we are pretty sure that it makes us more productive the rest of the time.
Our church is another priority in my life, my husband is the pastor of a small Congregational church – Bay Community Church. When we were first married we worked together as youth pastors with this church and also with Youth for Christ. Around the time David became senior pastor I became a mom. All of a sudden I was home alone with my baby while he did all the ‘ministry.’ I found this transition extremely hard and very lonely. I am a lot more at peace with the fact that my ministry in this season is, for the most part, at home with my kids, and I am blessed that our church is very understanding of this. However, I do still try and stay involved by occasionally leading worship , helping with nursery, preaching at least once a year on a Sunday, and best of all by having a bunch of people over after church on Sundays. Because my life is so hectic I realised that I could only do hospitality if I kept it really simple, therefore I make the same Sunday meal every week – spaghetti sauce in the crock pot, and I throw together the noodles and salad when I get home. It may not be very creative, but it is spending time with people that is important.
I probably sound a lot more balanced in writing, than I really feel. Truthfully I feel like my life is often hectic, and sometimes I wonder if I should do less, but usually I tell myself that if I did less of these things that I value, I would probably just spend more time doing housework and looking at facebook.